"Ham powder" has to be the cheat code.
This "ham powder" has to be the reason Big Bad Breakfast on the North Shore is James Beard Award-winning Chef John Currence's sixth location in Tennessee alone.
This "ham powder" is dusted on the "redneck Benny" ("Benny" being cool people slang for "Benedict," as in "eggs Benedict") and on the Jack Benny, where the familiarity of the spongy English muffin is replaced by the crispiness of a fried hash cake.
This "ham powder" is also on the B.L.T. omelet, which should actually be a B.S.T. because the lettuce is replaced by spinach.
Big Bad Breakfast
— What: Bustling breakfast house brought to you by James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence.
— Where: 313 Manufacturers Road.
— How much: Cathead chicken biscuit: $12. Fried oyster scramble: $19.50.
— Hours: 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., daily.
No, the real reason Big Bad Breakfast has expanded its empire is because the food is delicious and bad — not "bad" meaning "bad" in a negative way, but "bad" in a bodacious, borderline-gaudy way (and gaudy in a good way).
Of course, by cultural default there's fried chicken breast stuffed between "cathead" biscuits made from scratch every morning with a boatload of buttermilk. As a nod to his New Orleans heritage, Chef Currence has a po' boy on the menu with shrimp from the Gulf and a "diner-style" Creole omelet and, of course, it involves andouille, cheddar cheese and scallions, amongst other things.
None of us can act like we've ever put huevos rancheros purposely in the same bowl as small-batch grits imported from a gristmill in Midway, Kentucky.
All of this is fine and fattening, but the dish that separates Big Bad Breakfast from the others is the fried oyster scramble directly influenced by the "Hangtown Fry," made popular by pre-Civil War gold miners in what is present-day Placerville, California. I love that Chef Currence and his restaurant have kept up the tradition of red-eye gravy. I admire the innovation of "ham powder" and the furtherance of shrimp and grits, because that dish would undoubtedly be my "last meal," but the fact that Big Bad Breakfast gives us the chance to eat fried oysters for breakfast restores my faith in humanity.