In the latest installment of our occasional conversations with Fort Worth newsmakers, Scotty Scott, chef and author of the new cookbook “Fix Me A Plate: Traditional and New School Soul Food Recipes from Scotty Scott of Cook Drank Eat,” spoke with arts and culture editor Marcheta Fornoff. They discussed how he got started in the kitchen and his strategy for making salmon croquettes. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. For the unabridged version, please listen to the audio file attached to this article.

Fornoff: Your new cookbook is called “Fix Me a Plate,” so it’s only fitting that later you’re going to make a dish for us. What are you going to cook?

Scott: I’m going to cook salmon croquettes. It’s kind of a traditional dish, using canned salmon. A lot of people use fresh salmon nowadays. It’s basically just making salmon patties and chock them with veggies and goodness and fry them up. 

Fornoff: What’s the inspiration? You said it’s a traditional dish, but does it have any sentimental meaning for you?

Scott: It’s one of my favorite dishes my mother made growing up.

She told me (you use canned salmon) because out in the country, you didn’t have access to fresh fish. I’ve read some things that conflict with that, but maybe that’s what she did growing up.

It’s one of those things where I was kind of a finicky eater. But this is one dish that I always seemed to like, especially if I had some ketchup to go with it. 

Fornoff: You said you’ve been cooking since you were about like 10. Was that because you were a picky eater? Did your mom say, if you don’t like this, make it yourself? Or how did that start? 

Scott: It really started just because I like being in the kitchen, just seeing where all the action was. That’s where my mother and grandmother were. And my father was in the backyard on the grill, so I was always poking around, trying to see what was going on.

My parents had me at a younger age, and they were the youngest of their siblings. So, when I came around, I was one of the few children in the household. I was always going to hang out with the adults. That’s where all the fun was. 

Video produced by David Moreno | Fort Worth Report

Fornoff: What was one of the first recipes you feel like you mastered? 

Scott: Definitely mac and cheese — my mother’s mac and cheese. She might say I haven’t mastered it because I think her recipe uses six eggs and I use two, which is plenty. We’re not making a frittata.

It was one of those things I just kind of dabbled with in the kitchen. I made it one day and got the seal of approval from my aunt and my mother, and the rest is history. 

Fornoff: What is their reaction to your cookbook? 

Scott: It’s been very favorable. You know, people have been telling me to open up a restaurant or write a cookbook for the past 10 years now. Now I’m finally doing one of the above, so now everybody’s been pleased.

I don’t know how pleased they’re going to be about giving away family recipes, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. 

Fornoff: There are a lot of people who really guard those close to their chest. (With) my own grandma, it took years of begging to get her recipes. 

Scott: I didn’t get a lot of my mother’s recipes before she stopped cooking just because I moved out of the house at a young age. When I really started getting into cooking, I was not living at home.

The few that I have, I’m glad to share with the world just because it kind of brings me joy to know that her recipes are now being created all over the world. 

Fornoff: I feel like people of that generation also didn’t necessarily write recipes the same way we’re used to seeing them. Did she use measurements or was she one that would say “enough (sugar)”?

Scott: It was a little bit of both. It depended on the recipe.

Some of her tried and true recipes, there was no written record of it.

She was just in there and she could tell you, like, hey give it a little stir. She could just hear the sizzle or smell and know what needed to be done.

Fornoff: Did you start out that same way, just doing it by feel? 

Scott: Oh, absolutely. I think cooking is all about feel. It’s one of those things where, I know people who are classically trained, but if you don’t have feel, it doesn’t really make any difference in the end, you know.

Really, that was one of the hardest parts for me was writing down everything, specifically especially because you can’t just say it probably looks good, you know. I’m definitely a cook-by- feel person.

You know, I can be in the other room and hear when it’s ready. I can smell it. I can see it. But you know, if you’ve got a cookbook, you’ve got to make sure everything’s correct down to the tee.

Fornoff: I can totally appreciate that, but it’s so intimidating as someone who is not well-versed in the kitchen to have someone be like, “Feel it out,” because it’s new. 

Scott: All situations are different, so you’ve got to have some feel to it. Cooking on gas or electric, that’s going to make a big difference. Your altitude can make a big difference. So you want to be able to recognize what you need to make a tweak here and there to your recipe to make sure it comes out correctly. 

Fornoff: You spent a lot of time as a personal chef. I’m guessing you’ve had to make a lot of those adjustments cooking in other people’s homes. 

Scott: Every time you go in there, it’s always going to be something different.

I can remember cooking for somebody fairly well-known, and I was like, “They’ll have salt and pepper. Everyone has salt and pepper in their house.” No salt and pepper.

It’s always a challenge, but I love it. It keeps me on my toes.

Salmon croquettes sit on a plate fresh out of the frying pan in Scott’s home. (David Moreno | Fort Worth Report)

Fornoff: I’m curious if there are any other dishes in the cookbook that you’re especially excited for people to have access to and to make in their own homes. 

Scott: Sweet potato pie. Hands down.

It’s called the “World’s Best Sweet Potato Pie” because I mean, it is. You know, it’s one of the things I boast about because it’s not my recipe, it’s my grandmother’s. It’s very light and airy.

I had a friend of mine whose mother was from Mexico City, and she made me ship them to her annually because she loved it.

Fornoff: A lot of this is tied to family. You have one young son and another kid on the way. What food traditions do you hope to pass down to them? 

Scott: I mean, cooking brings me joy. Obviously when I’m cooking for my family, it brings me joy to be able to feed them.

It’s not always the most helpful, but (my son) he loves taking part in what I’m doing. I’m hoping to pass it down to him that he can also replicate with his family and his children whenever he has them. Cooking is a community.

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here


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Marcheta Fornoff

For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...

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