Todd Richards, author of the recently released Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Revolution in 150 Recipes, grounds his career in fine dining, having come from The Ritz-Carlton Hotels and The Oakroom in The Seelbach Hilton in Louisville, Ky. Understanding the methods and techniques behind gastronomy, the Atlanta native translated those skills into a Southern vernacular as corporate chef role at One Flew South, as well as Chef owner of The Shed at Glenwood, and the Pig & The Pearl in Atlantic Station. He is currently Executive Chef of White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails in downtown Atlanta and Richards’ Southern Fried in Krog Street Market.
Todd has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and was named one of the “Four New Chefs to Watch” by Esquire Magazine in 2012. He is a James Beard Award Best Chef Semifinalist and serves on the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival’s Founder’s Council.
His debut cookbook, Soul, sends the message that cooks can honor tradition, yet be liberated to explore. Todd celebrates the restorative wonders of a classic pot of Collard Greens with Ham Hocks, yet doesn’t shy away from building upon that foundational recipe with his Collard Green Ramen, a reinterpretation that incorporates far-flung flavors of cultural influences and exemplifies culinary evolution. Todd shares his creativity and passion to highlight what soul food can be for a new generation of cooks. He shares with us his recipe for Heirloom Tomato Salad.
A great dish is about taking what you have and elevating it to something soulful, prompting everyone to ask, “What’s in this?” Lavender has mint- and basil-like qualities but also adds a flavor note most identified with France. If we dismiss the French influence on Soul cuisine, we might as well ignore New Orleans.
2 Brandywine, Black Krim, or other heirloom tomatoes (about 1 1⁄2 pounds)
4 Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, or other heirloom tomatoes (about 1 pound)
1⁄4 cup (2 ounces) Herb Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
12 dried culinary lavender flowers
8 pea tendrils or baby arugula leaves
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cut the large tomatoes into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices. (Reserve ends for another use, such as making tomato sauce.) Cut the small tomatoes into quarters. Arrange 2 to 4 tomato slices on each of 4 plates. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the Herb Vinaigrette.
Press the lavender flowers with the edge of a knife until they split. Sprinkle the tomato slices with some of the lavender. Top each salad with 4 to 6 tomato wedges. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle evenly with more lavender.
Top the salads with pea tendrils, and sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper.
To Drink: Barbera, sparkling Lambrusco, rosé, Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc
Serve with: Fish, pickled fish, shellfish; smoked meats and poultry; grilled meats and poultry; breads; other seasonal vegetables
1⁄2 cup (4 ounces) avocado oil or vegetable oil
1 shallot, halved lengthwise
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) aged red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon wildflower honey
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heat 1⁄4 cup of the oil in a saucepan over medium. Add the shallot. Brown 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat. Stir in vinegar. Cover, place over low heat, and cook until the shallot is tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender. Add the mustard, lemon juice, honey, thyme, and salt. Process on low speed 2 minutes until smooth. Remove center of the blender lid. With blender on low speed, slowly add the remaining 1⁄4 cup oil through the center of the blender lid and process until emulsified. Stir in the parsley. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Makes about 3 cups.
Erika Council is the charismatic writer and photographer behind Southern Soufflé, the blog that takes a southern-focused journey through the impact food has on community. Many of her recipes offer a twist on traditional soul food recipes. Erika has been featured in Food & Wine, The New York Times, The Local Palate Magazine, Food 52, Complex Magazine, Yahoo, Huffington Post, The Kitchn, and Yahoo, among others. She is currently working on a proposal for her debut cookbook, and we are thrilled to represent her. Erika, who runs Atlanta biscuit pop-up Bomb Biscuits, was recently on The Splendid Table to chat with Francis Lam about her secrets to making world-class biscuits. You can hear that interview here: https://www.splendidtable.org/episode/676
Originally from North Carolina, Erika currently resides in Atlanta. She attributes her passion for food and community to her grandmothers. One, affectionately called Dinnie, was a community champion. The other, Mildred (Dip), was a southern cooking icon and owner of Mama’s Dips Kitchen in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Erika is inspired by her heritage and the many contributions and achievements made by African Americans, such as those highlighted during Black History Month. “Black History is American History,” she said, “Those achievements help to weave the very fabric of the foundation this country sits on, and to me that should be recognized every day.”
Erika shares with us her recipe for Warm Molasses Bread, a dish that is adapted from her grandmother’s handwritten notes and that she feels best represents her because it is “a recipe with a story, one rooted in the history of North Carolina.”
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Jan. 11, 2016 | For Immediate Release
The Lisa Ekus Group is pleased to announce that Southern cooking authority and writer Virginia Willis and public media powerhouse WGBH are in development of a TV series to air nationally on public television stations.
SECRETS OF THE SOUTHERN TABLE: A Food Lovers Tour of the Global South™ is a 13-episode, half-hour cooking and travel show that showcases the cuisine of the traditional South with the vibrant new cooking of the modern South. Virginia is a nationally recognized, French-trained chef whose style of cooking is defined as “refined Southern cuisine,” a potent blend of classic technique, balanced flavors, and a keen sense of tradition.
Laurie Donnelly, WBGH Executive Producer for Lifestyles and Special Projects calls Virginia Willis “…a tremendous talent and with this series we are showing a side of Southern cuisine that viewers have not been exposed to before – the true food secrets of the South.” Boston-based WGBH-TV is the long-time home of The French Chef, Julia Child’s acclaimed television show, a leader in creating educational content, and PBS’s single largest producer for television, web, and mobile.
SECRETS OF THE SOUTHERN TABLE: A Food Lovers Tour of the Global South™ brings to life the rich culture and multi-faceted stories behind Southern food and cooking. Virginia will visit Southern farmers, artisans and producers, sharing their stories and the ways in which they impact the landscape of Southern cuisine. The series is an exploration of centuries-old ancient foodways and bold new direction from immigrants and international influences, showing viewers that the food of the South is equally catfish and churrasco, barbecue and bulgogi, cheese grits and curried goat. Filming is expected to begin in the summer of 2017.
About Virginia Willis
Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked Lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton, catered a bowling party for Jane Fonda, and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily – but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen.
Virginia is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, and Lighten Up, Y’all for Ten Speed Press as well as Okra, part of the UNC press SAVOR THE SOUTH® series, and Grits by Short Stack Editions. Named by the Chicago Tribune as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know,” her fans love her knack for giving classic French dishes a down-home comfort feel and reimagining Southern favorites.
She’s a contributing editor for Southern Living and creator of Down-Home Comfort on FoodNetwork.com. Her work has appeared on Food52.com and CNN.com, as well as in Eating Well, Fine Cooking, and All Recipes. She has been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today, Tasting Table, Serious Eats, Country Living, and House Beautiful, and quoted in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, as a judge on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown, and Martha Stewart Living Television. Learn more about Virginia and follow her culinary and travel exploits at www.virginiawillis.com.