Southern Kitchen revives soul food tradition

Over the last few years, some of Chicago's legendary soul food restaurants have closed for good, but Southern Kitchen, a brand new restaurant in the South Shore neighborhood is hoping to revive the tradition of South Side soul food.
October 12, 2013 1:00:50 PM PDT
There was nothing like Army and Lou's smothered pork chops, or Izola's sweet potato pie, but there are new traditions being created just a block or so from the South Shore Cultural Center. With only a handful of tables and a huge kitchen, they're hoping to lure a new generation of hungry diners.

The complex battering and dredging of chicken, multiplied by the systematic frying in oil, is a ritual with many sources. For Jessica Warfield, the home cooking at the Southern Kitchen, a brand new restaurant in South Shore, comes directly from her own taste memories.

"I'm originally from Sikeston, Missouri. Every Sunday morning my grandmother she would get up and she would cook everything from scratch from the biscuits, bacon, fresh made cakes, banana puddin'; I kind of adopted her whole style and pretty much that's what landed me here," Warfield said.

Smothered chicken and pork chops. Crispy, deep-fried catfish and sides like candied yams, vinegary collards and smooth mashed potatoes are just a few of the staples Warfield deploys to lure in hungry neighbors. And her meatloaf, of course.

"Very Southern-style meatloaf," she said. "It's cooked with the breadcrumbs, bell pepper, onion and everything is made from scratch."

Just like her mac and cheese, which not only gets doused in a buttery-rich milk base, but also dollops of sour cream and several cheeses, including mild and sharp cheddar, as well as Colby. Baked in the oven for about 25 minutes, it emerges with a firm, cheesy crust and a softened interior.

Warfield hopes by replicating the recipes she remembers as a child, she'll be able to feed the memories - and stomachs - of her newfound neighbors.

"We've had a lot of good supporters so I'm very happy about that," she said.

Southern Kitchen
7167 S. Exchange