Monday, December 12, 2011

Confessions of a dangerous mind: Sean Brock's cookbook collection

If you know anything about Sean Brock, of McCrady's and Husk in Charleston, you know he's one of the most talented chefs working in the South these days. He's also got a demented way with discovering things that taste crazy-good, like fried chicken skin dipped in Tabasco and honey.

In a fascinating interview on, Brock goes into depth about his obsession with cookbook collecting. Sure, he likes the modern, cutting-edge stuff - cheffy books like French Laundy and Eleven Madison Park and edgy Thai cookbooks. But what he really goes for are the very old Southern cookbooks, and books written long before he was born.

This is Brock on the Time-Life "Foods of the World" series: "Going back, looking at these books, people weren't afraid to cook then. You go to the Good Cook pork book and they're like deboning whole pigs and stuffing them and sewing them back up and cooking them and why are we scared to do that in books now? Because we want to sell books and we're afraid people aren't going to do that now. You look back on these books, though, and there's really complex stuff in there intended for home cooks. So I just love those books to death. Those are really inspiring and the photography is so cool in them."

Read about here. It's good thinking from a young man who is turning out seriously good food in a city not very far from our own. (One warning: Like a lot of young chefs, he doesn't always edit his language. C'est la vie.)