City Paper: What’s the last thing you fried?
Jeffrey Stoneberger: Last thing I fried was some local by-catch squid from the dock at Shem Creek and it’s amazing. Squid should have more of a presence in Charleston. Still to this day for some reason it’s more bait shop than first course.
CP: Do you consider using Kewpie over Duke’s mayo to be cultural treason?
JS: No, I prefer Kewpie. Duke’s has a more synthetic acid taste (think cooked citrus) and is a lot stiffer than almost any commercial mayo. It coats the mouth which is why mayo is so great. It suspends flavor in your mouth. Kewpie is more of a whipped dressing. I like it because it’s deeper in flavor and balanced more than just whipped egg powder. It’s got the perfect amount of salt and even though it’s a faux pas to say: Kewpie has MSG (so do Cool Ranch Doritos) it’s also $5+ a bottle. I like nicer things. If you think Duke’s is better, make potato salad with Kewpie and then try Duke’s (potatoes are super neutral) so it’s a great way to test your preference.
CP: Let’s take a moment to discuss the delights of scrapple. Is it true you were making wontons with them?
JS: Scrapple is one of my top five favorite foods. I don’t cook it because it’s trendy. I cook it because I am from Delaware and one of the best scrapple makers in the country is Rapa scrapple from Selbyville, Del. and on every breakfast table in the 302 you can find scrapple on a Sunday morning for breakfast. I grew up in Fenwick Island which is about a 30-minute car ride away. I made wontons with scrapple because the buckwheat/grits keeps the farce emulsified and as soon as I tried one I knew they were going to crush. They sell-out at every week at Proof which is our new permanent location.
CP: Do boiled peanuts deserve the praise?
JS: I love boiled peanuts. I like them best Chinese style which dates back much further than the southern version. I usually try them on every trip we take. I make them at home in really big batches and usually give them to friends before a sporting event.
CP: Does it really not get any better than blue crabs and Old Bay?
JS: No there is nothing better to eat than Old Bay and blue crabs. I’m definitely gonna get in trouble saying this but I’ve been to all types of communal cooking gatherings in a bunch of different countries: Louisiana crawfish boils, Lowcountry boils, oyster roasts, pig pickin’s, cider/perry harvest in England, paella festivals in Spain. Nothing comes close to blue crab cakes in spicy Old Bay. With cheap beer I prefer Mexican pilsners like Modelo Especial in this environment. The Charles Towne Fermentory Yacht Party was the best local version I’ve had.
City Paper: What’s the last thing you fried?
Cynthia Wong: Oh my gosh! Eggs honestly from Storey Farms. Pan fried in a good amount of butter. I love when the edges get crunchy, borderline burnt.
CP: Fried chicken ice cream! Really?
CW: After a long day at Butcher & Bee, I was half asleep on the couch and suddenly had a “Wouldn’t it be funny if …” moment. It was meant to be a joke on Southern culture in general. The next thing, I started working on it. The waffle cones worked so well in pulling this off. Hopefully it makes somebody laugh and enjoy something without worrying about the politics behind the food.
CP: Being a native of Mobile, Ala. what is something outsiders take for granted about the food down there?
CW: Great seafood, we have crazy things like deep fried blue crab claws, but most of all the Creole food down there is great! The gumbos and jambalayas.
CP: Everybody I know who’s spent any amount of time in Atlanta has some wild Waffle House stories, do you?
CW: Not from Atlanta, but back in my college days at the University of South Alabama we’d have a good time at the World Famous Floribama Lounge in Pensacola, Fl. and head to the Waffle House across the street. Things used to get pretty wild in there for sure. I always get the patty melt, there’s nothing better.
CP: For some reason, Chattanooga, Tennessee based Little Debbie comes to mind when I think of you. The Cosmic Brownies, Swiss Rolls cakes, did any of that have an influence on you?
CW: Yes! I love that stuff. I grew up un-spiralling the dough of the Pecan wheels before I ate them. The oatmeal creme pie is the Godmother to my Phatty Cake, but my all-time favorite is the Nutty Buddy Bars, there’s nothing like sugary, peanut buttery, chocolate-flavored Styrofoam. Love Best of Charleston? Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.
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