Who is Sean Brock’s biggest inspiration?
Hands down, my grandmother. I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains in the middle of the coal fields. And that cuisine is very specific and very unique. In fact, it’s nearly faded away. There are very few people documenting it, studying it and celebrating it. She was that pure Appalachian cook that grew everything, raised everything, conserved everything and cooked everything all day long. So growing up, all my chores had to do with food. Before I could play whiffle ball or Nintendo Super Mario Bros., I would have to string up a bushel of beans or snap beans, shuck corn, grate cabbage for sauerkraut or peel potatoes every day. I was working with food from the time I was able to walk.
When you live in a rural area like that, you didn’t go to restaurants. In fact, I don’t even think that the town that I’m from even has a restaurant these days or has ever had a restaurant. You don’t go out to eat; you cook all day, sit down with your family and you eat. You occasionally order pizza, but I thought everybody lived that way. It’s very European to live that way. I didn’t sit down and eat at a nice restaurant until I was like 15 years old.