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They’re On Fire!

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They’re On Fire!
Photo by Andrew Cebluka

CELEBRATING THE LEE BROTHERS AND THEIR NEW COOKBOOK

The Lee brothers were right at home at the cookbook-signing luncheon on Friday. Hosted at the waterfront restaurant, Fleet Landing. Only blocks away from where they grew up, Matt and Ted mingled with guests and celebrated the release of their new book The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen. This lunch was just one stop as a part of a larger touring engagement that has the brothers covering a vast territory in only a short period of time. When asked what they had been up to during the past week I received two separate itineraries, testimony to just how busy these bros have been.

Friday’s lunch featured several recipes from the book tweaked by Chef Drew Hedlund and the talented restaurant staff. Ted explained, “It’s exciting to see their take on our food. We always enjoy these luncheons because they give us a chance to try different versions of our own recipes.” As we feasted on oyster and peanut stew, Matt further elucidated on the creation of their book, “Not only did we not go to culinary school, we don’t own a restaurant. We are home cooks, which puts us in the perfect position to write a cookbook because we know how you cook.” I know I will be attempting to recreate the deliciousness of that first course.

While the brothers were not born in the South, having lived here since they were seven and nine they credit Charleston with giving them a sense of remaining true to the local flavor. Describing their youth of catching crabs and fish right off the harbor, they didn’t recall a feeling of knowing they were catching some of the freshest seafood they could find. They simply were looking for something to do during the afternoon. But that kind of local sourcing certainly became essential to them over time. The two boast an impressive bibliography of over 800 cookbooks, with many deriving from in the South. Their recipes and sources, then, have extremely local roots.

The second course was a tribute to that pride of landscape: deviled crab with asparagus and Ruby Red grapefruit. Matt described the course as “so right now.” With the asparagus coming out of the ground as we speak and the grapefruit and citrus falling from the trees, this dish couldn’t have been more seasonal. Their deviled crab recipe draws inspiration from a 1971 cookbook in their collection. The secret ingredient? Grated cooked egg whites. It adds a special lightness and made for ideal lunch fare.

As the luncheon wrapped with Hugenot torte (which can cite “Ozark pudding” as its origins) Matt and Ted worked the crowd, signing books and indulging home cooks. The brothers could not be nicer people and their special blend of generosity and approachability is reflected in their book. As a special treat, we are offering one lucky reader a chance to win this great new volume. Click here for more information. Good Luck!