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A native of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Evans moved to Atlanta to helm the kitchen at Buckhead’s now-defunct Craftbar. His focus at the Optimist is seafood, but he still craves the earthier Southern comfort foods of home: his mom’s biscuits and gravy, his grandmother’s chicken and dumplings, and most of all, North Alabama chicken stew.
Backstory “Making cocktails with bourbon is easy,” writes Kathleen Purvis in “Bourbon,” part of the popular Savor the South cookbook series by UNC Press. “Cooking with it, beyond the basics of brushing a cake with bourbon or deglazing a pan, isn’t that obvious.”
This recipe could just as easily be titled Grange Supper Chicken Pie, or American Legion Supper Chicken Pie, or B.P.O.E., or Odd Fellows, the volunteer fire department, or any number of organizations that have regular "suppers," fund-raising or just social. A good "church supper chicken pie" is one of the most comforting foods we know.
Folks in the Delta cannot get enough chicken salad. Rare is the lunch menu that doesn't offer it the classic way-plenty of real mayo (no Miracle Whip!), chopped celery, at least a touch of onion, and more often that not, a dollop or two of sweet pickle relish.
At the flagship Highland Avenue location of Stacey Eames's Highland Bakery, country-fried steak Benedict arrives at the table with the crisp, battered beef paired with poached eggs atop a giant biscuit smothered in jalapeño–cheddar cheese sauce.
Darryl Evans's career took shape in the era when fusion was hot, mixing Southern cooking with global flavors in dishes such as whole, sizzling Asian-style catfish or ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and Georgia caviar.