Friday Food News Roundup: Vidalias, chef tips, pointless desserts and the future of Southern food

Vidalia onion commission targets millenials

This Packer story reported on the Vidalia onion industry's multi-million dollar efforts to court millennials to their low-pungency alliums. From what I can tell, courting millenials means a hip logo and trucking down food bloggers to the crop's 13-county growing region for education injections.

The bloggers, they believe, are the secret to a new sales boom:

“Once they see and taste the difference we hope they will share that with their readers. We are also increasing our social media efforts to reach more young shoppers,” Waters said. 

As much respect as I have for the Vidalia onion industry, its not as pure and wholesome, and just about taste, as the commission markets it to be. I got into some of the, well, not nefarious, but certainly odd Vidalia history in this Modern Farmer story.

If anything, this campaign is just another piece of proof to treat most bloggers product claims with a grain of salt.

Where is Southern food going?

In this week's edition of the Charleston City Paper, food writer and barbecue expert Robert Moss revisits two of his town's iconic restaurants: Sean Brock's Husk and the Charleston Grill. The former, Moss argues, revolutionized dining in the city, overshadowing the classic dishes at the latter. Culinary innovation on Southern food at Husk has spread, becoming a watered-down trend, so Moss takes another taste at Charleston's past greatness and hopes that the next evolution of Charleston's food scene, an analogue for much of the South, doesn't forget the white table clothed-past as it continues to whip up a hipster future.

I think our culinary future might be found in a fusion of the two, blending the passion for Southern ingredients with a little more attention to the overall dining experience. Local restaurants could continue to shy away from flashy, big-ticket entrees and focus instead on pure, intense small plates. And they might deep-six the more extreme novelty creations in favor of complex, highly composed dishes that meld five, six, and even a dozen distinct flavors into a unified whole.

Right now, though, putting Husk and Charleston Grill aside, that doesn't seem to be the way we are heading. We're spinning in many confused directions, casting off the trappings of formality, embracing "ethnic" cuisine, trying on dozens of different styles and influences like a confused teen, not sure who we are and who we want to be.

Hugh Acheson's 'Top 10 Things to Tell Young Chefs'

I hate "reporting" on the tweets of the only famous cook on my beat, Hugh Acheson, so as I watched him tweet out these snarky life lessons for upstart cooks, I let them go knowing they'd be news for others. If you didn't read them, you should. It's Hugh, who is funny, being really funny. Some faves: the idea that kids still listen to Phish, and the bit about foraging is cute, too. Read it here.

Is Dessert Pointless?

James Beard Award winner Josh Ozersky seems to think so, and took to his guest column on Esquire's Eat Like A Man blog to explain why. Only his argument is lame. Sure, chefs everywhere get carried away with technique and presentation, but to argue that the dessert course — yes, everyone, it's a course — shouldn't exhibit flair because the diner is too full is silly. If you so often feel like you need to rolled out of a restaurant because of how much you ate, maybe you're meant to sup at a buffet. Sure, he's just stirring the pot, but there more constructive ways to do that, especially with such a loud megaphone. (Don't actually click on the link. You'll just encourage him.)