Here is your access to some of the South's most interesting culinary stories; they are too good not to share! Listen and join the conversation.
Jason Burke, The New Primal
Sometimes we work until we figure out what we really do, or at least, it seems to happen that way for a lot of us these days. And more often than not, that next thing finds us when and where we least expect it. Jason Burke of The New Primal changed his life by working in a garage, actually two garages. The first was a Crossfit gym in a garage on Daniel Island outside Charleston, SC. It was there that he learned about eating for performance, or in other words, eating so he could support those lift-a-tire-over-your-head workouts, and beef jerky was one such snack he started making for just that purpose. The second garage was a leap of faith -- the move from his condo kitchen to a DHEC approved garage kitchen at a house in Mount Pleasant where he began his new beef jerky career path in earnest. Today, his company is poised to be one of the industry leaders in the healthy snack market, and so we chatted from his store-front office in Park Circle in North Charleston, SC. Behind him was a wall of beef jerky and meat sticks, and a bookshelf of motivational texts, so I knew this was a man who isn’t stopping until his snack food company is a household name. Join us to learn the story behind a snack that is delicious and even a little addictive, even for someone like me who never needs to eat for Crossfit.
Ian Boden, The Shack
The first time I met Ian Boden, I thought he was quiet. Really, I don’t know what I was thinking, but it was probably because I met him minutes before an event where he was going to serve close to a hundred people in an hour. He was focused, and it’s that kind of focus that has garnered him two, two, James Beard nominations, all from a little spot called The Shack in Staunton, Virginia. That’s a 26-seat place in a town in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley, so you know it must be good. Especially since you can’t see a menu online, especially since you probably have no idea where Staunton is, and especially since you’re more than likely not sure how rye berries are even supposed to taste or that lettuce could even be a soup. Relax, Ian knows what he’s doing. Although he wasn’t born to it, he’s channeling Appalachian heritage through the plate, filtered through fine dining experience and his Jewish heritage. If that still doesn’t make sense, once again, just imagine relaxing and having a good meal that surprises and satisfies. Ian has been cooking since he was 13, and although he has many opinions on the theory of cooking and how to approach it, he never forgets his focus to bring people together over a meal. We’re all welcome at his table.
Bill Smith, Crook's Corner
At Crook’s Corner on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, NC, the morning soundtrack is a little radio above prep tables and the chatting of cooks as they fill the restaurant. There are deliveries, phones occasionally ringing, and morning greetings, including one in Spanish you’ll hear in this episode. Bill Smith -- the James Beard nominated chef of a James Beard America’s Classic Restaurant, author, music aficionado, and someone who sees something he doesn’t agree with and does something about it -- yeah, that Bill Smith whose 300 rock n’ roll T-shirts are in the Southern Folklife collection at the University of North Carolina, he made me a pot of coffee and invited me to sit in the dining room for a chat amid the morning work. We’d celebrated him the night before at Terra Vita Food & Drink Festival’s Tribute Dinner (which sold out by the way), and so we’d supped on pickled shrimp, collard soup, tomato gravy, and so much more, dishes made by chefs from across the region who cooked to pay tribute to him. Meet Bill, and you’ll soon understand people like him for much more than his iconic pimento cheese, honeysuckle sorbet, or those soft shell crabs. He’s a humble and down-to-earth bad ass whose heart is so kind. At one point during this chat, I had to stop the interview to compose myself after he said his kitchen wasn’t fun anymore. I would hate this for any chef, but knowing how Bill loves his work, it made me cry.