Photo: Chef Scott Peacock (left) | Peacock working alongside Miss Edna Lewis (right)

 

Famed Southern chef Scott Peacock first cooked with the legendary Edna Lewis as her assistant at a Southern food dinner in Atlanta. He was in his 20s; she was 74. Over the next 15 years - up until her passing in 2006 - they continued cooking together and became dear friends. Francis Lam talked with Peacock about what it was like to be in the kitchen with Edna Lewis, and how her sense of observation, wonder and patience still guide his work today.


"It was absolutely wonderful. It was similar yet utterly unlike cooking with anyone else. It could be very chatty and laughter-filled, but for the most part it was very quiet, which was as enjoyable as the chattiest of days, frankly. It was quiet because we were both so focused on what we were doing and I think maybe some of our most present when we were cooking together... She never treated me like a student. She was interested in what I thought. She never said, “Stand back, I’m going to teach you how to do this now.” It didn’t have that tutorial quality. She was generous, she loved cooking so much, and she loved that someone else was interested in it so much. It was like an offering. It was extraordinary."

- Scott Peacock on his time spent cooking with Edna Lewis

Francis Lam

Francis Lam is the host of The Splendid Table. He is the former Eat columnist for The New York Times Magazine and is Editor-at-Large at Clarkson Potter. He graduated first in his class at the Culinary Institute of America and has written for numerous publications. Lam lives with his family in New York City.