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First, I need to apologize for my January blogging hiatus. Bringing you extras, sneak peeks at houses and gardens, and new finds from around town is one my favorite parts of this job. But last month, I had to put the fun stuff on hold to hunker down and get Spring/Summer stories written and edited--plus, we had photo shoots to finish up, which keep us out of the office a bit. I should be back in business now, though, and I have a ton of fun tidbits and sneak peeks to show you, so stay tuned!

First up, we're working with three Southern barbecue superstars on a knockout food story for the next issue: Aaron Siegel of Home Team Barbecue, Jimmy Hagood of Food for the Southern Soul, and Billy Quinn of JB's Smokeshack. With their help, we'll share all kinds of secrets for making delicious barbecue at home, complete with tried-and-true tips for choosing your cuts of meat, saucing them right, and plenty of locally inspired recipes to get you started (Firefly vodka barbecue glaze, anyone?).

In the meantime, here's a first look at that photo shoot (we picked the coldest day of the week, at around 43 degrees on the water--good for the meat and bug surveillance, a little on the chilly side for us!). Check out Peter Frank Edwards shooting our pros and their delicious 'cue contributions against the backdrop of Boone Hall Plantation's Cotton Dock.

(photos by Liz Frierson and Julie Wood)


That's Aaron Siegel saucing his ribs with a Firefly-based glaze he's dreamed up just for us. 

Jimmy Hagood cooked up his Lowcountry vinegar sauce on-site, a sweet and spicy concoction made with cane syrup, paprika, chili powder, and local Meyer lemons. Get the recipe in the upcoming issue!

That's Billy Quinn helping us prep his traditional "beer can chicken" (flavored with a cranberry-apple juice blend) for shots of the leg quarters.

Hagood chopping meat from a smoked pork shoulder. I was able to make close to 30 sandwiches for the office from that single cut of meat.

From left: Aaron Siegel, Billy Quinn, and Jimmy Hagood against the weathered Cotton Dock.

Frank brushes the chicken with a little oil to brighten the skin. Food shoots tend to be styling-heavy, with all sorts of tricks to get food photo-ready, but these meats were a snap. A little oil here and there, and we were all set. 

Associate art director Julie Wood, intern Liz Frierson, and I truck all sorts of of serving odds and ends to shoots like these. Plates, serving trays, glasses, ramekins, dish towels, and always an iron and ironing board for fixing fabrics. We do try to keep things simple though—good-looking food doesn't need a lot of pattern or color in the backdrop. 

Sketches of the proposed layout to keep us on track, plus examples of similar meat photographs to remind us of what looks good and what doesn't. (Example: We noticed ribs tend to look best against plain white plates and platters, while chicken looked great on wood or tin.)

The temperature dropped throughout the day, so that's me, using heat from the coals to stay warm.