Fix yourself a plate from this recipe creator’s soul food cookbook.
For home cooks looking to create elevated culinary classics in their kitchen in an approachable manner, look no further than “Fix Me a Plate: Traditional and New School Soul Food Recipes” by Fort Worth, Texas-based Scotty Scott, personal chef, recipe creator, cooking video director and owner of Cook Drank Eat, a social media platform and catering service.
Released on March 15, the new cookbook features 60 recipes and photos, with a mix of family creations and those tweaked by Scott, ranging from Sunday waffles and tomato pie to salmon croquettes and blueberry corn pancakes, and then some. Self-taught and excited with the launch of the new cookbook, Scott included what he terms the “Remix” chapter, which has his spin on some of the soul food dishes, deviating from the traditional ingredients and methodologies used.
Drawing Inspiration From His Background
After being approached by Page Street Publishing in November 2019, Scott began working on the cookbook in February 2020. “This cookbook is for those that don't follow me on social media. I try to take a different approach to my recipe videos and how I project my cooking process,” he says.
“I try to make it entertaining and informative. When I first started getting into cooking, I was trying to figure out how I can make my own way in the industry. I wanted to make sure that whatever I put out there, I take my food and my craft seriously, but I want it to be entertaining and fun for people.” Displaying a love for cooking at an early age, Scott’s favorite spot was the kitchen. “My mother was always cooking for large family gatherings. My father was always in the back barbecuing and so I was always wanting to be where the action was.”
As an adult, he started cooking for friends and family and gatherings. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Scott moved to Texas for school and earned his undergrad degree in psychology. He also graduated from law school with aspirations of becoming a sports agent but spent all his money pursuing that dream and went broke, so he took a different career path, landing in oil and gas, where he still has a day job.
But he decided to start a personal chef service due to the demand for his culinary creations. This turned into private parties in people's homes or cooking at pop-ups around town. Using social media to promote the business got him more involved in something he realized he liked. “I enjoy photography whenever I travel. It's one of my favorite little hobbies to do, so that combined is two of my passions of both photography and cooking.”
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Leaning Into His Culinary Interests
Scott says it also turned into somewhat of an online learning community for him, given that he is not classically trained. When he would try out dishes, his followers would give him tips and feedback, which helped improve his culinary skills. His childhood penchant for writing was a bonus in working on the cookbook.
“I was class clown. I was also the one that wanted to read my story to the class and so at one point, I thought I would be a writer. Looking back, it was probably my mother saying we need to get a real job with benefits, so I went to law school. I was surprised when I got into researching for the cookbook that it took me back to my law school days. I really enjoyed the research thoroughly as much as any other aspect of the book,” Scott says. “The planning and the researching were exhilarating for me.”
The cookbook is available on the website and through major retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Scott also has a few different spice blends and brown butter products featured in the cookbook that he hopes to make available as products later.
He admits some reluctance initially in doing a soul food cookbook. “I was hesitant. One, I grew up eating soul food. I have several soul food recipes, but it's not what I do exclusively,” he shares. “Two, if you're talking about any cuisine or type of food that's cultural, we want to be very respectful. We want to make sure that people understand that you're trying to portray it in the best light when you're dealing with recipes that have been handed down generations. I did it with some trepidation, but I was very excited and honored to be able to do something like this.”
One of his favorite recipes is the Southern red bean hummus. It starts with a traditional pot of red beans, accompanied by sausage, garlic, onions and lemon juice, all headed to the food processor to turn a hearty southern dish into a deliciously flavorful and light appetizer.
One must-try recipe he swears by is the blackened shrimp and fried grits, which is equally delicious and approachable to make at home no matter your cooking skills. Another favorite is the sweet potato pie, which is his grandmother's recipe, and one he calls “a converter because it converts pumpkin pie eaters to sweet potato pie eaters.” Where most people roast the sweet potatoes, Scott chooses to boil them to give the dish a lighter, almost flan-esque texture.
Surprisingly, it was the dessert chapter in the end that proved to be a challenge.
Reveling in His Creative Process
Though he knocked out all the other chapters with relative ease, the dessert chapter was a struggle. “There's a reason why you have bakers, you have chefs and many don't do both. Baking is precise measurements, making sure everything is correct. Otherwise, it's not going to work, like in science,” says Scott.
“It's why many recipes call for the weight instead of the volume for the ingredients. It was humbling, you think you've got this under control, but you're not that great.” The proud moment for Scott is his mother’s recipes being included in the book and the book being available at the Detroit Public Library, where his mother, an avid reader and a high school counselor for many decades who held a night job working in adult education, would borrow books from when he was a child.
But what Scott enjoys the most in all that he is involved with is the creative process. “It's creating new things, new dishes, new videos, pushing the envelope. Anytime I can think of something that's going to be different and fresh, it invigorates me,” he says.
“As all creative people do, I get in a rut but then when you finally figure something new out, it's exciting and gives you a jolt. If you can enjoy the process of creating, then you know you struck gold. In planning and creating food, whether it be the actual recipe testing or just cooking something that takes a long time to prepare, I enjoy the process and am always looking forward to the next one.”
If the recipes in the book and on his social media are any evidence, Scott will be creating for a long time coming, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store!