‘FROM SCRATCH’: Famous author, cookery host first made a name for herself in County Newton

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. – Nathalie Dupree remembers details of her experience in Newton County as if it were yesterday – even though it was half a century ago.

The nationally acclaimed cookery author and originator of the new Southern cooking movement honed her technique in the Brick Store community of eastern Newton County, where she opened and operated an early restaurant. from the 1970s.

Dupree spoke by phone from Raleigh, North Carolina, where she now lives with her husband Jack Bass. She was planning a Christmas dinner just for the two of them with quail from Manchester Farms in South Carolina.

“I haven’t decided yet how I’m going to cook it, probably with pepper jelly,” she said.

She and “former favorite husband” David Dupree operated Nathalie’s restaurant across from The Hub, a grocery store that had been a major destination for passenger buses during WWII and still served as a major stop for operations. long-distance transit in the early 1970s.

The couple bought an old warehouse and office trailer as well as 15 acres of land on the corner of US Hwy. 278 and Georgia Hwy. 11 which they turned into an antique shop and restaurant in 1971. The office trailer has been turned into a living space, she said.

Dupree also recalled living and working next to The Hub drive-in theater and across the highway. 11 of the Tri-County Cattle Co.

“We could watch the movies from our window,” she said with a laugh.

She said she met David Dupree while working in an office in New York. David worked in the corporate world in New York after growing up in Atlanta and Social Circle.

Her stepmother, Celeste Sigman Dupree, was an Atlanta banker who later became a famous curator of historic homes and restored about 15 properties in Social Circle.

Nathalie and David moved to London, England, where she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. She then worked in a restaurant in Mallorca, Spain, and the couple toured part of Europe with her parents before returning to the United States.

“We always wanted to come home,” she said.

The couple used a $ 5,000 loan based on the value of their antiques to convert the warehouse space. However, the loan could not be used to build her restaurant because “restaurants were notorious for their failures,” she said.

“So I ran the bigger paper road in Covington, Georgia to start the restaurant,” Nathalie said. “I threw out the newspapers every morning with our German Shepherd dog – I made a pretty good income.

“My brother and my husband … built the cabinets (in the restaurant) and everything.” They put railroad ties on the front of the building and made it look very charming.

“We painted it blue and at first we called it Mt. Pleasant Village,” she said.

Oby and Ann Brewer lived in the nearby historic Mt. Pleasant Plantation home, she said.

Ann Brewer later became a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and helped start the farm-to-table movement in Georgia. Oby Brewer was a real estate agent and David Dupree was able to get his real estate license thanks to him, Nathalie said.

Mt. Pleasant Village featured Nathalie’s home-cooked meals on one side and antiques and items such as fresh flowers and plants from her stepfather’s greenhouse on the other, she recalls.

“We had these beautiful geraniums that I kept there,” she said. “It was a family affair.

They then moved their home to Monticello Street in Covington, but continued to operate the Hub’s restaurant.

“We did everything from scratch,” she said. “I certainly received a lot of complaints that the beans were undercooked. “

“Zucchini was a new vegetable,” she said. “It was still the era of the yellow squash.”

Nathalie’s restaurant attracted customers from as far away as Atlanta. Kate Almon and Grace Reeves helped her in the kitchen, she said.

“We worked in the cool of the morning. There was a small air conditioner in the kitchen and a small air conditioner in the dining room.

She said her in-laws encouraged her to bring her style of cooking to rural Georgia in the early 1970s because “I didn’t think it was foreign.”

“I knew it wouldn’t be one meat and three but I didn’t have the capacity to offer a lot of choice, but it didn’t occur to me that people wouldn’t like good food. ‘they were eating good food – and we could create a nice environment.

She said she used a French cooking technique with ingredients from the southern United States in her dishes.

“It has become the new culinary movement in the South,” she said. “I realized how similar, yet different they were.”

She was referring to a style of cooking that she is credited with having started and that many restaurants use today. Her first TV cooking show was called “New Southern Cooking with Nathalie Dupree”.

In 1975, one of his regular customers appreciated his style of cooking enough that a commercial offer was made to him.

“A customer of the restaurant was an executive at Rich’s (Department Store) and introduced me to the powers that be,” she said.

The offer was for Dupree to operate a new cooking school at the Rich Department Store’s downtown Atlanta location.

She said she accepted the offer, separated from her husband and moved to Atlanta to open the school, which ended up educating more than 10,000 students before it closed around 1984.

She went on to write or co-author 13 books. Her first White Lily Flour sponsored TV show in 1986 led to nine cooking shows on PBS and cable channels TLC and The Food Network.

Dupree also has fond memories of his life on the Hightower Trail in Social Circle in the mid-1990s.

“My mother also lived at Social Circle,” she said.

Her former mother-in-law bought the Orr N Stanton-Studdard home for Nathalie and her current husband – an author and historian – on the Hightower Trail in Social Circle “a few houses from the fire station.”

There she shot three series.

“We loved it,” she recalls. “It was a big house and there was a little locker in the back and my husband was able to write a few books there.”

They then moved to Charleston, SC in the late 1990s, where she wrote a regular column for the Charleston Post and Courier newspaper.

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Javier E. Swan