SANFORD, Fla. — For this week's Chef's Kitchen feature, we've discovered a Southern mac dish inspired by a very special lady — she's Chef Nat Russell's wife's grandma.

Russell opened The Tennessee Truffle restaurant in Sanford in 2016.

“Opening this restaurant, I never cooked Southern food before,” he said.

His wife's grandma passed away recently. She was a rock star in the kitchen, and her Macaroni and Tomato dish was one of the chef's favorites.

“This item in particular, I learned from her and — I didn't make it better — but just kind of refined it for the restaurant,” Russell said.

One of those ways is he now uses locally grown tomatoes. The dish is an old-school classic, but it's now “elevated.”

Let's cook!

Macaroni and Tomato — The Tennessee Truffle


  • 1-2 scallions sliced on the bias
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • 10 cherry tomatoes or half of a beefsteak tomato
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon Berber pepper
  • 3-4 ounces of unsalted vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of cooked elbow macaroni


  1. Add the tomatoes, stock, sugar, salt to a sauté pan.
  2. Cook on high heat, using your tongs to break down the tomatoes.
  3. Once the tomatoes are broken down, add the butter and bacon fat.
  4. Stir the pan constantly until your sauce emulsifies.
  5. Add your cooked pasta.
  6. Mix the pasta until the sauce starts to stick to the pasta.
  7. Turn off your heat, and add your scallions.
  8. Once plated, sprinkle the Berber pepper on top.