Chef Sean Brock – McCrady’s Restaurant – Charleston, South Carolina
The very first podcast we ever did back in January of 2006 was with a very talented and young chef in Nashville. The chef was Sean Brock and now he is back in his beloved Charleston blazing a trail with his creative cooking techniques. We recently popped in for dinner and enjoyed his local flavors and unique style. Chef Brock wowed us with his slow cooked short ribs that melted in your mouth. We were also delighted to taste the succulent Lobster and homemade pasta. And the whimsical nitro popcorn dessert (yes it causes smoke to shoot out from your mouth) was very entertaining for the whole table!
Chef Brock takes his veggies very seriously and the genius is in the details. Almost every dish has little dash of something here and there to push it beyond an ordinary pork or fish entrée. So let’s meet this culinary ninja/scientist from McCrady’s.
Questions from journeyPod:
We love your innovative style of cooking. Tell us a bit about molecular gastronomy and some of the new culinary techniques that you use?
Our style of cooking comes from an intense respect for products. Our mission statement is three words….products, ideas and execution. Everything starts with the products. It’s one of the reasons we have our own farm. You have to start by seeking the best products available to you, preferably products that don’t need to travel very far to get to you. Then we use creativity to design the idea of the dish. We rely on technology and a scientific understanding to execute the dish to the best of our ability. This is our mission, but of course we like to have fun along the way and throw in components with a sense a humor in mind…you can’t take things so serious or they will become stale, artificial or boring.
If you could only cook with three ingredients what would they be?
Salt, pork, corn
Where do you like to go on your night off in Charleston?
Fig restaurant, I really admire Chef Lata’s restraint.
What do you love about Charleston?
Charleston is my favorite place in America. It’s a small town with most of the opportunities a larger city offers. The History of the city and its food culture is incredible. The architecture is amazing; we have really great artists and art galleries. The agriculture here is high quality and the history of agriculture in Charleston is so important…rice, sea island red peas, native corn…these are all things that have shaped the identity of southern cuisine, especially low country cuisine.
Have you traveled anywhere that has influenced your dishes or helped to inspire a certain item on your McCrady’s menu?
Everywhere I travel and every bite of food I eat will always inspire our cuisine. This is why I always have a moleskine notebook in my pocket, inspiration comes from everywhere, a baseball game, the fair, a trip to Mexico or Ny…that’s the beauty of inspiration, it knows no boundries!
We saw that you recently won a contest on the Food Network. Tell us what you prepared to win the competition
The competition was “fresh and contemporary” where we were instructed to prepare an appetizer and an entree with those things in mind.
The appetizer was a shrimp terrine which acted as a canvas for all the parts of the tongue. A very conceptual dish that needed to be eaten slowly with your brain to pallate connection in mind. The components were whipped grapefruit, grapefruit zest, edible flowers, thai chilies, baby cucumbers with their blooms, wild char roe, cucumbers compressed with citron vinegar, a sweet avocado puree…this all had to be done in 25 minutes…it was intense to say the least
For the entree I wanted to show of our garden and our dedication to agriculture.
I picked everthing the day before the competition and flew it to the studio…it was a celebration of our efforts to run our own farm. We had lots of different summer veggies in lots of different forms, the protein of the dish was tuna seared on a Himalayan salt block.