Geoff Rhyne is going back home (almost).
Rhyne ended his stint last week as chef at SugarToad in Naperville and, on Friday, was on the road, passing through the mountains of Tennessee on his way to Charleston, S.C.
The Georgia native says he is reuniting with mentor Mike Lata at FIG in Charleston, which like SugarToad keeps local, sustainable foods as its focus. He'll be working with Lata on a new, yet unnamed project as well.
Rhyne was among the chefs I talked to for this week's cover story on memories of their moms' cooking. Hearing about his Southern upbringing, which he says was "about as stereotypical as you can get," it's no wonder he's headed back that way. Home, as it were.
Rhyne was weaned on "fresh biscuits, big cast iron pans, collard greens." He spent summers on his grandparents' farm in Ellaville, Georgia, a one-stoplight town, picking pecans and sneaking the crusty top off his G-Mama's pound cake.
That recipe (actually his great-grandmother's) is in a book compiled for him by his mom of generations-old family recipes; he carries the book with him like Linus does his blanket. It was the source of many dishes at SugarToad, and will serve the same purpose in his new gig.
Rhyne kindly shared with us the pound cake recipe, which you'll see on Wednesday, along with several other recipes from chefs' moms. Consider it a parting gift from Rhyne -- and comfort food at its best.