Brandon Frohne is obsessed with biscuits. The highly-touted chef—he was named the — likes talking about them, he loves eating them, and happily for us, he never tires of making them.
Frohne first got biscuits on the brain when he was a 13-year-old living in the Smoky Mountains. "I skipped school one day and I was looking for something to eat," he recalls. He stumbled upon a bag of flour and followed the recipe on the back. Unfortunately, he forgot to add a leavening agent. "They were so hard I could have broken a window with them. The last 17 years I've been trying to master biscuits," he says. "I'm still trying."
But I think it's fair to say Frohne has achieved master biscuit-maker status. Still, biscuit aficionados everywhere applaud his endless enthusiasm for experimentation. That's because, as the director of culinary at Holler & Dash, a fast casual biscuit house chain launched by Cracker Barrel last March, he is churning out some incredible—and innovative—biscuit dishes.
Take note: there are no kitsch-filled walls at Holler & Dash. Instead, the chain caters to the millennial crowd with its sleek, modern industrial spaces—and a commitment to using locally-grown and sourced ingredients. No wonder the biscuit house's first outlet in Homewood, Alabama, was rapidly followed by three more shops. "Everything we do at Holler & Dash is built on an heirloom recipe, with a modern interpretation," says Frohne.
The most popular of the 11 signature biscuits at is the Kickback Chicken. It features antibiotic-free fried chicken, green onion, goat cheese, and sweet pepper jelly.
Personally, I'm intrigued by the Garden Goat: fried goat cheese, tomato jam, and lemon Dijon vinaigrette, all topped with a mound of fresh kale.
I'm not even much of a pork person, but the blackberry butter (who knew?) and fried onions are definitely making me want to dig in to the Pork Rambler.
Then there's the Jam. I've never met a Nutella creation that I don't like. This one is served with all-natural raspberry jam, too.
Another dessert option is the Strawberry & Dash; a modern twist on strawberry short cake. This one replaces traditional whipped cream with whipped creole cream cheese.
If your mouth is watering over that last one, take note that you can try it for yourself at the Ikaroo Fair in Nashville on April 21-23, held at the Wilson County Expo & Ag Center in Lebanon, TN. All three days, Frohne will be serving up samples of this sweet treat (with locally plucked berries) after he gives a presentation on the history of Southern biscuits, which promises to be both informative and entertaining. "One of the things I'm working on is a [historical] reenactment of different types of biscuits; I hope I can pull it off," laughs Frohne.
Of course, Frohne will tell anyone who will listen just how much biscuits mean to him: "To me, a biscuit is more than just a biscuit; it's a symbol of love. It's a symbol of the culture of the South." What Frohne won't tell you, is how the Holler & Dash biscuits are made: "That's our highly prized, top-secret recipe," says Frohne. "We keep it stored away in a safe on the side of the mountain."
Many biscuit masters insist that a good biscuit is fluffy or flaky—but not both. Frohne pooh poohs that. "Our biscuits are both; you get the best of both worlds," he says. "Our biscuit is a little bit sturdier than your average, classic Southern biscuit. It's a fork and knife biscuit. We hand-make them every day."
Well, even this Yankee gal is now inspired to push that yellow box of batter to the back of the cupboard and give some homemade biscuits a whirl. Here are Frohne's top tips for taking your biscuit-making game to the next level:
- Pick quality flour. "This is the most important thing; flour is the lifeline of your biscuit," says Frohne. "Pick a flour that is composed of soft red winter wheat. It has a lower protein percentage and that keeps gluten down. Gluten is bad stuff—it makes hard biscuits."
- Chill your ingredients. Both flour and butter do better when they are cold; some people even suggest using frozen butter and grating it directly into the flour.
- Don't overwork your dough. You should try to touch your dough as little as possible and don't overwork it.
- Cut carefully. Be careful that you don't twist the cutter after you cut the dough. "Cut straight down," says Frohne. "Otherwise your biscuits are going to be all lopsided and sad."
- Get romantic. "I use a technique called kissing. Kissing makes people happy; kissing makes biscuits happy, too. So when you are cutting out your dough, you want to make sure that your biscuits are touching and that they're all snuggled together," says Frohne. "That helps your biscuits rise and helps them stay even."
Catch Chef Brandon Frohne's presentation, great shopping, food and craft demonstrations, delicious eats, and lots more, at the Ikaroo Fair in Nashville, April 21-23, 2017. Visit to purchase tickets in advance.