In 1965, Ethel Ann Cook Kibler (everyone calls her EA) lived in Augusta, GA, with four children under the age of six (including twins) and a husband doing a second medical residency. As a young new mother, Ethel Ann really didn’t like to cook. It was just not something she enjoyed very much. But as she has always said, if you have to do something (which she clearly did), you need to do it well. Liking, for her, was beside the point. So - she went to school to learn: vocational school, department stores, anywhere there was a teacher. And then she met legendary Southern chef, Natalie Dupree, at the Rich’s Department Store, near the beginning of both their “careers and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Kibler family’s daily dinners were the perfect combination of Southern and global foods. Ethel Ann and the African-American woman who worked for her family, Sennie Mae Allen, filled that table with delicious and quintessential Southern food but it was juxtaposed against dishes from all over the world. All the things Ethel Ann learned in class. Monday would be an amazing country fried steak with gravy and Tuesday would be an equally amazing veal marsala. Their home on Pine Forest Circle was Southern by way of Marseille and Rome.
“Within the South itself, no other form of cultural expression, not even music, is as distinctly characteristic of the region as the spreading of a feast of native food and drink before a gathering of kin and friends. For as long as there has been a South, and people who think of themselves as Southerners, food has been central to the region’s image, its personality, and its character.”
There are so many amazing bakers, chefs and cooks specializing in Southern cuisine in today’s world that choosing a “favorite” is almost impossible. At Ethel Ann’s, though, there is a group of five that we refer to as the “Gods.” We like to say that we worship this small group who have shaped both our personal and culinary lives. We adore them so we just want everyone to know about them.
Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s THE GIFT OF SOUTHERN COOKING represents the beauty and narrative of a friendship whose translation into recipes and stories provides a glimpse into what is meant by the “New South.” Two chefs representing two very different versions of life, of food, of history, of experience, and through their relationship an entire narrative is transformed.
Their long, standing friendship – and seemingly at odds personas (he – a young, white, gay male and she – an older, widowed African American woman) resulted in them being referred to as "The Odd Couple of Southern Cooking". Lewis and Peacock would work together to try and ensure that classic Southern dishes and details would not be forgotten – as they were both deeply dedicated to the preservation of Southern cooking. As Lewis aged, Peacock would go on to become her caretaker up until her death in 2006.
For more about Miss Lewis, check out www.ednalewisfoundation.org
The great culinary editor, Judith Jones, remembers Miss Lewis at https://www.saveur.com/article/Kitchen/The-Personal-Touch/
For more about Scott Peacock, check him out in Garden and Gun magazine, at
Better Homes and Gardens shares some of his favorite recipes at
Mr. Fowler is the author of some of our favorite cookbooks and our go-to, NEW SOUTHERN BAKING. He’s been nominated for numerous awards including the James Beard Award. He writes articles (Food & Wine plus lots more) blogs and is a featured columnist for the Savannah Morning News in Savannah, GA. He is a food historian, he is a marvelous chef. So what we’re saying is the man knows his stuff. He’s also a wonderful wit, and a tremendous person.
Check him out at www.damonleefowler.com.
Ms. Dupree and the New Southern Cooking movement are synonymous. She created it. She’s won numerous awards, even two James Beards. She’s written ten cookbooks, hosted more than 300 cooking shows on three networks, and owned three restaurants. Our and his mother and think she’s a goddess. You wanna know what Southern food is, it’s Nathalie Dupree. It’s that simple. Ethel Ann and friends used to caravan with other couples to her restaurant in Social Circle, GA. She’s one of those people who everyone dreams of sitting next to at a dinner party. She lives in Charleston, SC.
Check her out at www.nathaliedupree.com
She's as “warm and gracious a belle as you could ever hope to meet” says Scott Peacock, and that’s good enough for us. Southern through and through and also a classically trained French chef, she’s a television producer, food stylist, cooking teacher and the former kitchen manager for Martha Stewart. Her cookbook BON APPE’TIT, Y’ALL is a pure treat and chock full of everything you need to know.
Check her out at www.virginiawillis.com.
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