This has been a banner year for Southern Chefs Series chefs as three are 2012 James Beard Foundation top chefs, two for the Southeast region (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV) and one for the South region (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS). Earlier in the season, we hosted Linton Hopkins and Hugh Acheson, who shared the award for the Southeast region, and this past Sunday and Monday, Chris Hastings, the South region’s honoree made his first trip to my kitchen. In addition to his James Beard award, Chris beat out Bobby Flay earlier in the year on Iron Chef America! The BEST chefs really do come to Serenbe; I hope you will also!
Chris, chef/co-owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham with his wife Idie, had been a finalist in the category previously. He was up against four chefs from New Orleans this year and beat out the competition. Cook with him, and you’ll soon find out why he was chosen!
Chris is a brilliant chef who makes cooking seem effortless. I’m excited he accepted the invitation to teach this year and is on the schedule for next year as well!
The ten participants in his class this past weekend were the winners for having registered for his class. His rapport with students of all skill levels is something to behold. He is down-to-earth and wonderfully personable. It was fun to have Chef Chris in my kitchen.
He is the first visiting chef to include a cocktail hour (complete with a signature cocktail) with his class. Chris’ was the Donnie Draper Cocktail made from his housemade bitters and sassafras syrup. This was a smooth libation and so tasty you’ll want to drive to Hot and Hot to try it for yourself. It’s got a kick, so plan for a designated driver. And, as it’s dove season, he also treated us to doves harvested the day before, and what a treat they were!
If you missed his class this year, call now to register for his class next year, July 28-29, 2013. Classes for the 2013 Southern Chefs Series are already filling up. If you want a chance to learn from Chris and any of the other outstanding chefs, call the Inn at Serenbe today to reserve your spot, 770 463 2610.
In the meantime, try Chris’ outstanding recipe for shrimp gazpacho with lemon oil. It is refreshing and satisfying.
Chris Hastings’ Shrimp Gazpacho with Lemon Oil
This is our Southern take on a classic Spanish soup. Because it is always served cold, it is a light and refreshing meal for a sultry Southern day. You can substitute jumbo lump blue crabmeat for the shrimp, if you prefer. Many good olive oil companies also produce lemon oil in which the olives are pressed with fresh lemons, creating fragrant, flavorful oil. Lemon oil adds a bright, rich quality to this soup.
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, about 3 to 4 medium tomatoes
1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced cucumber
1/2 cup finely diced zucchini
1/2 cup finely diced yellow squash
1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced tomato
1/2 cup seeded and finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup seeded and finely diced yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced Poblano pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
26 large (21 to 25 count) cooked, peeled, and diced fresh shrimp, about 1 pound
12 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Slice each of the tomatoes into 4 quarters. Place the tomatoes in a food mill and turn until all of the juice is extracted. You will need about 2 cups of the fresh tomato juice. Discard the tomato seeds and peel. Alternatively, the tomatoes can be seeded, roughly chopped, and pureed in a food processor or blender. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and discard any solids.
Combine the tomato juice and the next 9 ingredients (cucumber through vinegar) into a large bowl, stirring well to combine. Season the soup with the salt and pepper and stir in the diced shrimp. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the soup is well chilled. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and garnish each serving with 1 teaspoon of the chopped basil and 1/2 tablespoon of lemon oil. Serve chilled.