Cook It Raw is now just past its midpoint, with its participating crew of 25 chefs from around the world having gathered the necessary ingredients for a 17-course dinner tonight at McCrady’s. They’re now at the restaurant, cooking and — quite possibly — fretting: The chefs are spread across two kitchens and a makeshift workspace, doing their best to flush genius from wild herbs they’ve never before encountered and collaborations with colleagues they’ve only just met.
Tonight’s meal is supposed to reflect what the visiting chefs have learned about the lowcountry, and food historian David Shields will be on hand to assess how well they’ve understood their subject. Since it’s a day devoted to taking stock, this morning seemed like an opportune time to share a few initial observations about the event, with which I’ve been embedded since Monday:
1. Great chefs aren’t necessarily snobs.
Folks who don’t eat for a living always expect me to scorn everyday food, which is hardly the case. Yet I made the same mistake by assuming participating chefs would be finicky about what they were fed. Impressively, they haven’t fussed about hotel-made fried chicken biscuits or Wild Olive ravioli, neither of which was garnished with foie gras. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that many of the humbler-seeming dishes have been exceptional, including Butcher & Bee’s sesame peanut butter and Hominy Grill’s pies. Continue reading