New Cookbook: The SNOB Experience

New Cookbook: The SNOB Experience

Frank Lee debuts cookbook

The evening starts with a honeyed bourbon drink called the Barnraiser and passed appetizers. The doyennes of food are here: renowned chef Nathalie Dupree, food critic Hanna Raskin, foodie magazine editor Peggy Loftus. But so are the couple from a tiny town in North Carolina who made the drive because they love S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad) and they want to help Frank Lee launch his cookbook that reflects the SNOB experience.

“This is not a how-to-cook cookbook,” Lee tells the crowd once it is seated.

Instead, he seeks to re-create the SNOB experience and his philosophy of cooking, which he says is, “rhythm, balance, responsibility.”

The themes are played out all evening with the endless parade of dishes from the cookbook and stories about Lee’s history, his staff, and his customers.

Citrus Salad

A salad of red snapper crudo with origins at Crosby’s Seafood (not the recently departed storefront at Lockwood, but the lesser-known wholesaler near Yellow Cab), pickled fennel, radish, and chili, and grapefruit from City Roots.

“Who knew we had grapefruit in Charleston?” Lee says, adding that these kinds of finds are in part due to Charleston’s tight culinary community. “We certainly have the tightest, most collaborative chef community in the country.”

Oyster Stew

Tiny Le Creuset pots are uncovered to reveal creamy oyster stew with house smoked bacon, Yukon gold potatoes and scallop leek cream.

“I learned how to make that cream from Yannick Cam of Le Pavillon in Washington, D.C.,” Lee says. “He did a custard made from scallop cream with a Grand Cru Chablis reduction. It’s also our take on the Charleston Receipts, just elevated and gussied up for the restaurant.”

Palmetto Pigeon

Served with a foie gras mousse shitake mushroom, winter squash quenelle, and a sherry reduction.

“We were thrilled to find Palmetto Pigeon in Sumter,” Lee says. “Squab is just baby pigeon. If you like duck or squab, you’re going to like this. Don’t be squeamish, try it.”

(and it is delicious, rich and tender, not as gamey as duck).

Old School Grouper

Carolina Gold rice middlin's, Persian cucumber, lemon dill butter

“We had this on the menu for the longest time and then we had to take it off the menu because we wanted to stay relevant,” Lee says, adding that SNOB changes its menu items sometimes despite their popularity. “The rice middlin's came from Jimmy Hagood, and the little pieces are almost like grits.”

Roasted Rack of Lamb

With green beans pearl onions, sweet pepper relish

“We are nothing without our guests,” Lee says. “We’ve served lamb all kinds of ways, but guests like the rack of lamb better. Our guests are part of the SNOB experience. I can’t tell you how many people have met a husband or a wife at the Chef’s Table. There’s an energy transference that goes on here.”

Dessert Trio

Key Lime Tart, Sour Cream Apple Pie, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

As Lee ends the evening by introducing the staff, including executive chef Russ Moore and general manager Peter Pierce, he says again that this cookbook won’t teach anyone to cook, but it might give them a bit of the SNOB experience and rhythm.

As he says in the book, “When you have your techniques and you’re applying them to your region, sourcing locally and paying attention to seasonality, you’re creating a rhythm.”