Thursday, May 23

Director's Cut: Cologne Water and Flights of Barbecue Fancy

An early copy of The Virginia Housewife. Image courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society.

"Director's Cut" is a weekly post from SFA director John T. Edge.  

One of the things I like most about my job is that I get to conspire with cooks and chefs and other smart folks on SFA menus. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been juggling two assignments from Melissa Hall, SFA’s assistant director and organizer of events.

For our first Summer Symposium, set for June 20-22, I’ve been talking to collaborators in Richmond who are devising menus for a dinner that pays homage to Mary Randolph, author of The Virginia Housewife (1824). Yesterday I talked to Beth Dixon, a member of the RVA Swappers, about the tomato marmalade she plans to serve, and the gin cocktails she plans to mix with “cologne water.”

My second assignment has been managing the menus for the Potlikker Film Festival, set for the evening of June 7 at Blue Smoke in New York City. Unlike the Summer Symposium, tickets are still available.

The lineup, which showcases the state of modern Southern cookery, will include Shem Creek barbecue roe shrimp from Mike Lata of the Ordinary in Charleston. And ramp salt–cured Simmons Farm delacata catfish with sweet peas and homemade buttermilk ricotta from Kyle Knall of Maysville in NYC.

Matt Kelly of Mateo Tapas in Durham will dish ensalada de chicharrones with baby collards, toasted peanuts, fried shallots, and Eastern N.C. BBQ vinagreta, while Joseph Lenn of Blackberry Farm in Tennessee will serve smoked quail, glazed with jam and black pepper in the [Leah] Chase style, with smoked potato salad, pickled ramps, and hickory gastrique.

I didn’t do much conspiring with Kenny Callaghan, the chef, pitmaster, and partner at Blue Smoke. After all, the event will take place on his home turf, within reach of his pits. I named his contribution "Flights of Barbecue Fancy."* If you know Kenny, you know that he’s a man’s man, and you recognize that my description of what he’ll cook and serve sounds a little fey. That’s another thing I enjoy about working on these menus: Sometime I get to mess with my friends.

*Editor's note: Just before this post went to press, Callaghan informed us that he will be serving spice-smoked lamb ribs with minted yogurt. We can't wait.