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The Messy Epicure

The Messy Epicure

By Jason Horn
Taking on everything messy—morally, ethically, politically—in food and drink.

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Episode 4: Amethyst Ganaway on the Baggage of "Southern" Food
Born and raised in North Charleston, S.C., Amethyst Ganaway has been working as a chef for more than 10 years, and she’s recently started sharing her knowledge as a food writer as well. On this episode, Amethyst and I talk about who decides what’s “Southern,” a recent shake-up in the influential Southern Foodways Alliance organization and her experiences as one of comparatively few Black women working in restaurant kitchens. LINKS Amethyst’s website: Follow Amethyst @ExcuseMyFly on Twitter: Oxford Food Symposium: The New York Times’ Southern Foodways Alliance story: Who Owns Southern Food? by Tunde Wey & John T. Edge: Dr. Cynthia Greenlee: Gullah Gourmet: Geechie Boy grits: Amethyst’s latest story, for Food & Wine: Chef Mashama Bailey’s foie gras and grits come from her restaurant The Grey in Savannah, Ga.: Theme music: Upbeat Forever by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:
July 31, 2020
Episode 3: Billy Ray on Being a Bartender with a Drinking Problem
Billy Ray got his start in bartending more than 20 years ago and has been one of the people at the forefront of the cocktail revival of the last couple decades. He started his own canned-cocktail-mixer company. He's helped create top cocktail programs in Los Angeles and around the country. He's also an alcoholic who's been sober for the last three and a half years. On this episode, Billy opens up with the story of his personal journey to sobriety, as well as how quitting drinking has actually made him a better bartender. CW: This episode includes frank discussion of drug use, alcoholism and suicide. LINKS: Billy Ray's mixer company, Mixwell: Julian Cox, Los Angeles cocktail mentor: Blind Barber, a speakeasy behind a barber shop in Culver City, Calif.: Alcohol-free "spirit" Seedlip: Melrose Umbrella Co.: Yamashiro: Mental health resources for bartenders and other hospitality folks: Alcoholics Anonymous: If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call 800-273-8255 or visit Theme music: Upbeat Forever by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:
July 11, 2020
Episode 2: Is Tiki Racist? with Mariah Kunkel
A rum drink in your hand, a pu-pu platter of fried delights in front of you, tropical music, fern wallpaper...what could be messy about tiki bars? More than you might think. My guest is Mariah Kunkel, a spirits marketing pro of indigenous Chamorro heritage and founder of Pasifika Project, a hospitality and spirits industry focused organization that is dedicated to the support and promotion of individuals of Pacific Islander descent, and aims to provide a much-needed platform for voices within the trade on Oceanic cultures and causes. LINKS: Pasifika Project: Brooklyn Gin: Banhez Mezcal: Banhez Mezcal Oaxacan Futures program: Dia del Mezcalero: Doom Tiki: Chamorro restaurant Prubechu: King Tai: White supremacists and Hawaiian shirts: All about Your Fave Is Problematic: Theme music: Upbeat Forever by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:
June 30, 2020
Episode 1: Maggie Campbell on Exclusion in Booze
For The Messy Epicure's very first show ever(!), my guest is Maggie Campbell, rum distiller, all-around drinks expert and strong voice for the underrepresented in the drinks world. We talk about coming to grips with the history of slavery and colonization in making liquor, who gets held up as the "face" of booze brands, and why liquor distributors are full of dinosaurs. But also some more upbeat, fun stuff, too! SPECIAL THANKS: Gladys Horiuchi of the Wine Institute ( and Dr. Bart Watson of the Brewers Association ( LINKS: Maggie's distillery, Privateer Rum: ZAFA Wines, home of Black winemaker Krista Scruggs: Rebel Rebel wine bar in Somerville, Mass.: Meers Burger in Meers, Okla.: Theme music: Upbeat Forever by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:
June 24, 2020