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October 2014

15 Minutes with Sean Brock
WRITTEN BY: Sarah O’Kelley
PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Peter Frank Edwards

We caught up with the super-busy chef—who this month opens Minero, a taqueria on East Bay Street—about his new cookbook, his latest tattoos, and how he unwinds

CM: You starred in season two of PBS’ Mind of a Chef, which recently won an Emmy. Did you ever imagine you’d be a TV star? How was the awards ceremony?
SB: Everything went black for four seconds, and then I realized I had to go up on stage to accept the award. It was terrifying! And no, I never even conceived of this as a goal.

CM: Tell us about Heritage, your cookbook out this month from Artisan Books.
SB: A first book is like a first album; it has to be amazing to capture the attention of a large audience. Heritage has recipes from my aunt and sister, and lots from my mom and grandmother. It’s a deeply personal look at my life, with stories about why I’ve made the decisions I’ve made.

CM: Do you have any free time?
SB: On January 3, I fell in Nashville and broke my knee. It changed my life. It allowed me to slow down and helped me realize the importance of rest.

CM: How have you slowed down?
SB: I’ve been playing a lot of guitar. I’m into guitars from the 1950s and ’60s, specifically the Danelectro guitars that were sold at Sears Roebuck.

CM: What music do you listen to?
SB: I’m extremely into vinyl—mostly 1930s and ’40s blues from Mississippi. And I’ve been studying Southern folk art. Music and art are just as important to a culture as food. They all come from someone doing something extraordinary with nothing, and they all inspire and impact people’s lives.

CM: Any hobbies?
SB: Motorcycles! It took until I was 36 to be responsible enough to have one. I bought a ’73 Honda—totally custom, one-of-a-kind. In Nashville, I have a group of motorcycle buddies who love restoring bikes.

CM: What do you like to cook at home?
SB: Tonight, I am making dinner with my mom, who loves vegetables like I do. We cook on the fly—go to the farmers markets and buy the best seafood and produce. We’ll grill the veggies up or make succotash and then put great condiments on the table. She has all sorts of fermented and pickled vegetables.

CM: What are you eating here in town?
SB: I still haven’t found a restaurant I like better than FIG.

CM: How do you stay inspired?
SB: I spend every day looking for inspiration. It could be the color scheme on a bottle behind a bar or how a server greets a table. I’ll be plating a dish and realize it resembles a painting I saw last week.

CM: Any new tattoos?
SB: I recently got the Cherokee symbol for the Seven Sacred Directions on my arm. And I have lots of new coal-mining tattoos on my chest. I have to take a break; I am running out of room!

CM: What about future plans?
SB: My dream is to have a full day off when I don’t think about work—when I ride a motorcycle down to a river and go fishing. I haven’t done that in 20 years.

 

Brock’s new cookbook, out this month from Artisan Books, features family recipes and personal stories.

 



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