Q&A with Chef and Cookbook Author Rebecca Lang

Chef Rebecca Lang. Courtesy http://www.rebeccalangcooks.com/[/caption]We were lucky to get an interview with Chef Rebecca Lang. Rebecca Lang is a food writer, cooking instructor, television personality, and a ninth-generation Southerner. Born and raised in South Georgia, she is author of Southern Living’s Around the Southern Table, and several other cookbooks.

She has appeared on Fox & Friends Weekend, WGN America’s Midday News, and numerous regional and local networks. Rebecca and her cooking have been featured in more than 50 nationally televised Southern Living food segments and in other publications such as The Washington Post, Wine Enthusiast, The Daily Meal, Glamour and Fitness magazines.

She serves as a contributing editor for Southern Living and myrecipes.com, teaches cooking classes across America, and writes a blog that has been featured on the James Beard Foundation Blog, Delights and Prejudices, and noted in Food News Journal’s Best of the Blogs.

Q&A with Rebecca Lang:
You’ve spoken fondly of your grandmother, Tom. Is that where your inspiration to cook came from? 
Absolutely. She was the most talented cook I’ve ever known. Tom was also happy each day, just to be alive, and good to the very core of her soul. I am so blessed to have known and loved her.
Do you have any cooking traditions / recipes that you share with your children?
I keep as many family traditions alive as I can in the kitchen. Food, recipes, and cooking techniques are as much as part of tradition as browsing through old family photos. My children know where my skillets came from, the way Tom’s biscuits looked, and why sitting at the table is so important.
What is your favorite kitchen tool? 
It would be a tie between a fish spatula and a Microplane. Zest makes everything better so I use my Microplane nearly daily. A fish spatula stirs grits better than any other utensil. I just bought two more so I always have one at arm’s length.

What food is your guilty pleasure? Cake batter. Sometimes I make a cake just for a batter fix. Needless to say, the cakes tend to turn out a bit smaller than intended.
What is your favorite food trend right now?
I’m not sure it’s a trend, since it’s such a foundation of food, but I’m thrilled that we’re moving into a realm where people are demanding food with little or no preservatives and without ingredients no one can pronounce. We must be conscious and careful of what our children eat.
You’ve traveled extensively. What is your favorite eating city? 
It’s a tie between Austin, TX and San Francisco. Of all the places I’ve visited, they are two of the most inventive food cities but still very comfortable and approachable.
Atlanta has gained much attention in the last couple years, much in part due to the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. As someone who resides in the area, do you have a favorite restaurant / dish? 
I could eat pimento cheese at Empire State South all day and finish it off with the sweet hushpuppies at The Optimist. Of course, both require good Champagne.
I couldn’t agree more with your rules of etiquette for grocery shopping. Can you tell us what stands out about Central Market in Dallas? 
When I first walked in Central Market it took my breath away. The flowers, produce, whole spices I’d never seen, the bakery, and the cooking school were beyond top-notch. Everyone on staff was incredibly nice and welcoming. Before leaving for the airport, I ditched what I could on my carry-on and filled it Central Market’s famous homemade tortillas. The grill was ready when I got home and a feast wasn’t far behind. I just wish they’d expand in an easterly direction.
I wrote in my book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Atlanta, about how glad I am to see the food revolution come full circle. We bought fruits and vegetables from roadside stands and grew some in our backyard as a kid. Now farmer’s markets have popped up everywhere. Do you have a garden? Do you buy organic foods? 
I plant a tiny garden (we have a very small yard) and love to grow tomatoes and okra. Last year I grew eight varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Squash and peppers are usually in the planting routine too. It’s very important to me that our children understand the full cycle of seed to plate. They are tickled pink when they can pick something and bring it into the kitchen.
It seems that it can be rather difficult to land a book deal, what are your thoughts on self-publishing? Do you see that perhaps leading to a book deal? 
There is place for self-publishing, but I always encourage writers to stay the course and don’t give up on traditional publishing. Publishers employ some of the world’s greatest editors and designers. I love the collaboration among a talented team.
One of the things that surprised me the most when I published my book was how little help I got from the publisher. Can you share one secret that an author can do to promote their book? 
Don’t be afraid to arrange events yourself to fill in gaps that may be in your promotion schedule. Half the work of writing a book is promoting it. Authors have to be actively involved in the planning and execution of promotion. I was incredibly lucky in that I had tremendous help and support from both my recent publishers (Oxmoor House and Andrews McMeel).

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