A Helping of Gravy: Toques and Tomes

Toques and TomesHere’s a tidbit from the latest issue of our Gravy quarterly. (Not an SFA member? Join us to start receiving Gravy on the regular. Or look for it at Billy Reid stores; Highlands Bar & Grill, Bottega, and Chez Fonfon in Birmingham; Star Provisions in Atlanta; Main Street Meats in Chattanooga, and the Alabama Chanin Factory in Florence, AL.)

Toques and Tomes

The South’s chefs, bartenders, and artisans read more than just cookbooks. We asked a handful of friends to tell us about their favorite works of literature.

Hugh Acheson, chef-owner, 5&10, Athens, GA: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, by Mordecai Richler, speaks to my Canadian roots.

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John Currence, chef-owner, City Grocery, Oxford, MS: Joe, by Larry Brown, is a favorite of mine. It’s as if Cormac McCarthy and Ernest Hemingway had a big, bad baby.

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Nathalie Dupree, cookbook author, Charleston, SC: My favorite novel is The Passionate Epicure, by Marcel Rouff. It echoes my own philosophy and is written with humor and wisdom.

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Diane Flynt, cider maker, Foggy Ridge Cider, Dugspur, VA: Essays are my preferred genre. My current favorite is More Scenes from the Rural Life, by Verlyn Klinkenborg. This wise author offers up beautiful words about the dailiness of rural living—the repetition and keen attention to detail that bring a note of grace to every farmer’s day.

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Chris Hannah, bartender, Arnaud’s French 75, New Orleans, LA: My favorite novel is All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren. Aside from my attraction to its depiction of the lore of New Orleans and Louisiana, Warren’s writing style has had such a profound effect on my own writing practices—I’ve even changed the way I write e-mails.

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Phoebe Lawless, chef-owner, Scratch Bakery, Durham, NC: I have read Lonesome Dove at least half a dozen times by now. I continue to be transfixed by Larry McMurtry’s sprawling landscapes and rich, hilarious, sad, compulsive characters. I even love the ridiculous mini-series!

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Edward Lee, chef, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY: My favorite novel from my favorite writer is William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. It’s a novel you read more than once because the first go-around, it creeps into your brain and blows up everything you ever thought you knew about how to tell a story. Once you gather yourself up again, you have no choice but to go back and marvel at the architecture of his words.

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Matthew McClure, chef, The Hive at the 21C, Bentonville, AR: Shogun, by James Clavell, is an awesome read. The way Clavell develops the characters through two different viewpoints, Eastern and Western, sets the tone for cultures colliding.

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Rodney Scott, pitmaster-owner, Scott’s Bar-B-Q, Hemingway, SC: I still love the Ray Bradbury short story “All Summer in a Day,” which I first read in sixth grade. It’s a good reminder to appreciate each moment.

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Bill Smith, chef, Crook’s Corner, Chapel Hill, NC: My favorite novel is Middlemarch, by George Eliot (aka Mary Anne Evans). It’s the story of people with lively minds who learn the deliciousness of using them—or don’t.

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Frank Stitt, chef-owner, Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, AL: On my list of all time favorite novels are The Brothers Karamazov, Moby Dick, Lonesome Dove, The Odyssey, The Alexandria Quartet, The Sun Also Rises, and The Fellowship of the Ring. These are books that capture your soul, take you on an incredible journey, and share insights about struggle and striving.