Gospel Sunday at Sylvia's
Strangers, Sylvia's and $20.
Illustration by Alabaster Pizzo
While commiserating with a friend over a shared mint mojito craving on a sticky, sardine-packed uptown train, an older man seated in front of us cleared his throat and caught my eye.
“Excuse me, ladies. I don’t mean to interrupt your conversation, but did I hear you say, ‘mint julep?’”
I smiled at him; shook my head. “Mint mojito, actually—but a mint julep sounds equally good right about now.”
I soon discovered that I was speaking to a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef named Willie Mack. He went on to tell me about his series of YouTube tutorials, titled “Chef Mack,” which he created out of his desire to educate naïve eaters like myself about the joys of home-cooked Southern food—meals meant to enrich the soul. As he shared his favorite dishes to prepare (collard greens and rice), recommended dangerously delicious cocktails (“The Hurricane,” concocted in a “sexy” glass), and raved about cookbooks (Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine by the Darden sisters,…
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