John’s Work & Products

Posted on September 10, 2012 in John's Work & Products

About me and my work and my products:
I am the author of Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking (1992; 20th anniversary edition,2012), The New Southern Cook (Bantam,1995; paperback, 1997), Hoppin’ John’s Charleston, Beaufort & Savannah (Clarkson Potter, 1997), and The Fearless Frying Cookbook (Workman, 1997). My work has appeared in journals and reviews in both Europe and the United States, including The New York Times, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Fine Cooking, The Journal of Gastronomy, Gastronomica, Bon Appétit, Country Home, Cooking Light and The Washington Post. In 2022, the University of South Carolina Press published an anthology of my writing, 1987-2022, Charleston to Phnom Penh: A Cook’s Journal.

I am the former food editor of the French-language magazine Ici New York. I have spoken at museums and conferences throughout the country and appeared on both regional and national television and radio.
I have lived in the Caribbean, France, Italy, Bulgaria, China, and Cambodia and am practiced in the cuisines and customs of not only my southern homeland but also of Liguria, France, the Balkans, and the African diaspora. In 2023, I moved to Hanoi, Vietnam, where my husband, Mikel Lane Herrington, is the Peace Corps Country Director, a job he has held in Bulgaria, China, and Cambodia as well. A well-exhibited photographer as well, I took many of the photos for my book on lowcountry style. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called me “the South’s answer to Martha Stewart.” A founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, I am considered a leading authority on the culinary history of the South and the expert on the foods of the lowcountry, the coastal plain that surrounds Charleston and Savannah. Gourmet has said that “no man deserves more credit for Charleston’s culinary resurgence than John Martin Taylor, author of the exhilarating Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking.”

Lee Bailey wrote,”John has a lively sense of humor about the customs, preferences, and foibles of [southerners] – himself included.”

Current and past clients include Charleston Place; the Elliott Group; Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Inman Films (producers of COLD MOUNTAIN); Bobby Flay’s Food Nation; Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts; University of South Carolina Press; University of North Carolina Press; Carolina Gold Rice Foundation; American Institute of Wine and Food; International Association of Culinary Professionals; International Foodservice Editorial Council; International Olive Oil Council; Shelbray, Inc.; Ford Plantation; Inn at Blackberry Farm; Horizon Hotels Limited; Metropolitan Home; Putnam Investments; Al Roker Productions; Noble, Inc.; The Smithsonian Institution; The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Phaidon Press; and the US Embassy in Cambodia, among others. At right, here I am with Tom Campbell, the Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum at an exclusive fundraiser historical dinner I planned for the Charleston Art & Antiques Forum in 2011 (photo by Blair Halford).

In 2018, I donated my library to the International Culinary Institute in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and my papers to the College of Charleston Special Collections. I was given the prestigious Amelia Award by the Culinary Historians of New York that year as well.

I opened Hoppin’ John’s, my culinary bookstore, in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1986. After Charleston was hit by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, I was out of business for a year, but concentrated on my writing and the artisanal milling of heirloom corns while the store, and Charleston, were rebuilt. Soon I was running a cooking school as well, and had authored the four aforementioned cookbooks.
I have had customers in all fifty states, and some of the nation’s finest restaurants use my stone-ground, whole-grain, heirloom corn grits, meal, and flour (see below).
In 1999, I closed the shop to concentrate on my writing, my artwork (I am trained as a filmmaker, not as a writer), and consulting. In 2004 I moved to Washington, DC, with Mikel Herrington, my partner of 24 years. We were married in Washington in 2010. He has since served as Peace Corps Country Director in Bulgaria, China, and in Cambodia, where we have lived since 2019.
I have started this blog site to keep you informed of both my work and my play as it relates to food. The photo of me at the top of the page was taken in June 2008 by Mikel. The following photo shows me celebrating the life of my friend and mentor, Karen Hess, the recently deceased culinary historian.


In this photo, I’m holding the classic French dish Caneton aux Navets (Duckling with Turnips), which I made in her honor.
Though Karen (pronounced KAR-in, in the Scandinavian manner), was considered by many in the food world to be an irascible curmudgeon, I never saw that side of her. She was always willing to share her vast knowledge with me and she enjoyed sparring on points of not only culinary history, but on the history of mankind in general. In the Fall 2007 issue of GASTRONOMICA, I explore my very personal relationship with this culinary giant. You can read the article here.
Her son Peter has begun a blog in tribute to Karen.
In 2005, The Carolina Gold Rice Foundation  sponsored a thirty-minute filmed conversation between Karen and me for their first conference in Charleston.
Here’s a still from the film that I find very amusing because at this moment I’m stating a historical hypothesis that she obviously finds apocryphal:







Here’s another photo of me  picking olives taken by Paula Wolfert in Spain. And one I took of Paula in Italy. Paula was one of the food writers who inspired my own work,

so much so that I wanted my first book to be edited by the great editor, Fran McCullough, who had published not only Paula’s books on Morocco and South-West France, but also the great books on the cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy, with whom I would also become friends.

The most recent blog appears at the top of the title page. Older blogs in chronological order are found in Archives. Other articles on Travels and books and other writing are found under their own headings.
I hope you will enjoy this as much as I enjoy posting it. Self-editing is very hard, so if you see any mistakes at all, do not hesitate to contact me.
Hoppin’ John’s was founded in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1986, by John Martin Taylor. His world-renowned, stone-ground, whole-grain, heirloom corn products are available from my other site. Hoppin’ John’s is a federally registered trademark. All rights reserved.

In 2019, I sold the business to my niece, Sarah Taylor Ferrell.

My grits, cornmeal, and corn flour are available in a select few retail locations and are used in some fine restaurants throughout North America. Among them (in alphabetical order):
Acadiana in Washington, DC
Amy’s Takeaway in Lanesville, NY
anna saint john at Kensington Farm Market and
Palisades Farmers Market
Aria Tuscan Grill in Charlotte, NC
Bagatelle in Key West
Bayona in New Orleans
Belfair in Bluffton, SC
Ben’s Next Door in Washington DC
Big Smoke Barbecue in Whistler, British Columbia
Brick Ridge in Mt Airy, MD
Cafe Dégas in New Orleans
Calhoun Corners in Clemson, SC
Cochon and Calcasieu in New Orleans
Cochon in Lafayette, LA
Crosby’s Seafood in Charleston, SC
DC Coast in Washington, DC
District Commons in Washington DC
Elite Cafe in San Francisco
Emmett’s Tavern in West Dundee, Illinois
Francisco Grande in Casa Grande, AZ
Garnish Caterers in Snowmass Village, CO
The Gourmet Shop in Columbia, SC
Gramercy Tavern in New York City
Habersham Inn in Savannah, GA
Hank’s Smokehouse in McGaheysville, VA
Herbsaint in New Orleans
Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood, CA
Inn at Half Mile Farm in Highlands, NC
Jimmy’s No.43 in New York City
Lincoln Cafe in Mt Vernon, IA
London Grill in Philadelphia
Luka’s Taproom in Oakland, CA
Marc’s in Las Vegas
Moonshadows in Malibu, CA
North Grill at Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club, WY
Oregon Grille in Hunt Valley, MD
Oyamel in Washington DC
Passionfish in Reston, VA
Pinnacle Club in Augusta, GA
Robert’s American Grill in St Thomas, USVI
B. Smith’s in Washington, DC
Sparrow Meats in Ann Arbor, MI
Townsend’s Gourmet in Charlotte, NC
The Virginia Hotel in Cape May, NJ
Zazu in Santa Rosa, CA
Zeke’s Smokehouse in Montrose, CA
What they’re saying about Hoppin’ John Taylor and his artisanal, heirloom corn products:
Charleston Magazine (July 2010) again names John one of their “Local Legends: Ten icons of life in the Lowcountry during the past 35 years.” The issue was their 35th Anniversary edition, which also cited Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking as one of their ten “Treasured Tomes.”
Charleston Magazine (November 2007) names John one of the city’s Top 100 Most Influential people in its 337-year history: “Before Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking was published in 1992, Charleston cuisine was unfocused. Thanks to Taylor, we took pride in our produce, seafood, biscuits, and sweet tea. And foodies of the world agreed.”
 R. W. (“Johnny”) Apple, The New York Times (March, 2006)”, called John “the lowcountry food maven,”citing his description of local meaty, juicy, salty” oysters from Hoppin’John’s Lowcountry Cooking, “garnished only by the glint of the January sun.
Gourmet (March 2006): “Artisanal food supplier and cookbook author John Martin Taylor…fueled the back-to-the-stone-ground-grits movement…. Taylor’s coarse grits and more finely ground cornmeal are used as polenta from Puglia to Puget Sound.”
“I’ve been cooking with Hoppin’ John’s grits for over ten years now, and they can’t be beat.”
-Chef Donald Link, Herbsaint and Cochon restaurants, New Orleans
“No man deserves more credit for Charleston’s culinary resurgence than John Martin Taylor, author of the exhilarating Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking.”
-Jane and Michael Stern
“The best white grits I’ve eaten.”