Monthly Archives: August 2012

Meet Bill Best, Kentucky Seed Saver

In Pride & Joy, Joe visits dozens of men and women who dedicate their lives to growing, catching, cooking, serving, or studying food and drink in the South. Some are the subjects of previous SFA short films, and there are many new faces as well.

Bill Best is a farmer from Berea, Kentucky. He was the subject of Joe York’s first film, 2003’s Saving Seeds (made with Matt Bruder). A devotee of heirloom vegetables, Best explains in the film that he farms “tomatoes for money, and beans for love.”

For his seed-saving work, which preserves both genetic diversity and Appalachian cultural heritage, Best won the SFA’s Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award in 2003.

Look for best to return in Pride & Joy. Weather permitting, you’ll want to have a tomato sandwich on hand while you watch.

Meet the Stars: Leah Chase

In Pride & Joy, Joe York visits dozens of men and women who dedicate their lives to growing, catching, cooking, serving, or studying food and drink in the South. Some are the subjects of previous SFA short films, and there are many new faces as well.

Leah Chase is one of the fifty founding members of the SFA (she was our first board president, in fact) and the matriarch of Dooky Chase Restaurant, a New Orleans institution.

In 1945, she met musician Edgar “Dooky” Chase II, whose parents owned the restaurant. After the two married, and when their children were old enough to attend school, Leah Chase began working at the restaurant three days a week, first as a hostess, later as a chef. In the years that followed she has transformed Dooky Chase into a landmark of New Orleans cookery, dishing peerless gumbo and other Creole delicacies. Along the way, she has befriended such luminaries as Justice Thurgood Marshall and musician Ray Charles.

You’ll hear more of her story in her own words in Pride & Joy. To tide yourself over, check out our 2004 oral history with Mrs. Chase, or read Sara Roahen’s excellent profile of her in the October/November 2011 issue of Garden & Gun.

Food is about everything, you know. You can do everything – music and food, people and food. That’s the most important thing about food: It brings you [together] with people. And I think that’s the only reason why I stayed in it that long.            —Leah Chase

 

 

 

Do You Know Joe?

Meet Joe York, the director of Pride and Joy.

Joe York (r) on location. Photo by Hollis Bennett.

Joe York hails from Glencoe, Alabama. He received a BA in anthropology from Auburn University and an MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. While still a graduate student, York realized that he wanted to tell stories through film. The Southern Foodways Alliance gave him a video camera and a tip on an heirloom seed saver in Kentucky, and he was off and running.

York joined the staff of the University’s Media and Documentary Projects, part of the University’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, in 2005. Since then, he has made over thirty short films and two feature-length documentaries, most of them in partnership with the Southern Foodways Alliance. He is also the author of a book of photography, With Signs Following: Photography of the Southern Religious Roadside (University Press of Mississippi, 2007).

York’s films have won a bevy of accolades at film festivals in the South and beyond. He was named Food Filmmaker of the Year at the New York Food Film Fest in 2009, and has also won awards at the Oxford Film Festival, the Chicago Food Film Fest, and the Crossroads Film Festival in Jackson, Mississippi.

Pride and Joy, York’s feature-length documentary about Southern food, is six years and more than fifty thousand highway miles in the making.

He and his wife, Kathryn, live in Oxford, Mississippi, with their black lab, Dinah. They are expecting their first child at the end of 2012.