It only took me about 12 hours into an expedition to Horn Island on assignment for BoatU.S. Magazine with two strangers for the idea to take hold. We had a classically trained chef, a very talented artist, and a writer boating around and telling each other so many stories and tall tales that by the time we had a fire going at sunset on the beach, I knew not only that we were kindred spirits, but that we had a story to tell—together. I think I first broached the subject of a book near the Flats on Horn while we dragged most of an enormous waterlogged tree trunk, at Matthew’s insistence, nearly a quarter-mile up the shoreline to feed the fire late in the night. I know for sure that I explained to Matthew and Billy, as we motored back to Ocean Springs the next morning, that if we did this book, we would always be connected.
Over the course of two years, the three of us gathered up recipes and ideas for On the Coast. We fished, we spoke with home cooks, we fished some more, talked with great coastal chefs in their restaurant kitchens and spent long weekends on a 48’ Hatteras in the Ocean Springs harbor or anchored out at Horn Island while “working” on this book.
As we progressed, we held marathon recipe testings over long weekends in Ocean Springs which, of course, led to friends and family joining in on the fun. One large charbroiled oyster session out on a pier at Eagle Point in the middle of the winter drew out nearly twenty people and no end of volunteer shuckers.
Throughout all of this time these two strangers, now my co-authors, in fact did become great friends of mine. What surprised me, and maybe it shouldn’t have, is that I suddenly found myself with many new friends – and even people I would consider extended family.
All three of us now realize that we have put together a rather unique and large story of the Mississippi Coast – one that encompasses food, boating, culture, history and art. Given two more years, who knows what other stories we would have to tell or what fish we would have cooked – but our publisher was already upset we were over deadline.
All we can say is that we hope that you enjoy this book, we had a great time putting it together… it was a great chapter in our lives and we’re proud to share it with you. Cheers.