The restaurant industry is undoubtedly one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 closures and we want to do everything we can to spotlight the impacted chefs, restaurants, and small businesses that deserve a little extra love and attention during these difficult times. With that said, I’m excited to introduce a condensed, virtual version of our video series, Take 5, which features your favorite public figures as they sit down for a quick, five-question interview to chat quarantine life and help bring awareness to our affected food communities. 

First up is *NSYNC’s Chris Kirkpatrick, who is sending a little Southern love from Nashville where he is craving barbecue, perfecting the science of homemade beef jerky, and spending quality time with his (ridiculously adorable—I’m biased because he’s my cousin) two-year-old son, Nash. And since it’s gonna be May (I couldn’t resist), we could all use his jerky recipe to hold us over until a socially-distanced grilling season is officially in session. 

For the full interview, be sure to click the video above. We also encourage you to check out and support all of the local businesses mentioned below. 

Chowhound: Nashville is known for its amazing music, but also its amazing food. I’m sure you’re craving specific dishes or restaurants. Where is the first place you’re going to eat when all of this is over? 

Chris Kirkpatrick: Martin’s Bar-B-Que. Definitely Martin’s Bar-B-Que. That’s one of our favorite spots. There’s a couple of them in Nashville and one’s only a few miles from us. We like to get that to-go and it’s an amazing spot. I love barbecue. I especially love sausage and brisket. They’ve got the best in town, I think. 

CH: What have you been snacking on in quarantine? Is there a pantry item that you absolutely can’t live without? 

CK: Beef jerky. I make homemade beef jerky. The wife goes out and buys a couple pounds of top round. I take about a day or two and we put together a big bag of beef jerky and we try to make it as healthy as possible. I think if I didn’t have my beef jerky, I’d go a little crazy. (To make Chris’s beef jerky, you’ll need a meat grinder, jerky gun, and dehydrator.) 

Chris Kirkpatrick's Super Simple Beef Jerky

Prep Time: 12 hours (requires overnight marinade)Cook Time: 4 hours
  • 2 pounds top round steak, cubed
  • 1 cup liquid aminos
  • 1/4 cup curing salt
  • Herbs and seasonings of your choice
  1. Cut top round beef into cubes.
  2. Place cubes in a shallow dish or plastic bag and add liquid aminos, as well as any seasonings, herbs, or additional flavors.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap (if in dish) or seal plastic bag and allow meat to marinate overnight.
  4. Place cubes in meat grinder.
  5. Transfer ground beef to a jerky gun and form strips on the tray of a dehydrator.
  6. Set dehydrator to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for four hours. (Cooking times may vary based on dehydrator model.)
  7. Allow to cool before serving.

CH: Is there a small business in your area that needs a little extra love and attention during these difficult times? 

CK: They’re actually really good friends of ours across the street. They do a pop-up shop, they’re online, and they’ve got a big RV that goes around. It’s called 32 Thoughts Boutique. It’s women’s clothes and Karly’s always gone and supported and we’ve bought a lot of stuff around Christmastime and the holidays from them. I think they do some jewelry and stuff but they’re just a little mom-and-pop shop and really good friends of ours and this has been tough on everybody, but I’m sure especially on them. 

CH: Who’s been helping you out during this time? Is there maybe someone you’ve been following on social media who has been giving you information or entertaining you during your life in quarantine? 

CK: Amazon [laughs]. To me, there’s nothing really online, there’s no TV, no movies […]I’ve been reading a lot. I think the connection with other people. I’ve got a bunch of little groups that like to get together and we’ll have Zoom parties or FaceTime parties. There are a bunch of little chats going on [where] everybody’s sending everybody jokes all the time and [it] kind of keeps everybody’s spirits up. […] We’ve got the guys in the band on one. We get together and do a FaceTime drinking night with our significant others and it’s almost like the five of us are more in touch during this than we’ve ever been before. I just think it’s important to have that connection with people rather than a certain place I go to watch things. 

CH: How has it been being a full-time parent and do you have any tips for anyone who may be drinking a little extra wine at night before putting their kids to bed? 

CK: I’m sure liquor sales are up a lot over this pandemic. There’s really nothing different because luckily my job is either from home or I’ll go out for a weekend or for a night. I get to spend a ton of time with that kid. Now it’s a lot different because instead of just getting to spend time with him, I’m also having to keep him entertained because I can’t take him to the zoo, I can’t take him to Chuck E. Cheese, I can’t take him to the places he likes to go, and it’s hard to explain to a two year-old why he can’t do these things. Now that the parks are off limits, he can’t even go to the park, so this morning we took him on a big nature walk. I’ve [also] been building all sorts of stuff around the house. We made some boxes that I drew stop signs and red lights on so he can crash his little car through. Last night we made a couple toilet paper tube dragons with fire coming out. We paint, we color, we try to keep him with his eyes going on around him. And also learning. There’s a lot of apps on his game thing that we’ll play together. I try to keep him focused on the learning part of it and understanding that even though he can’t see all of his friends, there’s still a lot to do. 

Header image courtesy of Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images.

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