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

Chef Sean Brock's table is a time transport machine to antebellum South.

ByABC News
October 24, 2010, 9:03 AM

Sept. 24, 2010 — -- Chef Sean Brock is three parts studious historian, one part good ol' boy.

Determined to revive antebellum cuisine with heirloom ingredients, Brock is blasting Southern cooking into the 21st century at the renown McCrady's restaurant in Charleston, S.C. As executive chef, Brock is updating dishes that enticed George Washington when he ate in the very same building in 1791.

"That's our mission right now," said Brock, winner of the 2010 James Beard Best Chef: Southeast award. "You have to understand the history before you move forward."

Scouring the yellowing pages of old cookbooks and ancient farm journals, Brock found recipes chock full of ingredients dwindling in supply or no longer existent.

"You start seeing antebellum wheat, rice peas, Sea Island red peas, native corns," Brock said.

They were crops planted on rice plantations of the 1700s to help restore nutrients to the soil when crops were rotated. Soon they became part of the local diet, making their way into the mouth-watering recipes of the Old South.

"We should be cooking those ingredients. ... We should be able to replicate it because that's our biggest inspiration," Brock said.

His dedication to the past prompted a search for heirloom seeds and livestock, and sources were shared with local farmers.

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