Set the Table

Table’s Jacob Sessoms Creates a Simple, Summertime Recipe

For Jacob Sessoms, life, and cooking, seem easy. The owner and chef behind Table’s deliciously simple and perpetually popular menu can whip up a topnotch meal—and answer a slew of interview questions—in five minutes flat, with the perfected offhandedness of a truly confident and accomplished creator. It’s his nonchalant mastery of his art that catapulted Table to the top of the Asheville food pyramid some nine years ago.

But of course, there’s a lot more to Table—and Sessoms—than meets the eye. After meeting and falling in love with his wife Alicia while in college in western North Carolina, the two ventured north to the Big Apple, where Sessoms attended the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. After working under the tutelage and guidance of various esteemed chefs across the city, Sessoms and Alicia returned home to Asheville to embark on their own endeavor.

Today the duo mastermind not just Table, but craft cocktail and charcuterie capital The Imperial Life and mainstay café Tod’s Tasties, too. Like every great husband, Sessoms is sure to give the credit to his wife. “She is the business end. It’s her intelligence and keenness that keep our restaurants open,” he promises.

But it’s undoubtedly Sessoms’ talents in the kitchen that have made his businesses some of Asheville’s favorites, especially Table. It’s a talent that earned him a nomination as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast in 2010. He describes his culinary tastes as French Southern, melding the lightness of French cooking with that down-home heartiness we all love.

For this month’s What’s Cooking, Sessoms created a recipe that’s indicative of the culinary style he advocates at Table daily. “This recipe represents our approach to food in general. It’s made with the best ingredients from people I know, who I have been buying from for years,” Sessoms notes. The produce, like the cucumbers and berries, was picked at the height of freshness and comes from a local grower, a husband and wife whom Sessoms has been working with since before he set the first table at Table. “We try to use as few ingredients as possible at their height of seasonality—and that’s exactly what this dish represents.”

So maybe life for Sessoms is pretty simple after all—or at least his approach to dining is. Capture the final flavors of summer with his Cucumber, Blackberry & Straciatella Salad and maybe you’ll get a taste of the simple life, too.