White Lily My Way: Chef Christian Gill of Boomtown Biscuits and Whiskey
“Four score and seventy five years ago—-just kidding, it wasn’t that long ago—I grew up in Lexington KY. It was the real South, and it was just me and my mom. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, in their farm kitchen, and got involved in cooking with my grandma. We made a lot of biscuits and other southern classics—and I was always watching to see how she did things, I always wanted to be a part of things. We always had family around, aunts and uncles and cousins, and there were always biscuits, cobbler, and pies ready to eat. Grandma always used White Lily and always baked from scratch. And I still do: when I was competing on the Food Network I was always looking for White Lily in the pantry. I tell everyone: I gotta have my soft winter wheat!
My partner and I opened Boomtown Biscuit and Whiskey here in Cincinnati in 2017. The menu is all elevated comfort food and what we call “frontier food”—but instead of gold, biscuits are our currency.
Our standard biscuits are made in the classic, flaky, laminated style—but when we had to shut down during the pandemic, making them that way just became too labor intensive so we re-developed the base into an amazing new drop biscuit. That’s what’s so great about biscuits—you can do so much with a single recipe and different execution. For instance, you can’t make a good cobbler without making a good biscuit. So you have to have White Lily! I usually do a drop biscuit style for cobbler—it’s so approachable and adaptable.
This has been a really hard year for everyone in this country, in so many different ways. But if anything, that has made me more serious about finding ways to build community—and I think cooking is the ultimate connector. Everyone has got to eat. Food is a way to bring people to the table that might not associate with each other and have hard conversations. Sharing a meal—or even just a biscuit—with someone is an opportunity to come together and improve, not just ourselves but the world.”