The past comes alive at Williamsburg’s Delaware and Hudson, where chef Patti Jackson introduces modern palates to her signature mix of farmhouse fare and resurrected regional cuisine. Inspired by the bounty of the Mid-Atlantic and the legacy of the past cooks and writers who tamed it, Jackson proudly straddles the line between homage and invention. In anticipation of her appearance at this summer’s Chefs & Champagne®, we chatted with Jackson about returning to the tent, highlights of her current menu, and the signature sandwich of her childhood summer adventures.
JBF: What is the inspiration behind your dish for Chefs & Champagne?
PJ: I love bluefish and, given the focus of Delaware and Hudson, New Jersey bluefish is a great local product. Bluefish pâté has been on our menu several times over the past year, and the guests have enjoyed it. I think the richness of the pâté is really nicely offset by the pepperiness and crispness of the radishes that accompany it.
JBF: What about C&C are you most looking forward to?
PJ: I haven’t been to C&C in ten years, so I’m really excited to get back out there. I think it’s a great event. I love the crowd and I love hanging out with my fellow chefs. I have fond memories of it being a really beautiful event. The sunset is incredible and everything smells like summer. It’s also just nice to get out of the city and be with people I genuinely enjoy.
JBF: Delaware and Hudson specializes in regional cuisine from the Mid-Atlantic. What on your menu are you currently most excited about?
PJ: I think that this is just a great time of year for food. We’re excited to bring back some dishes that were popular last year, like our green tomato pie. I’m really looking forward to Jersey corn and Pennsylvania tomatoes. I’ll find something new at the local markets to play with, which always excites me.
JBF: How do you find the recipes that inspire the menu of Delaware and Hudson? Has there been any dish you were especially proud to revive in some form?
PJ: The menu is an amalgam of my childhood memories and delving through my collection of traditional American cookbooks. I am proud to make Miss Rose’s Baltimore crabcakes, scrapple, and chicken pot pie. I am glad to revive food that people (including myself) have a strong emotional pull to. For example, the crabcakes from the Harvey House have reunited me with the family of the woman I used to work for, Miss Rose.
JBF: What’s your go-to dish for summer cookouts?
PJ: To be honest, I go straight for the hot dogs.
JBF: What was your favorite thing to eat as a kid during the summer?
PJ: The "Gone Fishin’ Sandwich," which consisted of a cocktail-sized, buttered, knotted challah roll with poppy seeds, with one slice of boiled ham, one slice of American cheese, and a smear of Gulden’s Mustard, placed in a fold-over top sandwich bag and aged in a cooler, preferably in a VW Camper while going fishing. I didn’t necessarily have to go fishing, but the entire experience was seriously improved if I did. You could eat them on the shore looking for frogs, on the boat waiting for the fish to bite, or in my grandmother’s kitchen if you didn’t get to go. Also blueberry muffins. Oh, and watermelon.
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The James Beard Foundation's Chefs & Champagne will take place Saturday, July 25, at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, New York. Learn more about the James Beard Foundation's Chefs & Champagne.