Photos courtesy S.C. Press Association/Provided

In this season of thanks during a year that’s challenged everyone in new ways, let’s remember and honor friendships.

Friends make our lives richer. They open new worlds and ideas. But they’re so familiar and comfortable that you kind of want them to never change and always be there. 

Two longtime friends, cookbook author and foodie rock star Nathalie Dupree and historian husband Jack Bass, are leaving Charleston soon to live closer to family in North Carolina. I don’t want them to go, but at the same time, I’m happy they are embracing a change.

They’ll both be missed in Charleston, where Jack wrote powerful books and taught students at the end of a distinguished reporting and academic journalism career. In person and in print, he offers clarifying insights about South Carolina’s role in history, politics and leadership. He’s precise and literal, occasionally spending extra time in a grocery store searching for exactly the item that Nathalie asked him to pick up. 

Brack

It can be a little frustrating, she’ll tell you, to live with a literalist — a person who chooses words carefully and means what he says. But she’s been in love with him and Charleston since she moved here more than 20 years ago.

That’s when she captured my heart by being kind enough to throw a high-dollar fundraiser when I ran for Congress. I lost, just like Jack did years earlier in his bid for Washington, but goodness, we had fun then and in the years since.

Nathalie is a cooking doyenne, a visionary who embraced her Southern heritage and spread the gospel about cooking good food in traditional and simple ways using local ingredients. Want to know how to make biscuits? She’s got a book on that. Want to know how to entertain comfortably? Read the book. Want to learn the ins and outs of New Southern Cooking? Yep, there’s a book with 350 recipes from a past cooking series on PBS. 

Through the years, she’s written 15 books to connect to followers all over the world. Along the way, she’s picked up three James Beard awards — the Oscars of the food world. More importantly to Charleston, she’s been a vital cog in making it a destination city for foodies. She’s founding chairman of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival as well as the founder of the Charleston chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a national organization of women leaders in the food and hospitality industry.

“She asked me if I would want to be her recipe tester and help her out with her book (Nathalie Dupree’s Favorite Stories & Recipes), said Jeni Lata, owner of {TK} Culinary Consulting + Test Kitchen in an interview with the Charleston City Paper. “Because it was her favorite recipes, it was like going down this big old walk down memory lane with her. Nathalie is going to forever be a teacher, so it was cool because she wanted to teach me no matter what. She’s sort of this figurehead of the culinary community, and I think we’re losing someone who made it their life’s work to foster young talent.” 

Nathalie and Jack are connectors who bring people together to form new friendships. At their Queen Street home, hundreds of people have sipped on a glass of wine as they talked with one of their friends from Atlanta, South Carolina, New York or Washington who had a new book out. Anyone who attended would load up on a plate of good food, meet some new friends and be able to talk with the passing luminary, such as the late John Lewis who once joined the throng to offer a book.

I’ll miss these two friends being nearby, an easy visit to gab about South Carolina politics to food. But we’ll keep up by email, social media and occasional visits.

The good news is they’re never far away because we’ve got their books. Any day of the week, you can taste Nathalie’s South by cooking one of her recipes. And in Jack’s books, you can enjoy the precision of language in nine works, from his modern history of the Palmetto State to an award-winning tome that highlights how Republican judges integrated schools across the South.

Good luck, friends, in your new endeavors. We’ll miss you.

Andy Brack is publisher of Charleston City Paper. Have a comment? Send to feedback@charlestoncitypaper.com.