Chefs Discuss the Changing Culture of Southern Food

Chefs from around the Triangle joined John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance and a columnist for Garden & GunOxford American, and Southern Living, at Meredith on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, for the premiere of Un Buen Carnicero and a panel discussion about the evolution of southern cuisine as a result of the region’s changing demographics.

Edge introduced Un Buen Carnicero, a short documentary made by Vittles Films for the Southern Foodways Alliance Greenhouse Project. The film explores the ways Mexican and southern culture complement each other at Cliff’s Meat Market, a butcher shop located in Carrboro, N.C.

After the screening, Edge moderated a conversation between Chef Ricky Moore of Saltbox Seafood Joint in Durham; Chef Ashely Christensen of Poole’s Diner, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s, Fox Liquor Bar, and Joule Coffee, all located in downtown Raleigh; Chef Andrea Reusing of Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill; Chef Scott Crawford of Standard Foods and Nash Tavern, formerly Executive Chef of the Umstead Hotel and Spa and Herons restaurant in Cary; and local farmers and entrepreneurs Jamie DeMent and Richard Holcomb of Coon Rock Farm and Bella Bean Organics, Heirloom Provisions, and Piedmont Restaurant.

The panel shared their individual definitions of southern food and what emerging culinary trends mean for the future of southern cuisine. “The culture of food is always evolving,” said Christensen, who added that change allows for more interesting and engaging food.

The discussion veered into broader topics, with the panelists taking questions about the term “farm-to-table” and farmworker advocacy.

DeMent supported the idea giving the term “farm-to-table” a more meaningful definition in an effort to “not just feed people, but educate them.” For DeMent, education is key. By understanding how food is produced and the impacts of food policy, people can make smarter decisions about what they consume.

Reusing shared her desire to see the evolution of southern food include increased farmworker advocacy – including measuring restaurants by the way they treat they people with whom they work. She said she would like to see the conversation about natural resources shift to include human resources.

The panel’s outlook for the future of southern food is hopeful. “The South is changing – diversifying,” said Edge. “Food is one way to grasp that progress.”

The event was hosted by the Meredith Master of Science in Nutrition.

Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330