Taking on an Apprenticeship with The Admirable Grand Dame, Nathalie Dupree
Palmetto Bluff is my all-time favorite summertime getaway spot. In a hammock, under the Spanish moss, I had the afternoon to get lost in Pat Conroy's book, The Cookbook. I read just enough of Pat Conroy's book in that hammock to learn about a very special person by the name of Nathalie Dupree.
This particular segment made me very interested:
"When I knew her in Atlanta, the whole city in all its shapes, races, and classes seemed to pass by her dining room table. She attracts friends like a magnet does iron filings. Her desire to entertain and feed people seems insatiable to me, a mark of her character as striking as her beautiful almond-shaped eyes." -Pat Conroy
All of a sudden, learning more about this Nathalie Dupree was something I had to do.
Fast forward a few months and we are on stage together in Charleston at Lowndes Grove Plantation at Les Dames d' Escoffier's Autumn Affair when they kindly awarded me my first of THREE scholarships from them. Les Dames d'Escoffier Charleston Chapter is a philanthropic organization of women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality. Les Dames is involved with fundraising for culinary scholarships, community outreach in the culinary arena, mentoring and Dame-sponsored events and programs.
WCBD's Carolyn Murray soon joined us on stage. Nathalie was in an elegant gown, truly epitomizing the notion of Southern grace. She gave a witty yet heartfelt speech and kept the crowd hungry for more.
The women of Les Dames are nothing short of extraordinary, coordinating philanthropic events in Charleston, and helping their young "Dames" in the making find a second family in Charleston. Susan Wigley, the president back then, connected me with Nathalie. Nathalie was inviting me to dinner parties at our house where I got to see Charleston's hostess work her magic.
"You should have an apprenticeship with me", she said in her living room right before Christmas, 2017.
Ah! Pinch me, I must be dreaming!
A few weeks before my apprenticeship with Nathalie Dupree, I remember running on the shores of Folly Beach, dreaming about all the possible ways we could make it work.
Let's be real... school schedules can be dreaded. When the College of Charleston Hospitality program offers an opportunity for students to intern for credit hours, school becomes a lot more purposeful.
Nathalie and I worked together to weave the apprenticeship into my business-school laden schedule.
The most valuable thing I learned while creating my schedule with Natalie, is it’s possible to do many things at once if you are simply willing to take the time to plan. Take your time, don’t rush, and most importantly, stay organized! It won’t be easy at first, but the more you do the more you will learn!
During the first week, Nathalie first taught me the importance of time charts while cooking. To-do lists are not the same!
Her mother's meatloaf three ways
Bok choy, cauliflower, leeks, broccoli rabe
Rice pudding with vanilla beans
Julia Child's Clafoutis
Freeform apple tarts
The experience was legendary and I couldn’t be more thankful for her taking me under her wing and showing me what it takes to be a successful businesswoman and chef.
I have a while notebook full of recipes that we created together. Don't worry... you'll be seeing them before you know it! ;)
Have you ever watched Nathalie Dupree's videos? If not, check out this one: https://www.postandcourier.com/food/video-recipe-of-the-week-fried-okra/article_b4d5c258-a86e-11e7-84d6-cbb97dc0f12a.html
-Now We're Cookin'!