Early birds get the worm, but chef Troy Gagliardo takes that worm, gives it a light braise, then adds his Redneck Rémoulade and a sprig of basil for garnish. Michigan-born but Mooresville-raised, this metalhead chef of the South hosts his own cooking segment "Troy's Everyday Eats" every Tuesday at 7 a.m. on WCCB's morning show Rising. Between shoots, he runs his own spice line, Motown Spice Provisions, providing flavor to more than 60 Charlotte vendors. Despite never having any formal culinary training, Gagliardo has become one of Charlotte's most prominent chefs and a featured food writer with the Charlotte Observer and the Examiner.com.
With his recent book Pseudo Southern fresh on bookstore shelves, he's hosting an "Eat the Book" event at the Port City Club in Cornelius on May 21. The six-course meal will feature recipes found in his cookbook.
We sat down with Gagliardo to talk about the book and get a taste of what he's cooking up for the future.
Creative Loafing: Where did the idea of Pseudo Southern come from?
Troy Gagliardo: I was lucky enough to have an Italian side and a Southern side to my family. I learned a lot from both, not really realizing I was being influenced. So we had my Italian grandmother who was making fresh sausage and pasta, and my Southern grandmother who was gardening and canning. I kinda had the best of both worlds. When I got married, I knew we were going to have kids and I wanted to pass on what I learned from both my grandparents so I started to keep a journal. I love Southern foods, but I never did it traditionally, I always put a spin on it. That's where the pseudo in Pseudo Southern came in, because my style of cooking evolved over the years.
How does your book stand out on the cookbook shelves?
It's a book written for every level of home cook with easy to do recipes. The flavors are a mishmash of different cuisines with a Southern take, and nothing is straight-forward. It is my way of paying homage to my grandparents with my own style. My favorite recipe in the book is the Blackened Catfish Salad — raw collard greens, cornbread croutons, country ham, goat cheese and a simple lemon vinaigrette. Catfish and collards are a match made in Pseudo Southern heaven.
What does the future hold for you?
I'm already working on my second book. It's in the same vein as Pseudo Southern, but more instructional. Instead of just a book of recipes and stories, it's more of a memoir with Southern-ish kind of food. I'm also working on my own line of bacon. I love bacon! I've been having fun experimenting with the flavors and curing techniques.
Southern Book Release Pop-up Dinner
$75. May 21, 7 p.m. Port City Club, Cornelius. cheftroy.net