Building on the success of “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” and “Southern Biscuits,” chefs Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart are bringing their culinary star power back to Atlanta.
Dupree, formerly of Atlanta and Social Circle and now living in Charleston, and Graubart, of Atlanta, will appear at two Page From the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center events Sunday, March 20, to introduce their latest collaboration, “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables.”
A master cooking class at 3 p.m. in the Kuniansky Family Center will demonstrate a recipe and offer cooking tips from their beautiful book. The chefs then will talk about their approachable ways to fill three-quarters of the Southern “meat and three” plate and sign copies of the cookbook at 7:30 p.m. in the main JCC building.
I spoke with them about the genesis and intention of “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables.”
Asked how they met, Dupree told of how “this GIRL,” who worked for Georgia Public Television, had been recommended to her in the mid-1980s as a producer. Dupree said Graubart “couldn’t possibly do it; she was just too busy. She wouldn’t even take the time to come see me for three weeks.”
She eventually agreed to take on the project, which became the well-known “New Southern Cooking” series on PBS, with over 300 episodes filmed in Atlanta and Social Circle. Dupree asserted that they must have been around ages 15 and 20 when they first worked together.
Graubart’s writing career began when she stepped back from producing to have children and authored “The One-Armed Cook” for busy women preparing meals with a baby on one hip.
It wasn’t until 2012, when Dupree was snowed under by papers and research for this “huge book,” “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking,” that they again joined forces. Visiting one day, Graubart said: “Nathalie, you are never going to get this done. You need me.”
Dupree agreed, and the writing partnership was born.
Their third cookbook together, “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables” is a logical extension of their “Southern Cooking” book. They said the vegetable chapter was the biggest in the first book because of the way people eat in the South, with meat filling a smaller portion of the dinner plate. In addition, with two to three growing seasons, we are blessed with a wide array of seasonal vegetables.
Add the growing emphasis on whole and organic foods, and it’s only logical that “people are starting to copy us,” Dupree said.
The chefs endeavored to make the selections “doable; this is not a book for exotic recipes,” said Dupree, referring to it as an accessible handbook for simple ways to make vegetables you might not know, such as Jerusalem artichokes, or new methods for old standards.
The easy-to-reference cookbook is in alphabetical order, with basic information and storage and preparation tips at the beginning of each section. It is designed to help home cooks get food on the table and to make new and busy cooks comfortable in doing so. Graubart mentioned the invaluable roasting chart at the back. There is even a section on vinaigrettes and sauces.
Graubart spoke of Dupree’s amazing home garden in a small space and said cooking by the season with fresh herbs can elevate even the simplest recipes.
Dupree encouraged growing and using fresh herbs with vegetables all year. Even if purchased in the store, “experimenting with herbs can be part of what people do to make their meals more interesting,” she said.
Treat yourself to either event March 20 to learn more about maximizing taste on the majority of that Southern plate and to be entertained by two humorous and accomplished chefs.
Who: Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart
Where: Marcus JCC, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody
When: Master cooking class at 3 p.m., author talk at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, March 20
Cost: $65 for JCC members, $80 for nonmembers for both events, including a copy of the cookbook; $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers for the author talk only; www.atlantajcc.org or 678-812-4002.