Southern food

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Joined Nov 26, 2016
I wanted to get whoever sees fit to reapond’s opinion; should southern chefs open southern restaurants outside of the south? Why or why not?
 
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Joined Mar 14, 2018
Yeah, especially if you have a good niche business. Good food is good food. You might have to compromise a bit, like I know in the Carolinas they like to put slaw on everything. I don't mind that but I know it won't go over well with everyone outside of that region.
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
Sure. As long as the food is authentic and good. Restaurant owners have so precious few advantages to utilize in keeping their ventures afloat. One of those advantages is providing unique food in an area where that food cannot be found i.e. Southern food in North etc. But, it has to be done right. The food must be authentic and it must be good. I have seen the most brilliant business models fail because the food was not authentic and/or good.

Think about it. How well would an authentic Southern roadhouse BBQ joint do in Michigan? I bet it would explode.
 
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Joined Nov 26, 2016
I’m a white guy born and raised around soul/southern food. It’s in my blood and my heart. But I don’t want to be a chef convicted of appropriation. It’s really touchy seeing as it is a style of food created out of hardship by enslaved people, my ancestors were more than likely slave holders. A fact I’m not proud of mind you, but it makes it seem messy for me to open a restaurant that serves this type of food and profit off of it. It seems like white people just profiting off of black people all over again.
 
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Joined Mar 14, 2018
I’m a white guy born and raised around soul/southern food. It’s in my blood and my heart. But I don’t want to be a chef convicted of appropriation. It’s really touchy seeing as it is a style of food created out of hardship by enslaved people, my ancestors were more than likely slave holders. A fact I’m not proud of mind you, but it makes it seem messy for me to open a restaurant that serves this type of food and profit off of it. It seems like white people just profiting off of black people all over again.
As long as you're celebrating the food and it's history
I’m a white guy born and raised around soul/southern food. It’s in my blood and my heart. But I don’t want to be a chef convicted of appropriation. It’s really touchy seeing as it is a style of food created out of hardship by enslaved people, my ancestors were more than likely slave holders. A fact I’m not proud of mind you, but it makes it seem messy for me to open a restaurant that serves this type of food and profit off of it. It seems like white people just profiting off of black people all over again.
Then you make the business a celebration of the food and it's story and not about you.
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
I know a Chef who owns a Cajun restaurant in a rural American small town.
He gets most things flown in but does travel to the Bayou every once in a while to procure items and have them shipped back.
The place is amazing and busy with people lined up outside and down the street.

It's all about the food.
 
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
I would hate to be pigeonholed into being only able to cook "American middle class white guy" food.

Food, cuisine, and culture are meant to be shared, communal, and bring people together. What better way than around a dining table celebrating the differences, the similarities, and the opening of minds.
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2008
I'm a white boy born in Central Florida.. to a father that was born a few blocks from where I still live. Listen, call it what you will, southern food or soul food. If you try hard enough you can put a racial connotation on just about anything, and in this case "Soul Food" is generally considered to be African American of origin but when people live together for centuries the lines are blurred. There were a lot of poor whites in the South and a lot of poor Blacks in the south. The cuisine is generally drawn from either readily available or affordably sourced ingredients (collard greens, pork jowl vs. loin, etc.). It needed to provide nourishment for physical work. I'm not talking about slavery, my father worked the fields of his fathers farm as a youngster. And finally one thing that is consistent is it is a form of comfort food. I can assure you the food came from many influences - corn bread originated with Native Americans. You should be proud that you are part of the cuisine if you were born and raised around it, it is as much yours as anyone's.
 
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Joined Jun 23, 2015
Finding the proper ingredients for regional cuisines can be a problem. It is easier now than in the past. If you want country ham you may have to order and ship. I found buying fresh turnip greens and white corn meal impossible to find in AZ one time. Watch your food cost. Are you going to serve cheap meat and threes or upscale?
 
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Joined Aug 26, 2016
I’m a white guy born and raised around soul/southern food. It’s in my blood and my heart. But I don’t want to be a chef convicted of appropriation. It’s really touchy seeing as it is a style of food created out of hardship by enslaved people, my ancestors were more than likely slave holders. A fact I’m not proud of mind you, but it makes it seem messy for me to open a restaurant that serves this type of food and profit off of it. It seems like white people just profiting off of black people all over again.

You have too damn much guilt, brother. Get over it.
 
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Joined Aug 26, 2016
Cooking barbecue pork, barbecued chicken, fried chicken, and a passel of good 'ol southern vegetables right now for my lunch buffet. I ain't guilty one dang bit. It's food that was taught to me by my grandparents & their grandparents before them. Just because I'm white doesn't mean a flipping thing. What a crock...
 

pete

Moderator
Staff member
4,509
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Joined Oct 7, 2001
I’m a white guy born and raised around soul/southern food. It’s in my blood and my heart. But I don’t want to be a chef convicted of appropriation. It’s really touchy seeing as it is a style of food created out of hardship by enslaved people, my ancestors were more than likely slave holders. A fact I’m not proud of mind you, but it makes it seem messy for me to open a restaurant that serves this type of food and profit off of it. It seems like white people just profiting off of black people all over again.
There is a difference between soul food and Southern food although the lines can and do blur quite a bit. As I see it, soul food is a subset of the larger Southern food set. Southern food can refer to Cajun, creole, low country, soul, most barbecue, much of Texas cuisine, as well as various other misc. dishes. Nor is all Southern food, food of the poor, rural folk.

As to the OP, chef's do open and should continue to open, restaurants all around the country, and the world, that glorify various aspects of Southern cooking. And why wouldn't they?
 
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Joined Oct 1, 2006
Hi andyc10!

Sure you should, open a place called "Guilty White boy!" Give all non-caucasians a discount because of your guilt! Bad joke...

You could also look at it as providing a taste of home to the black community where you set up shop! If you really can cook Southern delights, anyone that wants Southern food will stop and try it. If they like it, they will return and maybe with some friends! Good food has a way of making people happy... Just focus on making people happy with your food!

For any Soul food item I made, the only thing I ever concerned myself with was "How does this dish compare with what my black co-workers expect". Because Good food is good food! I would just ask anyone from the South what they thought about my Collards and Black-eyed Peas. I would ask any Mexican co-worker the same for my Salsas and my Puerto Rican friends for their thoughts about the rice and black beans. I have received some great tips from people that grew up eating something I didn't. The regional differences are amazing. I grew up in Wisconsin but, when I see the smile, hear "Yeah baby, that's rockin!" and returning for seconds and thirds I know I did OK.

Good food transcends everything!
 
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pete

Moderator
Staff member
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Joined Oct 7, 2001
I understand what that article is trying to do, but I think they are pushing their obvious agenda too hard. Sure, many of the foods of the South can trace their origins back to Africa, and thus African-American's but I would say that those foods came over so long ago, and have been a part of Southern cuisine, especially for the poor (both white and black alike) that they are an intregal part of just not "soul" food, but a lot of Southern food also. No cuisine lives in a vacuum. French food wouldn't be what it is today with the Medici's, who were from Italy. So is French food really Italian food? Much of the cuisine of Europe relies on foods discovered in the New World. Are they doing a disservice to native North Americans? I understand cultural appropriation, but in the American South the line between "Southern" food and "Soul" food is very blurry, and sometimes one of the only differences is how you market it.
 
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Joined Jun 23, 2015
I read the article and it sounded like the author wanted it to sound as a peer reviewed paper would sound. But quoting National Geographic is lame. I was in grade school the last time I used NG as as source and it was all black and white pictures. Also the accuracy was in question. Sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America, not Africa. Soul food is a microcuisine of the plantation south cuisine. If it is good food who cares who cooked it. I found that the kitchens are a great melting pot. How about Robot cuisine?
 

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