The South is not a monolith. There are pockets of weirdness, awesomeness, and then there’s Charleston—where for some time now important things have been happening with food, a lot of them having to do with [Sean Brock].

You could be forgiven for underestimating Sean Brock the first time you meet him. I know I did. I saw a scruffy-looking dude in a trucker cap who always seemed to have a bottle of really good bourbon on hand.

It took me a little time to discover the ferocious intellect, the inquiring nature, the uniquely focused and purposeful talent to the man, without a doubt one of America’s most important chefs: a guy who’s redefining what not just Southern cooking is, was, and can be, but American cooking as a whole.

Husk [Brock’s restaurant] directly addresses Southern culinary traditions using the best of modern techniques, but always, always respecting the originals and who made them.

What is down-home Southern cooking? Where did it come from? Who’s responsible? Well, it’s always useful, when asking those kinds of questions, wherever you are, to ask first who did the cooking back then in the beginning? Where did they come from?

This field note is excerpted from Bourdain’s narration of the episode.

Highlights from Charleston on Explore Parts Unknown: