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.
Joe & Katy Kindred, & Craig Deihl. Hello, Sailor
My trip to Cornelius and Davidson, NC, was a trip down nostalgia’s lane. As a native Charlottean, I’d spent time at the lake growing up, and one of my first writing gigs was as a features writer at Lake Norman Times, so when I went to visit Joe and Katy Kindred at Kindred and Hello, Sailor, I was having all the feels checking out my old stomping grounds. But that was just the beginning -- friend and chef Craig Deihl, from the recently closed Charleston, SC faves Artisan Meat Share and Cypress, is now the CDC at Hello, Sailor, and then there was the calabash shrimp on the menu, the fried bologna sandwich, and oh, the hushpuppies. It’s a wonder I held it together for this interview. But it’s more than just about me and my memory lane here. Kindred, and now Hello, Sailor, are hot restaurants, and not just in the Queen City area, but with people such as the James Beard Foundation, Bon Appetit, and Eater. These restaurant teams craft a 360 experience that is grounded in exceptional food in laid back settings, and I am here to attest that the meals I had this day are two of the best I’ve had in a year of eating. And these people make me laugh, as you’ll hear in the following.
Jean-Paul Bourgeois, Blue Smoke
I promise you Jean-Paul Bourgeois makes some mean barbecue at his wildly popular restaurants, Blue Smoke, in NYC. I promise. But when I sat down with him at a conference table in the Embassy Suites hotel, steps from the Marion Square hub of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, I was all about getting the lowdown on frying. This Louisiana-born chef is a master at many things, and frying chicken is near the top of the list. If you know me, you know we are talking about my favorite food. So I did what I could to get the secret from a man who has helmed multiple kitchens, from Napa Valley to St. Thomas to Gramercy Park, and in the process learned more about why he got into cooking, why he doesn’t use peanut oil, and why he loves Tabasco. He’s an enthusiastic ambassador for his home state, and he’ll make you want to visit, and eat a few meals there too.
Bob Peters, The Punch Room at the Ritz Carlton
It’s a bit disconcerting when you step off the elevator for your first visit to The Punch Room at the Ritz Carlton in Charlotte, NC. First, it’s not on the rooftop or penthouse floor, something I was expecting, but on a random floor. Secondly, other than a small host stand outside what appears to be a usual hotel suite, there is no indication you’re walking into a public establishment at all. But open the door, and there’s no doubt you’re somewhere special, that exclusive VIP experience that really delivers beyond the velvet rope. This room full of luxurious details is the everyday office of Bob Peters, who at once is bartender, host, front of house manager, and magician. Peters won the best bartender award for global Ritz Carlton a few years ago, but sit in this room for any length of time, and you don’t need to know that award to witness -- and taste -- the magic. He uses dry ice, he sets aflame, he infuses, carbonates, dehydrates and coaxes chemical reactions, all with delicious results. It’s up close magic, and an empty glass set in front of you signals your show is about to begin. Let’s see if he can let us know any tricks behind the treats.