Which dish on your Willa Jean menu says the most about you?
Our BBQ Shrimp Toast.
Why is that?
We all come from fine dining here, so we’re used to tiny little plates. For the first two years of Willa Jean, I had to keep saying, ‘We can’t be afraid to feed people. Make it bigger. Make it a little nastier.’
This dish is homemade sourdough and we grill it, cover it in burrata, make it toasty by melting the cheese and then finish it with New Orleans barbecued shrimp. It’s tipping our hat to the tradition of New Orleans while also being bakery-forward, so it’s a combo, with me wanting to make it about bread. And if you can put burrata on something, why wouldn’t you?
When we make the sauce and roast all the shrimp shells—I grew up in Charleston, and it smells like my backyard. I grew up on the water and with the low tide, that was the smell.
We’ve had this on our menu for about two years now. We make it all day long. And like me, it’s both nourishing and a little bit nasty [laughs].