It’s an honor for Executive Chef Steve Zucker that will not be taken lightly. The man behind the menu of downtown Mobile’s Dauphin’s recently cracked the Alabama Tourism Department’s list of “100 Things in Alabama to Eat Before You Die” honor with his Gumbo Z’herb.

For those not in the know, the dish is credited to the Queen of Creole Cuisine, Leah Chase, who with her husband opened the New Orleans institution Dooky Chase in the 1940s. Not the gumbo you’re thinking of, Gumbo Z’herb is a mixture of greens, smoked ham, sausage and brisket.

Zucker’s New Orleans influence came when he was a young man of 17 finding himself in the Crescent City, studying the culinary arts as an apprentice under legend, author, chef and restaurateur John Folse. Our North Carolina transplant gets his flair for the Big Easy honestly and his respect for Leah Chase shines through.

“She’s an institution. No one can touch Creole cooking like Leah,” the humbled Zucker said. “For me this has been a way to celebrate one of my life’s inspirations. Being honored for this version of her masterpiece is tremendous.”

The homage to Chase’s original is true enough, but fans of Dauphin’s may find Zucker’s version tips the hat to coastal Alabama by adding Conecuh sausage, bacon and turkey wings. He also implements the Smoke Pistol into the cooking process for that extra flavor.

The list was released as part of Alabama Restuarant Week, which is Aug. 11-20 statewide. For more information visit www.alabamarestaurantweek.com.

Cracker Barrel breaks ground in Saraland
Fans of sawmill gravy, hashbrown casserole and rocking chairs will be pleased to know Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is officially coming to Saraland.

The 10,000-square-foot facility will be built at 88 Shell St., with plans to open sometime next March. Locally this will provide more than 175 full- and part-time jobs and be the 31st location in our fair state.

You know you can’t resist those pancakes. The biscuits are good, too. But my main reason for visiting Cracker Barrel is the Old Country Store. I’m not much for popguns, mechanical ferrets and bouncy balls but I have an undying love for Bubble Up. It’s my favorite soda pop ever.

I’m not certain of the exact population of the Saraland/Satsuma area, but with a restaurant that seats 180 guests at a time I’m certain you will be get fed.

The Wharf Uncorked announces talent
It’s three days of culinary excess as The Wharf Uncorked rocks Orange Beach Sept. 14-16. A chef showdown, local wine dinners and a grand tasting are but a few of the events at this festival, which also serves as a qualifier for the World Food Championships.

Participating restaurants include Bayes Southern Bar and Grill, Blue Water BBQ Co., Cobalt, Cosmo’s, Driftwood Steakhouse, Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina, Fora-Bama Yacht Club, Ginny Lane’s Bar and Grill, GT’s on the Bay, Luna’s Eat and Drink, Master Joe’s, Ronin Sushi Bar, Villaggio Grille, Voyagers and Wolf Bay Lodge.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com and The Wharf box office. Visit www.TheWharfUncorked.com for more information.

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