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Some Kinda Good in the Neighborhood: a dedication to the women who've influenced my cooking

Some Kinda Good in the Neighborhood

by Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser

FOOD NETWORK STAR FINALIST REBEKAH FAULK LINGENFELSER IS A FOOD ENTHUSIAST AND WRITER. HER BLOG, SOME KINDA GOOD, FEATURES SOUTHERN, COASTAL RECIPES, LOCALLY SOURCED AND IN-SEASON. A GEORGIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY ALUMNA, SHE ALSO ATTENDED SAVANNAH TECHNICAL COLLEGE’S CULINARY INSTITUTE OF SAVANNAH. TO LEARN MORE, LIKE SOME KINDA GOOD ON FACEBOOK, FOLLOW @SKGFOODBLOG ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM OR VISIT REBEKAHLINGENFELSER.COM.

A Dedication to the Women Who’ve Influenced My Cooking

This issue of Southern Soil is a celebration of women in food. When I think about the women chefs and home cooks who’ve influenced me personally, there are many. I’ve often said I come from a long line of good cooks, starting with my grandmother and mom. They taught me early on the joy of cooking and eating together; of sharing good food with the ones you love around the family table. For that I am grateful.

Rebekah’s mom, Debbie, has been a big influence on her style of cooking and love of good food. At home where Rebekah grew up in Blythe, Georgia, the family table is full of great memories and Some Kinda Good food.

Julia Child, Nathalie Dupree, Paula Deen, Sara Moulton, Ina Garten -- These are my idols in the kitchen, the women from whom I’ve learned so much. It was American chef and TV personality Julia Child who paved the way for so many female cooking show hosts, and I am well on my way of following in her footsteps.

Throughout my culinary adventures, I’ve had the good fortune to meet some of these women, most recently Nathalie Dupree and Paula Deen.

Paula Deen has been a tremendous influence on Rebekah’s cooking style of Southern, coastal cuisine. Rebekah had the opportunity to meet Paula at Savannah’s Lucas Theatre in 2015.
Photo provided by Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser
As a volunteer for the St. Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival in 2012, Rebekah assisted Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart as part of the Culinary Creations Cooking Stage. Clockwise from left: Cynthia Graubart, Rebekah’s mom, Debbie, Rebekah and Nathalie Dupree.
Photo provided by Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser

In 2012, I volunteered for the inaugural St. Simons Island Food and Wine Festival. I was assigned to the Culinary Creations Cooking Stage, where celebrity chefs performed cooking demonstrations. My responsibility was to help serve and prep food, greet festival guests, clean up and re-set the stage after each demonstration.

Hands down, the coolest part of the entire event was my chance meeting with Nathalie Dupree. At one point during the day, my tent captain asked me to make a run to the grocery store for Nathalie to buy an extra bag of White Lily Self-Rising Flour. It was of pristine importance that the brand be White Lily.

So, there I was driving my tent captain’s Volvo around St. Simons Island with a commercial kitchen-sized pan of freshly baked biscuits on the backseat, a pound of butter and pint of heavy cream. When I got to the only convenient grocery store on the island, every bag of White Lily Flour was gone. Every other brand was there, but none of them would do.

I ventured over to Harris Teeter across the island and luckily found my flour. I made it back to the festival and as I’m carrying the biscuits to the golf cart, who pops out of the SUV parked right next to it, but Nathalie herself. She said, “Hey, where are you going?” And lo and behold, she wanted a ride. I walked over and hugged her neck and told her that my mom and grandma had been cooking from her cookbooks and watching her on TV for years. She responded with, “How wonderful” and greeted me like family. I drove her to the tent, and later that day had the opportunity to take a photo with her, along with Cynthia Graubart, food writer and cookbook author.

If you know anything about Nathalie, she’s got a firecracker personality. Most folks would say “cheese” when they pose for a photo, but not her. As we were smiling for the camera, Nathalie said the word “sex” just for the pure fun of it. She is something else! Recently featured in Southern Living magazine, Nathalie is still someone I hold in high esteem today.

In 2014, when Paula Deen launched her comeback tour, my husband and I bought tickets and went to see her live at the Lucas Theatre in Savannah. At the end of that night, I didn’t get to really meet Paula, as she was on her way off the stage, surrounded by bodyguards and lots of fans. I quickly handed her a book, she signed it with a smile and away she went. I was so close, but so far away. It was an exhilarating moment, but one that left me sad and wanting more.

We had a great time at the show, and afterwards, I wrote a blog post about my experience. I tweeted it and tagged Jamie Deen. Would you believe he read my post and invited me to return the following Saturday to meet Paula properly backstage? So, I did! I met Paula face-to-face and it was truly emotional. I was so starstruck and nervous that I talked a-mile-a-minute. She probably thought I was crazy, but she was so kind and hugged my neck like she’d been knowing me for years. She was the personable, warm and sweet-spirited woman I had grown to know and love, oozing with Southern hospitality and authentic drawl. She encouraged me to keep cooking. That day was August 15.

It wasn’t until a few years later, when my husband and I were engaged to be married, after we’d set our wedding date, that I realized its significance. Not only was August 15 the day I met Paula, it also happens to be Julia Child’s birthday. We wed on St. Simons Island, August 15, 2015. Call it coincidence or fate, but either way this ironic display of events made me grin from ear-to-ear.

To all the female chefs and home cooks making waves in the culinary world, I raise a glass to you! Through food, you show your love and feed our hearts, bodies and souls.

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