This Restaurant Is Making Fancy Versions of Your Favorite After-School

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Sometimes you need a break from the craziness of this modern age, which is why we’re celebrating nostalgic foods this week at BonAppetit.com.

When he was growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia, Mason Hereford had something the other kids didn’t. No, not a precocious knack for cooking four-course dinners like a MasterChef Junior contestant. He had a charge account at Maupin Bros., a local convenience store.

“My mom would let us get out of the car, go into the gas station, and get whatever the fuck we wanted for breakfast,” says Hereford. “I would eat Doritos and Snickers bars and I loved it. It was the coolest thing a mom could ever do.”

turkey and the wolf

Courtesy of Turkey and the Wolf

As it turns out, all that salty, MSG-ridden food proved to be an inspiration for Hereford, who grew up, grew a mustache, and eventually landed in New Orleans. There, he found that the service industry satisfied his constant urge to let loose. After making his name as chef de cuisine at the local bistro Coquette, he struck out on his own and, alongside his former girlfriend and business partner Lauren Holton, opened a sandwich shop called Turkey and the Wolf. Together, the pair serve stoner-like takes on nostalgic junk food, much of which shows up on their profane and hilarious Instagram account.

An example:

This is a restaurant that serves a 40-oz. beer and ice cream drink special (just $6!) and gives snap bracelets to kids who visit. Turkey and the Wolf’s aesthetic comes directly from the mind of Hereford’s mom, who picked up the restaurant’s array of McDonald’s collectible cups, mismatched china plates, and tables at thrift stores in Virginia.

turkey and the wold bologna sandwich

Fried Bologna sandwich

Courtesy of Turkey and the Wolf

And to think, it all began with the 30-year-old chef’s decision to make a more high-brow version of an after-school staple: the fried bologna sandwich. Instead of slapping some Oscar Mayer between two slices of Wonder Bread, Hereford and his chef de cuisine Colleen Quarls opt for smoked bologna from Piece of Meat Butcher’s Leighann Smith, housemade sweet-hot mustard, “shrettuce” (shredded iceberg lettuce), Duke’s mayo, American cheese, and potato chips that are soaked overnight in white vinegar before being deep-fried a second time. Then they squeeze the whole thing between their own white bread, which is made daily at a local bakery.

“Once we started messing with the flavors, we decided to make [our food] taste like all our favorite things you get at a gas station,” says Hereford. “Which is literally how I grew up eating.”

turkey and the wolf pot pie

Fried Pot Pie.

Courtesy of Turkey and the Wolf

And it only took off from there. In the seven months since Turkey and the Wolf opened, Hereford and his team have found increasingly ridiculous and delicious ways to honor their quirky tastes. There are tostadas (pictured at the top) with corn tortillas made by their dishwasher Migdalia Pavon, served with a French onion dip (caramelized onions, onion powder, dried minced onion, granulated onion, scallion, sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and granulated chicken-flavored soup mix), and topped with “Doritos dust” broken down in the restaurant’s fancy Robot Coupe food processor—because that’s exactly what Migdalia dunks into her French onion dip at home. (The dust is two parts Nacho Cheese to one part Cool Ranch, in case you were wondering.)

“It’s so funny because it’s so redneck American,” Hereford says, adding that anyone can make the Doritos dust “by just stepping on a bag.”

Patrons are as jazzed about the restaurant’s mom-style deep-fried pot pies, which are stuffed with slow-cooked chicken and tarragon buttermilk as they are about the Tacos Inauthenticos: headcheese, more “shrettuce,” and American cheese on Migdalia’s corn tortillas. “They taste exactly like fucking Taco Bell,” Hereford says.

Alongside the Doritos and American cheese, “we still [source from] farmers and ranchers,” says Hereford. “But we realized that our pantry’s quadrupled in size because we can also buy a weird ingredient from the grocery store and not try to hide it. We’re going to tell people where we got it and we’re going to be pumped to utilize it.”

turkey and the wolf vodka soda

Courtesy of Turkey and the Wolf

This drink is called When I Was 10 I Went to School as a Dead Cheerleader for Halloween.

Meanwhile, Holton, an award-winning bartender in her own right, is always down to play with whatever Hereford picks up at Walmart or the local gas station. In addition to crafting cocktails with names like When I Was 10 I Went to School as a Dead Cheerleader for Halloween and Ma’am, Don’t Be Hysterical, she’s been known to make spur-of-the-moment cocktails like a SunnyD margarita, which contains the namesake beverage, plus triple sec, lime juice, simple syrup, and tequila. (“Was it good? Sort of. Did it make people happy? Yes,” says Hereford.)

Basically, Hereford treats the restaurant as he does its Instagram, the latter of which he calls “a big joke that gotten taken too far.”

“That’s a part of me, unfortunately,” says Hereford. “But fortunately at the same time.”



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