Platelist: Sean Brock's Table Is a Time Transport Machine to Antebellum South


His love for cooking and for the South have fueled his quest to clear up misconceptions about Southern cooking, largely caused by the widespread use of canned and frozen ingredients and the prevalence of genetically modified foods to mass produce inexpensive, disease-resistant food.

"Southern food isn't about big plates of fried chicken and overcooked pots of collard greens. Southern food is about ingredients, and craftsmanship," Brock said.

That means "raising some eyebrows" with simple ingredients like pork and corn, he said.

"Eat a piece of country ham and drink a little bit of bourbon and tell me it's not the most amazing thing you've ever had," he said. "It's the craftsmanship, tradition and care put into those ingredients. It's the patience that tastes so good."

"The South kicks ass," Brock said of the popularity of dishes even George Washington enjoyed when he toured the Southern states and dined in the 1788 brick Georgian mansion now occupied by McCrary's and listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks.

"I love it, I live it and I want other people to experience it because I know how awesome it is."

Freshness of ingredients is so vital that Brock ventures into the field to pick his own fennel and goes to the dock to get stone crab that's still warm from being cooked onboard the boat as soon as it's harvested from the sea. He's also devised a way to lure 800-pound pigs grazing freely on six acres into a trailer on their way to becoming pork chops.

"They like Froot Loops. You make little Froot Loop trails," Brock said. "I had to lasso one once. Or at least I had the idea. Then I did it and it didn't work so good. I needed a horse or something."

So what does a sophisticated chef with a hand in centuries-old culinary sensations crave himself?

"My favorite food that I'm embarrassed to talk about eating is definitely Slim Jims," Brock said. "They're so delicious. That's Southern charcuterie. It has such a pleasant snap."

CLICK HERE to try some of chef Brock's recipes.

CLICK HERE for the full Platelist archive.

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