[EATYALL PODCAST #67] Chef Trace Tedde-Vega
Picture this: you’re at a restaurant called Magnolia Southern Kitchen - a sought-after southern oasis plopped in the center of California - and your plate is overflowing with spicy jambalaya. It’s so exceptional you start to hope to meet the creator and chef - this Trace person you’ve been hearing about.
You finally cross paths, and you’re expecting a “howdy,” a couple “y’all”s or maybe an “over yonder” from a food creator this brilliantly country, but to your surprise you hear… a thick British accent.
This is Trace Tedde-Vega. Born in the UK, Trace learned the art of food from her parents at their restaurant, and became a pastry expert at a young age. She later married into a southern family, and fell in love with a whole new world of foods.
She has since traveled the world with musical acts like Journey and Erykah Badhu, worked as a private chef for celebrities, and opened a southern restaurant.
On today’s episode, Andy and Trace talk culture comparisons, country classics, and her truly farm-to-table approach at Magnolia Southern Kitchen.
A British Chef serving Southern Food in the Middle of California
Trace puts Wood Colony (Modesto), California on the map - at least for us. This rural, agricultural area is known as Almond Country, and the restaurant sits between several almond farms.
Trace gets all of her pork fromLong Ranch (a farm located 15 minutes from her restaurant), and a few weeks ago she served a pigs’ feet dish that would drum up fond memories for Yorkshire and Mississippi dwellers alike. She posted the dish on their Facebook page, and it sold out within an hour.
Since California is one of the most prolific food production hubs in the world, Chef Trace gets to have genuine relationships with copious individual producers. She can even make specific requests, and many come in for lunch to see who is enjoying the final product. Her restaurant only buys a couple things from distributors - making it truly farm-to-fork.
Wisdom for Young Chefs
Trace says, “I always tell young chefs: culinary school is great to learn about the basics, like learning a math equation. But it’s the people that have a willingness to be playful, to add passion and to try new things that find success. Put your heart-print on it.”
In an era where everyone wants to use more parts of the animal, we value Trace’s expert take on the flavor profile of different parts and cuts of beef. She teaches us about combining two or three flavors - for instance highlighting the depth of a structured part, pairing it with some gelatinous marrow, and combining those with a more common protein cut to make something new. She throws some new ideas out for less-used cuts that may have a brisket quality, a deeper flavor, or work well in a cream sauce.
It’s clear that Trace Tedde-Vega touts no exaggeration when she says, “We keep it economically viable, but also freaking delicious.”
Connect With Today’s Guest
Follow Trace Tedde-Vega’s amazing restaurant here:
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