Connor Sites-Bowen's newsletter covers a lot of ground. I'm excerpting his most recent to give you a taste of his writing.
Last month he joined his sister and my spousal unit on a pilgrimage and a celebration. The spousal unit had just emailed the final proofs of his forthcoming book, Understanding Computer Dynamics. I figured he deserved a vacation, and a chance to hang out with his children, bourbon lovers all. As I'm not a fan of that spirit, I signed them up for Chef Ed Lee's Bourbon Extravaganza, and I hung back in California.
I'm a big fan of Chef Ed Lee. In my chronicles of the late, lamented Gourmet magazine, his work marks a major transition in food journalism in the early 2000s. Before Chef Lee, Francis Lam and David Chang brought their personal history and scholarly chops to the Gourmet, the magazine's coverage of Asian and Asian American food was mostly the work of British ex-spies and restaurant reviewers.
What I couldn't imagine then, was that Chef Lee would tackle so many of the human issues in the hospitality industry, not to mention the crisis of COVID. I'm so glad my family could reune in such company!
by Connor Sites-Bowen (Excerpted with permission)
Of the book and the man, the late Anthony Bourdain said
Edward Lee is one of America’s most important young chefs―and what he has to say with his delicious food and in the pages of [Smoke and Pickles] will help redefine American food as a whole. Better start reading and start cooking. The future is here.
Local bourbon is local food, and the distilleries we visited were accompanied by visits to some of Kentucky's best kitchens too. With Chef Lee as our ambassador, we sat down to close dinners with chefs, owners, bar managers, and other food system experts, trying flavors and ingredients tied to Kentucky's land, seasons, and ever-advancing culture.
It was not until the end of the 20th century and the start of this one that bourbon became a desired, select spirit. Long campaigns for regional tourism have paid off. Single Barrel programs have proved enormously popular - bourbons are 'chaseable' the way Pokemon cards and Candy Crush trophies are. At this point, they're an American export - a luxury symbol worldwide. We were told at Buffalo Trace that a 1% rise in Chinese bourbon consumption would soak up the entire production day for the whole state.