My buddy, Bill Smith, Chef of Chapel Hill’s Crook’s Corner, received a great honor today when he was named one of the five finalists for the James Beard Award‘s Best Chef in the Southeast. Another friend, John Currence of Oxford, Mississippi’s City Grocery, was nominated again for Best Chef in the South. And Kathleen Purvis, the fantastic food editor of the Charlotte Observer got a nomination, too, for her piece, “The Belly of the Beast.”
I couldn’t be happier for all of these folks, as they are three of the kindest, most generous individuals in the world. Bill Smith would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. And Johnny Snack (as Currence is known) was the primary force in the re-building of Willie Mae Seaton’s Scotch House in New Orleans. Kathi always has a great answer for me when I have a food question.
Additional congrats to Sean Brock of Charleston’s McGrady’s for his nomination as the Rising Star Chef, honoring those 30 and under, and Hugh Acheson of Athens, Georgia’s Five and Ten. I’ve enjoyed tossing a few drinks back with these guys, too.
All of these folks are members of the Southern Foodways Alliance, the single best food organization in the country. But more importantly, they’re my friends, they’re great people, and boy oh boy, I hope they win!