Between imaginative creations based on classics (such as strawberry barbecue turkey wings, and country-fried, hot-chicken-style lamb steak), Richards’ book shares how his midwest upbringing and southern roots inspired a career in fine dining, which turned him into a master of the food he grew up eating and learning to prepare. It’s familiar to all, while also exemplary of Richard’s business sense and ability to splice his understanding of classic fine-dining techniques with the integrity of soul food dining staples. And it’s delicious.
These culinary developments don’t forsake the past by any measure. If anything, they give it the role it’s owed in the present. VanTrece recently prepared an extravagant cocktail-paired dinner at the James Beard House, with chef/author Jennifer Hill Booker and star Atlanta bartender Tiffanie Barriere. The event, titled “Cast Iron Chronicles,” was the finale of a three-part collaborative dinner series that began in Atlanta, put together for the purpose of “debunking the myths of soul food, racial inequality, and gender representation in the industry.” The goal: conversations around forgotten people of color and their hidden stories; challenges faced by women, African-Americans, and others who identify as minorities in the industry; and the road that led to today’s standards of success.
The three exceptionally talented African-American ladies worked together to present a menu that included starters like chitterling sausage with apple slaw, cornbread brioche, and hot pepper gastrique; and main dishes such as oxtail rillettes with foie gras mousse, pickled Vidalia onions, muscadine gelée, and truffle toast points. And Barriere complemented each dish with visionary cocktails like the “Green Eyed Bandit”: Bristow gin, mixed with collard green juice, green apple, lemon, quick pickles, and kumquat marmalade. It quickly sold out, with people still trying to get tickets at the door on the day of the event.
“For all of us, we’re really big on the diversity,” VanTrece said. “We want all people to experience what we do, because it’s worthy of that. It was just a good feeling to accomplish that as a team. And we nailed it. Everyone had a great time.”