Charleston, South Carolina, natives Matt and Ted Lee left their hometown to attend colleges in the Northeast, settling in New York City to work humdrum jobs. But the Lees so missed the foods of their hometown that, in 1994, they founded The Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue, offering mail-order Southern pantry staples like stone-ground grits, fig preserves, and, of course, boiled peanuts.
When an editor of a travel magazine asked them to write a story about the great food of their home, they embarked on a second career as food and travel journalists. The Lees currently write for Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, GQ, The New York Times, and are the wine columnists for Martha Stewart Living. But it was their first cookbook that put them on the map as writers to be reckoned with. The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook swept the 2007 awards season, winning two IACP awards and two James Beard Awards, including “Cookbook of the Year.” Two years later the duo later published another award-winning cookbook, Simple, Fresh, Southern, and in 2013, they published The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen.
In the decade since they began writing, the entire world has changed for Southern food, meaning the Lees can speak to the state of Southern food today with the perspective of knowing where it’s been, and where it’s all going. In 2012 they established Tradd Street Associates in Charleston, a consulting firm to help the hospitality industry with food strategy and media affairs. The Lees also run a cookbook boot camp to help chefs break into the publishing world, and they are working to launch a studio kitchen space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.