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Recently in Southern Category

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[photo by Rich Hein~Sun-Times]

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.

Since this time is all about looking forward, I can give you a little spoiler alert into next week's cover story, right?
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In it, Big Jones chef Paul Fehribach, one of the more thoughtful, well-spoken chefs around town, shares his take on how and why certain foods come into and go out of fashion (we're talking to you, pork belly and cupcakes).

He also lists a few things he wishes were more popular in the food world but probably won't be. Among them: Southern food, his passion.

But Fehribach is apparently not one for wishful thinking, announcing today on Soapbox, Ellen Malloy's digital magazine for chefs, that he's working on another restaurant.

In an e-mail to me, he said the new place will "almost definitely" be Southern-focused. He has ideas for a "hole-in-the-wall carry-out spot" but also fine-dining -- the location and community will dictate which direction he takes, he said.

"We are wading into the real estate market," he wrote. ""It wouldn't be prudent to anticipate actually opening in 2011, more likely early 2012."

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Southern category.

Soup is the previous category.

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