Charleston's Husk restaurant celebrates farm-to-table purity

Tue Sep 6, 2011 5:45pm EDT
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By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - Contrary to popular notions, not every southern cook relies on the deep-fat fryer.

At Charleston, South Carolina's Husk, named No. 1 new restaurant in the U.S. by Bon Appetit magazine this month, executive chef Sean Brock prefers to roast, bake or smoke meat and vegetables in his wood-fired oven and wood-fired smokers.

Brock, 33, makes only one concession to the deep-fat practice, an appetizer of fried chicken skins with hot sauce and honey.

His philosophy is farm-to-table purity, and he buys only from small farmers within the South.

Pigs come from Virginian Bev Eggleston's EcoFriendly Foods, butter from South Carolina's Happy Cow Creamery. Brock mixes the butter with lard to create "pork butter" that diners slather on buttermilk rolls.

He imports olive oil from Texas but makes his own malt vinegar, ketchup and sea salt from ocean water 80 miles offshore.

"Southern cooking is cooking that's at arm's length influenced by the cultures around you or the cultures before you," Brock told Reuters during a recent brief calm period between lunch and supper.

"But there are so many cultural influences all over the region that it was just making my head spin. I decided to remove the cultural aspect and just focus on products. This cuisine is a celebration of Southern ingredients. It makes the food so simple."   Continued...