The Daily Meal recently chatted with Matt and Ted Lee, otherwise known as The Lee Bros., at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. We were lucky enough to sit in on one of their classes entitled, "What I Learned: Spain & Italy," which spotlighted travels and inspirations of three Southern chefs: Katie Button of Asheville, N.C.’s Cúrate, Brandon McGlamery of Winter Park, Fla.’s Luma on Park, and Tandy Wilson of Nashville, Tenn.’s City House.
While we were very interested to learn about the chef’s experiences, we also wanted to hear how traveling has also influenced the Lee Brothers' work. Here’s what they had to say:
The Daily Meal: What has been your most inspirational food experience while traveling?
Ted Lee: Our trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with chef Marcus Samuelsson. Food-wise, it was fascinating to analyze the nuances between the same basic dishes, like lentils, injera, lamb, and beef. Ethiopians typically use about 40 different spices in any given dish, so there is a surprising and incredible amount of diversity.
Matt Lee: Northern Florida. We did a trip a while back from Jacksonville and St. Augustine to Apalachicola and ate some truly deep South cuisine: chicken and dumplings, mullet, datil peppers, and oysters just to name a few. I actually ate about 90 oysters in one day, no joke!
TDM: What’s your favorite kitchen souvenir from your travels?
TL: Well, it would have been my favorite souvenir if I had actually bought it: a beautifully crafted Laguiole oyster knife. I mean, this thing was just the coolest! When you’re from Charleston, you realize how important an oyster knife really is. I still regret it to this day!
ML: Definitely cookbooks, and especially a copy of Jacques Thorel’s Aimer la cuisine de Bretagne that I brought back from (where else) Brittany, France. Also, I once brought back 16 bottles of madeira in my carry-on! This was pre-9/11, of course.
TDM: If you could eat your way through one country, which one would it be and why?
TL: South Korea, mainly because of this deep connection that I feel toward kimchi. Seriously, I will buy jars of the stuff and just eat it from the glass. I just love Korean food!
ML: Portugal. It’s one of those western European countries that’s under-discovered. I feel like there’s a lot to learn from the villages with small vineyards and the families who have lived on these properties for many generations.