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The Mother of All Dishes

The Mother of All Dishes
Written by Hannah Lee Leidy

Mother’s Day isn’t always breakfast in bed. The perfect dish can take many forms: a springy brunch, a homey recipe that tastes like childhood, or a sugary treat (sweet just like mom!). Though the meal time and dish may vary, food that’s prepared with love and uses top quality ingredients remains a constant.

Even chefs who dedicate their careers to cooking give the practice a little more reverence on Mother’s Day, leaning on the dishes with nostalgic significance, seasonal ingredients, or simply their mom’s favorite foods. TLP asked Southern chefs the one dish they’d most like to make their mom for Mother’s Day, and their thoughtful answers offer inspiration for those of us planning our own celebrations.

Happy Mother’s Day from Southern Chefs

Spanish french toast with a bruleed top on a plate next to berries

Spanish French Toast | Katie Button, Curaté, Asheville

“Torrijas are the perfect dish to celebrate mom on her day. This version is an elevated take on your typical french toast, sweet, and the added crunch from the bruléed sugar topping ties it all together. I have dreams of waking up to this on Mother’s Day morning as a dessert-for-brunch treat topped off with fresh berries.”

A casserole dish with stuffed cabbage rolls and two on a plate

Stuffed Cabbage with Tomatoes and Onions | Alon Shaya, Saba, Miss River, and Chandelier Bar, New Orleans

“The one dish I would make my mother for Mother’s Day is my grandmother’s recipe for stuffed cabbage. It’s one of my mom’s favorite dishes and one that we both grew up eating from my grandmother. It’s is not only delicious, but it evokes memories of my Safta and gives us a great reason to share the stories of why we loved her so much.”

A bowl with a serving of blackberry doobie for Mother's Day, topped with vanilla ice cream

Blackberry DoobieMatthew Raiford, Chefarmer at Gilliard Farms, Brunswick, Georgia

“As a kid we had wild blackberries growing along the edges of the ditch when Galilee Road beside our farm was a dirt road. When they were ready for picking, my cousins and I would fill our buckets with more blackberries than Nana could possibly use because we knew if we did, she would say, ‘Now, y’all done picked enough for me to make a doobie.’ A doobie is a type of cobbler, but it’s more akin to sweet dumplings.”

Cheesy spinach rice recipe in a yellow dutch oven

Grandma Lou’s Spinach RiceDeborah VanTrece, Oreatha’s and Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours, Atlanta

“There are so many dishes I’d like to make for my mom today. That’s one of the reasons I created a restaurant named after her, Oreatha’s, where we celebrate moms all over the world who feed and nourish their families with love. But if I had to pick one dish, it would be my grandmother’s (Grandma Lou’s) spinach rice.”

“It’s a dish that represents family, love and traditions. My mother made it for me, and I make it for my daughter. To me, it embodies a mother’s love. Of course like all love—and all delicious food—it’s best shared. It’s the dish I’d like to share most with my mom on Mother’s Day.”

Molded angel food cake recipe on a cake stand and dusted in powdered sugar

Angel Food CakeMatthew McClure, The Hive at 21c Museum & Hotel Bentonville

“When I was a kid growing up in Little Rock springtime meant strawberries. We would even visit the pick-your-own farms to gather our own. My mother always prepared them with angel food cake and whipped cream. She would buy the cake at Kroger, as well as a carton of Cool Whip. My version certainly involves more effort, but my mother is worth it!”

Seared scallops with pesto pasta and lemon cream sauce, topped with tomatoes and basil

Seared Scallop Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce | Bruce Moffett, Moffett Restaurant Group, Charlotte

“This dish is personal to me. It was the first composed dish I made for my mother upon enrolling in culinary school. I wanted to make a plate that captured summer and showed off what I had learned.”

“In our seafood class, we had recently practiced searing a scallop to develop a golden-brown outer crust and a tender, sweet center. With this in mind I formulated a plan. I grabbed a box of angel hair pasta from the pantry and ventured into the garden to find the rest of the ingredients. My mom was impressed with the result. I think it was then that she realized I had found my passion.”

Cheesy chicken enchiladas lifted out of a casserole dish

Chicken Enchiladas | Tiffany Derry, Roots Southern Table

“I love cooking for my mom for Mother’s Day. Her favorite meal is chicken enchiladas with all the fixings! I usually make red rice, black beans, a huge bowl of guacamole, spicy pico de gallo, grilled corn ‘elote style,’ and lots of hot chips dusted with cumin and lime zest. It never gets old, and she enjoys having enough for two days of noshing.”

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