Don’t know Hugh? Well, he’s been a contestant and a judge on a little show called “Top Chef” he also tied for the 2012 James Beard “Best Chef Southeast” award – which is like the Oscars for the food world. His cookbook has also won a Beard award. He has an awesome restaurant including two in Athens (Five & Ten and The National) and another in Atlanta (Empire State South). He’s also a highly entertaining tweeter (@hughacheson).
The focus of the gathering was to highlight food security issues across the globe (check the links above to learn more). The featured ingredient was the vitamin rich sweet potato. Hugh whipped up a mind blowingly good sweet potato soup. I was inspired to try my own, less impressive version, at home (sweet potatoes, apples, onions, olive oil to sweat the onions in, chicken stock – topped with pears, pecans and a dollop of maple syrup) and it was easier and tastier than I expected.
I jotted down a bunch of notes during the demo and here are the things I found the most interesting and thought I would share here. Check ‘em out…
Notes I took during Hugh’s demo:
Focus on FLAVOR
Inexpensive cooking is transferrable knowledge.
(Jokingly) “The difference between home cooks and restaurant chefs? Finer strainers. THAT’S IT.”
Salt is a flavor extractor (pulls liquid from vegetables, cures bacons – it pulls flavor out). It’s not a spice.
The issue in the US is not that we don’t have enough food, it’s that we have too much crappy food.
If everyone in the US ate according to USDA guidelines, there wouldn’t be enough fruit and vegetables available. (is that true? Whoa!!!)
Invest in your community.
Facebook takes too much time and I don’t care what your cat is doing.
Take my demo recipe and make a full meal – add roasted chicken to the top, roasted apple…
On cooking dinner at home: “The inconvenience of good food, should not be an inconvenience.”
Food culture change is needed at lower rungs of economic scale.
If I can make a difference for food with any amount of people, I’m happy.
An answer to hunger is making food accessible regardless of how much money someone makes.
A sweet potato is so simple and so awesome. It’s a staple from 400 years ago. It’s something so common and you can make it so good. It’s versatile. (Roast slices in maple syrup, make as a salad featuring soup ingredients). Use the sweet potato as a jumping off point for flavors – add apple, cinnamon, chicken. Top it with maple syrup – for his soup, he called it the marshmallow from a sweet potato casserole in liquid form.
He saw bay leaves at the store for $12.99 a jar! Said to dry them out from fresh and keep in the freezer.
For his last meal he would have: Carrots, Marrow, Roasted Fish and then Bourbon and Burgundy.
His goal is to slowly but surely get people to avoid entire aisles in the grocery store. A whole aisle for salad dressing? It’s so easy to make yourself and it’s always cheaper.
Home ec only teaches kids how to make red velvet cupcakes now (and focuses on girls). Most every school has a kitchen that is being underutilized.
On Facebook he has a recipe for how to make chicken stock in a pressure cooker in 45 minutes.