Contrary to popular opinion, Southern cuisine isn’t all ribs and hot smoked barbecue. “I want to show people that there’s a huge amount of refinement in Southern food,” chef Morgan McGlone recently told GRAZIA. “Everyone thinks barbecue is all they do in the South but you go to places like Nashville and it’s all about vegetables. It’s completely different to what people would expect.”
McGlone, who worked alongside James Beard award-winning chef Sean Brock at Southern institution HUSK and brought his passion for soul food back to Melbourne where he opened the famous Belle’s Hot Chicken, is the mastermind behind a new culinary takeover at Sydney’s Harpoon Harry. With a view to testing his knowledge of Southern dining and inspiring your quest in search of your next life-changing meal, McGlone gifted GRAZIA with the following picks for a feast that traverses the South’s storied past, dynamic presence and inspiring future.
GO H.A.M AT BENTON’S SMOKY MOUNTAIN COUNTRY HAMS
No visit to Tennessee would be complete without paying tribute at what McGlone calls “The Shrine” of slow cured pork products, Benton’s Hams. A family run institution for almost 70 years, Benton’s still rely on the kinds of traditional dry curing methods that have shaped the flavours of the surrounding Smoky Mountains. “They do the most amazing country hams and bacon. It’s worth a pilgrimage in itself as no one in the world does it quite the same.”
THE PICK OF THE BUNCH AT BLACKBERRY FARM
Set in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, the Blackberry Farm estate is your holistic high-end go-to for the complete Southern charm experience. McGlone rates the staff as “next level,” and the experience is completed by three servings of multicourse farm-to-table Southern cuisine every day of your stay, with wine pairings from their 180,000 bottle cellar, natch. Pop culture bonus: Blackberry Farm comes with the Kelly Clarkson seal of approval as “the most beautiful place ever” and the site of her 2013 wedding.
AMERICA’S NEXT TOP LUNCH ARNOLD’S COUNTRY KITCHEN
It’s a huge call, but McGlone rates Arnold’s as “The best place for lunch in USA.” Arnold’s is a meat-and-three-style soul food cafeteria from a place that has been in business for 26 years.
SWEAT IT OUT AT PAT MARTIN’S BBQ
If you’re looking for somewhere to work off some of the ‘experiences’ you’ve gained on your culinary roadtrip, Pat Martin’s is the most amazing place in Nashville to work up a sweat. Well, only because you’ll be watching sports with the fervour of a local while eating incredible BBQ. According to McGlone, this one is an absolute must.