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North American food award nominees announced by

Note that Charleston is up for 2 awards: Husk in the burger category and Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts in the bakery category.

This year will be announcing the winners of it’s North American “Tastiest Fast Feasts” awards in New Orleans, LA on Saturday Jan 10th, 2015.  A fast feast does not mean fast food but rather food is easily approachable and familiar but that has been prepared from high quality ingredients. For instance in the burger category you won’t find any chain restaurants but rather Chef Sean Brock’s Husk in Charleston, SC or Chef Linton Hopkin’s Holeman and Finch Public House in Atlanta, GA.  The awards are divided into several categories including: Sandwich, Pizza, Asian, Burgers, Latin, BBQ, Pasta, and Bakery.  The nominees were recently announced on’s website and were chosen by a group of high profile food bloggers from cities around the continent.  These food bloggers are referred to by Chowzter as “Chief Chowzters”. It is their job to update the top 7 dishes from their respective cities.  ( Click here to see my list of top fast feasts in Charleston ) If you have suggestions Chowzter also has a mobile app that allows you to add your favorite food items from for any city in the world and help get them noticed.  I also like to use Chowzter when traveling. It is a good way to see what dishes local foodies enjoy and provides links to that food bloggers’ social media so you can contact with any other questions you may have.  I have enjoyed being Charleston, SC’s Chief Chowzter and I look forward to attending the award ceremony to be held at Commander’s Palace.


chowzter awards

Charleston Epicurean giveaway!



Our friends at Charleston Epicurean have started a Charleston food mail order company. Each month they will hand pick a handful of amazing locally produced Charleston items and mail them straight to your house. It is a great way to stay up on the hot new items as well as reconnecting with the best Charleston already has to offer. I am giving this month’s box away. To enter to win it you must follow us on Twitter or Instagram. On Twitter you can retweet our post about the giveaway. On Instagram you need to follow us and then tag 4 of your friends in the comment section of the giveaway post. You may enter once on Twitter and up to 10 times on Instagram as long as you tag different friends each time. Enjoy fellow foodies. >


The 7 biggest differences in old Charleston, SC vs new Charleston, SC

OLD VS NEWThese are the 7 biggest differences in old Charleston, SC vs new Charleston, SC.

#1) Your thoughts on Upper King Street:

Old Charleston: How can I get out of here faster?



New Charleston: I can’t find parking spaces near my favorite new restaurants.


#2) Biggest decision of your weekend:

Old Charleston: How much beer should I take to Folly Beach?

beer on beach


New Charleston:  How am I going to hide all my beer on Folly Beach?


Read more

The Original Ms. Rose’s now open in West Ashley

   There is a new hot spot in West Ashley and this time it is not in Avendale.  It is The Original Ms Rose’s Fine Food & Cocktails located at 1090 Sam Rittenberg Blvd in the Northbridge area.  The previous restaurant, Sunfire Grill, has been completely bulldozed. 
   Ms Rose’s has a hip yet timeless vibe.  Some parts seem modern and some parts seem to scream a 1950’s diner.  The dining area is opened up and has a nice long bar that wraps around most of one of the walls. Two 4 foot high project screens scroll a rotation of beautiful images. I have not seen this done before in a restaurant but I can see how this would make the wall “art” easy to change for the seasons or for special events when a specific mood needs to be created.
   I sat at the bar and order 3 snacks and a chicken soup for this cold December lunch.  I get the cornmeal hot pretzel with house made mustard butter, Jamaican meat pies, and the jalapeno-cheddar cracklins from the snack menu. They are $3 each and are allvery high quality items. All of them were impressive and beat expectations.  The cracklins were actually still making loud cracking noises as they sat in the dish waiting to be eaten.  That is a good sign that they are fresh!  Even the food knowledge of my server (the bartender) was very high.  The staff seems genuinely excited about the food and happy to serve.


The chicken soup is full of chunky and firm fresh veggies like small onions, carrots and celery.  The broth was good too. It seemed more full flavored than normal chicken soup broth…maybe some extra chicken fat cooked in by the use of a good amount of dark meat?  It was the perfect ending to a cold day’s lunch.

I will be leaving Ms Rose’s without having tried about a dozen menu items that caught my eye…..mushroom turnovers, boiled peanuts, dirty rice fritters, beef fat-fried fries…and we haven’t even talked about their sandwiches and entrees yet! 
   The kitchen seems ready and eager to create, improve, then recreate. They brought over chefs Jordan Moore and John  Holmes via Tristan downtown. This is a restaurant that promises to be a regular stop for me!  It gets my highest recommendation and wins my best new restaurant in West Ashley 2012 Award.

Joe Kwon of folk rock band The Avett Brothers talks about Charleston and his own food blog

Image by Todd Roeth



Wednesday February 8, 2012

by Scott Wink of


Charleston, SC  –
The Avett Brothers are coming to the North Charleston Coliseum on Sunday February 12th, 2012.  We got to talk with Joe Kwon, the cello player in the band, that also happens to be a
pretty great food blogger.


Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) :
What are some of the most commonly found snack foods found on an Avett Brothers tour?


Joe Kwon:  Well we were told by an RN once that we lose
too much water. So we do seem to have lots of water, sports drinks of choice,
kettle chips, granola bars, cereal, milk, OJ, and mixed nuts. Pretty boring,
huh? We like to keep it simple.


CFB:  How is each of the members of The Avett
Brothers different when it comes to food preferences?


Joe Kwon:  I probably shouldn’t go down that road. I
have the “pleasure” of ordering food for everyone and let’s just say,
sometimes that’s not the easiest thing to do. With the ever growing group we
have it’s difficult to find ONE cuisine that everyone will like. I will say
that our go to places are Thai, pizza, burritos, or burgers. Can’t go wrong
with those categories.


CFB:  What are you favorite songs to perform live?


Joe Kwon:  Oh, I love Laundry Room, Indolence, Once and Future Carpenter, I & Love & You, Go to Sleep, I guess those would be
my favorites but I love to play all the songs really. I get such a thrill being
on stage!


CFB:  Which musicians/songs are you currently
really wowed by?


Joe Kwon:  Interestingly enough I’ve been going back to
my classical roots as of late. I’ve been getting really into listening to old
symphonies with new ears. It seems as though for me classical music is
constantly evolving in my understanding of the pieces and I get something new
out of the pieces when I come back to them years later. I guess one song in
particular I’m wowed by right now is Song of The Birds by Casals. It’s a simple
and yet such a beautiful piece.


CFB:  Do you have any restaurants that you
absolutely must go to if you are in a certain city?


Joe Kwon:  I’m definitely starting to amass a list of
such places. It may not always work out the way I want it to so I never make it
a MUST GO type of scenario, but I will definitely try to sway the group to go
to one place or another.


Image by D.L. Anderson

CFB:  What do you think about Top Chef?


Joe Kwon:  I think it’s one of the only credible reality
shows on TV. I haven’t watched many episodes of the show but what I’ve watched
I’ve liked. We’re on the road too often to really keep current with any shows.


CFB:  What would make a perfect day of eating at
restaurants around where you live in North Carolina (breakfast, lunch, dinner,
dessert, and drinks)?


Joe Kwon:  Funny you ask this. I have this idea of what
it would be like to just take a day of eating in and around my area. All of
these restaurants are within 30 minutes driving distance of my home and I love
them all. I would start my morning off at Guglhupf Bakery for a nice light
breakfast of a quiche or bread and cheese, followed by a stop off at 3 cups to
get some coffee from Counter Culture coffee which happens to be roasted just
minutes from my house. I’d then stop off at one of three restaurants depending
on my mood, Thai China, China Express, or Sandwhich. Each of those three
restaurants has a favorite comfort dish I love to order and I can’t just choose
one. If money and time weren’t an issue here I’d drive out to Pittsboro, NC and
visit Fearrington House for a 5 course meal. At this stage of the eating game,
I’d be stuffed so I’d probably need to walk around a bit to digest. I’d drive
to Chapel Hill and park on the east side of Franklin Street and walk to Lantern
for some dessert and a cocktail. I’d then head back to Durham for a night of
beers at Fullsteam Brewery and hopefully have a DD to drive me home because I
love me some beer!!


CFB:  Have you ever eaten at any of the great
restaurants in Charleston?

Joe Kwon:  I have eaten at one but I don’t recall the
name. I remember they were known for their shrimp and grits. Maybe you know of
the place?

CFB:  I love your blog   do
you have any other talents or hobbies?


Joe Kwon:  I’ve recently been turned on to wood working.
I’m just starting now but I’d love to get really into it. There is definitely
something special about creating things with your hands. I also love to take
photos, but recently I’ve been preoccupied with the wood working HA!

CFB:  Would you share a family recipe with us?


Joe Kwon:  Sure, if you ask nice. 


(Joe Kwon then shared and posted his mother’s kimchi fried rice recipe with pictures on his blog)

Recipes: Mama Kwon’s Kimchi Fried Rice (김치 볶음밥)

DateWednesday, January 25, 2012 at 8:20AM

Mom was over at the house yesterday and I couldn’t resist having her make me some kimchi fried rice before she left. She explained to me that kimchi fried rice is a dish that everyone loves in Korea. It is a dish probably originated, yet again, in the poorer communities of a way of using up every bit of resource. Kimchi is a fermented cabbage that has iconic state in Korea. There are hundreds of different permutations of the side dish, and every family has their own recipe.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the space or time (or permission) to post mama Kwon’s kimchi recipe, but I can post this simple recipe for when your stash of kimchi goes past it’s prime.

Behchu kimchi (napa cabbage kimchi) is what we’re working with here. Kimchi has several stages in it’s life cycle. Once it’s past it’s prime is when there are a couple things you do with it. Make kimchi chigeh (kimchi stew) or make kimchi bokumbap (kimchi fried rice). The dish centers around this over fermented kimchi, and some sort of protein.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 lb over fermented kimchi
1/2 lb chicken, beef, pork, or tofu (any protein will work)
4 cups day old steamed jasmine or Korean medium grain rice
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 egg per person
Start by cutting up the protein into small half inch cubes removing all the fat and connective tissue. Next chop up the kimchi to small chunks as well, and set both aside. Bring a large frying pan to medium high heat, and add the oil and protein. Cook through. Add the kimchi, and stir fry all of it together for about 2 minutes. Add the cold rice, and incorporate into the kimchi/protein mixture. Stir fry for several minutes until the rice is heated through. Remove the pan from the heat, drizzle the sesame oil over the rice, stir, and eat right away, or heat up another frying pan to fry up your egg. The egg isn’t essential to the dish, but is totally worth it.

Bon Appétit!
많이 드세요
-Joe Kwon

Some of you may be asking where to get said ingredients. Well if you find your local korean market you can find both toasted sesame oil as well as kimchi. Make sure you’re buying the right kind of kimchi though. There are more than you can imagine.

Lunch at High Thyme with radio personalities The Critic and Stupid Mike

Scott, Stupid Mike, and The Critic (l-r)

Click the arrow above to listen to the audio
The dishes are introduced by Executive Chef Taylor Still.

Executive Chef Taylor Still

Friday December 30th, 2011
by Scott Wink of

Charleston, SC  –  As 2011 comes to a close I am having lunch on Sullivan’s Island, SC at High Thyme with a few of my favorite Charleston radio personalities.  The Critic (James Voigt) and Stupid Mike (Mike Fili) from “105.5 The Bridge” are joining me to talk about food, New Year’s Eve, and some of their favorite things from 2011.

High Thyme is a nice restaurant right in the middle of that great strip of bars and restaurants on Sullivan’s Island.  They have been open for about 8 years and are located at 2213-C Middle Street next to Dunleavy’s Pub and the new Taco Mamacita’s.  High Thyme has recently started opening for lunch on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11:30AM-2:30PM.

On this particular day the sun is starting to heat up the frosty morning chill.  We woke up to frozen windshields and then quickly had to peel off those warm outer layers and start questioning if we should be sitting on High Thyme’s now warm and inviting deck.

We start off with two plates.  One is the arugula salad with pecans, goat cheese, dried cherries, and a basil vinaigrette and the other is a sesame seared yellow-fin tuna served over a soba noodle salad with red chili ginger honey.  The arugula salad is beautiful and hit all the notes I like in a salad. I don’t like raisins but have been on a big dried cherry kick lately so this was perfect for me.  The tuna was also very light and delicate but packed a nice punch of complimentary flavors and just a hint of spice.

The second course was the grilled lamb salad with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, pita triangles, and yogurt dressing.  The lamb part of this dish is the tricky part but I felt it was seasoned really well and had nice texture. The yogurt dressing was there but didn’t smoother out all of the ingredients so I was very pleased.

Next we tried the hot dogs and BBQ.  The hot dogs come in a pair and are topped with chili, cheese, slaw, and onions. It came with a side of cold macaroni salad. We had the Eastern NC style BBQ pork sandwich, with spicy red  slaw, and jalapeno hush puppies (not pictured).  Stupid Mike really liked the hush puppies and The Critic is a self proclaimed hot dog savant so these plates were definitely winners.

James Voigt, aka The Critic, is a self proclaimed hot dog savant

To finish off lunch we had a piece of their key lime pie with whipped cream.  I grew up in Florida so I have had hundreds of key lime pies in my day.  I have to say this was a really good version.  Is was a perfect balance of sweet and tart with the cracker crust that was firm and not too crumbly.

I will be headed back to High Thyme for lunch again soon. I already know what I want to try next time: the shrimp salad croissant and the braised beef sandwich.

Finding a new favorite place to eat or a new favorite dish can be something special.  Just like how when The Critic finds a new band or song that he likes he is happy to share his findings to the world. That same urge happens inside of me when I find or rediscover a great place to eat.  There are a lot of restaurant choices on Sullivan’s Island. Don’t let all the choices distract you from checking out or rediscovering High Thyme…….and definitely put them at the top of your list of lunch options!

Stupid Mike reading the menu???

Thanksgiving dinner tips: 3 ways to cheat and 3 celebrity chefs’ upgrade tips

Sunday November 20th, 2011
by Scott Wink of

Charleston, SC   –  On Thanksgiving most of us have a pretty long list of “must have” foods.  Everyone in your family seems to have their own favorite dish.  For those of you with unlimited time and resources you can stop reading now. You don’t need the following information. For the other 95% of you with limited time and resources what follows is some much needed ways to cut down on your kitchen work load this Thanksgiving and add a few surprises to your menu.  I am giving you 3 items that you can purchase instead if making from scratch that I am confident are equal or better than what you could make and 3 recipes from some celebrity chefs that will keep your family and friends believing that you are the best cook on the planet.

These will save you lots of time and are of top notch quality

Mashed Potatoes:
Simply Potatoes is the first and only packaged mashed potato products that I can get behind.  I agree that instant mashed potatoes are horrible.  These are not instant mashed potatoes.  The main ingredients are real potatoes, half and half, whole milk, butter, and salt. 

Directions for use:
Buy, open, microwave, serve. 

Your family might not even realize you didn’t peel them.

Pecan Pie:
Pies can be very difficult to make.  The crust, the filling, the consistency…..those are all major problems that could leave you without a pie on Thanksgiving Day.  If one step goes wrong your in trouble.  Luckily this year the pecan experts at Young Plantations in Florence, South Carolina are selling their amazing pecan pies in a Piggly Wiggly near you.  The pies are only $9.95 and you can really taste the pecans.  I have tasted them already and the nuts are fresh, the filling is firm and not too sweet, and the crust is perfect.  These pies typically retail for much more than $9.95 when you order them online or at store in the mall.  

Cranberry sauce, gravy, or any troubled dish:

This tip can vary based on which city you live in.  Basically if you have a dish or area in which you have had trouble in the past……outsource it.  For example Ted’s Butcherblock has been doing this great Thanksgiving Day take out menu for several years.  Our favorite items on the list are the cranberry sauce, gravy, or soups.  If you don’t live near Charleston call around to some of your favorite local restaurants and see if they are doing a Thanksgiving Day menu and I bet they would be happy to package a few items for you to take home on Wednesday night.


Fried shallots on your green bean casserole: Top Chef: Masters contestant John Currence from Mississippi was featured in Bon Appetite Magazine this month talking about his favorite Thanksgiving Day recipes.  A trick he told me about a few months ago was using fried shallots on your green bean casserole instead of French’s Fried Onions.  Slice the shallots thin, batter, fry and top on your casserole.  Think “blooming onion” goodness!

Tom Cholicchio’s Herb-Butter Turkey:  If you have had troubles with dried turkeys or just have ran out of ideas try Tom Cholicchio’s recipe.  He gives you good tips on making the gravy from the turkey neck and wings and also how to rub butter under the skin of the breast to keep it moist and end up crisp. 

Paula Deen’s Garlic Cheese Biscuits:  Heavy on the cheese and heavy on the butter this recipe is sure to please everyone except  your doctor.

10 course meal at FIG wows local rockers Dangermuffin (a vegan, a vegitarian, and a pescetarian)

The location: F.I.G. Restaurant on Meeting St in Charleston

The chef: F.I.G.’s Chef de Cuisine Jason Stanhope

The band: Folly Beach’s own Dangermuffin
You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter for info on their music and upcoming shows

by Scott Wink of

Charleston, SC –   When I discovered the eating preferences of the guys from the Charleston band Dangermuffin I was intrigued.  The musical trio features lead singer Dan Lotti (a vegan), on drums Steven Sandifer (a vegetarian), and lead guitarist Mike Sivilli (a pescetarian… which means he will also eat fish).  The guys are hosting “Turkey Jam” Saturday November 19th, 2011 at the Pour House. Proceeds will benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank.  There will be about 15 performances both on the main stage and deck stage.

As I am setting up a dinner interview with the guys I pretty quickly realized that not too many Charleston restaurants cater to guests who have made these types of dietary choices.  F.I.G. Restaurant however was up to the challenge.  Talking to them in advance they said this was absolutely not a problem for them.  We would be in the hands of F.I.G.’s Chef de Cuisine Jason Stanhope. Stanhope formerly was Chef de Cuisine in Kansas City working with two James Beard Award winning chefs Debbie Gold and Michael Smith at 40 Sardines.

Chef Jason Stanhope came out and introduced himself to the guys and told them that he is always happy to cook for guests who enjoy fresh produce.  He said that a majority of the current mid-summer veggies this day came from Thornhill Farm (Our Local Foods Kitchen Table Cuisine) in McClellanville, SC or Blackbird Farms in Hendersonville, NC.   Blackbird Farms and Thackerary Farms on Wadmalaw Island, SC are considered sister farms due to the longtime friendship of the farmers.

Our server Tim brought us some vegan bread which was from Normandy Farms Bakery here in Charleston.  On the side was some olive oil, butter, and salts. 

As we sit around and talk Mike says he was the first of the group to experiment with vegetarianism.  He grew up in an Italian family and his mother was a great cook. She cooked lots of great vegetables and sides but there were always also lots of meats included.   He says just like any other kid he just accepted that if he ordered pizza it had pepperoni or if he ordered a sandwich it had turkey.   It wasn’t until he got older that he realized that the foods you choose to eat are truly your own personal choices and that meat isn’t a requirement.  One day he just decided to experiment with being vegetarian and never looked back.  Mike admits that sometimes but not often he will have some seafood so he currently considers himself pescetarian.

Dan explained that his transition to veganism started in 2006.  Mike and Dan became roommates and Dan would see some of the great things Mike would have to eat.  Until then he had never even thought twice about his daily intake of meat.  Then in 2007 he decided to make the move and started eating vegan.  He said within the first month he lost about 10 pounds and noticed his energy level was raised. 

First Course: Roasted peaches with thyme, cress, olive oil, aged sherry vinegar, and a pinch of salt.

What an amazing plate.  It was both beautiful and delicious. This level of quality was to continue throughout our meal.  The acid from the garnish and vinegar perfectly balanced the sweetness that came from the peaches.  The slight roasting helped to caramelize just enough of the natural sugars to really bring out the sweetness of the peaches. A slash of salt on top…..brilliant start.

As we ooohhhed and aaaahhhed over the peaches we discussed how South Carolina really produces more peaches than Georgia despite Georgia maintaining their reputation as “The Peach State”.  Steven chipped in with a smile “gotta let Georgia have something I guess.”  The New York Times this summer said that South Carolina ships 90,000 tons of peaches a year compared to Georgia’s 40,000 tons a year.

Mike led a pretty interesting discussion on how fast food companies focus on 99 cent meat products  like hamburgers but nobody is doing the same with veggies. Companies are making food products using the cheapest ingredients they can get with the goal of making money rather than focusing on what is healthy and tastes good, Steven added.  Dan noted that he was encouraged recently when big mass merchants like Wal-Mart announced that they are stocking more organic products because of demand from consumers.

One of Dangermuffin’s most memorable recent meals they tell me came in Milwaukee, WI at The Riverwest Co-Op.  They picked up some great black bean burritos while they were in town to play.  They played at the outdoor Bastille Days event with Los Hombres Calientes from New Orleans.  “It was cool to share the stage with those guys”, recalled Dan.  “It felt like the whole town was out. There was like 10,000 people just walking the city, eating, checking out all of the different stages, and listening to lots of different types of music.”

Second course (seen below): Cherokee purple tomatoes, small sun gold tomatoes, radishes, Saba , basil, olive oil, and salt.

Dan tells me, “A lot of people think it is hard to eat vegetarian and more so vegan while on the road but it is not that hard.  There are more resources now. Just like how we are able to use (GPS) navigation the iPhone has certain apps.  One of them is called Happy Cow that helps us find co-ops or restaurants that are vegan friendly.  A lot of the best places seem to be ethnic like Mexican, Indian, Chinese, or Thai.”

Steve says the only time they ever have problems eating good is if they are in a big hurry.  “We can find these great places for fresh great food but sometimes we are on a tight schedule trying to get to the next gig.  If we are traveling on the interstate and just get to stop for a minute then Subway tends to be our only choice or Moe’s.”  

“Try being vegan and getting something in a gas station….impossible. Everything has milk or honey products or is nothing but sugar”, added Dan.

Third and fourth courses (seen below):

Roasted peppers Shimla and Nardello peppers roasted, radicchio, pickled garlic, parsley, and olive oil.

Lipstick peppers and eggplant which were poached in acidulated water and marinated overnight. They added some pickled garlic, raw crooked neck squash, Marcona almonds, parsley, aged balsamic and rustic torn croutons.

Mike Sivilli and Steven Sandifer

Fifth course (seen below):  Shaved raw sprite melon, cucumber, tossed with lemon confit, lemon juice, lemon agrumato (citrus infused into olive oil), and garnish

Sixth course:  Tomato tarte tatin : 

Dan Lotti

Seventh course (see below):   vegetarian version (not vegan) of Ricotta Gnocchi with squash blossoms

Eigth course (see below):…..why don’t you guys guess. I can’t tell you everything

Ninth course: Blueberries, creme fraiche,and lime zest

Tenth course: perfectly ripe figs and peaches lightly dressed and balanced

Wow what an amazing meal of 10 vegetarian/vegan dishes they we got to share family style.  I have a lot of respect for what Chef Jason Stanhope is doing at F.I.G. as Chef de Cuisine under Executive Chef Mike Lata.  I can’t wait to come back to F.I.G. and I bet next time I will not think of meat as a requirement.


Some of my random favorite quotes from the night:

Honey is off limits for vegans. I don’t really see it but “rules is rules”.  -Dan

Pork belly…I call it Pig stomach.  -Steven

Bend Oregon. They take their beer pretty seriously there.  -Dan

I love me some roasted beets.  -Dan

Jason is a super talented guy.  -our server Tim

Tour van, no trailer. It feels like a Tetris game each night when we pack up. -Steven

Something I would like to get into is jarring and canning things. -Steven

We should invite Danger Mouse to one of our shows and see what he brings.  -Mike

We play a lot of disc golf. Steve is not as obsessive about it as Mike and I are. It’s the best thing when you are traveling 8-10 hours a day.  You get to get out of the van and run around in the woods.  -Dan

Artistic bonus feature!

Each of the guys was asked to express themselves with a marker and a napkin. 
Their ability to be creative and spontaneous was put to the challenge and they all passed with flying colors.  Here is what they turned in for their quick art projects. 

Dan Lotti came up with a geographic representation of where they have recently toured.  Above the map appears to be an almost Dangermuffin version of the US flag.

Steve Sandifer nicely sketched a homage to the dinning area of F.I.G. The spacing of the lighting, art on the walls, and tables was very spot on.

Mike Sivilli drew his inspiration from pepper stems of the third and fourth courses.


Marcus Samuelsson came to Charleston (of Next Iron Chef and Top Chef Masters )

CharlestonFoodBloggers Scott and Crystal Wink with Chef Marcus Samuelsson (center)

Wednesday Oct 25th, 2011

by Scott Wink of

Charleston, SC  –  On October 20th the winner of Top Chef Masters Season 2 and current Next Iron Chef contestant ( #NextIronChef ) Marcus Samuelsson came to Charleston to give a cooking demo in West Ashley at Signature Appliance Center showroom.  Samuelsson has won multiple James Beard Awards and is owner of hot NYC restaurant Red Rooster.  The event was sponsored by the company Bluestar which makes restaurant quality gas ranges for use in the home.  Several features of the stove that Marcus highlighted made my wife’s mouth water at the thought of owning one… mouth was watering while smelling Marcus cook.   Getting high enough heat for a wok was one of the most impressive features.  Also impressive was the amount of customization you had when it comes to choosing your range.  There are thousands of combinations and almost 200 colors you could choose from to create your own unique range.

During the demo Marcus cooked dishes from his cookbook: New American Table.  Dished included meatballs, tacos, soup, salmon, spiced cake.  Marcus was able to seamlessly prepare his dishes while interacting with the crowd.  He seemed to enjoy sharing his thoughts on the constant evolution on what is considered American cuisine.  Marcus had a chance to try some Charleston food earlier in the day.  He mentioned having lunch at Alluette’s Cafe downtown on Reid St. 

The portions were humorously tiny but delicious.  You could fit 2 complete tacos on the end of a fork (see below).  The soup was probably our favorite dish. I was surprised at how well almonds and mushrooms blended together. We are going to have to get his cookbook and try some of his recipes out at home.  Here was the full menu:


Prosciutto Flatbread

Corn Pancakes with Chili-Covered Gravlax


Salsify Soup with marinated Mushrooms

Chorizo-Style Meatballs with Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa

Chicken Sate with Baby Spinach and Garlic Feta Dip

Fish Taco


Malva Pudding

2011 Charleston Food Blogger Restaurant Awards

Best food: American

Downtown: McCrady’s

West of the Ashley:  The Glass Onion

East of the Cooper:  Eurasia

The North area:  Cork Bistro

Best food: International

Downtown: Basil

West of the Ashley:  Taste of India

East of the Cooper:  Ali Baba

The North area:  Zocalo ( now out of business )

Best food: Non-restaurant

Downtown: Paolo’s Gelato

West of the Ashley:  Hello my name is BBQ

East of the Cooper:  Whole Foods

The North area:  Pho #1

Best food: New restaurant

Downtown: Husk

West of the Ashley:  Roadside Kitchen

East of the Cooper:  Eurasia

The North area:  Zocalo (now out of business )

Best food: Local chain

Mustard Seed

Best food: Cheap eats

Downtown: Taco Boy

West of the Ashley:  Three Little Birds Café

East of the Cooper:  Jack’s Cosmic Dogs

The North area:  EVO Pizza

Best food: Hole in the Wall

Downtown: Moe’s Crosstown

West of the Ashley:  Bowen’s Island

East of the Cooper:  La Pizzeria

The North area:  Havana Café

Best Atmosphere

Downtown: Cypress

West of the Ashley:  Fat Hen

East of the Cooper:  Poe’s Tavern

The North area:  Cork Bistro

Best Bar

Downtown: Closed For Business

West of the Ashley:  Smoky Oak Taproom

East of the Cooper:  Red’s Ice House

The North area:  Madra Rua

Best local farm


Remember to L
IKE Charleston Food Bloggers on Facebook
for updates!

Each blogger also announced a few creative awards of their own:

Best Dessert: Red Head Recipes – Bread Pudding at Poogan’s Porch

Most worn out concept: Foodmancing the Girl – Sports bars

Best burger:
Foodie Fix – The chorizo burger at Fuel is amazing and spicy. The burger taken to a new level of flavor.  Fuel also has the best come as you are atmosphere.  Like a vacation without leaving town kind of place.

Best things to happen in the Charleston food scene over the past 5 years:
  Charleston Food Bloggers –  In my mind two things stick out:  1) The rise of Sean Brock, Mike Lata and Craig Deihl 2) The Food Truck Federation.

Best way to order frozen yogurt:
Healthy Meets Hungry – Go to Menchies in Mount Pleasant and serve cake batter yogurt and peanut butter yogurt in a one-to-one ratio. Then add an equal portion of Heath Bar toppings.

Best brunch spots: 
Red Head Recipes –

Downtown:  Hominy Grill

West of the Ashley:  Three Little Birds Café

East of the Cooper: Crave

The North area: Alex’s Restaurant

Best place to get “pre” engaged:
Foodmancing the Girl –  Il Cortile Del Re

Best wine bar and small plates:
  Foodie Fix – Bin 152 is a great intimate spot for a glass of wine and a little charcuterie.  A fun place to experiment with new wines and interesting pairings.

Winners were chosen from 4 geographic locations in Charleston. 

        -West of the Ashley included West Ashley, James Island, Johns Island,

        and Folly Beach.

        -East of the Cooper included Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island, Sullivan’s Island,

        and Isle of Palms. 

        -The North area included North Charleston, Summerville, Ladson,
        Goose Creek,
  and Moncks Corner.

        -Downtown included….well…. downtown.

      Why were these awards developed?  We felt that these awards coming from active food bloggers would be seen as a fairly non-biased, honest judge of what restaurants in the area are doing this year. 

    Charleston’s first food blogger restaurant award winners were announced on Saturday September 24th at Cork Bistro in Park Circle.  The food bloggers who participated in the nominations and voting were: , FoodmancingTheGirl , HungryMeetsHealthy , RedHeadRecipies , and FoodieFix . Also in attendance at Cork as invited guests were local design blogger LookLingerLove and Jeremy Current who is a  singer/songwriter out of Brooklyn, NY.  Jeremy was in town for one night performing at The Village Tavern in Mount Pleasant, SC.

(l-r: Charles of FoodmancingTheGirl, Chassity of LookLingerLove, Lauri of RedHeadRecipies, Scott and Crystal of CharlestonFoodBloggers , and Singer/Songwriter Jeremy Current)

  Chef Eric Brownlee of Cork prepared an excellent menu for the event. Highlights of the dinner that got the table buzzing were the Hush Puppy Battered Shrimp, Tomato & Fried Mozzarella Caprese,  Chipotle Strawberry Glazed Salmon, and Spicy Shrimp and Grits.  Owner Tradd Gibbs and Chef Brownlee spoke to the group after we announced that Cork was this year’s winner in two categories. They won the top prize in the categories Best Restaurant: American and Best Atmosphere for restaurants located in “the North area”.  The area included all restaurants in North Charleston, Summerville, Ladson, Goose Creek, and Moncks Corner. 

Wedge salad

Hush puppy battered shrimp

  Tomato & Fried Mozzarella Caprese