In case you didn’t know, I have a crazy obsession with food magazines. Given this, you can totally get how a magazine editor is totally rock star status in my world. Today, I got the amazing chance to talk to Executive Editor at Southern Living Magazine, Hunter Lewis. He gave me a few minutes of his time to talk about their latest magazine issue and to gab about the food scene status of Greenville.
The June issue of Southern Living Magazine features an incredible A-Z Guide to Southern Food and if you’ll go grab your own copy and turn to page 87, you’ll see Greenville’s own Duke’s Mayo featured there! Did you know that Duke’s was started in Greenville? Mrs. Eugenia Duke made a living serving sandwiches to all the fellas working in the mills in downtown Greenville. Her mayonnaise spread was legendary. The thing that made it special? No sugar. Because of World War I sugar rations, she used only oil, egg yolks, and cider vinegar. It’s the same recipe used today. (Well, except for the low-fat kind, which is what I had in my fridge!)
Because of Southern Living’s current issue, they are having a month long celebration of all things Southern Food, and as a part of that I participated in a live Twitter chat (@Southern_Living #SouthernFoodNow) last Friday. While we ate our way through the menu at Slightly North of Broad (chicken livers, deviled eggs, crab salad…made with Duke’s) my assistant and I live tweeted with an incredible bunch of the foodie world famed including Chef and Cookbook Author Virginia Willis (@virginiawillis), Southern Living Deputy Editor Jennifer V. Cole (@jennifervcole), the very awesome Kat Kinsman from CNN who I met at Euphoria last year (@kittenwithawhip), Top Chef Masters Judge Francis Lam (@francis_lam), Chef and Cookbook Author Hugh Acheson (@HughAcheson), and New York Times contributor and Author Paul Greenberg (@4fishgreenberg). Your jaw is on the floor right? The wonders of Twitter! Immediate contact with the uncontactable. (I included their Twitter usernames so you can follow them too!) We talked about grits, okra, and all the foods that make the South great.
And then today, I had the awesome opportunity to follow up that conversation with a chat with Southern Living editor, Hunter Lewis. I immediately jumped into questions about Greenville. Here’s what he said. Enjoy!
Dukes made the heat map, of sorts, for this article, but what other things have you seen that have marked Greenville on the Southern Food map?
The biggest thing about Greenville, and it’s no secret to us and to people who know about the region, is that a lot of us are insanely jealous of just Greenville as a whole. What y’all have going for you are the grass roots restaurants and the chef owned restaurants that have really taken root there.
And I think that when people talk about the South’s Hottest Food cities, we’re talking about Charleston, New Orleans, Nashville. But I really think Greenville’s scene is giant.
How does Greenville stack up against the big foodie towns of the South, in your opinion. Do you see it as its it’s own independently popular culinary destination or do you see it as chasing the tail of a low country star (Charleston)?
What’s going on there is really awesome. When we’re talking about food world, we’re also talking about craft distilling and craft beer and the food trucks. And you know, I think people don’t really mention it a whole lot, but the walkability and the bikeability is nice. You can linger in Greenville, and not just park in one massive parking lot and go eat. As someone who lived in New York a long time. I think that people take for granted the walkability and bikeability when you are going out to eat or going to have a beer.
What makes Greenville’s food scene special?
Every town used to chase each other’s tail, but what you are seeing now is people taking pride in not only their own town, but the food ways of their own region. The foodway of the upcountry is borrowing some from the Piedmont and the Appalachia, but carving out their own place in some ways.
I think a lot of the chefs are embracing this microregionality of their place. You know I think the other thing is that it used to be you had to go and cut your teeth in a big city to really learn and get good. That still might be true, but you are seeing a ton of chefs go back to their home towns or go back to places where they see opportunity to hang their shingle and start up their own restaurants. They are taking more pride in their own place.
Assuming you’ve visited Greenville, what impacted you most about the city?
It’s been way too long since I’ve been to Greenville! Really, the thing that impacted me most about it was the idea of community. The idea that it’s not just about being a single entity, but if you open up a place you have a responsibility to other business and to the town. It’s a fabric of a network of places.