For the most part, the worlds of cooks and books are separate. Aside from in cookbooks, of course, authors and chefs don't usually inhabit the same circles. But the annual Cooks & Books does its best to bring together the two groups for a good cause.
Cooks & Books runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 12 at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa. The event will benefit Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry, which provides adult basic education and English as a second language classes in Beaufort County. Local chefs serve up samples of their favorite dishes while Lowcountry authors sign copies of their latest books.
In the spirit of the event, we decided to get the chefs and authors to step into each other's worlds. We asked the authors for their favorite Southern dish and the chefs for their favorite book. Here's how they responded:
Author Ken Burger, "Baptized in Sweet Tea"
Favorite dish: Peach Cobbler
My favorite is Nathalie Dupree's "Cuppa, Cuppa, Cuppa Lazy Girl Cobbler," which is plenty of peaches plus a cup of flour, a cup of sugar and a cup of milk with a stick of butter. That and some sweet tea and you're good to go.
Author C.J. Lyons, "Rock Bottom"
Favorite dish: Etouffee
I fell in love with it during a visit to New Orleans when I met a friend's mother who shared her family recipe with me. I gave her my Italian granny's lasagna recipe in exchange.
Chef Luke Lyons, Frankie Bones
Favorite book: "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy
The creativity of J.R.R. Tolkien allured me when I was a child with his detailed style of writing. It described a world in a language he created.
Author Kathryn Wall, Bay Tanner mystery series
Favorite dish: Anything sweet potatoes
Sweet potato fries, biscuits, soup, salad, soufflè. And of course, sweet potato pie. Vegetables as dessert -- what a concept! And nary a marshmallow in sight.
Author Mary Kay Andrews, "Summer Rental"
Favorite dish: Pound cake
I make a mean lemon cream cheese pound cake. It's as sweet and moist and yummy as a baby's kiss.
Sallie Ann Robinson, "Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way"
Favorite dish: Crab rice
Even though a lot of work goes into this dish to catch the crab and pick it, it is all worth it when you taste the flavor of freshness all bouncing around in your mouth. This to me is like a gourmet dish with an old-fashioned Southern attitude.
Ramona Fantini, owner Pino Gelato
Favorite book: "The Last Time They Met," by Anita Shreve
For recreational reading, Anita Shreve is my favorite escape author. My favorite of hers is "The Last Time They Met," full of romance, regrets, life history and surprises.
Jon Mills, "The Ronnie Gene"
Favorite dish: Babyback ribs
I love this Southern variation -- rubbed, slow-cooked, finished with a honey glaze, served with two sauces, one mustard-based, one vinegar based, with a side of mac and cheese or cheesy grits.
Chef Ken Ballard, Kenny B's
Favorite book: "Love You Forever," by Robert Munch
I get tears in my eyes whenever I read it. In a way, it can sum up your whole life. In just a few short pages you not only think of your childhood, you think of your wife as a mother, you think of your son and watching him grow up and then you think of your own mother growing old and leaving you. Quite a bit to absorb, but makes you feel how short life is. Whenever I need a pick me up, I always think of that book.
Restaurants: Antonio's Italian Cuisine, Chart House, Christine's Catering, Cookies by Design, CQ's, Ela's Grille, Frankie Bones, Kenny B's, Mulberry Street Trattoria, Old Fort Pub, Pino Gelato, Skillet's Grill & Cafè, Trattoria Divina, Belfair Plantation
Authors: Mary Kay Andrews, Patricia Branning, Ken Burger, Jim Jordan, C.J. Lyons, David Lynch, Jon Mills, Sallie Ann Robinson, Carl T. Smith, Margot Theis-Raven, Kathryn Wall, Mark Yarbrough
The Heat is On
Nine chefs are scheduled to compete in "The Heat is On" during the event. A selection of mystery ingredients is presented and the chefs will have a set amount of time to create a culinary masterpiece -- or something close to one.
Advance tickets are $15 a person and $20 at the door. Tickets allow for unlimited tastings. Beer, wine and soft drinks are sold separately. Tickets are available at Burke's Pharmacy and Le Cookery on Hilton Head Island; Markel's Cards & Gifts in Kittie's Crossing in Bluffton; or at Literacy Volunteers' offices in Bluffton and Hilton Head. Purchase Cooks & Books tickets online at www.lowcountryliteracy.org.
A preview party will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 10 at TidePointe on Hilton Head Island. The event features a silent auction and a chance to mingle with the participating chefs. TidePointe executive chef Stephen Stewart will provide a buffet. Tickets are $75. Contact Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry at 843-815-6616 or www.lowcountryliteracy.org.