Todd Richards Of Richards' Southern Fried
You don’t waste grits.
Todd Richards’ father passed this culinary gem to him as child. It resurfaced in Richards’ debut cookbook, Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes, in a dish with grits croutons fried in bacon fat.
“You don’t throw out something that takes four hours to cook,” Richards says. “That is a hallmark of soul food – making the best, tasty dishes with the meekest of ingredients.”
In Soul, Richards rewrites the story of soul food in a spare, fine-dining narrative. He will bring his blend of Southside Chicago meets Atlanta to the gospel brunch at Shindig No. 10 this year. He owns and runs Richards’ Southern Fried, a quick-service hot chicken restaurant inside Atlanta’s Krog Street Market.
Outside the kitchen, Richards is a musician and avid motorcyclist who appreciates life’s pleasures, including the occasional glass of champagne with breakfast. But when he first traveled the South in 1992, he learned vegetables were king.
“The food culture in Atlanta, and particularly in the South, is rich in vegetable preparation, and most people don’t give the South credit for that,” Richards says.
In Soul, he rallies for a food culture that is often underappreciated and underpriced.
“The thing about soul food is that it takes a long time to prepare, but we charge the least for it where in other industries we charge the appropriate amount for the labor,” Richards says.
We spoke with Chef Richards recently and asked him a series of questions we are fielding to all of our Shindig guests.
Whose closet would you like to raid?
My style can range dramatically from James Harden to Billy to Tracy Morgan and a tee and jeans and K-Swiss.
Where do you go to get inspired?
I get on my motorcycle, and I let the wind hit me in the face. It relaxes me. No cellphone and no distractions.
What is the best gift you’ve given recently?
The hand of my wife.
As a child, what was your dream job?
A physicist. I wanted to work on nuclear submarines.
What were you like in high school?
I was the most popular nerd you could find.
What was the highlight of your week?
Getting a review of my cookbook in the Michelin Guide. It just came out today!
If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what would you ask?
Where did it all begin?
What do you think about when you’re alone in the car?
I try to think about how to make the world more delicious.
What are the last three items you bought?
Billy Reid K-Swiss – I’ve got them right here -- a bottle of 2012 champagne and gas for my convertible.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
To always show up with good intentions and kindness in your heart.