By Southern Living
September 01, 2020

Southern food is often thought of as fixed in time—as if there were only one correct way to bake biscuits or cook grits. We can find these long-held cooking tenets in weathered recipe cards, in the margins of spiral-bound cookbooks, and in our treasured memories of family members long gone. But as the following talented cooks from across the South show, there is a way to marry the past and the present. And it’s delicious. In Tennessee, Mee McCormick makes gluten-free fried chicken that rivals any traditional recipe. In Kentucky, Samantha Fore has earned a following for her vibrant Sri Lankan-meets-Southern dishes. And in Texas, Vianney Rodriguez gives Tex-Mex food the respect and recognition it deserves. Through cookbooks, food blogs, pop-up restaurants, and more, all seven of our 2020 Cooks of the Year are expanding the way we define Southern food and making sure that there’s a seat at the table for everyone. —Lisa Cericola