Start with a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper. Add one ice-cold beer, a smattering of old friends (and maybe a couple new ones). Sprinkle liberally with laughter, then add all ingredients to a warm summer evening, and serve with a healthy helping of tradition and garnish with a sprig of Southern charm.
Such is the philosophy of musician, entrepreneur, writer, and chef Matt Moore, and it’s one you’ll find at the heart of every recipe in his latest cookbook, A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen. In a world where most modern chefs seem to measure their self-worth by the delicacy of their technique, absurdity of their combinations, and rarity of their ingredients (if you need a special pig to snuffle it out of the forest floor for you, does it really belong in your grits?), Matt comes in like a breath of fresh, Southern air. From beneath the sun-bleached brim of a baseball cap and a (politely) cocked brow, he’s challenging the exclusionary pretension of haute cuisine, one humble, wholesome recipe at a time. His philosophy is simple: arm a man with a cast iron skillet, a slab of meat, and a cold beer, and he can produce an elegantly simple, delicious meal—no julienneing, fricasseeing, or cave-aged, bunny-milk brie required.
Don’t confuse this simplicity with a lack of sophistication, however. Though frequent asides—politely labeled “Gents Tips”—ensure that the less kitchen-savvy guy (or gal) doesn’t get derailed by a particularly ornery oyster shell or lack of a potato masher (“Use the back of a large serving fork! No excuses gentlemen!”), A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen has an ample supply of recipes that prove that Matt can hold his own well beyond the meat and tater circuit. Recipes range from the assembly of a Dixie Antipasto (Step 1: Cut meat, cheese, and pickles; Step 2: Put on plate) to Roasted Quail and Pomegranate Quinoa, ensuring that there’s something to tickle everyone’s fancy. Add to that a smattering of family recipes that blend the best of Middle Eastern and Southern traditions (black-eyed pea hummus, anyone?), a few wild-card cocktails, and a healthy dose of anecdotal charm, and you have a cookbook that will keep everyone from the culinary-Cro-magnon to the connoisseur coming back again and again.
Ironically, though the pages of A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen are filled with over 150 tried-and-true dishes, the book itself reads not so much a cookbook as an invitation to pull up a chair. You’ll share a table with Matt’s high-school buddies, Grammy-winning guitarists, and Nashville’s cookin-ist cab driver, Ernest Pillow; debate the merits of the Georgia olive industry, hear about Matt’s adventure hunting wild boar, and—almost as if by accident—learn the art of cooking. Herein, perhaps, lies A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen’s greatest charm: it presents the home-cooked meal not as a chore to be dreaded or a feat to be bravely endured, but a ritual to be savored – an opportunity to come together at the end of the day to celebrate the simple joys in life: food, fellowship, and good ole’ fashioned Southern hospitality.
See More Photos for A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen