Chef Scotty Scott wants you to explore the wide, varied and insanely delicious world of soul food. In his first cookbook, titled Fix Me A Platethe lawyer-turned-personal chef shares his love for the traditional cuisine by honoring the classics — and putting his own remix on others in what he calls “new school soul food.”
Scott spoke with NPR’s Weekend Edition from Fort Worth, Texas, about how he got his first taste of cooking, his inspiration for the recipes, and what makes his sweet potato pie special.
Fix Me A Plate hits stores Mar. 15.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
On his inspiration
Both my parents were home cooks, and so whenever we had family gatherings, I was always poking around in the kitchen or poking around outside the grill, trying to see where the action was and see how everything was being prepared.
My father kind of worked odd hours and my mother was a high school counselor by day, and then she taught night school. So, I was left to fend for myself for dinner a lot of times and, I tell people, peanut butter and jelly got old real fast. Eventually, I started, you know, asking my mother to kind of show me some of her tips and tricks and started cooking a little bit more right before I left for college.
On an example of how he turns a classic soul food into a “new school soul food” recipe
I go to my red beans and rice recipe a lot because you can transform this. You’ve got a base here that’s probably got some good flavor. … It starts off as red beans and rice, and then it turns into a red bean hummus. And so you’re just taking that big old great pot of red beans — with the sausage, the garlic, the onions — you put it in a food processor. You’re going to brighten it up — add a little lemon juice, a little bit of cayenne, and then you’re gonna just eat it like you would hummus. And so it begins off with this hearty belly filling bowl of beans. And then on the back side, it turns into this, you know, delicious kind of light appetizer.
On his fresh take on the classics
I call [the sweet potato pie] the converter. It converts pumpkin pie eaters into sweet potato pie eaters. It’s got a, you know, one little quirk to it.
I know most pie recipes call for you to roast them. And so in this recipe, I boil them because I like the delicate flavor of it. I heard somebody describe it to me as almost flan-esque because it’s very light. It’s very easy on the palate, and it just kind of makes you want to go back and get another slice after slice after slice.
Scotty Scott is also a food blogger. Check out his entertaining and mouth-watering videos on his Instagram @cookdrankeat.