Here is your access to some of the South's most interesting culinary stories; they are too good not to share! Listen to the podcast and join the conversation.
Micah LeMon, The Alley Light (Charlottesville, VA)
I think Micah LeMon, bar manager at the James Beard Award–nominated Alley Light in Charlotttesville, VA, wants us to slow down and take a beat, probably over a lovely, stirred cocktail in a fancy glass. On the day we recorded a few months ago, I was at high-energy, just starting Charleston Wine + Food, and I went and collected Micah from the book signing tent to have a chat. Despite all the people buzzing about (literally and figuratively) and despite the fact I chose a room at the Embassy Suites next to the hotel kitchen -- aka, you’ll hear all kinds of ambient noise in this one, including a vacuum down the hallway -- Micah was cool and calm like he’d just left a yoga retreat. We soon delved deep into a chat about cocktails and balance of flavors, and he proved that he really has a scholar’s encyclopedic knowledge of the ingredients he uses and makes. That is fascinating, sure, and there’s lots to learn from him here, but beyond that, probably the main lesson he can teach us is that following passion -- in his case, the combination of ingredients and spirits -- can create doors where there once were none. Charlottesville is not really seen a cocktail-culture stronghold, and yet, the Alley Light has a fervent and loyal cult following. It you stir it, they will come, eh, Micah?
Eddie Hernandez, Taqueria Del Sol (Atlanta, GA)
Chef Eddie Hernandez and I really thought it was a good idea. We really liked the idea of chatting on a warm spring day on the enclosed, empty patio at the Howell Mill Road location of Taqueria Del Sol in Atlanta. The birds were so peaceful, we said, and it’s quiet out here, we said. But there is nothing quiet in the world of Eddie Hernandez. This energetic man has been going full tilt since the age of 16 when he started a music career, and so, sitting in his world for a mere 30 minutes, we heard traffic, the sound of increasing guests lining up waiting for him to unlock the restaurant doors, restaurant staff discussing mopping, a train, and well, that’s all the stuff I couldn’t cut out, except for the birds. Oh, the damn birds. But … for some of you out there, Eddie’s story might be one of the most important ones you ever hear on The Southern Fork. He’s not just a man who used to play music; he’s a man who believes food, and cooking, saved his life. Around the 10 minute mark we get into some heavy talk about a decision he made to change his life, and how he’s opened a new world because of it. And yes, there’s talk of tortillas and collard greens too. You’re invited to the patio to join us; just take mind of the birds.
Kat Kinsman, Extra Crispy (Live From FAB Charleston)
The first time my eyes beheld Kat Kinsman was on my TV screen. There was this woman chatting about food on CNN, and she seemed goth? I thought, how good do you have to be to a CNN food reporter? and a food reporter allowed to express your own style on a mainstream news outlet? Well, the answer is pretty damn good. Kat Kinsman is the former managing editor of CNN’s Eatocracy who now is the food and drinks editor for Time Inc’s all-breakfast site Extra Crispy. She has written a book called Hi, Anxiety: Life With a Bad Case of Nerves, and that website I just mentioned, chefswithissues.com, is her brainchild. She is a force. And she is fully herself as much as she can be, courageous enough to tell her story, and brave enough to live beyond it. She has been a constant behind-the-scenes cheerleader in my professional food media life, but this story she tells here is for you. How do you find your calling? How do you step into new roles, the thing you want to do, are passionate about, but don’t know what that even is? How did she get all these jobs, follow her path to here? Food is just the beginning of this conversation, but don’t think we’re all sappy all the time. Kat also has a wicked sharp sense of humor, and we can’t help but giggle a bit too.