Chef travels the United States to find ‘buttermilk graffiti’

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“Buttermilk Graffiti”

April 17, 2018

320 pages

$ 27.50

Posted by Workman Publishing

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chefedwardlee.com/books-tv/buttermilk-graffiti/

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“Buttermilk Graffiti”

April 17, 2018

320 pages

$ 27.50

Posted by Workman Publishing

workman.com

chefedwardlee.com/books-tv/buttermilk-graffiti/

Read more

“Buttermilk Graffiti”

April 17, 2018

320 pages

$ 27.50

Posted by Workman Publishing

workman.com

chefedwardlee.com/books-tv/buttermilk-graffiti/

Read more

“Buttermilk Graffiti”

April 17, 2018

320 pages

$ 27.50

Posted by Workman Publishing

workman.com

chefedwardlee.com/books-tv/buttermilk-graffiti/

Read more

“Buttermilk Graffiti”

April 17, 2018

320 pages

$ 27.50

Posted by Workman Publishing

workman.com

chefedwardlee.com/books-tv/buttermilk-graffiti/

Read more

“Buttermilk Graffiti”

April 17, 2018

320 pages

$ 27.50

Posted by Workman Publishing

workman.com

chefedwardlee.com/books-tv/buttermilk-graffiti/

Read more

“Buttermilk Graffiti”

April 17, 2018

320 pages

$ 27.50

Posted by Workman Publishing

workman.com

chefedwardlee.com/books-tv/buttermilk-graffiti/

Read more

“Buttermilk Graffiti”

April 17, 2018

320 pages

$ 27.50

Posted by Workman Publishing

workman.com

chefedwardlee.com/books-tv/buttermilk-graffiti/

Read more

“Buttermilk Graffiti”

April 17, 2018

320 pages

$ 27.50

Posted by Workman Publishing

workman.com

chefedwardlee.com/books-tv/buttermilk-graffiti/

Read more

“Buttermilk Graffiti”

April 17, 2018

320 pages

$ 27.50

Posted by Workman Publishing

workman.com

chefedwardlee.com/books-tv/buttermilk-graffiti/

Chef Edward Lee has certainly been marinated in his own melting pot of food as a culture.

“I grew up in Brooklyn in an immigrant neighborhood, so I was exposed to many different cuisines at a young age,” says Lee, a Korean-American who is the author of “Smoke & Pickles” and “Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting Pot Cuisine.” Https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2021/nov/25/cuisine-as-culture-chef-travels-us-to-find/ “I watched my grandmother cook every day in our home kitchen, and I still remember the smell of her cooking.”

PBS describes Lee, featured in Season 3 of “The Mind of a Chef,” as “a part of southern soul, part of Asian spice, and part of New York attitude,” saying his “style culinary inspiration draws on its Asian heritage, its Training in New York City and its embrace of the southern United States. ” His cooking, which became popular at a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky called 610 Magnolia, earned him a nomination as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Awards Best Chef: Southeast in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, according to his biography. . It has been featured in Esquire, Bon Appétit, GQ, Gourmet among many other publications; won on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America”; was a favorite on “Top Chef: Texas, Season 9”; and has appeared on shows ranging from Cooking Channel’s “Foodography” to Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods America”.

Her book “Buttermilk Graffiti” was selected this year for the University of Arkansas’ 14th Annual One Book, One Community Reading Project. An initiative of the American Library Association, One Book, One Community, aims to encourage the shared experience of reading the same book.

“What if everyone read the same book and join all these readers in talking about it?” That’s the idea behind One Book, ”says the ALA website. “A state or city chooses a book and encourages everyone in that region to read and discuss the book.” According to the J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences website, “its success on campus and in the community prompted Chancellor G. David Gearhart to endow the project with a permanent budget, building on the Private donation money to the Chancellor’s Fund “helping” build a program that enriches the education of our students and becomes a memorable experience for the entire community. “

Previous selections have included “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, “What It’s Like to Go to War” by Karl Marlantes, “The Working Poor” by David Shipler and “The Devil’s Highway” by Luis Urrea.

***

Lee says he’s “always been obsessed with food, and I can’t remember a time when I wanted to be more than a chef.” But his love affair with Southern cuisine and the city of Louisville began when he went to the Kentucky Derby in 2001 and spent the rest of his time there cooking at 610 Magnolia. It took her a little over a year to leave New York City and enter what PBS calls “the dialogue of the flourishing New South food scene.”

The title of his book, “Buttermilk Graffiti,” was “a poetic shortcut for my life,” Lee says in the introduction. “Buttermilk is the iconic ingredient of the southern United States, an ingredient that I not only learned to cook with, but learned to love. Graffiti is the art form that inspired my identity first, the thing that connects me to memories of my youth in Brooklyn in the 1980s. Each word in and of itself is important but one-dimensional. However, when they come together they become the complete story of who I am . “

Lee says it was the “Smoke & Pickles” book tour that showed him America and “gave me a perspective I’ve never had before.”

“I ate great food everywhere I went, but more than that, I listened to beautiful, improbable stories told by people from all walks of life, stories that weren’t necessarily about food, but which was about me. helped put what I ate in a greater cultural context. “

As an example, Lee tells the story of Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he found that the best soul food in town came from the local Chinese restaurant and the Lebanese influence in the community meant you could find dishes like kibbeh at a local restaurant. In Lowell, Mass., He said, there were more Cambodian restaurants than in New York City, just as there were more Korean restaurants in Montgomery, Ala. And in Houston, people lined up early to eat Nigerian cuisine prepared by a former Nigerian prince. who moved to Texas in 1997 to work as an agricultural engineer.

As Lee writes of his experience at Clarksdale: “This is America. Maybe not the white-fence version we’re used to seeing, but the one that exists in every city just below the surface, embodied in the diverse labor economy. “

***

For Lee, success came with responsibility. In 2018, in response to the #MeToo movement, Lee launched the “LEE – Let’s Empower Employment” initiative with the goal of diversifying the culinary arts. But when the pandemic struck, he led a transition to feeding the hungry and jobless people of his industry from the kitchen at 610 Magnolia. By Memorial Day 2020, Imbibe magazine reported, the effort had increased to 19 relief kitchens serving more than 200,000 meals to those struggling in the restaurant industry.

“When [covid-19] happened, I knew immediately that this was going to be a problem and people were going to be hungry, ”Lee told Imbibe. : I had laid off 100 people, so I was able to keep some of my key employees and say to them: “Do you want to go into relief mode? “”

The crisis has highlighted several urgent needs in the restaurant industry, Lee told Imbibe, including “a safety net, we need to be more aligned, we need a lobbyist, we need a unification, we must be a collective voice that can speak to government. “

“We’re a trillion dollar industry, but nobody sees it that way,” he told Imbibe. “I think that’s what this crisis has really shown: both the greatness of what independent restaurants can do, but also the flaws, is that we are not united, we are hundreds of thousands independent agents. This exercise … has shown that we can be a united voice, protect each other and protect ourselves. “

***

In “Buttermilk Graffiti” Lee says that “the words authenticity and tradition are used a lot in the food world”. Authenticity can be exclusive, he says, while tradition is a concept he endorses.

“We are nothing without our traditions,” he says in the introduction to “Buttermilk Graffiti.” Https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2021/nov/25/cuisine-as-culture-chef-travels -us- to-find / “Our identities are formed from them. I have never been in conflict over the beauty of the traditions that my family follows. I always eat Korean rice cake soup on the day of New Years, as was the tradition in my house when I was growing up and I also love Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. ” Her favorite comfort food? Fried chicken.

The danger, he says, is using tradition as a means of elevating the culture of one people over another.

“My kimchi bologna sandwich is as tasty as your mortadella muffuletta,” he writes, “and your cacciatore tofu is as good as your mother-in-law’s Tuscan version. In the short but incredibly rich history of cooking American, we all write our own encyclopedia entries. “

For Lee, the greatest legacy of watching his grandmother in the kitchen is not a recipe but an attitude.

“She did it all from scratch and with love,” he says. “She always had 10 different dishes and sauces at the same time. It was my first culinary education.”

He also learned his definition of American cuisine: “Any food that came to our shores from another country and had to adapt to local ingredients and sensitivities. “

What makes a particular dish, a particular restaurant, a particular recipe excellent rather than just good, is “when you can feel the love in the food,” he says.

“Anyone can cook, it just takes practice. Everyone cares, you just haven’t found the right recipe.”

Becca Martin-Brown is editor-in-chief of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at [email protected]

Chef Edward Lee’s book “Buttermilk Graffiti” was selected this year for the University of Arkansas’ 14th Annual One Book, One Community Reading Project. An initiative of the American Library Association, One Book, One Community, aims to encourage the shared experience of reading the same book. (Courtesy photo / Jolea Brown for Edward Lee)

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