Greenville’s Neue Southern Food Truck has been on a little bit of a break since Chefs Lauren Zanardelli and Graham Foster have been traipsing the globe. They’ve eaten their way around Japan, Vietnam, Saigon, and Hong Kong sampling fare that is sure to make its way to the menu when they return around the 19th of February. I caught up with the duo via Facebook during their trip for a little Q and A.
ChefQ6 with Neue Southern Food Truck’s Chef Lauren Zanardelli and Chef Graham Foster
What is the first food you learned to cook well?
Graham: Roasted potatoes.
Lauren: Scrambled eggs.
What are your favorite cookbooks?
Graham and Lauren: We both use cookbooks for inspiration rather than imitation. We reference any number of them for advice. Someone smarter than us said something to the effect of, “cookbook recipes are meant to be blueprints.” We use our experience and the flavor profiles we love to steer our food, rather than the cookbook’s author, but our library of cookbooks are priceless references.
What kitchen tool or food product can you not live without?
Graham and Lauren: High quality knives are essential. We have love affairs with our carbon steel Bob Kramers. And we can’t seem to get away from collecting more! The food products we could never live without are European or American artisan butter (and we both prefer salted, regardless of what other chefs might say), and vinegar. Vinegar is extremely versatile. It can be used as a seasoning the way we use salt or as a primary flavor. Butter and vinegar are usually the answers to the question, “What does this need?”
The most interesting thing in your home kitchen is…?
Graham and Lauren: We just received a pasta extruder at Christmas. There are just too many possibilities…
Who has most influenced your cooking ?
Graham and Lauren: We both attended culinary school because we wanted to learn the science of cooking. Both of us had long been impassioned to cook, and 2 years ago, we wanted to make it our careers. Our biggest inspirations to date have been, first, Chef Shane Pearson. He was one of our chef instructors in culinary school. He showed us where our food came from: the political changes and socioeconomic statuses of communities that influenced ingredients, flavor profiles, cooking styles, to the ratios of proteins, starches, and vegetables in cuisines. He would give us the information, and then say, “ok, cook.” His experience was what inspired us to travel during this hiatus. Chef Paul Malcolm was another huge influence. He believes that as chefs, we never stop learning. We could cook the rest of our lives, read every text ever written, and we still won’t know it all. So he encourages us to constantly push ourselves in order to foster our growth as chefs. We call or text him at all hours with questions.He was also the first to drive home the importance of local eating and sourcing. He even has the words “Eat Local” tattooed on his wrists.
How did you come to be a chef?
Graham and Lauren: We were both in other careers (Lauren a teacher, Graham a professional cyclist) before making the decision to make a living as chefs. In hindsight, we wish we would have started young. We have both worked with people ten years younger who could cook circles around us. We chose culinary school to help steer us into our careers in cooking, and we’ve never looked back. We met at Johnson and Wales in Charlotte. We have formed meaningful, lasting relationships with our chef instructors and a number of our classmates. And we wouldn’t be where we are right now were it not for that decision.
Thanks for playing, guys!
Be sure to keep up with the Neue Southern Food Truck Facebook page for details on their return!