BORN: NOVEMBER 5,1971
ACHESON IS A CANADIAN-BORN CHEF AND RESTAURATEUR. HE OWNS FOUR RESTAURANTS IN GEORGIA, AND SERVES AS A JUDGE ON THE REALITY COOKING COMPETITION SHOW TOP CHEF.
THIS STORY IS FROM BOXY ISSUE 2 | HOT. TO READ THE FULL Q&A INTERVIEW, AVAILABLE HERE.
Words | Daniel Philbin
Many Americans have never heard of kohlrabi. No, it’s not some exotic Japanese dish, martial art, or a type of meditation. It’s a cabbage-like vegetable, similar to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, or collard greens, with a slightly milder and sweeter taste than broccoli stems. Although not a favorite in the typical American diet, it offers a plethora of culinary possibilities. Cooked or served raw, mixed into a salad, or blended into a puree, it’s a common ingredient in recipes around the world. Just ask renowned chef and judge for the television show Top Chef, Hugh Acheson—he’s been using kohlrabi in his kitchen for years.
WHAT’S ONE OF YOUR EARLIEST MEMORIES OF KOHLRABI?
I remember being inundated with it at the restaurant one time, maybe ten years ago. I think we got a case in and no one really had used it much before. It became slaw.
IN ADDITION TO THE RECIPES INCLUDED IN THE BROAD FORK, WHAT ARE SOME SIMPLE WAYS TO PREPARE KOHLRABI FOR SOMEONE WHO ISN’T AN EXPERT CHEF?
Two come to mind. The first: finely chop the stems, chop the leaves, sauté in olive oil, season with salt, pepper, maybe a touch of lemon juice, and serve it up. The second: peel the kohlrabi bulb and julienne finely, toss with smoked paprika, parsley, fresh lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper – an easy simple slaw.
WHY DO YOU THINK MANY AMERICANS ARE IGNORANT ABOUT VEGETABLES, WHERE THEY COME FROM, AND HOW TO USE THEM?
I think ignorant is the wrong word, but I think that a varied and diverse vegetable diet is difficult for most Americans because of a lack of places to buy good vegetables. So we need to change subsidies at the agricultural level to encourage the production of better eating crops. We need to teach kids about the value of vegetables at a younger age, and we need to make sure that we are cooking more food from scratch.