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CurEater Alex Graf: ZZQ’s Pitmistress

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“Barbecue is the glue that holds us together.”

Lone Star BBQ in the Old Dominion? Alex Graf of Richmond’s ZZQ says absolutely! While not as famous as the headline grabbing ‘cue style of the Carolinas and Tennessee, Virginia has a style of pulled pork all its own–a style that was beloved by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. But Graf, a Virginia native, and her husband, native Texan, Chris Fultz saw room in Richmond for something different, something tasty: Beef Brisket.  

VIDEO: BBQ Interview – Chris Fultz & Alex Graf

Graf (the pitmistress) and Fultz (the pitmaster) got their start through a series of pop-ups in Richmond around 2015. One of their pop-up customers, Lars, gave ZZQ the name “meat church”, which is a pretty accurate description.  In addition to brisket ZZQ offers spare ribs, pork shoulder, and sausage along with sides like jalapeno mac and cheese, blackstrap molasses collards, and Texas caviar (they also serve smoked seitan for the carnivorously agnostic). Based on the early success of their weekly BBQs, Richmond locals’ appetites were ready for a daily supply.

In March of 2018 they got their wish when ZZQ opened in a gorgeous space in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood. Graf was part of the architecture team that designed ZZQ, as she worked with Fultz & Singh Architects until she retired from the firm in December 2017. (Fun fact: Graf also designed Brittanny Anderson’s kitchen at Brenner Pass.) To compliment their classic meat and sides, they offer a full array of drinks, including an outstanding cocktail program by Derek Salerno (try the ZZQooler: Sotol, Green Chartreuse, Cucumber, and Pineapple Gomme). They have a rotating selection of desserts (be on the lookout for the Graf’s Rhubarb crumble). In true Texas style, they even have some pretty killer belt buckles.

VIDEO: FULL TOUR of ZZQ

If you’re in Richmond see what all the fuss is about at ZZQ. See what they’ve been smoking on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. To find out which restaurants light Alex Graf’s coals, follow her on CurEat.

CurEater Jenn Rice: Culinary Arts and Travel Writer

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“I live for cheese, homemade tortillas, bourbon, exploring exotic locales, chasing sunsets, anything sparkling, drinking coffee on sun-drenched porches, and collecting hot sauce from all over the world.”

CurEater Jenn Rice is a writer, traveler, foodie, and all-around expert. Originally a beauty publicist, Rice’s career  evolved into freelance journalism. She started covering everything from weddings to wellness, nail polish tips and gorgeous trips. But, what interests us most about this polymath is her expertise in food and drink.

Jenn Rice for The Tasting Table: “Why Texas Pete Is The Best Hot Sauce”

A native North Carolinian, Rice now lives in and writes from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She also travels for a good story, with stops in Raleigh, New York, Europe and Salt Lake City in between. She now covers the culinary arts and travel for publications like Food & Wine, Vogue, GQ, Extra Crispy, and Domino. A glance at some of her stories tells you she has a particular fondness for her native Southern fare. To get you started we’re particularly fans of this ode to Kentucky’s favorite soft drink, Ale-8-One. We really like this story about Matt Register’s unconventional source material at Southern Smoke BBQ. This story about why Rice thinks a certain North Carolina chain can go toe-to-toe with the NYC and LA-based burger juggernauts is a classic. 

Jenn Rice for Food & Wine: “There Has Never Been a Better Time to Eat a Chicago-Style Hot Dog.”

If you want to see more of what Rice has been working on ( you definitely do) follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. To see her past work check out her website. And, of course, follow her here on CurEat.

 

CurEater Carrie Morey: Founder of Callie’s Biscuits & Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

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“The buttermilk biscuit is the purest and most simplest form of bread perfection. All my biscuit recipes start out as a buttermilk — it’s like a blank canvas.”

Carrie Morey knows a thing or two about biscuits. After all, she is the founder of Callie’s Biscuits and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, and ships the South’s favorite bread all over the country. She also serves those biscuits at her Hot Little Biscuit grab-and-go stores in Atlanta and Charleston. Callie’s Biscuits have been highlighted by Oprah, Martha Stewart, The Today Show, and many, many more.

VIDEO: Places We Love – Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

The accolades are well earned. Carrie and her team mix each batch of Callie’s Biscuits by hand–no mixers. It’s a classic technique, one that Morey’s mother, Callie White, passed down. Callie’s Biscuits were first made famous through White’s celebrated Charleston catering business. Morey combined her passion for business with her inherited recipe and brought the biscuits to hungry fans from coast to coast–all while raising a family of her own.

VIDEO: Around Carolina–Callie’s Charleston Biscuits

The success of Callie’s Biscuits has led to a tantalizing family of products. From classics like pimento cheese and ham biscuits to cinnamon biscuits and cocoa and cream cookies, Callie’s currently offers a wide variety of gourmet treats with a distinctly Southern accent.

VIDEO: Goldbely Makes Biscuits With Callie’s Charleston Biscuits’ Carrie Morey

Follow Carrie Morey on Instagram, or find Callie’s Biscuits on Facebook or Twitter. For more of Morey’s Lowcountry expertise check out her cookbook. Finally to find out what restaurants butter her biscuits, check her out on CurEat.

Also, because we love Callie’s, we are partnering with Carrie to give away a month’s worth of biscuits! Here’s how: Create a profile on the CurEat App and follow Carrie Morey. (She has great lists of where to eat and drink in Charleston and throughout the U.S.). Then comment “complete” on our biscuits post and you’re all set.

CurEater Sean Lilly Wilson: Chief Executive Optimist of Fullsteam Brewery

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“(We’re) moving ‘full steam ahead,’ but we’re looking backwards to our agricultural traditions and our beer making traditions in the south.”

Sean Lilly Wilson is the owner and the self-styled Chief Executive Optimist at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, NC. Fullsteam, under Wilson’s direction, brews foraged beers with ingredients they source from North Carolina farms. Wilson got his start in beer, by changing laws. After starting the movement to raise the ABV limits in North Carolina, Wilson decided to create a distinctly Southern beer. Fullsteam, “A Beer From The Beautiful South” was born.

VIDEO: to cure: Presents – Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam Brewery

Wilson’s beautiful beer has won plenty of awards. Wilson himself has been lauded, too, including three nominations by the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional. While others celebrate his work, Wilson makes to celebrate the work of others, including his support of North Carolina’s beer month.

VIDEO: Our State: Fullsteam Brewery Beers Showcase Plow-to-Pint Ethos

Fullsteam’s beers change with the seasons. When it’s hot, we like their Southern Basil. When the cold weather rolls through, we grab a First Frost.  The brewery’s “plow to pint” philosophy means they have a strong connection to farmers and growers. The brewery also focuses on the community, cultivating close relationships with makers and artists.

For more on Fullsteam check out their website or find them on Facebook. For more from Wilson, follow him on Instagram or Twitter. Finally if you want to see where he grabs a pint and a bite to eat, follow him on CurEat.

CurEater F. Griffin Bufkin: Soul of the South

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“We keep it real. We stay with the wood and stay with our hearts and the craft of smoking.”

St. Simons Island is a barrier island along the coast of Georgia. About halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville, it is in a great locale known for good eating from red rice to she-crabs, and now thanks to F. Griffin Bufkin classic, soulful barbeque. Bufkin is a third generation islander and a true polymath having worked as photographer, designer, and club operator before settling in to the low and slow life of a barbeque man.

VIDEO: BBQ Feeds the Soul on St. Simons

Along with Co-owner Harrison Sapp, Griffin Bufkin opened Southern Soul Barbeque in 2007. Acclaim followed, including an appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Just when the rest of the country was starting to notice what was smoking on St. Simons, Southern Soul suffered a serious fire. But, they rebuilt and were quickly back in the saddle. They also got back in the habit of picking up awards like Southern Living’s 2017 award for The South’s Best BBQ. Their menu has garnered acclaim for its blend of traditional soul food sides and classic, wood smoked pork, brisket, sausage, and poultry. They also have created a line of retail products including rubs, sauces, and a particularly epic bologna.

RECIPE: Southern Soul’s Brunswick Stew

Bufkin isn’t just a student of BBQ. He also cares deeply about the cultural of soul food from coastal Georgia and beyond. He’s active in the Southern Foodways Alliance, and Southern Soul’s website provides a list of supplier, organizations, and other restaurants that share SFA’s philosophy. Bufkin’s Instagram is another great source–he frequently posts dynamic images of chefs, restaurants, and meals from his region and beyond.

For more of F. Griffin Bufkin favorites follow him on CurEat.

 

CurEater Ashley Boyd: The Art of the Pastry

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“I come at the plate thinking of how to combine flavors and what are the different ways I can get them on the plate. It’s sort of painting with flavors in a way.”
VIDEO: Order/fire: Ashley Boyd

If it seems like Ashley Boyd is at home in the kitchen of Charlotte’s 300 East, it’s because she is. Her mother founded the restaurant, and Chef Boyd started working there at age 13. Her love for pastries came after she graduated from art school while working at a Brazilian steakhouse in Chicago. After living and cooking in Detroit, Atlanta and San Francisco, she moved back to Charlotte. In addition to her role at 300 East, Boyd joined Heritage in 2015 to put her unique spin on their desserts.

VIDEO: Ashley Boyd makes cheesecake and talks about her process

If you follow Boyd on Instagram you will see the influence of that fine art degree. She creates some of the most visually delicious desserts you’ll ever see. But they don’t just look good, they taste good too. Good enough, in fact, that Boyd was part of a team invited to prepare a dinner to honor Charlotte at the James Beard House. Boyd’s desserts are visually stunning combinations of the familiar and new. For example, Food & Wine recently highlighted her tres leches cake made with classic Southern ingredients like pawpaw and buttermilk.

VIDEO: Ashley Boyd makes the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Follow Ashley Boyd on Instagram, and 300 East on Facebook. Discover where Ashley Boyd likes to dine on CurEat.

CurEater Tom Gray: Executive Chef and Owner of Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails

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“When an item is grown locally and sustainably, fresh-picked and served within a few hours or days of being harvested, the flavor, color, texture, vibrancy, freshness and nutrient content are all at their peak.”

Tom Gray gets it. He knows that a great meal isn’t complete without a great drink (or two). If you can source that meal and those drinks close to home, he believes they’re even better. If you want to cook with local, Florida produce, you will use a lot of seafood and citrus. The flavors of Northern Florida influence Gray’s cuisine. Think traditional Southern fare with a blend of Caribbean flavors.  Gray also makes an occasional nod to the West Coast, seeing that he worked in California early in his career. Gray wanted to bring a fun, locally-focused restaurant to his hometown and opened Moxie in 2013.

VIDEO: Make a perfect negroni with Tom Gray

Creating a locally-focused menu requires an expansive knowledge of seasonality, agriculture, and region. For example, Jacksonville’s sandy soil makes some traditional farming practices a challenge. So in the fall, Gray leans heavily on greens and shallow root veggies. “The biggest difference between us and other restaurants in Jacksonville is that we deliver local cuisine,” says Gray. “My advice for any season, any year, is to ‘support local’ and ‘ask questions.’ If you are interested in having a variety of cool, unique places to shop or eat, you have to make a decision to support them,” he told Void.

VIDEO: Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails

If you want to put Gray’s knowledge to work, follow him on Twitter or Facebook. If you want to explore Chef Gray’s Jacksonville or find some incredible tips for West Coast dining find him here on CurEat.

CurEater Craig Deihl: Butcher, Salami Maker, & Fish Cutter

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“I’m not just a chef, I’m a husband, author, butcher, snowboarder, leader, salami maker, fish cutter and most importantly, a father.”

We can forgive you for thinking Chef Craig Deihl is just a meat guy. After all, he spent years cultivating a reputation as Charleston’s charcuterie master. First, at Cyprus, and then at Artisan Meat Share, a european style butcher shop and delicatessen specializing in salumis, sandwiches, and all things hog. Along the way he gathered national acclaim. After closing shop in Charleston, Deihl joined Team USA in the World Butcher’s Challenge–the olympics of meat preparation. In 2018, Deihl and five other master butchers and charcutiers plan to travel to Ireland where they will try and top the reigning champs–France.

VIDEO: Craig Deihl Shows how to create dishes from lesser-known cuts of meat.

So, yeah, Craig Deihl is a meat guy. But, he recently added some surf to his turf. In October of 2017, Joe and Katy Kindred announced the addition of Deihl to their North Carolina-based Kindred restaurant group. Their collaboration, Hello, Sailor, is a combination diner and yacht club with a dash of tiki bar thrown in. The restaurant takes advantage of its lakeside locale and features plenty of seafood. To the ardent carnivores, there’s no need to worry. The Hello, Sailor menu features Deihl’s mastery of cured meat including a Chicago street food inspired fried bologna sandwich.

VIDEO: The Dos and Don’ts of Making a Sandwich with Craig Deihl

Deihl is a chef with a deep sense of craft and a passion for, “techniques that revolve around old cooking styles with modern twists.” Like many great chefs, Deihl is equal parts dedicated teacher and an enthusiastic guide. Learn from him on CurEat.

Take a look at what Craig has cooking on Instagram or follow him on Twitter.

Meet Asheville CurEater East Fork Pottery

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When we choose our CurEaters, we not only look for great chefs and bartenders, we also look for creatives and artisan craft-makers in a community. Founded by Alex Matisse and Connie Matisse in 2010, East Fork Pottery was one of our first artisan CurEaters. This month they celebrated the one-year anniversary of their brick-and-mortar, so we thought it was hight time we introduce you. *Huge thanks to Connie Matisse for taking the time to give us so much detail!*

What inspired you to create East Fork Pottery?

I moved to Madison County in 2008, after the financial crisis and my first real, big girl breakup sent me packing my bags and heading out of New York City with no plans.  I took a job doing seasonal work on a goat farm and met Alex while I was selling cheese at the Mars Hill Holiday Market in the basement of an antique store.  He’d just bought the little house and property at the end of Ras Grooms Road and had big plans to start a pottery.  I had no idea what “starting a pottery” meant, but I was in love and I didn’t care.

east fork pottery, asheville, visit asheville, north carolina pottery, pottery, matisseHow long has Alex been honing his craft/art?

Alex has been working with clay since he was six – he’s never bothered messing with any other mediums. East Fork Pottery was something that’d been developing within him for a long, long time, inspired both by his affinity for clay and for his desire to put some distance between himself and the big, tough-to-get-out-from-under shadows cast by Henri Matisse and his legacy.  Now, with Alex, John and I each bringing our own skillsets, personal histories, and interests to the mix, East Fork Pottery has become a dynamic, complicated, ever-morphing organism with a mission of bringing beautiful, lasting dinnerware to the table.

east fork pottery, asheville, visit asheville, north carolina pottery, pottery, matisseWho was your biggest influence?

Definitely can’t narrow this down to one! Alex and John set on this path largely because of the potter’s they trained under: Matt Jones, Mark Hewitt, and Daniel Johnston.  Now, though, we draw influence from everywhere.  Alex has his hand on the pulse of modern luxury e-commerce brands, John’s got his nose deep in finance books, and a lot of my influence comes from the fashion world, growing up in Los Angeles – a big, diverse, global city – and the fact that my own family placed high value on hospitality social justice, and community engagement.

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How does it feel knowing people are eating off East Fork pottery plates at restaurants in Asheville?

It feels amazing! Especially amazing since the restaurants that use our dinnerware are all places that we love, run by people we love.  People come into the store after eating at Cúrate or Gan Shan or Table and say, “We found you because we just couldn’t help but turn over our plates to see who made them.” I just love that.

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Speaking of restaurants, when Steve approached you about CurEat, what were your initial thoughts about CurEat?

I thought CurEat was a genius idea.  I’d actually just had a terrible experience with Yelp, trying to get them to change the East Fork Pottery listing from “Paint Your Own Pottery” to “Home Decor”, so when Steve told me about CurEat, I was grateful for a reason to never have to go on Yelp again. Social Media is such a weird, complicated space, and CurEat makes it so that you can take dining advice from people who’ve already earned your trust.

Out of all your CurEat lists, which list would you say is your favorite?

I most often point people to my “7am to 1am in Asheville” list.  We have so many great places to eat in Asheville, but most of my favorites get very little press coverage.  I love to invite people visiting Asheville to eat where the chefs eat.

How would you describe your palate?

With any meal, I’m always seeking balance: I like rich, fatty red meat cut with bright, light, high-acid red wine and a bitter green salad. Spicy foods tempered with sweetness, like in Thai and Korean cuisines (sweet meats!). And I love really well-executed, classic French and Italian country cooking. 

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Coffee or cocktail?

No offense meant to all my craft cocktail friends out there, but the only cocktails I really mess with are Negronis, Margaritas, and Martinis – classics get classic for a reason! But I’ll drink wine 9.5 out of 10 times.  I start my day with a big mug of Hu-Kwa with milk and honey, a black tea smoked over pine from imported by the Mark T Wendell Company (we sell it at eastforkpottery.com – wink, wink)

As an artist, who do you admire in the food community in Asheville or in general?

I really admire my friend Jacob Sessoms, who opened Table in 2005 and has stuck hard to his commitment to local produce and a seasonal menu before it became trendy. I just had the pleasure of meeting Jana Gravner, a winemaker in Friuli making some of the most interesting experimental wines, all aged in clay amphora.  I think everyone thinking of opening a restaurant – or any business – should eat at Gramercy Tavern and listen to everything Danny Meyer has to say about treating your customers with dignity and graciousness.  And Pete Wells, restaurant critic at the NY Times, is a genius.

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If someone had to choose one restaurant from your Asheville list, which one would you recommend?

Cucina 24.  The chef-owner, Brian Canipelli, is terrible at self-promotion (sorry, Brian. You know it’s true), but his food is just so mature and beautiful.  He’s so good at vegetales. All the pasta is made in house and is always perfectly toothsome, sauced with a considerate hand. The bulk of the produce he uses is grown by our friend and farmer, Evan Chender, who grows the most exquisite food – all sorts of lesser known herbs, almost extinct varieties of radicchio and treviso, etc.  And everything is served on East Fork.

What was your favorite meal growing up?

Most people who know me know that my mom, Terrie Coady, is never not throwing a party.  She’s an incredible cook and can make anything.  But every year on my birthday I asked for the same thing: stuffed manicotti with red sauce and a whole lotta cheese.

 

 

CurEat 101: How to Share Lists with Friends

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We’ve all received and sent a text to our friends asking, “Yo, what’s your favorite places to eat in {insert city}? I’ll be there next week!” Are we right, or are we right? If we had to guess, we’ve spent at least a year of our lives typing out our favorite bars and restaurants. Don’t get us wrong, we are flattered to be the go-to foodies of our friends; however, when you have favorite eateries in 20 different cities, it’s hard to manage the memory. So, this is one of many reasons why CurEat exists – to help you organize and share your recs.

Sharing with CurEat is so easy that we sometimes find it less complicated than making scrambled eggs (there really is an art to it, though)! The first thing you do is download CurEat, which is available for iOS and Android. Once you’ve downloaded you have the option to make a profile or skip to search. Well, we highly suggest you make a profile. Take ownership. Put up a cool pic of yourself. Then start listing.

If you already have a profile and a few lists, then sharing with that friend who is traveling to, let’s say Malibu, is a cake walk. Find your Malibu list (or a Malibu list that you have bookmarked), and move your finger to the box and arrow at the top right of the screen. Click it. Once you’ve taken .00002 seconds to click, the sharing options box will float up from the bottom of your phone screen. Choose the text option, type your friend’s name into the contact field, and press send. Boom. Your friend will have to download the CurEat, but it’s totally worth it because they can return the favor when you travel and are in need of a good restaurant that’s not a chain.