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THE MG BLOG: Now & Ink

What's the life of a Modern Gentleman all about? Find out here, as Jason Tesauro and his collaborators share their latest discoveries and epiphanies.


Filtering by Category: chef

The Best Thing We Ate at Charleston Wine + Food

Kristel Poole

Whew! What a whirlwind trip! 

Jason and I returned from Charleston Wine + Food Festival late last night still dreaming of one incredible dish from the night before. We arrived at Cooper River Brewing Company for "Fowl Mouth," an upbeat event featuring all things winged-fowl, and checked in at our table with Virginia Wine Board and Barboursville Vineyards, clinking glasses with friends Rachel from Boxwood Winery and Pat from Early Mountain Vineyards. Dozens of tables were set up across the parking lot, and the tempting smell of barbecue smoke began to fill the air as acclaimed chefs began cooking their quail, duck, pheasant and turkey.

We walked from table to table, meeting chefs and discussing everything from bourbon to Virginia wine to Lambstock. We were being fed well and treated with the warm hospitality for which Charleston is known. We tasted pheasant boudin, bacon-wrapped quail, pickled chicken hearts, cold-pressed turkey, pistachio with foie gras, and barbecued duck with Vietnamese noodles, but one dish in particular stole the show, and now, we can't stop talking about it.

I picked up my plate featuring fried Manchester Farms quail tossed in Tennessee-style hot sauce over crusty Carolina gold rice sourdough with housemade buttermilk ranch and fermented green tomato, a play off the classic Tennessee hot chicken, and bit right in. My eyes widened, and as I looked up, I could see the excitement flicker in Jason's eyes, too. This was amazing; the flavors were perfectly balanced. The quail was juicy, the skin crispy, and the sauce fiery. The heat was offset by soft bread, creamy ranch, and tangy pickles. I gushed, "Jason, this is the best thing I've eaten all week." He agreed.

"It's from a catering company," he said.

"Stop," I replied. I couldn't believe it.

There's something especially inviting about a chef who displays absolute humility as you shower him with heartfelt praise of his work, and Executive Chef Todd Mazurek of Salthouse Catering is no exception. Chef Todd received his culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University and has worked in some of Charleston's best restaurants, so he knows flavor and technique like the back of his tong-wielding hand. Obviously passionate about his craft, we look forward to seeing him again soon – especially if he's cooking! 

Chef, if you want to come to Richmond and make us hot quail, we've got a bottle of Octagon with your name on it.

– Kristel Poole

Lambstock 2016

jason tesauro

What do you get when you blend a Southern revival and an episode of ‘Top Chef’ with a pinch of summer camp and prison break, all dry rubbed and left to cook on the spit? That would be Lambstock — the leave-no-trace camping trip for the farm-to-table set.
— The New York Times

Four years ago, I found myself knee-deep in the high grass of a sheep pasture within a mutton chop's throw of the Blue Ridge Parkway. After four days of finger-lickin love / lamb / fire / fun / passion / pork / coffee / 'cue / booze / bikes / tunes / tents / chefs / shenanigans, I was transformed. And hooked. 

This year, jonesing for bone marrow, I packed three tents, four children, five bikes and six cases of wine into the Wagon Queen Family Truckster for another adventure at Border Springs Farm's foodist fête, the 7th Annual Lambstock.

I first covered this affair for The New York Times,  but 2016 was pure indulgence in the beauty, fellowship and frenetic deliciousness that happens when chefs, somms, farmers, charmers, brewers, chewers, millers, distillers, growers, showers, foragers, photographers, butchers, cookers, cheesemongers, fishfryers, wineries, cideries, hip hop crooners, banjo tuners, barkeeps, RV peeps and hooligans get off the grid and onto the same frequency of share and share alike.

Shepherd Craig Rogers, known best for sustainably raising healthy, happy, loved and naturally-plumped lamb that ends up on the finest menus in America, is a true gentleman farmer. Each year, he and his team open up the gates to welcome anyone with one foot in the ethical food business and another foot in the business of feeding joy like a baker's starter.

Grounded in passion, craft and integrity that spreads person-to-person, region-by-region, tent-by-tent, invitees are drawn to the promise of personal and professional relationships built around the breaking of bread. Those who've sunk their teeth into Lambstock know that we the alumni are forevermore ambassadors for the soulfulness of food. How we gather and why we gather gives new meaning to word of mouth.

Check out the video above. Besides the soaring Blue Ridge via drone, pay attention to an astonishing time-lapse: 24 hours of Lambstock 2016. Note that the Chef's Pavilion is quiet for but a micro-second, because at Lambstock, someone's always hungry...and someone's always cooking. See you next year.

Lambstock 2016 in GIFs

Butterfly in the Blue Ridge.

The greatest chow line I have ever witnessed.


Clambake prepared by Harper's Table and Chef Beauter.

Cantastic Languedoc rosé from Queen of Wines, Durham, NC.

Lamb "frites" – fancy name for fried testicles and offal – in the Cowboy Cauldron.

Chef Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farm in Kinston, NC breaking it down for A Chef's Life.

Creekstone Farms flank steak prepared on the Cowboy Cauldron by  Chef John Fink of The Whole Beast.