Despite a roughly 48 hour delay because of snow and icy conditions, the highly anticipated opening of Husk Savannah is here. Read more about the thought that went into the 3 story, 10,000 square foot space here. In the meantime, what can you expect from the kitchen? We all know Husk is possibly America’s most popular “Southern” food concept, but what will make a Savannah location different? What are the guys in charge of the kitchen most excited about? We caught up with Executive Chef Sean Brock and Chef de Cuisine Tyler Williams to get a glimpse of what you can expect from a menu that may very well change daily.
*You guys have cooked all over the South. What would you say you are most excited about in this region, on the coast?
Brock: Here’s what’s cool. There are 4 Husks. Let’s say there are 20 dishes at each Husk. That’s 80 dishes. They are all different. There is one carry over dish. For me it’s special because I’ve been studying Low Country food since I was 18. I’m almost 40. It’s a blank slate here on things that I thought I knew. A blank slate on all new discoveries and traditions that have been tucked away in the homes here. He (Tyler) did 6 months of research here. To be able to write 20 new dishes that you’ve never done before is pretty cool.
Williams: Not to mention the 80 dishes that you don’t have room for here right away that are coming up.
Brock: Exactly. That is almost the entire purpose of this restaurant. To show the micro cuisine. The diversity.
*How did you zero in on your first 20 dishes?
Brock: That’s easy. The products dictate what we can do. Not the creativity and the research. The research and ideas are always there like a bank account. The (availability) products determine the menu. It’s not about what you can dream up. I can dream up all kinds of stuff, but with 230 seats there is only so much you can do.
*How often will you change your menu?
Brock: Every day. There’s a date right there at the top of every menu. This is what it looks like (shows 7-8 printed versions of a menu in front of him).
Williams: If someone is growing me a beautiful broccoli rabe right down the street and that goes away, I have no choice but to do something else. It was a proud moment talking to our staff about one of our salads. I think I named 10 local people (farmers) that put together one salad.
Brock: We can’t just call someone else because we have to use what’s here. The farmers write the menu. The artisans write the menu.
Your famous burger won’t be on the menu day one because it is a lunch item?
Williams: Correct. We’ve never done the burger for dinner. No fried chicken for dinner. No burger for dinner. We will be doing lunch down the road. As well as Brunch.
Was the creation of Husk something that was expandable when it was created? In order to target pockets of the South within Southern cuisine?
Brock: Oh, no way. Husk just kind of happened. Husk was supposed to be a house that investors wanted to restore and flip. Someone said “this might be a cool restaurant” Their idea was an ode to Creole cooking. The name was Sazerac. That’s my favorite drink. I had a menu written, we were doing design. The more I started thinking about it, I had so much more up here (in his mind) than just one place. I knew the diversity of Southern cuisine. If I am going to do something, I wanted to focus on more than one cuisine in the South.
Tyler, did you audition for the job?
Williams: Oh yeah. You know, when I went to cook for them in Charleston, a lot of people will come up with a menu and go from there. I walked in and had no idea what I was going to do. I walked in, they gave me a tour. I said ‘cool’, I walked through and saw what they had. What was beautiful that day. Then I sat down with a cup of coffee and I wrote a menu. Then I went and cooked it. That’s what we do.
Brock: Tyler is the 1st person from outside of the company. When you hear someone talk about food, ingredients and culture. There’s a very small percentage of people who care that much and speak that way. It’s a wavelength. When you find someone on that wavelength, you grab them.
What would say to the average person who has never experienced Husk? How do you describe it?
Brock: It’s soulful cooking. It’s just presented in a different way. That’s our goal. If you close your eyes and the plate doesn’t feel like grandmothers kitchen, a meat and 3. It’s an emotion in your core. If that doesn’t exist in the food, we gotta start over. One of our goals is nurturing souls. What a privilege that is as a restaurant. I tell Uber drivers I am opening a Southern restaurant. They say they love fried catfish. Ok, there might be some of that, we just want it to be bright and alive, healthy, fresh and clean.
It’s going to be a slow process (to serve a full house). We aren’t just going to open the doors, pack the house and fail. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you do that, you will fail. It’s going to be a while. Big picture perspective. We won’t do 250 covers until we are ready.
Sean, how often will you be here?
Brock: I wish I knew. Initially, I will be here until I feel like I’ve given Tyler the tools that he needs. When I feel like I’m not needed anymore then my role becomes information and creativity.
Williams: He will always be here in spirit. He’s just a phone call away. Plus we have an amazing Culinary Director who is so inside chef’s minds that its creepy. So basically, this kind of 3-headed monster of creating ideas and problem solving never goes away. It’s something that comes from the heart and the mind.
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