Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

Hugh Acheson



September 2012



Southern Chefs Series Welcomes Birmingham’s Chris Hastings

Written by , Posted in Bobby Flay, Chris Hastings, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Hugh Acheson, James Beard, Linton Hopkins, marie nygren, Recipe Articles, Southern Chefs Series, The Inn at Serenbe

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.

Serves 6; about 6 cups

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 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

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

3 tablespoons lemon oil

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.

Buen provecho.



September 2012



2013 Southern Chefs Series Lineup Announced!

Written by , Posted in Anne Quatrano, Hugh Acheson, Kevin Gillespie, Linton Hopkins, marie nygren, Michel Nischan, Serenbe Farmhouse, Southern Chefs Series, The Inn at Serenbe, Wholesome Wave

The lineup of amazing Southern chefs for the 2013 Southern Chefs Series is sure to interest foodies from the region – and beyond!  Registrations are being accepted now for the coming year’s Southern Chefs Series, and we’ve made it bigger and better than ever!  Twelve of the South’s best chefs will be cooking in my kitchen, and I want you to be part of the fun! 

It’s been difficult keeping this under wraps for the past few weeks as dates and chefs were confirmed; I’m so happy to be able to let the proverbial cat out of the bag.  

One of the best parts of the coming series is that all the proceeds will go to a seed fund to help establish additional Wholesome Wave chapters in our region.  Wholesome Wave Georgia, launched in 2009, is going strong, and Wholesome Wave founder Chef Michel Nischan’s goal is to establish additional Southern chapters.  Your participation in the Chefs Series will help achieve this important goal.  

Wholesome Wave’s mission is to improve access and affordability of fresh, healthy, locally grown produce to historically underserved communities.  Doing so creates economic viability through local food commerce that can rebuild our nation’s food system.  Wholesome Wave, a national 501(c)(3) organization, partners with farm-to-retail venues, community leaders, healthcare providers, nonprofits, and government entities to implement programs that benefit both consumers in underserved communities and the farmers who provide for them. 

The organization reaches over 28 states, working with more than 60 community-based organizations that manage more than 300 farm-to-retail venues and impact nearly 2,500 farmers.  Wholesome Wave’s innovative programs address issues of food insecurity, farm viability, economic vitality of local communities, and diet-related diseases.

To read more about the exciting chefs, with links to their websites, please visit the 2013 Southern Chefs Series button on the Inn at Serenbe’s website.  Registration is $650/participant and includes Sunday afternoon/evening class with dinner, overnight stay at the Inn, and Monday late morning class with lunch.  Classes are limited to 10 participants.  Historically, the series sells out quickly, so register today!

To register, please call the Inn at 770 463 2610.  

For more on Wholesome Wave and their programs, please visit their website

I look forward to cooking with you in the coming year.



June 2012



Another Award-Winning Chef Leads Class

Written by , Posted in Hugh Acheson, Recipe Articles, Southern Chefs Series

Fresh from being named Best Chef Southeast by the James Beard Foundation, Hugh Acheson of Five and Ten, The National, and Empire State South and author of the James Beard Foundation award-winning cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen, filled my kitchen on May 20 and 21 with energy and his self-deprecating humor during the 3rd installment of the 2012 Southern Chef Series.  

Acheson, a perennial favorite of the series, led his 10 students in the preparation of to-die-for bacon-wrapped, fennel-stuffed rainbow trout with a hot pepper vinaigrette; crisp kale and baby zucchini salad with garlic and anchovy dressing; a refreshing corn, tomato, and basil salad with a shallot, thyme vinaigrette; and sautéed strawberries with black pepper and vanilla bean ice cream. 

It was exciting having had both Hugh and Linton Hopkins in the chef series again this year since they recently shared the coveted Best Chef Southeast award.  

Please join me in congratulating the Blue Eyed Daisy, winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars! While you’re at it, stop by the Daisy and pick up their scrumptious cupcakes and other delectable treats.

Hugh Acheson’s Crisp Kale and Baby Zucchini Salad
with Garlic and Anchovy Dressing

2 small zucchinis (5 inches around) shaved very thinly

1 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus a small pinch

1/3 cup olive oil

6 cups kale leaves

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the shaved zucchini in a bowl or platter and pour 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice over it. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and then douse with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Use an olive oil you would be proud of, not the cheapest you can find. Let the zucchini sit at room temperature as you progress through the rest of the recipe.

In a large bowl toss the kale leaves with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and toss well. Lay out on a baking sheet pan and bake in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes.

The kale should crisp well and have a nice amount of color to it but not be shriveled up greenery. We are trying to get to a texture of crunchy while retaining the beauty of green.

Remove the kale from the oven and set aside.

In a small mortar and pestle, pound the garlic into a paste with the mustard, anchovy paste, and the pinch of salt. Slowly add the olive oil to emulsify and then thin with the remaining lemon juice and the vinegar. Taste for loveliness.

Spread some of the dressing down on a platter and then arrange the zucchini on the dressing. Then pile up the kale leaves over that and dot with Parmesan shavings. Eat. It’s good for you.