As regular readers know, the Wandering Palate is rather partial to pig and one of the best places on earth to get pig parts or more precisely, fantastic bacon, is Madisonville, Tennessee in the good old US of A.
A recent YouTube video posted on the excellent free food content channel, Tasted, caught my attention, where Top Chef Kevin Gillepsie, ex co-owner and executive chef at Woodfire Grill Restaurant in Atlanta (who has just opened his new Atlanta restaurant, Gunshow) visits the King of Pork, Allan Benton at Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams.
Gillepsie goes behind the scenes at the factory where bacon is made by slow curing using salt, brown sugar, and sodium nitrite and aged for 9-10 months, with 1 year and older hams also made. Benton’s uphold the time-honoured practices of their forefathers, when the preparation and preservation of meat was a way of life and sustenance, using the traditional dry-curing process to produce world-class country hams and bacon. Click here for the video
Chef Gillespie’s new restaurant, Gunshow, opened in May 2013 and from all accounts is pretty laid-back and a good venue for group therapy–as in go with a bunch of people to enjoy the daily-seasonal-surprise repertoire coming out of the kitchen–Gillespie is cooking his best without a menu and likes you to relax as if you were dining at home. It’s the sort of place you need to run with the concept and not your expectations and get into the open-plan kitchen environment and just relax, have some fun with communal eating and socialising, as he clearly does not want to it to be conventional dining.
You will get a good idea of what motivates this chef and the produce and dishes he likes to cook by buying his new book “Fire in My Belly” (available on Amazon) which brilliantly delves into the bourgeoning national obsession of knowing where food comes from and fresh farmers’ market foods, and that’s not just in America; we are all getting into provenance. It’s one of the cookbooks you will use time and time again, for casual food, even junk food, but also seriously good wholesome food.
Check out www.chefkevingillespie.com