Culinary Institute of Charleston chef instructor Kevin Mitchell is teaming up with University of South Carolina professor David Shields to author an illustrated guide to South Carolina food, dishes and ingredients.
They’ve been contracted by the University of South Carolina Press to write the book, which doesn’t yet have a title and is expected to be released by fall 2020.
“Think of it almost like encyclopedia,” Mitchell said. “It’s something for an academic, but also will appeal to the foodie type.”
The book will include at least 75 entries, each with an accompanying photo, in alphabetical order.
“For example, benne would be one entry,” he said. “We’d talk about the seed from an agricultural aspect and its historical significance. And then we’d have recipes.”
Topics will include, Mitchell said, Palmetto asparagus, Lady Baltimore cakes, red rice and okra — and okra soup.
“The hard part is going to be deciding which make the cut.”
Mitchell says the authors' unique voices will distinguish the book.
“We are collaborating on it 100 percent,” Mitchell said. "There will be a lot of emails back and forth."
The two have worked together before. In 2015, Shields tapped Mitchell to play the role of Nat Fuller, mid-nineteenth-century Charleston’s leading caterer, at a commemorative dinner.
Mitchell said writing his master's thesis “From Black Hands to White Mouths” at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture prepared him for putting together something for a general audience.
“The popularity of Southern food and chefs right now is so high," he said. "I think a lot of people are going to be interested in it.”