Georgia-born author/editor John T. Edge's influential writing about the South's rich and diverse food culture has reached a best-selling audience while fostering a new and deeper understanding of the region's history.
Born in Clinton, Georgia, Edge went to school in nearby Macon, where he graduated from Tattnall Square Academy in 1980. He attended the University of Georgia in the mid-1980s, but left without a degree. Edge later completed his undergraduate work at the University of Mississippi and earned a graduate degree there in Southern Studies (MA, 2002). In 2012 Edge earned an MFA in creative writing from Goucher College in Maryland.
Edge worked in Atlanta in sales and marketing for several years, then in 1995 he abandoned a management consulting job to move to Oxford, Mississippi. Intending to study race relations at Ole Miss, Edge became especially attracted to work being done by historians and oral history workers at The Center for Study of Southern Culture (CSSC).
"I was embarrassed deeply and profoundly to be from the South. And I loved my place and was proud as could be of some of the cultural creations of the South and the people I knew.And I showed up [to work at the Center] to try to resolve those two things," Edge told a Foodways Alliance interviewer in 2010.
Just before he moved to Mississippi, Edge and a couple friends had published what would be his first effort at food writing. A small guide to eating and drinking in Atlanta, Belly of Atlanta: A Homegrown Guide to the Good Places concentrated upon on hangouts with local flavor, and Edge drove back to Atlanta to sell the guidebook to Atlanta's Olympic visitors in the summer of 1996.
At Ole Miss, Edge began to study intersections between southern history and southern food. For his thesis, Edge wrote about a 1931 debate in the Atlanta Constitution editorial pages, a "food fight" that erupted when editor Julian Harris and Louisiana's governor Huey Long had different opinions about whether to dunk, or to crumble, cornbread in potlikker. In the midst of his graduate studies, Edge organized the first Southern Foodways Symposium at the CSSC in 1998, and soon afterward the Southern Foodways Alliance ("dedicated to the documentation and celebration of the diverse food cultures of the American South") was founded, with Edge as its director.
Since then he has written or edited more than a dozen books, including the foodways volume of the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Edge is series editor of Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place, published by the University of Georgia Press.
A contributing editor at Garden & Gun, Edge has also been a recurring columnist for the Oxford American, and for three years he wrote the monthly “United Taste” column for the New York Times. He has authored or co-authored guidebooks on New Orleans, Georgia and the "deep South," and his magazine and newspaper work has been featured in eleven editions of the Best Food Writing compilation. He has won three James Beard Foundation awards, and in 2012, the Foundation awarded Edge the M.F .K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.
Edge has served as culinary curator for the weekend edition of NPR’s All Things Considered, and he has been featured on dozens of television shows from CBS Sunday Morning to Iron Chef. Edge is also the host of the television show "TrueSouth," which airs on ESPN and the SEC Network. Since 2015, Edge has worked with the University of Georgia's MFA Program in Narrative Media Writing.
Edge lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, Blair Hobbs, a teacher, writer, and painter. They have one son, Jess.
The following books by John T. Edge are held by the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library:
Belly of Atlanta. With Nelson D. Ross and Boyd Baker. Atlanta, Ga. : Intown Publishers, 1996
A Gracious Plenty: Recipes and recollections from the American South. New York: Putnam, 1999.
Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover's Guide to the South. Athens, GA: Hill Street Press, 2000.
Georgia. Oakland, CA: Compass American Guides, 2000.
Georgia. [2nd ed.] Oakland, CA: Compass American Guides, 2001.
Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from Her Savannah Table. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2001.
Georgia. [3rd ed.] Oakland, CA: Compass American Guides, 2006.
The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Foodways (Editor). Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2007.
The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook. Edge, John T. and Roahen, Sara, editors. UGA Press, 2010.
Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lovers Companion to the American South. 2012.
The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South. Penguin Press, 2017.
The Larder : food studies methods from the American South. / edited by John T. Edge, Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, and Ted Ownby.
The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels. New York: Workman, 2012.
Donuts: An American Passion. Putnam Adult, 2006.
Hamburgers and Fries: An American Story. Thorndike Press, 2005. .
Fried Chicken: An American Story. Putnam Adult, 2004.
Apple Pie: An American Story. Putnam Adult, 2004.