How does a Midwestern jazz pianist turned lawyer then cornbread baker find himself selling the Southern staple at Brooklyn’s most competitive flea market? Ask Chedbred founder Jack Sorock and he isn’t quite sure himself, but he can trace the fixation back to a bed and breakfast spot in Colorado called the Baldpate Inn where his family vacationed every summer. The culinary cornerstone of each visit was a rich, indulgent cornbread that nearly bordered on dessert and though Sorock sees this as the recipe to beat, he’d rather not try. It touts two cans of creamed corn with twice as much fat, sugar and cheddar cheese as his own recipe. But sheer determination and countless tastings led to a recipe that tastes unmistakably close to the same nostalgic blend of textures without needing a triple bypass.
While trudging through the grind of a corporate stint in New York, Sorock apprenticed his way into cornbread mastery with Momofuku Milk Bar’s Adam Wile. The secret (or as much of it that he’d share) is all in the placement and layering of the cheese. “Cornbread is textually one note. I made it more self sufficient by putting cubes of cheese on top and a crumble finish that gives it the richness it deserves. I think the cheese bite gives it a little bit of the drama.”
And his Chedbred snacks are arguably worth center stage. They’re moist, hearty and full of roasted kernels of corn and cheddar cheese that holds together bite after bite. The entire experience is a far cry from the sandy, crumbly mess you’re often left with from a box of Marie Callendar’s premade mix. Try a Maple Bacon drizzled with maple syrup and and it’s as if everything wonderful about breakfast has been fused into one handheld delight. Sorock’s newest additions to Smorg include a Garlic Confit with Chives, Jalapeno and Raspberry Swirl complete with complimentary “spreds”: sea salt honey butter, honey lime butter and a sherry shallot jam.
Sorock later partnered with his longtime friend and New York Cookery founder, Jon Ellsaesser, where his Southwestern chili (an epic recipe five years in the making), is the ying to the Chedbred’s yang. The deep flavors are enhanced with black beans, cultured Mexican crema and a braised brisket so tender the mere mention of it induces a Pavlov’s dog salivation. It would appear that this perfect match is destined to eventually go in one direction: a brick and mortar cafe somewhere in the city, that Sorock may or may not have alluded to.
I’m not quite sure; I stopped listening after I dunked a brick of Chedbred into my cup of succulent chili.
To taste Jack’s Chedbred, check them out at Smorgasburg this weekend.
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