The Iron Bowl

Interview with Chef David Bancroft

My Rouses Everyday, September/October 2017

David Bancroft is the chef and owner of Acre Restaurant in the historic downtown district of Auburn, Alabama.

His daily changing menu features meat and seafood raised and caught in Alabama, and heirloom vegetables and fruit grown, harvested and prepared directly on site.

You’re a hardcore Auburn Tigers fan. The Kick Six in the last second of the 2013 Iron Bowl is one the most unlikely plays in college football — some sports writers have called it the single greatest moment in college football history.

Man, that was a good day. The best part was that, after the game, I had a private dining room set up for my very good friend and mentor, Chef Chris Hastings of Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club. Chris and his family arrived at Acre decked out in crimson & white. I tried so very hard not to gloat about our victory, but inside I was squealing like a teenager!

Food is almost as important as football on gameday. Fried green tomatoes with pimiento cheese and Gulf blue crab are the restaurant’s gameday specialty. What’s the Southern secret to fried green tomatoes?

Definitely a few musts here. The best cornmeal available. Nice, firm green tomatoes. Peanut oil. But, the real secret is using a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet!

Pimiento cheese is popular all over the South, but Alabama has a unique love affair with the stuff. What’s your technique for getting the right balance of flavor and texture?

Alabamians know that you cannot cheat at pimiento cheese by using pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese typically contains cornstarch and other ingredients to prevent caking, so you want to use 100 percent cheese that you shred yourself. We also know that it is all about the mayo. I use very high-quality English white cheddar and Duke’s® Real Mayonnaise. The rest is a dab of this and a dab of that, but with good cheese plus good mayo, it’s hard to screw up the rest.

Do you default to chips and dip when you tailgate at Jordan-Hare Stadium, or go with something special?

I am all about some smoked chicken wings with Alabama white barbecue sauce. Of course, I’m always ready to throw down a Low Country boil. Always.

Finally, the big football question — who wins the Iron Bowl this year: Auburn or Alabama?

What kind of fan would I be if I didn’t claim the orange & blue?! Alabama is never — and will never — be an easy matchup. The Iron Bowl is sacred for this very reason. Alabama is expected to win every year. The best part is that, if Auburn pulls the upset, the whole nation celebrates the Auburn Tigers!