When some Southerners talk about what they like to eat, using the word “food” simply will not do.
Two chefs who have spread the influence of an African-American flair on Southern dishes refer to it as nothing short of cuisine.
Todd Richards of The Shed at Glenwood, a popular East Atlanta restaurant and Duane Nutter of the One Flew South restaurant at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport explained their philosophy on “City Lights” on Wednesday.
Begun in 2010, the festival emphasizes all types of Southern food. Nutter goes a few steps further, coining the dishes he serves on Concourse E as “Southernational" in scope.
“It’s a combination of digging back into your past and your future as you think about what you’re doing as a chef,” said Nutter, who was born in Louisiana and spent part of his youth in Seattle.
One Flew South features a constant Southern item on Nutter’s traveler-focused menu.
“There’s always a grit rotation ─ I’m a big fan of grits,” he said. “There’s always a grit thing going on.”
Richards, a Chicagoan who came to Atlanta for Freaknik and stayed, regards cooking in general and Southern cooking in particular as an authentic artistic expression.
The tricky part is perfecting the art ─ as well the science ─ of even the most basic Southern food items. “The most temperamental thing you can make,” he said, is the ubiquitous buttermilk biscuit.
“Southern cooking is way more sophisticated than what the country at one time gave the South credit for,” Richards said.