For those of us ready to slide out of our pesky New Year's resolutions and back into anything with an adjustable waistband, February is National Pancake Month and we will be celebrating hard at Creative Loafing. Lucky for us (and flapjack lovers everywhere), the Flying Biscuit Cafe takes National Pancake Month pretty seriously. When a press release with pictures of their celebratory limited-edition red velvet pancakes topped with cream cheese drizzle hit our inbox, we knew we needed more information.
Once I'd stopped salivating over the #foodporn in my inbox and regained my composure, I talked shop with Lucious Wilson, Flying Biscuit director of operations and pancake chef extraordinaire. Wilson is a yankee by birth, but his palate is firmly rooted in the South. Growing up with family from Charleston gave Wilson an early introduction to traditional low-country fare and introduced him to his favorite comfort food, mac and cheese.
Though Wilson was raised on stick-to-your-ribs southern cooking, he didn't get his first taste of the restaurant industry until he started working for a brewery. "My love of beer pushed me into my love of food," he explains. The Flying Biscuit's menu of traditional southern staples was a perfect fit for Wilson, who opened both of the chain's Charlotte-area locations as a general manager.
Creative Loafing: Can you share the secret to cooking the perfect pancake?
Lucious Wilson: Patience. Patience makes it puffy. If you rush the pancakes, they'll get flat. You have to give them time to rise. That way, when you eat them, you get a puffy pancake. And you have to cook your pancake over a lower temperature.
Did pancakes play a big role in your childhood breakfast traditions?
Absolutely. Buttermilk pancakes were pretty big, with some chocolate chips in there every now and again. Very tasty. After church on Sunday was always a big cooking day. I grew up in New York, but my family is from Charleston, so we always had fish and grits, shrimp and grits and fish fries. Eating meals after church as a kid, I liked making pancakes because it was something I could do, whereas making things like crab legs or collared greens was a domain left for people above me. But making pancakes was something I could do myself, so that was always a joy.
What do you consider to be the staples of a home cooked southern breakfast and have you started any of your own breakfast traditions?
Bacon and grits. We have our creamy cheese grits that are fantastic and hard to pass up certainly. Especially when you're eating out; you want something special, because that's not something you'd do at the house. I cook my 2-year-old a pancake every morning. He likes the fluffy pancake — if I cook it too much or if I don't cook it enough and it's too doughy, he doesn't like it. He likes to watch it cook, so we're doing it together. He likes to hold the spatula and hand it to me when it's time to flip it. He's my sous chef.