Classic cookbooks are usually easy to spot on a shelf. They’re the ones with the softened spines that seem to open on their own to a few tried-and-true recipes, the pages accented with flecks of past feasts.
Southern Living has compiled a list of books that it declares every Southerner should own. Among these must-haves are the works of two local culinary fixtures: Bill Smith, chef at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, and Chapel Hill cookbook author and instructor Nancie McDermott.
Smith’s “Seasoned in the South” from 2006 is on the list. The magazine says Smith steers one of the most important restaurants in the South in Crook’s Corner, adding that he helped launch a region’s obsession with shrimp and grits.
McDermott’s 2007 ode to the finer things, “Southern Cakes,” is also included in the list. The magazine called McDermott’s recipes “equally sweet and educational” and a must-have for the baker interested in the stories behind the cakes.
Other books on the Top 10 list include Charleston chef Sean Brock’s “Heritage,” “The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook” edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge and “The Gift of Southern Cooking” by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock.
Both Smith and McDermott were up for Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance awards last year for their recent books: McDermott’s “Southern Soups and Stews: More Than 75 Recipes from Burgoo and Gumbo to Etouffee and Fricassee” and Smith’s “Crabs & Oysters: A Savor the South Cookbook.”
McDermott has appearances scheduled in the Triangle next month for her new Savor the South cookbook, “Fruit.”
Meanwhile, the Triangle managed to hold Southern Living’s gaze with Chef Ashley Christensen’s Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, named one of the best spots for fried chicken in the South. The magazine’s August issue cites the downtown Raleigh restaurant’s chalkboard menu and the honey drizzle on the chicken, but calls the sides the standouts, including grit fries and pimento mac-and-cheese custard.
Correction: Bill Smith is the chef at Crook’s Corner. An earlier version of this story incorrectly said he’s the owner. Gene Hamer is the founder and owner of Crook’s Corner.
Drew Jackson: 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson