Chef Hugh Acheson is one of the most celebrated and influential chefs in the country.
Today, he has three restaurants in Athens, Georgia: The National, Five and Ten, and Cinco y Diaz. His Empire State South is one of the most popular places to dine in Atlanta and his new restaurant called The Florence is set to open in Savannah in May.
Hugh is a two-time James Beard Award winner, once as a chef and once for his cookbook, A New Turn in the South. You may have seen him on television competing on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters or as a judge on the show Top Chef.
Cynthia Graubart attained culinary celebrity status last year when she won a James Beard Award for the cookbook she co-wrote with famed Southern author Nathalie Dupree. It’s called Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, and it is amazing. It took four years to write, and it weighs six and a half pounds. It’s got 750 recipes and another 650 variations on the standards. It is becoming itself a standard--a bible--for any Southern cook.
Eudora Welty was one of the South’s most beloved writers, and her fiction is still a study in detail and dialogue and wit. Her settings were often Southern, but her themes were universal. Eudora won multiple awards in her lifetime, including a Pulitzer in 1973 for her novel The Optimist’s Daughter. She passed away in 2001.
The audio you hear of Eudora in this episode is part of folklorist Bill Ferris' recent book The Storied South, which is a collection of interviews with iconic writers, musicians, historians, photographers and artists.
I first featured Bill in Episode 10, and we talked extensively about his 40-year career and how the South has perfected the art of storytelling.
In this episode, Bill returns to tell us about his close friendship with the famous Southern writer.
From THE STORIED SOUTH: VOICES OF WRITERS AND ARTISTS by William Ferris. Copyright © 2013 by William Ferris.
I believe that okra symbolizes the ever-evolving definition of the South. It is Southern to the core, but as a non-native plant, okra had to become Southern. In my search for an answer to the question, "What is Southern?" I talk to my grandmother about her fried okra, the Director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the former editor-in-chief of Southern Living magazine, and a Korean-born pop singer-turned-chef who fries okra in tempura batter at her Southern barbecue joint in Atlanta.