To Austin, from Me

Beautifully written elegy to frying chicken and Austin Leslie. Not necessarily in that order.

The Accidental Cajun

Looking down into the burnished black void that is the bottom of my deep sided cast iron skillet, the slowly heating peanut oil still a lake of calm, I find myself thinking again about a man whom I’ve never met. Austin Leslie. There is a beautiful symmetry in the name, a lilting four syllables. It sounds like the name of a mayor, or president, as much as a chef. There is a certain regality about it. And many would say he was the king of fried chicken, another of my obsessions. As I slip a thigh, skin side down into the skillet, the oil now

15700321-mmmain Austin Leslie (photo by Jason Perlow)

roiling as the seasoned flour clouds it, I think about both Austin and how I got here, frying chicken in a kitchen in New Orleans, LA.

There is a certain indirectness about the life of a cook. Hardly anyone…

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