Chef Paul Fehribach, second from left, at Baconfest 2012.
Chef Paul Fehribach, second from left, at Baconfest 2012. Credit: Ben Collins-Sussman/Flickr

Between putting in face time at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium and plumbing the depths of his historic cookbook collection, the southern Indiana native’s kitchen scholarship keeps Chicago relevant in the wider movement to resurrect the lost food traditions of the south. Yes, he buys, butchers, and preserves more locally than most, but his menus meander all over the south, from the Low County to Appalachia to Lake Pontchartrain. A self-described history geek inspired by old roadside inns of the south, his Family Meal series has wandered from a creole Lenten dinner to a Cajun country ramble, through the heritage grains of the south to dinner as it might have been served in 1840 in a Kentucky tavern. Whether it’s biscuits made with house-rendered lard, a Louisiana deviled crab recipe from 1940, or an oak-barrel-aged orange-brandy punch that was served at Andrew Jackson’s inauguration, you’re not just ingesting a collection of historical curiosities. You’re experiencing the country’s preindustrial food heritage.