This talented culinary producer, food stylist and author shares her perspective on life, cooking and … the “other white meat.” Photography by Chia Chong.
“Apparently you don’t ride your grandma’s prize pig,” writes Libbie Summers in her mouth-watering new book, “The Whole Hog Cookbook” (Rizzoli 2011). “That was my first lesson in pork appreciation.”
There have been many lessons since. Now the culinary producer and senior food editor for Paula Deen Enterprises, Libbie is a long way from the family pig farm in rural Missouri. She started her career as a private chef on sailing yachts that took her all over the world, then dropped anchor in Savannah and became a sought-after food stylist. Her tasty creations have graced the cover of this very magazine.
In “The Whole Hog Cookbook,” Libbie combines a lifetime of delicious experiences, sharing eloquent recipes and beautiful dishes that are sure to teach us all a lesson in pork appreciation.
I fell in love with gastronomy when … I tasted my first pork tenderloin sandwich. I’ll never forget the mix of ketchup and mayonnaise running down my arm as I struggled to hold the gargantuan sandwich with my two hands. I finished every bite.
The chefs I most admire are … Julia Child, Dorie Greenspan, Natalie Dupree, Gale Gand and Virginia Willis — female chefs who have paved the way for women to run kitchens.
My favorite place to travel for food and drink is … any back-road stand in any country. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world, and I’ll taste anything that any street vendor is selling. I’ve only ended up in the emergency room once. Pretty good odds!
My dream dinner guests are … my late grandmother, Lula Mae; the entire Sedaris family, including “The Rooster;” Julia Child; Jon Stewart and, of course, my husband Josh and son Anthony.
My culinary theme song is … “Raise Your Glass” by Pink.
My last meal would be … chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.
In addition to taste, I rely heavily on my sense of … smell. I can put my nose down to any piece of meat and tell you how fresh it is. I’ve been told I’m like those brew masters who can tell you where and when a beer was brewed. It’s a gift — and sometimes a curse.
I could not live without … pork and bread.
My favorite midnight snack is … popcorn and Australian licorice.
To cook like a chef, simply … bump up an iconic dish with a little pork. “The Whole Hog Cookbook” has recipes for prosciutto soft pretzels (cooked in Guinness), “Smokey and the Bacon” cheese straws … you get the idea.