It’s a two-part question: If you were invited to a fantasy literary-culinary potluck, what author (living or dead) would you bring as your guest, and what dish would you bring? We asked six chefs who’ll be in attendance at the Music City Food and Wine festival on September 15-17, 2017, when culinary experts from around the country come to show off their skills in Nashville. Here’s what they said:
John Besh (Owner: Besh Restaurant Group, including Marsh House, L.A. Jackson, and Killebrew in Nashville) I’d bring MFK Fisher, and I’d love to reproduce one of her early meals in Dijon. Perhaps a simple roast chicken that she mastered at a young age and a dish that has long inspired me as I read her delicious works while traveling through Burgundy decades later.
Nathan Duensing (Chef: Marsh House, L.A. Jackson, and Killebrew at the Thompson Hotel, Nashville) I would bring Charles Bukowski to dinner. The way he wrote about life for the common man has always captivated me, and I imagine having dinner and drinks with Charles would provide the kind of enlightenment you pick up day drinking at the bar at Brown’s Diner. As for what to bring, I would start off with an hors d’oeuvre of Deviled Ham on rye toast — hopefully he’d find the humor in that. For dinner, I’d bring something with German roots: braised veal cheeks with herb spaetzle, braised cabbage and pickled mustard seeds, paired with a nice German Riesling. I assume Charles would forgo dessert and have a cigarette, but I’d have a apple torte on standby, just in case.
Hugh Acheson (Restaurants in Athens and Atlanta: 5&10, The National, Empire State South, Spiller Park Coffee): I think bringing Mark Twain to any occasion would make the event brighter and more interesting, and what better way to feed an outspoken man than with a summer succotash salad with boiled dressing and picked blue crab?
Susan Feniger (Border Grill Restaurants and Trucks in Los Angeles and Las Vegas) I’d bring Gregory David Roberts, author of Shantaram. I think I loved this book so much because it took me back to India. I believe I might have had another life in India, so it rang so deep for me. I could imagine many dishes I’d do, but just for fun, I might have everyone try the Street cookbook’s coconut curry caramel corn, one of my favorite recipes. If I can bring two, I’ll also bring the curried popcorn from City Cuisine. Two popcorn recipes!
Alon Shaya (Domenica, Pizza Domenica and Shaya in New Orleans) I would bring one of my favorite authors, Joan Nathan, and make Yemenite bread called kubaneh with her to bring. She makes it the best, and she is one of my Jewish cooking mentors.
Maneet Chauhan (Morph Hospitality Group, which includes Chauhan Ale & Masala House, Tansuo, and The Mockingbird) As my guest, I’d bring Anthony Bourdain. The dish I’d bring is f#@$ing Monday fish stew. Why? If you’ve read Kitchen Confidential, you know why…
(Ed. note: According to Bourdain, it’s OK to eat fish stew on Mondays now!)