Tuesday, April 16, 2013

James Beard Dinner; Big Plans for Hog & Hominy Patio

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 10:28 AM

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An elegant table setting for the Friends of James Beard Dinner.
  • An elegant table setting for the Friends of James Beard Dinner.
While Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen was hosting the prestigious Friends of Beard Dinner on Sunday, sister restaurant Hog & Hominy was preparing to give sneak peeks of its next project — a new dive bar on its back patio.

For Sunday's Friends of Beard dinner, Chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman welcomed five up-and-coming guest chefs from across the country to Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen: David Posey of Blackbird in Chicago, Jason Fox of Commonwealth in San Francisco, Jason Stanhope of Fig in Charleston, Jeff McInnis of Yardbird in Miami Beach, and Stephanie Prida of Manresa in Los Gatos, CA.

The theme of the evening was "Know Your Food, Know Your Roots," an exploration of hometown, ancestry, or childhood inspirations. And while the prep work was a fascinating display of some of the country's best chefs buzzing around the Andrew-Michael kitchen, the actual dinner cost $300 a person, effectively pricing out this writer. (Proceeds went to support the James Beard Foundation, whose mission is to "celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future.")

Three lambs roasting while chefs prepare for the Friends of Beard Dinner.
  • Three lambs roasting while chefs prepare for the Friends of Beard Dinner.
Chef Jeff McInnis of Yardbird stuffs quail with fois gras, grilled peaches, and cornbread.
  • Chef Jeff McInnis of Yardbird stuffs quail with fois gras, grilled peaches, and cornbread.

After the Friends of Beard Dinner, chefs enjoy a late-night dinner on Hog & Hominys back patio.
  • After the Friends of Beard Dinner, chefs enjoy a late-night dinner on Hog & Hominy's back patio.
But I was able to return once the Friends of Beard Dinner wound down, when the chefs and some of the guests moseyed on over to Hog and Hominy to get a taste of what Ticer and Hudman have been working on for the past couple of years since Andrew Michael opened. I hung out by the open kitchen, drinking an Old Fashioned and sneaking little tastes of things, which is how I found out about what Ticer and Hudman have planned for the back patio of Hog & Hominy.

What was formerly a fairly lackluster patio is already being transformed into a side concept for the restaurant: A no-frills dive bar with a seriously pared down menu. There, surrounded by distressed wood and corrugated steel, patrons will suck down oysters on the half-shell, boiled peanuts, cheap beer, and the J.T. Burger — Ticer and Hudman's homage to Oxford's ambassador of Southern cuisine, John T. Edge.

(Hudman says he and Ticer have been working on perfecting this burger for a long time, settling on a classic cheeseburger with American cheese, onions caramelized into the patty, chopped lettuce dressed in pickle juice, tomato, mustard, and ketchup. The result is close-your-eyes-and-sigh good.)

And that's it: Three menu items, cans of Schlitz and Pabst, white and brown well liquors, and old records spinning in the background. Ticer and Hudman plan to close in the currently open-air space, adding large barn doors that will open in nice weather and stay shuttered for winter use.

The meticulously tested and fussed over J.T. Burger, to be served at Hog & Hominys new back patio dive bar.
  • The meticulously tested and fussed over J.T. Burger, to be served at Hog & Hominy's new back patio dive bar.

Hog & Hominy staff preparing for chefs meal after Beard dinner. H&H is converting its back patio, shown here, into a dive bar.
  • Hog & Hominy staff preparing for chef's meal after Beard dinner. H&H is converting its back patio, shown here, into a dive bar.

We can't wait for the idea to be fully realized, which should be happening in the coming months. In the meantime, next time you pop over to Hog and Hominy, stick your head out the back door and start imagining late night revelry and cheeseburgers. Don't forget the cheeseburgers.

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