In the wake of the Kentucky Derby, our girlfriend Tracy over at TeeWii.com had an opportunity to chat with celebrity and Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson. Acheson, known for his Southern style of cooking, created the featured cocktail served at this year’s Fillies & Stallions celebrity-filled party during the Kentucky Derby weekend. Below is what he had to say about cocktails, entertaining and his passion for sustainability.
Tee Wii: What’s a great meal for a group that you can prep in advance?
You’ve got to treat entertaining like you’re a chef. We do so much prep in advance and really line ourselves up for a successful dinner. You have to do the same thing when you’re at home. I would make some beautiful braised pork and grab a bunch of fresh tortillas, then grab some great salsa and guacamole and have a taco party! Pretty much all you have to do once your guests are over is grill the tortillas and you’re done.
A big Summer stew would also be great. Everything is made, but the shellfish goes in at the last second. Once those shellfish open up- just take the top off the pot, put a big stack of bowls and a ladle next to it, and you’re ready to go. You can serve it with a nice pickled salad or some sliced tomatoes with a pinch of sea salt and some olive oil. Food doesn’t have to be complex, it just has to be warm and make us happy!
Tee Wii: So if you were to encourage people to grow any of their own ingredients, what would you suggest?
I think if you can’t grow mint, you should abandon all hope of trying to grow anything- because mint is a weed. You plant it in the ground and you basically have a yard of mint. So go with that. With the amount of money you spend on one bunch of mint at the grocery store, you could buy a seed to grow it for the whole neighborhood.
Tee Wii: What are some simple substitutions everyone should make for cocktails that are cleaner and healthier?
Fresh juices in your cocktails are going to make all the difference in the world. Crafting a great cocktail is like crafting a great recipe- you just want to treat all ingredients with respect. Go with a “from scratch” perspective and it will be that much better. The Mint Mutiny is a great example- when you have that beautiful rose simple syrup and the fresh mint, everything comes together with the white rum. It’s so refreshing and light.