Drew Dzejak, Caliza, Alys Beach, FL (Live from 30A Wine Festival)

photo: courtesy of alys beach

photo: courtesy of alys beach

It was a packed Friday night event of the 30A Wine Festival in Alys Beach, FL, and I expected to see a tired and slightly frazzled Chef Drew Dzejak “in the weeds,” to use an f&b term -- he had a line where people were waiting close to 40-minutes for his grilled goodies. Instead, I came upon a chef giddy with delight in the moment, eager to share how good everything was tasting, and who looked as if he could be serving up burgers in the backyard to friends instead of hungry ticketholders. That’s the beauty of Drew’s cooking -- it has an exuberance about it, and at his current flagship restaurant, Caliza, located on 30A along the Florida Gulf Coast, you’ll taste his joy for combining Mediterranean, and now Peruvian flavors, with fresh, local seafood. He’s cooked at some of the fanciest places in the South, from the Inn at Palmetto Bluff to the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, but he hasn’t lost the down-to-earth approach he learned growing up in the shadow of Disney. He’s a family guy at heart, that family extends to his restaurant staff and guests, and you can taste it in every bite.

Episode  130 >

Matt and Ted Lee dish catering secrets and discuss their new book Hotbox (Charleston, SC)

photo: courtesy of the lee brothers

photo: courtesy of the lee brothers

Siblings Matt and Ted Lee grew up in Charleston, SC, and when they left to attend colleges, they so missed the foods of their hometown, that they founded The Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue, a mail-order catalogue for Southern pantry staples. When an editor of a travel magazine asked them to write a story about food and their home state, they embarked on a second career as journalists, and that’s where I got to know them, through their written words in Food & Wine, The New York Times, and of course their cookbooks. At this point, I’ve gotten to know them personally as well, and despite their fame in the writing world, they have revealed themselves to me as the people I’d imagined them to be: gracious, inclusive, eternally curious, and each of them with a distinctly individual wit. They lift up others in the profession in many ways, including an intensive annual cookbook camp, so I’d want no better guides into the private world of high-end catering, which we can all get in their first non-fiction book called Hotbox, just out. I sat down with them to chat the stories behind the making of this book, which entailed them working in catering, and that’s just the beginning.

Episode 131 ›

 

 

Bill Thomas, Jack Rose Dining Saloon, Washington, DC (Live from Charleston Wine + Food)

photo: jack rose dining saloon

photo: jack rose dining saloon

A holiday weekend is upon us, and plenty of children are going to be on the hunt for hidden eggs this weekend. On that note, have you ever heard of Easter Eggs in video gaming? Well, it’s a secret feature that when found, unlocks a whole new level, a special delight, or added bonus. You have to go hunting for them, and if there are Easter eggs in the world of whiskey, then chances are Bill Thomas of Washington, D.C. knows all about them, or is on the hunt. He’s the whiskey mastermind behind Jack Rose Dining Saloon in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of D.C., and it’s a restaurant and bar that houses more than 2,500 bottles at any time for the pouring. His encyclopedic knowledge of whiskey comes from a passion for enjoying it, the people who put great craftsmanship and care into the making of it, and from watching new stars rise in the business. Are you interested in how to build a whiskey bar beyond the corner store selection? Then listen on.

Episode 132 >