The Lee Bros. Bring Their Charleston Kitchen to Austin

Television personalities to teach a class at Central Market

Lavishly praised by such food luminaries as Gabrielle Hamilton and Ruth Reichl, The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, $35, 240ppg.) is a standout among this year’s cookbooks.

Beautifully photographed, well organized, and dense with recipes for Charleston’s iconic dishes, it is also interspersed with historic cultural footnotes, profiles of local personalities, and just a touch of gossip. In other words: it is fascinating.

The cookery and lifestyle this book chronicles are slightly foreign to Central Texas, as the cuisine of the Low Country revolves around seafood: shad, shad roe, blue crabs, she-crabs, shark, shrimp, flounder, conch, and oyster recipes abound. The city of Charleston has a long history, and its own particular cuisine- the dishes that evolved there are as definitive (and as dear to the Charlestonian heart) as chicken-fried steak and chili are to us. Nearly every recipe is a regional standby: Oyster Pan Roast, She-Crab Soup, Benne Seed Cookies, Crab Salad, Broiled Shad Roe, Creek Shrimp, Frogmore Soup, Smothered Pork Chops, Low Country Gumbo, Long-Cooked Green Beans, Huguenot Torte, Caramel Cake - and it is impossible to read this book without itching to get into the kitchen make them.

The Lee brothers are connoisseurs of Charleston culture, and are eager to share the quirky bits of local history, the customs, and the characters of their hometown. But they are also purists, and the recipes are precise and easy to follow. Neither do they make things unnecessarily complicated; if all that is needed is to dredge an item, such as an oyster, with cornmeal and fry it, that is what they tell you to do. This is home cooking with no fussiness. Yet there is great accuracy; I have made myriad dishes from this cookbook in the last few months, and each one came out perfectly, looking exactly like the photograph. For anyone interested in Southern foodways, this is more than a cookbook. It is a treasure.

Matt and Ted Lee will be in Austin on Thursday, May 16th to teach a class at the Central Market Cooking School.

They’ll introduce guests to the culinary treasures and traditions of Charleston, South Carolina, one of the country’s hottest food destinations. The menu includes a cheese spread; bacon-y Brussels sprouts; a skillet asparagus with grapefruit; strawberry and black pepper syllabub and a tasty take on shrimp & grits – all of which you’ll nibble on with expertly-selected wines.

The class costs $80 and includes a copy of The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen. Guests can book online here.

WHEN: Thursday, May 16 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

WHERE: Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78756, 512/206-1014

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