Post and Courier
September 15, 2014

Sean Brock compares prep for ‘Mind of a Chef’ show to therapy

Posted: 10/16/2013 08:00 a.m.


By Hanna Raskin

To take viewers on a tour of chef Sean Brock’s mind, producers of the PBS program “The Mind of a Chef” first had to map its cultural colorings and culinary synapses.

“We started in a room with big dry erase boards,” Brock recalls of the intense process resulting in the contemplative travelogue that premieres locally at 10 p.m. Thursday on ETV.

“And they were like, ‘Tell me about your life.’ It’s a little like seeing a psychologist: It gives you a chance to step back and say ‘I’m crazy.’ ”

After determining Brock’s influences and inclinations, most of which were deeply Southern, producers charted Brock’s eight episodes; the season’s second half is devoted to New York City’s April Bloomfield. Although Thursday’s episode doesn’t stray from the South, future episodes roam as far afield as Dakar, Senegal.

“Hopefully after people watch the show, they’ll understand why ... we do what we do,” Brock says.

The first season of “The Mind of a Chef” focused on David Chang, who dealt with some of the same ingredients tackled by Brock, but in a very different way.

“My outlook on rice is based around west Africa, whereas Dave’s connection would be Chinese,” Brock says.

Brock is especially proud of the rice episode, which features Glenn Roberts explaining Carolina Gold.

“The whole rice episode will change the way you eat a bowl of rice,” Brock promises.

Other episodes examine the food cultures of Appalachia and Louisiana, where Brock went frogging. The show’s first episode hopscotches from Nashville, where Brock eats hot chicken, back to Charleston for deviled crabs.

“A lot of people think there’s the South and Southern food, and it’s one thing,” Brock says at the episode’s start. “It’s not just a plate of fried chicken.”

In addition to airing on ETV, “The Mind of a Chef” will be available next month for online streaming.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 937-5560 or hraskin@ postandcourier.com.