As we write this post our national food and beverage industry is in free-fall. Restaurants and bars, shuttered in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, have laid off an unknown number of staff and servers across the country. We feel deeply what our friend Brooks Reitz wrote yesterday, “Uncharted waters. We have been gut punched, ransacked, and challenged unlike ever before.” Chefs, makers, and owners across the culinary industry are scrambling to find ways that we as a nation can “stand with us in the fight to get the support we need for our workers, and to bring restaurants back after we solve this pandemic virus’ effect on our communities,” Ashley Christensen wrote at 3:00am today. She continued, “I’m gonna take a nap (and I hope you will too) but let’s dream on solutions, public health, kindness, and the hope that our elected officials at every level take this time to focus and demonstrate what it truly means to be of service to the greater good of the public, and of the communities who work so hard to serve that public.” John T. Edge wrote this story for the Southern Foodways Alliance in collaboration with Garden & Gun about the state of the industry right now, “Change is happening so fast. And, as we watch counts spike across the South, change is happening so slow.”
It’s with this heavy heart we send along this post today about cooking alone, together.
Our friends at the Southern Foodways Alliance have, for two decades, helped teach us the importance of gathering together at the table and creating the opportunity for conversation, reconciliation, collaboration, and celebration. And for two decades, Natalie and the Alabama Chanin teams have created sustainable and memorable experiences around making and enjoying food together—from our Friends of the Café dinners to cooking workshops, recipe shares like those created with Angie Mosier in Alabama Studio Style and shared on this Journal, we’ve created plates and servingware through our collaboration with Heath Ceramics, and our kitchen textile and dinnerware designs have been designed as a sustainable part of our business through lean method, zero-waste manufacturing and our efforts to use everything, every scrap of fabric that is possible.
Right now, as we separate, we are also longing for the experience of communing together with good food, good drink, and in good company. However, as we practice social distancing, we’re looking for inspiration and ways to engage in the act of dining together while apart. As Heath Ceramics has enacted the new “rest at home” policy in the San Francisco Bay area, Cathy and Natalie have discussed cooking #togetherapart by sharing recipes, plates, stories, and pictures across the divide.
Inspired by this idea, we’ve searched back in the Journal archives for recipes, creativity, food stories, and other anecdotes to inspire ourselves and others to reach out and cook together—while apart. Today, we also launch new color offerings for our Cook + Dine Textiles. Our Organic Cotton Jersey Napkins, Tea Towels, Cocktail Napkins, and Hand-loomed Potholder are now offered in Lilac and Caramel colors to reflect the warm neutral tones from our Collection. Slow food and slow design—they go hand-in-hand at Alabama Chanin. Know that we are practicing safe procedures in this uncertain time.
Natalie will be sending a new set of napkins to Cathy as shipping options are clear for the San Francisco Bay area. In the meantime, we will be practicing cooking #togetherapart.
If you are able, we hope you can find solace and a remote partner in the kitchen right now. Mental health is as important as physical health so, perhaps creating a dining experience for yourself and others can be part of the cure. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Use what you have on-hand. Curate your table settings. Practice recipes. Find nourishment. Start seeds for your summer garden. Utilize the living arts at home. We aren’t often in a situation that requires us to slow down and stay still, and we are looking for ways to practice good, and responsible, community action right now. When we aren’t cooking for ourselves and with distanced friends, we’re looking for ways to support our local restaurants, farmers, and food industry workers during this time of uncertainty. They need our help; they require our support.
We’ll see you tomorrow and on the other side, and, hopefully at the table. Use the hashtag #togetherapart to join the club.
Take care and be well.
xo from all of us @ Alabama Chanin
Gardner’s Pie (No Shepard):
Martha Hall Foose’s vegetarian version
From Blackberry Farm
(Strawberry season is right around the corner.)
Gram Perkins’ recipe with Homemade Pickles
From Natalie’s Kitchen
Last week, we shared a spring cooking playlist. Tune in on Spotify for some easy-going melodies to enjoy while cooking at home.
We’ve compiled a list of chefs below who we’ve collaborated with in the past. Give them a follow, buy their cookbook, and when this difficult time has passed, visit their restaurants. Find ways to support your local chefs and their restaurants during this time.
Adam Evans of Automatic Seafood & Oyster, Birmingham, AL
Anne Quatrano | Summerland | of Star Provisions Market, W.H. Stiles Fish Camp, Little Star Provisions, Floataway Café and Bacchanalia, Atlanta, GA
Asha Gomez | My Two Souths and I Cook in Color
Ashley Christensen | Poole’s Diner|of Poole’s Diner, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s, Fox Liquor Bar, Death & Taxes, Poole’side Pies, Raleigh, NC
Brooks Reitz of Leon’s Oyster Shop, Melfi’s Charleston, Little Jack’s Tavern, Monza’s Pizza Bar, Charleston, SC
Chris Hastings | The Hot and Hot Fishclub Cookbook| of Hot and Hot Fish Club, OvenBird, Birmingham, AL
Edward Lee, Smoke & Pickles and Buttermilk Graffiti| of 610 Magnolia, MilkWood, Whiskey Dry, Succotash
Frank Stitt | Bottega Favorita, Southern Table |of Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, AL
Hugh Acheson | The Broad Fork, A New Turn in the South | 5&10, Atlanta, GA
Kelly English of Restaurant Iris and The Second Line, Memphis, TN
John Currence | Big Bad Breakfast, Pickles, Pigs, & Whiskey | Big Bad Breakfast
Lisa Donovan | Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger: A Memoir
Peter Cho of Han Oak, Portland, OR
Rebecca Wilcomb of Gianna Restaurant, New Orleans, LA
Sean Brock | Heritage, South | of AudreyNashville, Joyland, Nashville, TN
Steven Satterfield, Root to Leaf | of Miller Union, Atlanta, GA
Virginia Willis | Secrets of the Southern Table, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Lighten Up, Y’all, Bon Appetit, Y’all, Okra
Vivian Howard |Deep Run Roots | of Chef & The Farmer, Kinston, NC
Whitney Otwaka | The Saltwater Table
Give us a call if you want to talk or would like help shopping online. We can place your order over the phone. Call Robin at 256-760-1090 M – F from 8:00am CST – 4:30pmCST.
P.S.: Alabama Chanin x Heath Ceramics collaboration pieces are most often dropped shipped from Heath, and they are currently experiencing shipping delays. So, understandably, please expect a delay in its delivery. If possible and available, we are shipping from our online store.
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