After winning James Beard awards for Best Chef South in 2007 and Best American Cookbook in 2009 for Real Cajun, it seems only natural that Chef Donald Link’s next cookbook would also be about Southern cooking. In his newest release, Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything (available February 25), Link has put together much more than just a collection of instructions for the home cook. Indeed, it’s an introduction to the genre’s most important ingredient: the people that put their heart and soul into Southern food and culture.
In Down South, Link — a native Louisianan best known for his restaurants, such as Cochon and Herbsaint in New Orleans — shares humble stories about family and friends, authentic recipes for backyard barbecues and formal affairs alike, and favorite local specialty purveyors.
“As the owner and chef of several restaurants, I am constantly working to bring out the best of ingredients in fresh ways that still maintain the soul of Southern cooking and the rich, deep flavors I grew up with,” Link says in the book’s introduction. “I’ve spent my life and career on the road, a journey that’s taken me from the oyster shell driveways of Louisiana to the most refined restaurants in the world. The travel has informed my cooking and helped me understand who I am, as both a Southerner and a cook. I’ve eaten some amazing food and seen some incredible places, but eventually, I long to go back down south. I yearn for my people and my home, and especially for its food.”
With Down South, Link has created an homage to his homeland in 110 recipes. Try a few, grab some friends, and sling back a couple cocktails — these meals are all about gathering around the table to enjoy the food as well as the company.
Images courtesy of Random House.