Friends Drift Inn Farm – On the Road in Charleston
Today’s Appalachian News Express has my Chef Sean Brock feature story. Here’s a look behind the scenes of the interview. Tomorrow, on this blog 3 Menopausal Women-3 Days in Charleston SC will feature food from Husk Restaurant and Friday there will be an in-depth interview with Chef Sean Brock Hillbilly, Preacher, Farmer, Chef.
Giggles and Tears A Morning with Chef Sean Brock
3 Pointy Toed Shoes Sisters -3 Days in Charleston SC
Enter Stage Right
He rolled up in a black four wheel drive pickup truck with duct tape holding on the rear tail light cover. He was late. Sheepishly, he hung his head and explained he would have been there earlier if a driver had not stopped in the middle of the road to have a very chatty conversation.
I laugh. It’s summertime in Charleston, South Carolina and the living is easy. Folks just don’t get too excited about timetables. I am not with The New Yorker Magazine which had spent the last three days grilling Brock about his life. I’m just a hillbilly girl from the Appalachian News Express.
I wear my sunglasses at night…so I can…so I can….
Behind dark sunglasses, underneath a Southern Foodways Alliance ball cap, it’s hard to read Chef Brock’s emotions. Is he hiding evidence of a night of moonshine and bourbon, or has the national limelight started to wear on this boy from the Appalachians? Maybe both.
He grabs a cool drink from inside, and then joins us on the sprawling porch at Husk Restaurant. His crisp vibrant heirloom vegetable tattoo contrasts sharply with the soft faded blues of his T-Shirt and jeans. He could use a shave. His smile is genuine, but cautious. I wonder what those Yankee media folks did to him?
30 Minutes Turns to 57
The interview starts slow. Chef Brock picks his words like I pick my blackberries. Choose one, inspect it for quality, roll it around awhile then ever so gently place it in a bucket. If I don’t like it, I throw it on the ground and look for a better one. That’s the way it is with Sean and his conversations.
I worry he is bored. I worry I will look like a blithering idiot. I worry that he won’t notice my perfectly pedicured feet, sporting red nail polish just for this occasion.
Will he remember Pikeville, KY is about an hour away from Wise VA?
Suddenly the background music crescendos and at the same time Brock has an epiphany. “Where did you girls say you were from?”
“Pikeville” we say like a trained chorus of sopranos….or maybe like three aging Hee-Haw girls.
Brock reared back with a belly laugh and his face outshined the hot Carolina sun.
“I guess you girls know about Leather Britches?” he asks, a mischievous grin tugging madly at the corners of his mouth like a freight train rolling downhill loaded with a shipment of black gold.
Apparently, them Yankee folks thought leather britches were something you wear. Leather britches are of course what we call green beans, strung up to dry for winter storage.
The porch comes alive with giggles. It was the pivotal moment in the interview.
From then on, the words and the laughter tumbled from Brock like a summer rainstorm moving through Johns Creek, at once captivating and arresting, yet somehow liberating. He giggled. He laughed. He showed off like a naughty little boy, proud of his accomplishments yet so wanting his guests to share his joy, his passion, his vision.
“I’m so proud of where I come from that it hurts.”
Brock has a way with words. Part poet, part southern gentleman, part fire and brimstone preacher, to listen to the chef Sean Brock spin tales of his Appalachian Heritage is to have balm applied to our wounds. It’s not easy deflecting attacks on our Appalachian way of life. Chef Brock understands.
When the interview concluded Sean shared three mason jars of canned goods with us. It’s what mountain folks do when they visit each other.
The hillbilly chef excused himself, and we settled in for lunch. Each of us was visibly moved. The tears flowed. But we were happy….and hungry.
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