When you think of healthy fats, natural sweeteners, and gluten-free flours, you don't think of Southern food. It's a cuisine built on bleached flour and butter. "Pretty Southern is the exact opposite of that," says Chef Sam Talbot about his new Brooklyn restaurant opening this month. Talbot's Pretty Southern will play with the flavors of the South, re-imagining them in innovative, healthful new ways. Talbot has been in the food and restaurant scene for quite some time now. After appearing on Bravo's Top Chef, he went on to open Montauk, New York's cultish Surf Lodge and Pig + Poet in Camden, Maine. A diabetic since age 12, Talbot recounted his experiences with the condition with his book, The Sweet Life: Diabetes Without Boundaries. We caught up with the chef to learn more about his new restaurant. Be sure to whip up his vegan and gluten-free chocolate and blueberry cookies.
mbg: How do you start your morning when you know you have a long shift ahead of time?
Sam Talbot: I meditate, walk my dogs, drink green juice and ginger, and I'm out the door. I skate to work, which is almost therapeutic. Skating is like surfing in some ways. When you are cruising, your mind is free. Before the storm...
mbg: What are your favorite ingredients?
ST: Chili vinegar, cinnamon, chilies in all forms, vinegar, and honey.
mbg: What is your advice for overcoming stressful times when in the kitchen?
ST: Take deep breaths and enjoy the ride; this is the time of your life!
mbg: And how did you come up with the menu for Pretty Southern? What should people expect?
ST: Southern food usually comes with connotations of being extra fatty, extra salty, extra dairy, extra this, and extra that. We do have delicious fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits, of course. But we also offer them gluten-free as well. We have fried-free chicken, which is our version of rotisserie chicken, vegan desserts, all of the celebrated Southern food you know and love done organically, sustainably, and deliciously. Our Champagne and rose cocktails are the perfect pairing to wash it all down.
mbg: What's your favorite dish to make for friends?
ST: I just love cooking for them in general. But when I do my fried chicken everybody gets all excited so let's go with that.