Currently, Hugh Acheson is appearing as a judge on Top Chef Texas which I’ve been watching with hometown pride. He was also a recent competitor on Season Three of Top Chef Masters. When he’s not on TV, he’s busy as chef/partner of Five and Ten, The National, Gosford Wine, and Empire State South in Athens, Georgia. Hailing from Ottawa, Canada, he’s not a native to the US South, but over the years, he has developed his own approach to Southern cooking with a European influence. He was a Food and Wine Best New Chef in 2002, has been a James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southeast in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, was a 2007 Rising Star chosen by StarChefs.com, and was included as one of the 100 contemporary chefs in Phaidon Press' Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs. His new book is A New Turn in the South which offers 120 recipes showcasing his fresh take on Southern cuisine. With his busy schedule, I was lucky to steal a moment of his time to ask: what are you reading?
Vegetarian by Alice Hart
I think there is a health movement afoot in the food world that is going to embrace vegetable based diets more than ever. I am a huge proponent of a shrinking meat protein size on our dinner plates and filling in with an abundance of great local vegetables and grains. This beautiful book is a great generator of ideas for me these days, served up in a beautiful layout. Cool book. The North American edition is coming out in April, but I bought my fine copy at Omnivore Books, in San Francisco, one of the best cookbook stores in the whole wide world.
The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis
Edna was ahead of her time. She was a true woman chef in a male dominated trade. She was a refined voice that defined Southern food in a whole new light. This book recounts the flavors of her youth and is an essential read in realizing why Southern food is so pertinent now and how it has long been misunderstood. It’s less about lard than about blackberries and fresh eggs. Lovely book.
The Frankie’s Spuntino Kitchen Companion and Cooking Manual by Frank Falcinelli, Frank Castronovo, and Peter Meehan
Who else gets a bible printer to produce their book in a very old-timey edition that reads like a long lost primer of seasonal Italian food? The Franks are so stylish and current and curate the best little neighborhood spots, spots you would long to have in your hood. The book is great, and the words bounce off the page in such a happy way with the crafty sensibility of Pete Meehan, who co-wrote the Momofuku cookbook.
Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
I love the flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean and not since Wolfert’s The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean have I been this excited about a book focusing on the region. This book is getting used in our home kitchen. Soiled and dog-eared like all good cookbooks. The restaurant that it comes from is changing the way London eats with great to-go food and a really thought-through menu. Vegetable heavy again. The world is changing.
The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook
Because it’s awesome. Really great homage to the classic regional Junior League project. But better than they ever were.
Thank you for participating, Hugh. Check back to see who answers the question next time and what other books are recommended.
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