Edward Lee’s unlikely journey

Buttermilk GraffitiEdward Lee is a multiple James Beard award nominee, chef/owner of several restaurants in Louisville, Kentucky, and has been on both “Top Chef” and “The Mind of a Chef.” His first cookbook, Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen, was an EYB Pick and has received a four star rating from EYB Members. Lee has just released his second cookbook, which is far more than a mere collection of recipes, titled Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine.

A natural-born storyteller, Lee decided to hit the road and spent two years uncovering fascinating narratives from every corner of the country. He spoke to chefs across the nation, including many small entrepreneurs as well as more well-known names. In addition to the stories, Lee developed forty recipes that highlight the great evolving story of American cuisine. 

As Lee was flying from stop to stop on his author tour in support of the cookbook, he carved out time to talk to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about why he wrote ‘Buttermilk Graffiti’ and how it relates to his own journey from Brooklyn to Kentucky. One item that piqued the curiousity of the interviewer was that there are no photographs to accompany the recipes in the book. This was not an oversight, says Lee. 

The first reason he gives for not including pictures is a nod to old-school cookbooks, but the more important reason stemmed from the comments he received from readers of his first cookbook. “They would send me a picture of their meal and say they really liked the recipe but it didn’t come out as pretty. That upset me, because they said it tasted good. And they put all this effort and joy into it, then somehow they felt like a failure because it didn’t look like the work of a food stylist and a professional photographer.”

Three recipes from ‘Buttermilk Graffiti’ accompany the interview: Korean Doughnuts (Hoedduck), Pollo a la Brasa, and Green Ají Sauce. Lee’s author tour continues through June, so check out the EYB Calendar of Cookbook Events to see if he is coming to a location near you. 

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