“Up In The Air” Transcript
Kerry Diamond: Hi Bombesquad, you're listening to Radio Cherry Bombe, and I'm your host Kerry Diamond. Each week we talk to the most inspiring women in and around the world of food. First, let's thank our sponsor, Handsome Brook Farm Pasture Raised Organic Eggs. Handsome Brook Farms' secret to making rich flavorful eggs is simple, the most possible space, the best possible feed and lots of love. It's a healthy and humane recipe that makes your omelets, cakes, custards, and everything in between taste better. To learn more and to find their eggs, visit handsomebrookfarm.com.
Kerry Diamond: I'm so happy to welcome today's guest back to Radio Cherry Bombe, it's chef Deborah VanTrece of Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours, the fun Atlanta restaurant where she serves up her global soul food to a happy, diverse clientele. For 20 years, Deborah worked as a flight attendant and as a chef, juggling two demanding careers before finally jumping into the food world full time. She's an inspiring, upbeat personality who is finally getting the national recognition she deserves. Everyone from the New York Times to Guy Fieri has their eyes on her. We should also mention that Deborah is part of the mother hen chef collective of our sponsor, Handsome Brook Farm. When I asked Deborah why the world is finally paying attention to her, she gave a modest answer, "I think it's just time for us females to shine." So, grab your sunglasses and settle in for my talk with chef Deborah VanTrece.
Kerry Diamond: Before we get started, let's hear a word from Handsome Brook Farm. Handsome Brook farm believes that organic and pastured is the way to go when it comes to eggs. Pasture raised means better lives for hens, better lives for small farmers and better eggs for you. It's also better for the chefs who depend on rich, flavorful eggs. Handsome Brook Farms own flock of amazing chefs, their mother hens count on it. Janine Booth is a mother hen. She's the Australian chef behind the Southern inspired Root and Bone restaurants in New York City and Miami. Want to learn how chef Janine makes her sweetcorn spoon bread? The ingredients include Handsome Brook Farm eggs, some scallions, sharp cheddar cheese, and a touch of heavy cream.
Kerry Diamond: Or, if you're like me, and you're obsessed with deviled eggs, you can recreate her drunk and deviled eggs. Chef Janine combines homemade pickled beets with Handsome Brook Farms' flavorful yolks to put a fresh tangy spin on a classic party favorite. You can find chef Janine's delicious egg centric recipes and videos on handsomebrookfarm.com. Where can you find Handsome Brook Farm organic pasture raised eggs? At Publix, Kroger, Sprouts farmers market, FreshDirect, and many natural food stores across the country. Let's welcome chef Deborah VanTrece. We're so excited to have you back.
Deborah VanTrece: Glad to be back.
Kerry Diamond: Do you remember when you were first on Radio Cherry Bombe?
Deborah VanTrece: I certainly do.
Kerry Diamond: You had just done a killer event at the James Beard House.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, but it's almost a year exactly.
Kerry Diamond: Tell us what you did there.
Deborah VanTrece: It was a historical event for us. I paired with a couple of other African American chefs, one chef and one mixologist, and presented all of our ... So, our first dinner at the James Beard House. We were all from Atlanta, we did a Soul food inspired menu, and paired it with cocktails, which had not been done. Each course was paired with cocktails crafted by the mixologist, Tiffany Barriere, and we had a good old time.
Kerry Diamond: And that's how we got to meet Tiffany too.
Deborah VanTrece: Yes.
Kerry Diamond: And, I'm laughing thinking about that recording because Tiffany had laryngitis.
Deborah VanTrece: Tiffany had lost her voice, yeah. She had had too much fun at the James Beard House.
Kerry Diamond: So, it was that. I thought maybe it was all the pressure.
Deborah VanTrece: No, it was fun. It was fun and cocktails.
Kerry Diamond: Say no more. And then, we were so lucky because we got to see you again when we did the Future of Food tour, and Atlanta was the first city we went to and it's funny, I didn't really know many people in Atlanta until I had met you and Tiffany, and I had known chef Anne Quatrano for a while. So, it was such a nice event, it was just a great way to really get a better understanding of the Atlanta food scene.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, it was a great event and it was also helpful for us because quite often we don't take advantage of what our resources are within this city. We get so busy doing our everyday things and with the spotlight on to you, and as it gets bigger you forget sometime about all the local talent and all the resources you have at home. So, it was an opportunity for us to meet people who I've heard about but never got a chance to meet, and organizations that were doing good in the community.
Kerry Diamond: And Tiffany had full command of her vocal chords?
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, she did. Yes, she did.
Kerry Diamond: That evening she gave a great talk about the future of drinking.
Deborah VanTrece: Yes.
Kerry Diamond: She urged everybody to be more adventurous with what they try. We all got to meet Jen Hindinger-Kendrick who has that amazing organization, the Giving Kitchen. For those who don't know it, it's basically an organization that raises money for people in the restaurant industry who are in distress because of an illness, a death in the family, an accident. When you're living paycheck to paycheck, things are so tenuous.
Deborah VanTrece: Yes, and one issue is catastrophic.
Kerry Diamond: Exactly. It's really remarkable, and it's expanding now beyond the Atlanta region into other parts of Georgia. And, I was so floored to learn about them and the work that they do, and it's one of those things where you're like, God, you wish the whole restaurant industry could just come together and every state could have something like that.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah. It's pretty inspiring story and it is definitely a story of sadness, and good that came out of a situation that wasn't good. We're real grateful to them.
Kerry Diamond: The whole idea of a safety net for restaurant workers, because I'm sure you deal with this every day, it's just you want to pay your staff so much, but the reality is, as the owner, I'm sure you're the first one to not get paid when there's no money. I don't know if you've gone through that.
Deborah VanTrece: I've definitely have gone through that.
Kerry Diamond: I've gone through that, and it's so hard. I mean, you really want to take care of your workers, and I don't know the food and the restaurant industry is a tough one.
Deborah VanTrece: It is. It's like, there's many people who work very hard, but there's only so much that the consumer will pay for the food and yeah it's a catch 22 there.
Kerry Diamond: So, tell us about your place. After the event was over in Atlanta, we all got in our cars and drove to your place and it was so much fun to see that. And you spoiled us rotten while we were there. So, tell us more.
Deborah VanTrece: So, now we've been open a little bit over two years, very busy. It's great to see very diverse clientele and happy people, which is good. I set out to do something a little bit different with globally inspired soul food. We got people black, white, blue, green, the LGBT community, and we try to do activities or do events, sponsor events that continue to promote that. I think it's a good place to start with us all fellowshipping amongst each other, getting to know each other. Food always works really well and cocktails also. Yeah, so we're doing real well. We've had a lot of press, we've been doing cooking shows.
Kerry Diamond: Yeah, you're blowing up these days.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, which has been fun. I've actually enjoyed some of the shows I've been on things I've said I will never do that, and then I find myself in the middle of it. But it's been great, and it's been great for the business. So, I'm hoping in the future to do a cookbook, working on that real hard. Let's see, what else? And hopefully-
Kerry Diamond: For all your cook book publishers out there, jump on that.
Deborah VanTrece: Definitely, definitely.
Kerry Diamond: Deborah is hot.
Deborah VanTrece: Real close to it being ready.
Kerry Diamond: Tell us what you mean by global soul food. Give us some examples.
Deborah VanTrece: For me, my background, of course it was for years as a flight attendant. And with that being said, I got to experience a lot of cuisine. I also got to live in quite a few countries, so I got to experience cuisines firsthand in the homes.
Kerry Diamond: What was some favorites?
Deborah VanTrece: One of my favorites and people think it's real strange was in Spain Paella, but it was made with macaroni. And, it was one of those where you just happened to go by one weekday and dinner's on the table and I'm asked to join. Of course, I'd never seen that before, so it was interesting to try, and it was absolutely excellent. Being over in Beijing, egg drop soup, done with different twist with different things added to it, was another thing that I've taken back and played with that just a little bit. So all of these things, once I tasted them, they are in my memory and I tried to take those with the restaurant and expand on them a little bit and utilize them. It's comfort foods of different places, and comfort food of the world meets Deborah in the south type thing.
Kerry Diamond: Flight attendant is a tough job.
Deborah VanTrece: It is a tough job.
Kerry Diamond: You went from one tough job to another tough job.
Deborah VanTrece: To another tough job, yeah.
Kerry Diamond: How did you wind up becoming a flight attendant?
Deborah VanTrece: I was desperately trying to get out of Kansas City, Missouri, and the opportunity presented itself and I thought I am out of here. And, I did not realize at that point how it would open up worlds for me. And to be honest, I did it for a while, but even now there's experiences that I depend on from back then that I still utilize today.
Kerry Diamond: Give us some examples.
Deborah VanTrece: One big one is actually dealing with customers. That's a huge thing. Being an international flight attendant, you're dealing with people and different cultures from all over the world. And one thing that's offensive in one culture is not in another, but you have to learn those things. So quite often, I tell my staff my service staff about the expectations of service and the level of service that comes to be expected in different places where you go, and kindness, which is universal, is something that I've learned also, it works. A smile works no matter where you're at.
Kerry Diamond: So, how did the transition happen from flight attendant to chef?
Deborah VanTrece: It was, I think pretty natural transition. Maybe little known fact is that flight attendants love to cook because we love to dine. What you do on a layover, you shop and you dine and you have some cocktails. So, it was somewhat natural. We were flying with people who were also of all types of cultures and backgrounds. A lot of downtime we'd spend talking about recipes or what you're going to cook when you get home, what you're going to eat on the layover.
Kerry Diamond: What was your favorite place for a layover?
Deborah VanTrece: Argentina was a good one, but so is Brazil. I did love Spain. I love Spain, that was some of the good food. But that transition was not as difficult as I imagined, because I did love food and I had such a broad knowledge. The decision to go to culinary school came because the flight attendants went on strike and I wanted something that gave me more control over my own livelihood. And that was a talent that I thought I could capitalize on, so I decided to go to culinary school and straddled the fence for a while. I was flying, a little cooking a lot, flying a little cooking a lot, but it worked for me. I went at a point I decided, let's just stop this and focus.
Kerry Diamond: Where did you go to culinary school?
Deborah VanTrece: I went to culinary school at the Art Institute in Atlanta.
Kerry Diamond: And do you come from a family of good cooks?
Deborah VanTrece: I come from a family of incredible cooks, and I utilize their recipes on the menu. I like to pay homage to them quite often.
Kerry Diamond: Tell us who some of the good cooks were and what their specialties were.
Deborah VanTrece: My mom, incredible cook. She could do almost anything. My Dad was barbecue guy, yeah anything on the grill and he taught me real well. So, there's times I do baby back ribs. I do a sweet tea baby back rib on the menu, it's marinated in sweet tea. Then, I play with the barbecue sauce where it's sweet tea in it also.
Kerry Diamond: What was your mom known for?
Deborah VanTrece: My mom, just about everything. But, there's a particular cookie and it's on the menu, it stays on there. It's a chocolate chip cookie that is just to die for. We bake them to order and a little cast iron skillet and top it with Bourbon ice cream, and it's absolutely delicious.
Kerry Diamond: It's a cookie in a little skillet?
Deborah VanTrece: It's a cookie in a little skillet.
Kerry Diamond: Is it a little under cooked?
Deborah VanTrece: Yes, nice soft cookie. Not a hard one, it comes out hot, yeah.
Kerry Diamond: So, you are blowing up right now?
Deborah VanTrece: A little bit.
Kerry Diamond: We're reading about you in the New York Times, you've got endorsements, you're on Hulu, you're on Guy Fieri show, right?
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah. Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: Major. What's going on? Why are you having a moment?
Deborah VanTrece: There's a lot of things coming into play, but I think it's time for the underdogs. It's time for the underdogs. There's a broad interest, all the way across the board in women and what women are doing. Women have been doing these things for years, so it was overdue that we do get some of that attention. We are beginning to take root a little bit more and people are paying attention. It doesn't hurt that I've got a big voice, I talk a lot, I'm not ashamed of talking about it and people listen and I'm pretty good at what I do. Decided early on not to be ashamed of the cooking of my heritage, which was unheard of.
Deborah VanTrece: When we went to culinary school everybody wanted to do French cooking. That's all you knew. If you weren't doing that you weren't cooking. And so it made me think, well what have I been eating or what have my parents been doing all this time? So, I think I've brought a new light to a type of cuisine that had been left behind which is cuisines of comfort. And I think it's just time for us females to shine.
Kerry Diamond: We couldn't agree more.
Deborah VanTrece: Obviously.
Kerry Diamond: We need to go back to your flight attendant days though. So, flight attendants are on strike, you go to culinary school, so how did you make the leap after that to full time chef?
Deborah VanTrece: Well, the flight attendant position was pretty strange, and it still is. It gives you a lot of flexibility. After you've been there for a while, that seniority thing comes into play. And so, I was fairly senior. The only thing is that the rules are constantly changing, so you have to learn how to make them work best for you. At the time that I entered culinary school, I was able to reduce my schedule, my hours and make it through school full time. And once I came out it was the same thing, I would fly a minimal amount of hours and I did that for about 20 years to be honest.
Deborah VanTrece: Through that time I got a divorce, I had a daughter, so I was a single parent. And one of the big reasons I held onto it was so that I had benefits, so that my daughter had insurance if something were to happen to her. So, I had life insurance, so we were covered. Once she got of age, I made the decision, okay, it's time for you to just go full force into what you want to do. So, I did a balancing act for over 20 years.
Kerry Diamond: Wow.
Deborah VanTrece: If I had to fly, I had to fly.
Kerry Diamond: So, what were you doing? Private chefing, catering?
Deborah VanTrece: Private chef and catering. I started with a restaurant, but after about two years and the divorce and all, I realized I can't do this.
Kerry Diamond: So, you owned your own restaurant, and were going through all that? Oh my God.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah. Yeah. So, it was an inspiration out for me to tell other people that you can still do it.
Kerry Diamond: You had a lot on your plate.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah. But that's what we women do. We have a lot on our plate and when we have children, it's even more, so at that particular time, for me it was the responsible thing to do. I didn't have a great support system in Atlanta, so I did what I had to do in private chef, catering. So, I still kept my foot in the door, kept that door cracked until I was ready to go full speed ahead, but I never lost sight of this is a vision that I plan on fulfilling at some point in time.
Kerry Diamond: What made you decide to get back into the restaurant ownership game?
Deborah VanTrece: Never forgot the restaurant ownership game, I just put it on hold for just a little while. And I got to a point where the catering was getting so big, it made no sense to continue to do it the way that I had been doing it. I was operating out of a church kitchen and it was great, but it was time for me to fulfill my dream. My daughter, she was grown at that point and I had no hesitation in terms of, okay, you're going to quit one job that you have been at for years to start up something else. And, I just went for it, to me the best investment is to invest in you.
Kerry Diamond: So, let's talk about that. How did you finance the operation?
Deborah VanTrece: I had saved quite a bit of money and I had the money, so I financed it myself.
Kerry Diamond: It's amazing to me how many women we talked to who do that.
Deborah VanTrece: Well, I went to the bank-
Kerry Diamond: They don't get the bank loan, they don't get family money, friends money.
Deborah VanTrece: I tried that route a couple of times and that gave me too many times to tell me no, and I believed in myself, so I've thought about it and like, okay, you've got money sitting there. Maybe it's not enough, but it'll get you started and you keep going and it's time. My faith was stronger than my fear and I just put one foot and the other and said, okay, let's do this.
Kerry Diamond: What do you think you're on this planet to do ultimately?
Deborah VanTrece: I used to say, oh, I'm doing what I was meant to do, cook, but it has gone further than that. I think I'm here also to help others. There's a lot we can do with food, and the concept of it gets bigger and bigger. I started out with the fellowship of it and a good place to talk to start conversation, now I've gone into the source of it and where it comes from. And now, that's gone into some of the social issues, and those who don't have food, and also those who want to do what I want to do or what I'm doing and just don't know how to get there. So, I'm here for a lot of reasons, it's just that food is the way I'm going to do it. I want to educate my community I want us to learn how to eat better, understand the association between some of the health issues we have, and the food that we're putting in our body as well as being a beacon that they know, okay, yes you can be this chef because there was no one for me to follow when I decided to do this. So, it's like I want to be the mentor to whoever I can be and the hope and the sunshine for whoever I can be.
Kerry Diamond: It's interesting about the mentor thing. I think about that a lot too, and just what a mentor even means. And, I don't feel like I ever had any, but to me, I always thought it was somebody who literally would take your hand and share all the secrets and the path. And, I think some people have that, but I think for a lot of us we don't, and it's ... I want to come up with a term for this, but you look to people to be mentors who don't know they're your mentors.
Deborah VanTrece: Exactly.
Kerry Diamond: You take bits and pieces from people you read about in the press or hear an interview with and you just cobble it together for yourself.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, I think so too. Yeah, I agree. Because there's so many paths to take idea of one person having to ... This way or no way answer is of course ludicrous.
Kerry Diamond: Sometimes I do think there's got to be an easier way. One of the commonalities among women who come on the show of the finance part like I talked about a lot of women tend to sell finance, put everything ... Like Mshika, I don't Mshika Albarino who you'll meet. You're coming to Jubilee, which I'm so thrilled about, but you'll meet Mshika she put everything on her credit cards. She came here from Thailand and really didn't have a lot, but it's just amazing to hear that over and over again. And just women who open a restaurant, start a food business, figure out all their own best practices. Nobody trained them, mentored them, show them the way, but they still managed to figure it out.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah. I think we have to do better as women to build a stronger financial network that supports us a little bit more. The downside is sometimes I do think we women get to a position, a higher place, and we forget what it was like for us, that we're so scared that only a few of us can get there. And so, we start guarding that position and sometimes we can be our own worst enemies when we do that.
Kerry Diamond: But don't you think that's understandable? I mean, when you look at it really was white men in this food industry who were given the attention, the media, the investor money, the prizes, all of that, so it did seem like there was less for everybody else. And, if you just happen to be a woman, a person of color and made it ...
Deborah VanTrece: You're holding on for dear life, yeah.
Kerry Diamond: But that's changed.
Deborah VanTrece: And, I think we have to get it in our head that it's room for more than one. I think that's the mentality we felt like they were doing us a favor. If you lifted us up there with you and that's not the favor, it's usually that's the seat you deserve to be at. You probably worked twice as hard to get there, and once you're there I think as I'd say, there's a responsibility to this blessing and we have to be more responsible once we get there, and figuring out how do we get others there like us.
Kerry Diamond: But, I think it's everybody's responsibility.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, it is.
Kerry Diamond: It's people who are still in the positions of power, it's the people who publish cookbooks, it's the people who make decisions about who gets a TV show or who gets an article or whatnot. I think we all have to be invested in everyone's success too.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, and we have to be very deliberate about it.
Jess Zeidman: Hi everybody, it's Jess, time for a little housekeeping. Jubilee is one month away. Did you hear Samin Nosrat of Salt Fat Acid Heat is one of our speakers? And, the legendary Madhur Jaffrey? We're announcing the lineup all this week, so be sure to check it out. You can snag a ticket at cherrybombe.com\jubilee2019 before they're sold out. Jubilee will take place Sunday, April 7th at the Brooklyn Expo. We would love to see you there.
Kerry Diamond: Thanks, Jess. Let's get back to my conversation with Deborah VanTrece. Back to jubilee, I'm so excited you're going to be at jubilee.
Deborah VanTrece: I'm excited too.
Kerry Diamond: For anyone who's listening, Deborah is going to be there. She's a first timer, so I want you all to look for her and go say hi. And if you've been there before, you can tell her the ropes of Jubilee.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, give me a hug please.
Kerry Diamond: Absolutely. You're going to meet so many great people.
Deborah VanTrece: I am looking so forward to it.
Kerry Diamond: I'm really excited. I'll be running around like a crazy person so, but I'll see you a few times throughout the day, no doubt. What are you doing while you're in New York City?
Deborah VanTrece: Playing with eggs, that's for sure.
Kerry Diamond: You're working with our pals who are graciously supporting the show this season.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah. So, Handsome Brook Farm Pasture Raise Organic Eggs. I'm working with them, love their product, love the flavor of their product, love what they're doing. I like that they're working with small farms, and I get a smile on my face when I think about what they're doing with the hens and the eggs, and I have this vision of happy hens chilling out in the fields under the sun and looking up with their glasses on like, hey, this is all right. So, I'm real excited to be working with them.
Kerry Diamond: They're putting out a great product. They're trying to educate the consumer, I think that's so important today because just understanding what you eat, what goes into what you eat, it's a big thing.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, understanding it goes into you, and you become that.
Kerry Diamond: We have some of their eggs in the fridge, and we had Shakshouka for lunch yesterday. Have you made that yet?
Deborah VanTrece: No, I haven't.
Kerry Diamond: It's a Middle Eastern dish, it's tomato based sauce, and you poach the eggs in it, but you guys ate all the eggs. I'm looking at Jess, our producer. So I go out there, I'm doing other work, and I was the last to eat and there was one measly spoonful of tomato sauce and not a single egg left. I was like thanks everybody.
Deborah VanTrece: Oh I'm so sorry.
Kerry Diamond: That's okay. There're more eggs in there, I can make some eggs, but we make lunch here every day, which is really nice because-
Deborah VanTrece: That's pretty cool.
Kerry Diamond: You know or maybe you don't, I'm on a big sustainability kick and just trying to make sure we use less packaging. And when you do take out, I mean God bless takeout. I know it gets a lot of restaurants to the finish line, but you just wind up with so much packaging.
Deborah VanTrece: I agree.
Kerry Diamond: And we're here every day. I was like, we don't need to do take out every day, we're a food magazine, damn it!
Deborah VanTrece: I agree. I agree. I mean, we have the same issue in the restaurant. My last big move was the straws. I just was like, oh my God.
Kerry Diamond: Good for you. You got rid of plastic straws?
Deborah VanTrece: I got rid of them.
Kerry Diamond: Excellent. A lot of places still haven't.
Deborah VanTrece: Well, I don't understand it, because we're getting educated on that right now, and it's like I'm paying attention and so yeah, I couldn't wait and now I'm trying to work on other things that we're packaging, and it's like the consumer still wants that nice heavy duty wasteful thing. And I'm like, okay, can't we just put it in recycled paper and just keep it moving? It's going to be the same thing, but yeah.
Kerry Diamond: I know, and at Smith canteen, we're trying to get everybody to convert to reusable cups, which has been a bit of a challenge. But I feel like every day, we get the message out a little bit more, and we offer really generous discount. But it's funny when you think about it, you'd know in two, three years time, people are going to be coming to our restaurants and our establishment with their own takeout containers. That's where this is headed.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, and it's like, I've thought about even offering a discount, but then you have the health departments and their laws and their regulations. So, they've got to catch up a little bit too.
Kerry Diamond: We're actually going to have someone on the show from the New York City Department of Health because we want to talk about these very things and I think it's going to be interesting over the next few years. I think restaurateurs are going to have to work way more closely with their individual departments of health, because I think there was always an adversarial relationships over the past few years, especially when letter grades came out. Do you have those in Atlanta?
Deborah VanTrece: Yes.
Kerry Diamond: Yeah. But, it's going to have to be like everything in life, it's going to have to be more about partnership.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, it will. It should be.
Kerry Diamond: If we're going to save this planet.
Deborah VanTrece: It should be an educational process for the both of us. And, I've spoken with them too. My own personal health inspector for our restaurant, I told him we should not be afraid of you.
Kerry Diamond: Right.
Deborah VanTrece: We should look at you completely different and look forward to you coming in and helping us get to the place we need to be.
Kerry Diamond: That's what I said to my team, because even for myself, it was a cause of so much stress and panic. And, why is it like this? It doesn't have to be like this.
Deborah VanTrece: It doesn't this make sense.
Kerry Diamond: So, we do mock health inspections all the time to get everybody ready.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, because at the end of the day, we all want the same thing. So, I mean, I don't know any restaurateur that just doesn't want to serve healthy food. I mean, it's they're afraid.
Kerry Diamond: Or who's looking to hang a C on their window?
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Kerry Diamond: C is for just clothes now.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, exactly. So, I'm like, let's try to work together. I mean, Atlanta, even had a little committee to try to help that.
Kerry Diamond: That's great.
Deborah VanTrece: We do work a little bit better together.
Kerry Diamond: That's great.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, we're not quite there yet.
Kerry Diamond: No, no.
Deborah VanTrece: I mean, it's a start.
Kerry Diamond: Absolutely. Absolutely. And people are talking about it, and a lot of people want to do better and that's where it starts.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: Yeah. Absolutely. Eating anywhere fun while you're here?
Deborah VanTrece: Not yet.
Kerry Diamond: Any time for that?
Deborah VanTrece: I tell you, I ate at the restaurant, which I don't even know the name. William Vale Hotel, Italian restaurant.
Kerry Diamond: How gorgeous is that hotel?
Deborah VanTrece: The hotel is beautiful.
Kerry Diamond: The views?
Deborah VanTrece: The view is like oh.
Kerry Diamond: Did you go to the bar restaurant up top?
Deborah VanTrece: No, I haven't made it up top. I just went downstairs, and it was excellent.
Kerry Diamond: That's a gorgeous restaurant.
Deborah VanTrece: I ordered two entrees, okay? I'm like, all right can I get a small dish of the Pasta? No. Okay, we'll just give me the whole thing. But, it was excellent. It was excellent.
Kerry Diamond: Oh my God, when you have a moment, and it's clear today too, which is great-
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, it's actually beautiful.
Kerry Diamond: Go all the way up to that restaurant on the top. The William Vale, I think has some of the best views in New York City.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah. I was amazed.
Kerry Diamond: Definitely the best view in Brooklyn.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, because I had the balcony outside the room. It was cold, but I'm like, oh my God, this is really beautiful. That was my first time really hanging out in Brooklyn and I really like it. I really like it, yeah.
Kerry Diamond: It's great.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: Well next time you come, well not Jubilee because like I said, we'll be a little cray cray, next time you come here, we can put a little tour together for you. There's so many amazing women doing incredible food in Brooklyn.
Deborah VanTrece: That would be so cool.
Kerry Diamond: And, Brooklyn is so big, it's 2.5 million people.
Deborah VanTrece: And I didn't realize that either until I took the ride over here, and I'm thinking, where are we going? This morning when I was walking and went the wrong way, so I probably walked two miles more than I needed to, but it was an enjoyable experience to see the neighborhood.
Kerry Diamond: Yeah, Jubilee is going to be there actually. If you've walked in a certain direction north from where you are, it's in a part of town called Greenpoint, which is right next to Williamsburg where you're staying. But no, Brooklyn is incredible, and it's crazy these days you could ... New York, Manhattan is so big and Brooklyn is so big, you literally could come and just do Brooklyn and still not even scratch the surface.
Deborah VanTrece: That's what I'm open for. I've already called home and said, look, we're just coming to visit Brooklyn, okay? I haven't even called my friends in Manhattan, because I don't want to go there. I'm not coming, so.
Kerry Diamond: So, I know you're not going to open a restaurant in Brooklyn, but are you thinking about a second place?
Deborah VanTrece: Definitely. There's a couple of more concepts I want to do, so I'm hoping maybe this year. I'm just putting it out there this year is going to happen. I'm going to at least find a space and get the ground work in place to go with space number two.
Kerry Diamond: And, with other people's money?
Deborah VanTrece: Hopefully this time yes.
Kerry Diamond: Banks, some investors.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah, I think it's time.
Kerry Diamond: Absolutely, absolutely. Spring is not that far away, anything new you put on the menu when springtime comes along?
Deborah VanTrece: Well actually, I just changed the menu anticipating the spring, so we've added some things, we went back to somethings that we had on before. So one of the things that have been featured recently was a Southern Louie Salad, and it was a play on the Crab Louie Salad, and the ladies at the tea parties back in the day. So, we're doing it with it's Avocado Hoe Cake and it's got poached lobster and poached lump crab, and a beautiful poached shrimp. It has a corn relish where we're actually cutting the corn off the cob, so corn relish over Arugula salad and then it has a nice mango vinegarette. So, we've done that.
Kerry Diamond: Wait, I want that right now.
Deborah VanTrece: This incredible lamb dish that we do with a cocoa rub that we make in house, so it's a cocoa-
Kerry Diamond: What do you mean by a cocoa rub?
Deborah VanTrece: We actually use cocoa dark cocoa, a high end cocoa rubbed on the rack of lamb. And then, we put it on an actual big green egg and charr it, get some smoke flavor in it and then we'll finish it in the oven. It has a beautiful cherry demi glace that goes over it and we're serving it with a goat cheese grit and it's some beautiful asparagus. So, we've got some good things on this menu.
Kerry Diamond: Sounds so good.
Deborah VanTrece: Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: What can you never take off the menu?
Deborah VanTrece: Fried chicken. All right, chicken. Actually fried chicken is one, and then we are doing hoising and glaze oxtail with a vegetable fried rice and that ginger and shallot roasted Box Choy, but also-
Kerry Diamond: So, this is what you're talking about when you say global soul food?
Deborah VanTrece: Yes, yeah. So, it's also become one of the favorites. We keeps making the cut every time I say to my staff, do you think we can take this off? They're like, no. So, it's on there still.
Kerry Diamond: You glauced over the fried chicken, we got to go back to the fried chicken. Any secrets?
Deborah VanTrece: Cast iron skillet is one. We use a great brand of chicken. We are very much married to Springer Mountain Chicken, it's local. It's just a great chicken. No hormones, no antibiotics, naturally raised.
Kerry Diamond: You're not throwing it in the deep fryer?
Deborah VanTrece: No.
Kerry Diamond: Wow.
Deborah VanTrece: We're taking in huge cast iron skillet, and we fry it up in the skillet. We'll finish it in the deep fryer, but it is fried in the skillet, it marinates for at least 24 hours.
Kerry Diamond: In buttermilk milk? What do you marinate it?
Deborah VanTrece: No, we don't use buttermilk. We actually just use seasonings and herbs, a little bit of oil and just let it sit, and it just seeps all through the whole entire chicken. We do a seasoned flour, panned fried in the skillet, we've got it with three cheese, macaroni and cheese.
Kerry Diamond: Oh God I love macaroni and cheese so much
Deborah VanTrece: We do sweet potato apple chutney. And then, we have this thing that I've done for years called a collard green roll. So, it is Greens that are brazed. We do turn up kale mustard and collards, and then they're rolled in a huge collard leaf and then steamed. So, it's almost like a great belief, but it's cut on the bias, so it is my personal interpretation of greens.
Kerry Diamond: Oh I love that.
Deborah VanTrece: I've been doing the same dish for over 20 years, and it is gotten real popular. We have people who just come in and order collard green rolls, just celebrities that'll come in and just, I know who it is. I want five collard green rolls to start, and we serve it with the little pot liquor.
Kerry Diamond: Oh love the pot liquor.
Deborah VanTrece: With just the liquid from the cooking of the collard greens.
Kerry Diamond: Oh my gosh. We're not scheduled to go back to Atlanta on the next radio tour, but we might have to make a little detour from the tour and come visit you and hang out. But, I feel like I'm going to have to visit three times just to try all those dishes or come with a lot of friends. That sounds like a nice way to do it.
Deborah VanTrece: Yup.
Kerry Diamond: All right, Deborah, we're going to do the speed round.
Deborah VanTrece: Okay.
Kerry Diamond: You're ready?
Deborah VanTrece: I'm ready.
Kerry Diamond: Most treasured cookbook.
Deborah VanTrece: Edna Lewis. Anything Edna Lewis.
Kerry Diamond: Most loved kitchen utensil.
Deborah VanTrece: Kitchen utensils, oh it would be a whisk.
Kerry Diamond: One food you would never eat.
Deborah VanTrece: Crickets.
Kerry Diamond: Crickets. I think somebody else said that too. A song that makes you smile.
Deborah VanTrece: I'm living my best life.
Kerry Diamond: Who sings that?
Deborah VanTrece: Snoop Dogg.
Kerry Diamond: Favorite to go snack. So, this is something you've always got in your bag, or you always grab and go.
Deborah VanTrece: An apple. Yeah, an apple would be it.
Kerry Diamond: Good answer. All right. Last book you read or tried to read?
Deborah VanTrece: Michelle Obama.
Kerry Diamond: Oh, I got to see her in Boston.
Deborah VanTrece: Did you?
Kerry Diamond: On that tour, it was amazing.
Deborah VanTrece: I know it had to be.
Kerry Diamond: I love her.
Deborah VanTrece: I do too. I do too.
Kerry Diamond: If you had to be stuck on a desert island with any food celebrity, who would it be and why?
Deborah VanTrece: It would be Guy Fieri.
Kerry Diamond: I knew you were going to say that.
Deborah VanTrece: It would be Guy Fieri. I've worked with him now a couple of times, and I really like him. I really like him. He's a good guy.
Kerry Diamond: Who would cook on that desert island?
Deborah VanTrece: I'd probably cook. Yeah. Yeah, I would probably cook. Let him be the taster.
Kerry Diamond: Well Deborah, it's so nice to see you. I'm thrilled I'm going to get to see you in just a month time. Please tell all our friends back at Atlanta that we said hi.
Deborah VanTrece: I certainly will.
Kerry Diamond: Tell Tiffany we send our love.
Deborah VanTrece: I will definitely let her know.
Kerry Diamond: We'd love to see that whole gang again soon.
Deborah VanTrece: Okay, we'll be here, we'll be back, yeah.
Kerry Diamond: Good. All right, take care.
Deborah VanTrece: Okay, thank you.
Kerry Diamond: That's it for today's show. Thank you to Deborah VanTrece for hanging out with us once again. If you'd like to hear more from Deborah, check out the Atlanta episode from Our Future of Food miniseries available wherever you get your podcasts. And, if you're in Atlanta, make sure to visit chef Deborah's Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours, and tell them that the Bombe squad sent you.
Kerry Diamond: Thank you to Handsome Brook Farm for supporting this season of Radio Cherry Bombe, and for supporting chefs like Deborah. For more, visit handsomebrookfarm.com. Radio Cherry Bombe's associate producer is the one and only Jess Zeidman and our theme song is all fired up by the band Tralala. Radio Cherry Bombe is a joint production of Cherry Bombe Magazine and the Heritage Radio Network. Thanks for listening everyone, you're the bomb.
When Harry Met Sally Clip: I'll have what she's having.
Lindsay Collins: Hi, I'm Lindsay Collins. I'm the creator and host of FNB radio, a podcast all about this silly side of food. Do you want to know who I think is the bomb, Daisy Ryan, she's the head chef / owner at Bell's Los Alamos, which is a brand spanking new restaurant in California. She's an incredible cook herself, and now she's the head chef of her own family owned restaurant. She's a mom, she's incredible. She inspires me every day. Check her out.