'Big Bad Breakfast' chef shares his secrets in his cookbook, at Atlanta event


  By Wendell Brock

John Currence starts his new cookbook with a hilarious anecdote about the day he opened his Oxford, Miss., restaurant Big Bad Breakfast. As a kid growing up in New Orleans, the chef behind Oxford’s City Grocery had fallen in love with the breakfast joints and lunch counters of his youth: Opening such a spot was his dream.

Much to the chagrin of his wife, Bess.

As customers lined up out front and the couple waited for the health inspector to stamp their permit, Currence had the audacity to cluck to his better half that Big Bad Breakfast would be the establishment that would one day put them “on the map.”

That was eight years ago. Now just look where we are.

If I didn’t think it would go to his head, I’d go so far as to say this James Beard Award-winning chef was a prime instigator in the nation’s current obsession with all things breakfast.

Heck, after eyeballing “Big Bad Breakfast,” which is chock full of recipes for such outrageous dishes as Shrimp Gravy Biscuit Sundae and Sausage Cinnamon Rolls, I’ll say it anyway.

Before tout le Atlanta went gaga for brunch, before Time Inc. rolled out its new breakfast-centric website, Extra Crispy, Currence was slinging hash and cutting catheads up Oxford way.

Thank goodness, he lived to tell his larded tale.

The Pylon, Currence’s paean to the famous Scramble Dog served at Dingle Pharmacy in Columbus, is a ridonkulous concoction of two hot dogs, chili, slaw, pickles, cheddar, crumbled oyster crackers, and so on and so forth “piled on” (hence the name) a Belgian waffle. The Creamed “Chipped” Mushrooms on Toast are a playful, meat-free version of the chipped beef on toast the chef’s dad cooked for him as a kid.

Like the chef-author himself, “Big Bad Breakfast” is a book with wily and opinionated personality. I can’t wait to mix up a Sunday morning Bloody and give it a spin.

 AUTHOR EVENT: 1:30 p.m. Sept. 25. Currence and RJ Cooper, executive chef at 5Church Atlanta, will cook dishes from the book. $50. Currence will be on hand to sign books beginning at noon. Guests not attending the event can order a three-course “Big Bad Breakfast” special for $18, or a la carte from a selection of dishes from the book. 1197 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404- 400-3669; 5churchatlanta.com

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