This article is brought to you by our friends at Stella Artois. 

Collard greens, green beans, and the almighty sweet potato aren’t the only vegetables that get a little Southern lovin’ on Chef Sam Talbot’s menu. At last Thursday’s Sophisticated Southern Feast in Williamsburg, hosted in partnership with Feastly and Stella Artois, guests were treated to a seasonal display of fresh produce, but not the butter-drenched varieties we were expecting.

“Southern food depends and revolves around vegetables,” says Talbot. “I wanted to reintroduce Southern food as something that was still comforting, still sticks to the soul, still cooked with fresh produce and vegetables, but [with] healthy, modern tweaks when we can.”

Perhaps the night’s biggest standout was his take on a frogmore stew, a broth-driven entree boasting fresh corn, Brussels sprouts, garlic, and roasted sweet potatoes. The plate was then garnished with basil leaves and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Though the ingredients were diverse in taste, size, and color, they united to create a dish that was both harmonious in flavor and surprisingly light on the stomach.

“Sometimes healthy is a bad word, depending on who you’re talking to,” he says. “I want people to feel like they can go surfing after they eat my food.”

This commitment to healthier alternatives is derived from a cooking philosophy that centers around seasonal offerings. Talbot refuses to cook with fruits, vegetables, and meat that take too long to transport, claiming that they collect the tastes of their surroundings (i.e. cardboard and gasoline) and affect the meal’s overall preparation. Instead, he only opts for produce that is readily available and at a moment’s notice.

Needless to say, there was no trace of “artificial” interference with this event’s cooking. Just the hand of a skilled chef who let Mother Nature do all of the talking.

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