The Local Palate Celebrates Southern Food For Two Years

The Local Palate, a Southern-focused food culture magazine, celebrates a milestone this month with its two year anniversary. Over the two years, we've been impressed with the constant evolution of the magazine. With the original focus being solely on Charleston, its content now spans across the south and provides an indepth look into some of the greatest food cities around. They are distributed nationally and produce eight issues a year.

The Daily Meal recently interviewed Editor Maggie White to get her thoughts on the magazine and some insight into what's to come:

The Daily Meal: The Local Palate started out focusing solely on Charleston and then quickly changed to having a regional focus. What was the reason for that? What has been the biggest benefit to doing that?
Maggie White: The reason revealed itself to us! We had an audience hungry to hear about and taste Southern cuisine, and this enthusiasm was not limited to the Holy City. Charleston is irrefutably a mecca and a front runner in terms of offering an exquisite and thoughtful culinary culture, but our region as a whole is experiencing a resurgence in culinary awareness — one that combines modern sensibilities with historical significance. While there are certain ties connecting the South as a whole, there are also differences to be valued and celebrated across our region. What makes Nashville's food culture so appealing is worlds away from what makes Atlanta's food culture so enticing — and both are distinct to what is happening in Asheville. Yet, all of these places offer a food scene that is equally spectacular. We want to celebrate the differences while remaining under the umbrella of the South as a unit and the biggest benefit is that working to gain a larger understanding of our region enables us and our readers to better comprehend the smaller pieces comprising the puzzle.

What is the focus and the goals for the upcoming year editorially?
To do more of the same — to do it better. We will continue to seek to provide a mix of educative, engaging, and historical pieces celebrating the food culture of the South. It's really important to us to be thoughtful and meaningful with our content — to present the people and causes we rally behind in an original and beautiful manner. Of course, we also plan to continue to balance this earnestness with fun. Because food is fun and the people who are passionate about food are often rather fun too!

What has been your best accomplishment since starting?
It's anytime someone says, "I love this magazine". For me personally, it was when my mother read the piece on pastured poultry in our Feb/March 2014 issue and she declared with gravity: "I am going to spend more money to buy the right chickens to eat."

What has been your favorite story you have ever done?
That is like asking me to name my favorite meal. The Memphis Diner piece we ran in our October 2013 issue made me tear up when the proof came back from the printer. The writing, photography, and design all captured the personalities of the people behind these establishments so potently. Chef John Currence's NOLA Rising piece from our April 2013 issue was entirely compelling — his passion for his hometown permeates the colorful prose for which he is known. And Rush Jagoe's photography for that piece was outstanding. Anything done by our dream team of writer Rien Fertel and photographer Denny Culbert. And Allston McCrady (TLP's managing editor), has written some pieces that I will reread again and again — her hot sauce piece was just spicy fun. She is an inspiring writer.

How do you select the In the Fridge profiles? What has been the most interesting item ever found in someone's fridge?
I quite liked the wrapped present in Chef Bill Smith's fridge. Bill is such a lovely fellow — he deserves to open his fridge every day and see a gift. Though I think it was a wrapped fruitcake and that makes the story less appealing. It was also fun to feature Pat Conroy and Sandra King's fridge. Our friends and TLP contributors Lynn and Cele Seldon arranged that for us. Conroy drinks Clamato and likes Wickles — he's just like you and me! 

What cities or chefs are you most excited for in 2014?
We're excited to delve into some of the more vibrant culinary communities we have not yet covered in depth — such as Austin and Richmond. Also, we're currently fascinated by what is happening in Charlotte; we believe they are on the verge of a culinary renaissance. In terms of chefs: Vivian Howard is someone whose star will just continue to rise. Elliott Moss has a new venture in Asheville and we cannot wait to see what he does.

Any predictions you have for the year as it relates to food and beverages?
It may not be a prediction per se, but, in light of my mother's chicken vow: We hope and believe that people will start to spend more for quality, responsibly-sourced ingredients. That asking where your chicken came from will no longer be relegated to a Portlandia sketch but will be a "normal" question. There is a domino effect happening with regards to people getting that food is not meant to be cheap. Also, let's just decide here that local will no longer be a buzz word or a trendy descriptor, but just the way we source and buy our food.

Anything else you want to share?
Just that we love what we do. To write and document food seems like a frivolous matter at first blush, but we believe that the work we produce is meaningful. Food permeates all aspects of our lives — from affecting our health to cultivating our history to establishing our connections (with other people, animals, and the land and sea). It's wonderful to be engaged in an ongoing discussion about Southern food — we feel lucky to be at this proverbial table. Thus, we want to hear from you! We love reader engagement and feedback, so keep it coming.