Plates and Crates: The complete Dillon experience
Rapper, DJ, producer, lobster nemesis, and master chef Dillon Vaughan Maurer hosts Plates and Crates 4 at the God Cottage
This week, rapper, DJ, producer, lobster nemesis, and master chef Dillon Vaughan Maurer hosts the fourth installment of Plates and Crates food and vinyl pop-up dinner party, this time at the God Cottage (RSVP for details).
The theme for this week's meal: Spring. A carefully crafted menu featuring a green bean hummus tartine, psychedelic spring pea soup, and more including his signature cocktail, the Dillon Vaughan, will be prepared for your dining pleasure. Before donning an apron and chaining himself to the cutting board, Dillon served up an inspired brunch of bagels with almond milk and mushroom gravy, egg whites, organic pea greens, yellow tomatoes, hash browns, grapefruit juice and coffee. We feasted while talking about everything from the genesis of Plates and Crates to his mother's cooking, and his sneaky vegan style.
RSVP for Plates and Crates 4. Pre-pay $30 cash per person or Paypal to email@example.com. 7-10 p.m. Mon., April 13.
Where did the idea for Plates and Crates come from?
I was sitting in Jacksonville, Fla, two or three years ago, drinking with a buddy of mine in a neighborhood called Five Points. It’s Jacksonville’s version of Little 5 Points here in Atlanta. I’m staring at this empty spot and I say, "Man it would be dope to have a little record shop and café there." Whenever I go out digging for records I get hungry. So I have this idea for a spot where you can go in, order some food, and then go dig for records. Then your food comes up — a wrap or something - you can eat while you dig. Or maybe you have a portable record player on a table and you can check out your digs while you’re eating. The name came instantly.
So I called my partner Paten Locke. He says, "Yo. Don’t tell anybody. Why would you even tell me!" (laughs).
About a year later Full Plate grew out of the idea. Paten and I got the rights to our first album, Studies In Hunger. It’s the one that Chuck D is on. We had to re-release it to get it up on iTunes. So we thought we should put it out under a label name or something; something that’s not just me putting this out on my own. So we came up with Full Plate. Fast-forward another year, Full Plate is alive and we have oven mitts and everything, but Plates and Crates doesn’t exist anymore. I really wanted to fuck with this idea, but there’s no way I could get a venue, or open a spot. I’m afraid of commitment. So I had this idea to do a dinner party. I do everything myself anyway so why not have a restaurant at my house?
And how many have you done now?
This is number four. The first one was here at my place. The second was at Ria’s Bluebird because the weather was turning cold. The third one was at Parish in Inman Park. Now I’m bringing it back to my house so I can smoke weed and shit.
Is that on the record?
Hell yeah! I put weed on all my records!
How has the response been?
It’s been going surprisingly well. It’s Spring time and there’s a lot going on. I do it on Mondays so I won’t have to compete with anybody. There’s a lot of room to do it in my yard, but if it rains I might have to call an audible. I’m hoping that it doesn’t. I only have a handful of RSVPs for this one, so if need be I can squeeze everybody inside and get cozy.
How do you decide about the menu?
The first one was wide open, I could do whatever I wanted to do.
I did a Mexican thing for the second one: Quinoa tacos. Once I get the idea for the main dish I just build around it. The third one featured an all Filipino food menu, just ‘cause. It’s all spring for this one: Spring onions, fresh herbs, a green bean hummus, a spring pea soup. Anything that’s not winter.
When did you realize that you enjoy cooking?
I never started till college. My mom is a fucking badass cook. Ridiculous. I’ll say "Yo, I had some shit the other day." She’ll say "Oh really?" She’ll look it up, flip it, make it her own and say "how about this?"
She had a restaurant when I was growing up, her mom had a restaurant when she was growing up. My mom’s restaurant was called the Skunk’s Nest, it was a little shack in central Florida — a town called Wildwood, Florida. Their slogan was “Cold Beer, Fat Sandwiches, and Lousy Service!” If you’ve ever driven to South Florida, it’s where the turnpike starts. It’s in the absolute middle. There’s one traffic light and they got a Beef 'O’Brady’s last year — it’s like Chili’s for Irish Pubs.
These are some serious hash browns.
People do like the most hateful shit with hash browns.
What do you mean?
If you like dice them up into these big-ass chunks and throw them in the first where they leave them there all day. When an order comes they pull them out and put some salt on them and call that an $8 side. Shred my shit, B! Super thin on the skillet. Shred it crispy, bro. Don’t give me this giant hunk of potato! I ain’t no lumber jack!
These bagels are great, too!
Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market! I get bagels there, but I run over to Candler Park market for most of my bread. Alon’s Bakery delivers baguettes there. I love Candler Park Market, it’s the coolest little spot and all the deli girls are so hot! Anyway, their breads are the best, and they have the best veggie burger. It’s insane, on the perfect little buttered bun. My other favorite is Grindhouse, but they fry it. I love it, but at Candler Park the sauté it. That makes me feel a little better.
How long have you been a vegetarian?
Well, I eat some seafood, so I’m kind of an asshole. But it’s been 10 years. I haven’t eaten pork in a lot longer, though.
Is it for health or ideological reasons?
It’s a little bit of all that. I had read some stuff, and I think it was the climate at the time. People were becoming aware of all that. Movies like Food Inc. were coming out, and that’s when I quit eat meat. It was 2005. I was working in a restaurant slanging this pork all day, bro. Getting a snapshot of all these people who are eating all of this meat it was like, "Yo — y’all are like kind of fucking up!" Once you see what goes on behind the scenes that shit just ain’t popping. Mankind has elevated itself to a point where we don’t need it, but then I eat fish, so I’m a dickhead.
You never want to see how the sausage is made. But once you do, how can you go back?
Yeah. I ain’t even gonna lie: I went lobster hunting in Florida and slaughtered 32 lobsters, bro. Ripped their heads off. I was kind of sad while I was doing it. I really don’t know how to feel about that.
Tell me about he musical element of Plates and Crates.
There are DJs spinning music all night. Agent 45 and the Morkestra are resident guys, and Agent 45 will often times sell the records he’s spinning: “You like this? Ok, $10.” We have fun, and it’s all about the people. It’s $30. It’s not cheap. The people who are there want to be there. Count Bass D and Dionne Farris came out for the last one. To me, that’s super rad.
What’s on the menu for this one?
I’m making a green bean hummus tartine, which is like a flat bread. Have you heard of Doux South? It’s a local pickle company. He’s dope. He makes these drunken tomatoes that are fucking fire! On the tartine, I’m going to have this green bean hummus, drunken tomatoes, and purple carrots that I’m going to shave and flash fry so they’re like little crunchy ribbons. And then from the carrot tops I’m going to make an oil. That’s the first course, and it’s a shared course. It will be ready when you arrive, so you can nosh. Then there’s a spring squash salad — shaved ribbons — with radishes. Pickled beats, shave those. Different textures, different flavors, and a charred Vidalia vinaigrette: food process them with a little lemon, a little olive oil, some salt, pepper, and then some toasted sunflower seeds to give it a little crunch.
Third course: I was looking online and I saw this soup that this lady did called “Psychedelic spring soup.” One half is a carrot, ginger miso. The other half is the spring pea side, which will have some fresh mint and mint oil. Chopped pistachios on top.
For the entree I got these big-ole portobello mushroom caps that I’m gonna marinate in a red wine vinegar with peppercorns. Let those chill, then grill ‘em, and then I’m going to make a toasted barley with parsley and chive. Stuff ‘em with that. Top it off with a gremolata, which is a super simple — lemon zest, parsley, and olive oil, almost like an Italian chimichurri. Crispy fried shallots. Chive oil, and it’s going to be on a bed of charred spring onions. I’m gonna grill the onions nice, crisscross ‘em, and put the mushroom on top.
Of course I’ll have some wine and there’s my signature cocktail, the Dillon Vaughan. It’s bourbon, soda, a mélange of bitters, lemon, orange, and a traditional aromatic. A little bit of each, and then a little lemon twist. It’s super simple, and strong enough so that you know you’re drinking a little something, it’s tasty, gentlemanly, and a good Southern summer drink, but I drink them all year round.
How important is it for you to use locally-sourced ingredients?
It’s as important as it is feasible. Using Doux South and my boy’s pickled tomatoes. I think it’s cool to tag a local business. I never really thought about it, but that’s how I am anyway. Everything I use is from the Farmer’s Market or the Candler Park Market. Candler Park Market has a lot of great vegetables that even the Farmer’s market doesn’t get. They get local mushrooms, locally grown lettuces. A lot of time the Farmer’s Market isn’t all that local. But certain staple things are so cheap there that you’re just playing yourself if you try to buy them somewhere else.
The menu vegetarian, which is kind of a non-issue.
I call my shit ‘sneaky vegan.’ I didn’t grow up vegan, and I know the flavor profile that people like. I like the same things. If I read the menu, it doesn’t scream vegan. I don’t want to cook fake this or mock that. I just want style-out with some really good, other food.
How much advance notice do you need for an RSVP?
Day-of is fine, I can work with that.