In his recent book, Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine, University of South Carolina professor David Shields argues that food culture will progress more quickly if table-to-farm becomes as mainstream as farm-to-table. That is, rather than scan the tables at farmers markets in search of inspiration, chefs ought to start inspiring farmers to grow delicious crops they haven’t previously considered (at the industrial level, of course, it’s the restaurant chains that tell producers what to plant.)
Jeffrey Stoneberger, the Two Boroughs Larder vet whose name was last in the food news as a potential replacement for Stereo 8’s opening chef, is doing just that. For his upcoming ramen pop-up, he’s “met with a small group of farmers and asked them to grow a specific list of vegetables that for the most part haven’t ever been grown in Charleston.”
The resulting menu features tonkatsu broth topped with pickled shitakes, grilled carrots, pickled kombu, aged shallots and kimchi, among other accoutrements in the vegetable category; meats include pork belly, smoked pork confit and scrapple.
“This is not going to be a run-of-the-mill ramen pop-up,” swears Stoneberger, who says he’s sourcing the Asian ingredients with just as much care. He’s spent five years developing 2 Nixons.
As for the name, it alludes to the uncanny ability of white men to relocate Far Eastern culinary traditions into the American mainstream. Stoneberger notes that after Richard Nixon was photographed using chopsticks during his 1972 visit to China, more of his countrymen felt comfortable eating lo mein.
“I am white and have never been to Japan, but I’m enamored with the food and culture and it’s OK if I’m white,” says Stoneberger, who considers himself the second Nixon.
Eventually, Stoneberger hopes to open a permanent ramen shop. In the meantime, he’s focusing on developing a regular pop-up schedule; he plans to debut 2 Nixons at Frothy Beard Brewing on Sept. 30 from 4 p.m.-9 p.m.
In addition to ramen, Stoneberger plans to serve a vegan noodle bowl and cold Singapore curry noodles. To keep up with the project, follow @2Nixons on Twitter.