Nathalie Dupree bakes up biscuits and more in her Charleston kitchen
| April 16, 2011
In Book Scoop, Coffee and Convo
For me, Nathalie Dupree has always been a cookbook rock star. Her first book, New Southern Cooking, a companion to a PBS television show by the same name, came out the year I got married. As a new bride I studied her recipes so carefully, you’d have thought there was going to be a test at the end.
Fast-forward 10 years, and wonder of wonders, Alicia and I were about to see our very own first cookbook, Desperation Dinners, unleashed on the world. And when Nathalie Dupree agreed to write an endorsement for the book’s cover, well, you could have heard our whoops and hollers a block away.
In my mind, I had elevated this culinary celebrity to the point where she was way up on a ledge alongside my autographed cookbook from Julia Child and a plaque certifying I had judged the Pillsbury Bake-Off.
And then, just last week, there came a moment too perfect for words at the opening reception for a media seminar in Charleston hosted by the National Chicken Council. Nathalie Dupree, author of more than a dozen cookbooks including the just-published “Southern Biscuits,” simply walked up to my conversation group and introduced herself. Star struck barely describes it!
I don’t fancy myself a stalker, but I have to admit I began scanning the crowd for Nathalie and seating myself to be within a comfortable distance for eavesdropping. And what I discovered was a real human being who is down-to-earth, funny, chic, generous and extremely spontaneous. On the second day of the conference, Nathalie invited all 50 journalists to her house for a drop-in tour.
“I’m not serving any food and you might need to bring your own water,” she said with a giggle. “There are just too many of you!”
Needless to say, I was first in line to visit this shrine of Southern cuisine. I’ve always believed that you don’t really know a person until you’ve been inside their home (preferably for a meal), and I have struggled over the best way to try describe the house where Nathalie lives. But stepping inside made me feel like I’d stumbled on a Wonderland -- part Minnie Mouse house at Disney World, part art and antique shop extraordinaire.
There was indeed art everywhere -- even some of the closet doors had been turned into murals of food.
“I wanted you all to see this house because it is an original Charleston Single House,” Nathalie explained. “There are no windows on the back or side.”
Surprisingly, the kitchen where Nathalie and her interns test all of her recipes is quite small -- like the kitchen you’d expect if you visited your grandma. (Gotta love the jumbo pack of Bounty paper towels barely hidden beneath the breakfast table!)
Stacks of cookbooks -- so many they spill onto the floor in front of the dining room buffet -- a vase full of cotton boughs, and everywhere, a swirl of floral prints and spring colors. And outside -- a prized Meyer lemon tree grows among other mostly food-producing flora and fauna.
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What you're saying..
Your column and Web site have been a lifesaver for me many times. After 50 years of cooking 3 times a day for a family I feel like a novice, no confidence! Keep up the good work of educating young and old.
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