Chef John Rivers: The Southern Cowboy
One story above historic Park Avenue lives the heart of a man and his vision: Chef John Rivers.
No amount of press, blogging, nor story-telling can prepare you for John River’s restaurants, the culinary creations within, and the emanating spirituality supporting his blossoming business. Together with his committed staff, loving wife, and infinite dreams, chef John Rivers continues earning numerous awards bestowed by the finest culinary associations such as the James Beard House and others. Despite a hall of fame entryway to corporate headquarters, the awards are not what he is ultimately after. He’s on a decidedly humble mission to provide us with a taste of true southern hospitality; the way of our mothers and grandmothers, the way of our great-great-great grandmothers. The way it should be; food eaten communally with family and friends.
He’s not haute cuisine, he’s not fusion, he’s just south. He understands the history and the ever evolving melting pot from European, African, West Indian, Spanish, Cuban, Creole, and so on epitomizing southern mix. And you should know this because while many restaurants are sweeping the nation with a ‘new south’ menu, it’s not the real deal. Trust me. One has to grow up in, be shooed out of the kitchen by grandmas’ pot holder, have chores of pickin’ peppers and stuffin’ flour sacks, and wringing chicken necks before one understands the south. A menu cannot be created based on ingredients alone. Southern authenticity peaks as the foundation and forefront of his menus.
Chef John Rivers wasn’t always a chef. He devoted his time and energy to big corporate America for some 20+ years before taking a leap of faith into uncharted territory, eventually defining himself as “The Southern Cowboy”, the title of his cookbook (which you MUST pick up!)
Unlike many cookbook authors, I am not a classically trained chef or a graduate of culinary school. Everything I know about cooking I learned from family, cookbooks, the Food Network, and good old-fashioned trial and error.
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