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Category: Interviews (page 2 of 3)

Young Charlotte singer-songwriter Jeremy Current talks food ahead of his May 28th show at Mount Pleasant’s Village Tavern

Photo by Josh Goleman. Reprinted with permission


Sunday,  May 22, 2011
by Scott Wink of

Charleston, SC –  Jeremy Current has a lot of good things going for him right now.  He is youthful, talented, and has a desire to share his music with the world.  At the end of April 2011 he released his new album “Dark Land of the Sun“.  The 10 songs on this album are solid top to bottom.  The songs are soft and subtle which lets Jeremy’s voice shine.  If you had to compare Jeremy’s sound to someone’s I would say that only Ryan Adams’ acoustic stuff can get you close.  I hate to even say that though because Jeremy Current’s stuff sounds extremely more authentic, heartfelt and unpretentious.  As you get down to Jeremy’s tracks “Angel” and “Will You Be” you begin to drift away from those Adamsish sounds and treated to some Americana bluegrass stylings.  This should not be too much of a surprise.  The album was tracked after all at Skaggs Place Studios in Hendersonville, TN.  Ricky and the Skaggs family are monsters of the bluegrass and country scenes and have been for decades.  Luke Skaggs is credited with not only helping produce but has several instrument credits as well.  Heck, it looks like Jeremy was able to collaborate with most of the  Skaggs Family Records artists and the result is one hell of an album.  Jeremy is coming to Charleston on Saturday May 28th for a show at the Village Tavern in Mount Pleasant.  The Village Tavern is having “May Fest” and reports  Jeremy Current, Tidal Jive, Steven Hurst, David BellWhiskey ‘n’ Ramblin’, Emily Kopp, Heather Luttrell, Eric Dodd, Threadbare Brother, chamomile and whiskey, and A Fragile Tomorrow as artists set to appear on May 28th!!!  We recommend you get out there and see Jeremy and enjoy what is sure to be a great show!  Final line up and show times to be announced soon doors open at 1PM. 


We got to catch up with him and discuss some of his thoughts on food and his other influences.

Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) :
   Give us a few of your favorite places to eat in Charlotte.

Jeremy Current:  I recently discovered a place called Cafe Monte, tucked behind the Hilton at Phillip’s Place. They serve classic French food. My recommendations are the mussels and the steak frites.  The Crepe Cellar is another hotspot of mine. The Queen City Crepe is wonderful as is the Roasted Chicken.  For Mexican, the best spot in town is Cantina 1511. Enchiladas de Dennis come smothered in queso and are perfect for two people. 

 CFB:   What are some good places or things to eat that you have found on the road?

Jeremy Current:  The best biscuit and honey in the world are in Asheville at Tupelo Honey (great album as well).  The best mojito is at Gladstone‘s in Malibu. They also have great calamari.  Every time I go to New York I end up at a cafe called Coffee Shop in Union Square. Pretend you’re famous and they’ll seat you immediately. Great herbed fries and burger. 

 CFB:  You recently completed a fund raising effort on to help support the making of your current album “Dark Land of the Sun”.  One of the experiences you sold was to cook dinner for one of your fans.  What do you plan on cooking that fan? Is cooking something you do often or are any good at?

 Jeremy Current:  My mother taught me southern cooking and the beauty of butter and salt. She has a repertoire of about 20 dishes ranging from Chicken and Dumplings to Enchiladas. I imagine for this dinner I will consult her wisdom. I’m leaning towards the Chicken Tetrazzini. I am a decent cook but I’m far better at eating and drinking.   

 CFB:   Any good food memories you want to share? (special family dishes, traditions, foods discovered on family vacations….whatever)

 Jeremy Current:   I have a memory of being a small child and reaching up on the counter to try and grab a bowl of whatever my mom was making. I think that picture pretty much articulates how I feel most of the time. Searching in places I can only use my hands to see. Anyway, the bowl was a mixture for yeast rolls and had several cups of flour that I pulled over on top of my head and covered myself with its white powder. 

 My mom loved it and snapped several photos. I’m sure she had to start all over but my mom makes the best yeast rolls I’ve ever had so I guarantee it all ended well.

 CFB:  What is your musical background? 

 Jeremy Current:  I grew up in a conservative christian home that didn’t allow any pop or rock radio. I rebelled and snuck my Walkman late at night to brush up on new rock music from the local pop station. Back then radio was so different. Now I feel like pop radio is an extension of rap & hip-hop radio. Then I could listen to Americana and alt. country influenced rock on the hit stations. So I would listen, literally covering my head with the covers and mouth the lyrics to songs of The Wallflowers, Sheryl Crow, Hootie & the Blowfish, and other great 90’s bands. 

 I started playing guitar at 15 and have gravitated towards Gibson guitars from the beginning. Their slogan totally worked on me. “Only Gibson is good enough.” I have definitely grown my collection since that first Gibson SG and now I also play a Gretsch Nashville, an Airline Bobcat II, and for acoustics I have a ’59 Country Western and a ’64 J-50.

 CFB:   How much time have you spent in the Charleston?

 Jeremy Current:  I’ve enjoyed the four or five trips I’ve made to Charleston. I came on a high school trip and visited the battleship and aquarium like a good tourist. More recently I’ve played at Music Farm with Mark Bryan, Joe Firstman and Tyler Mechem and returned to open a show for Sons of Bill and Crowfield. The last time I was in town was to open for Jay Clifford at The Pour House. 

 CFB:   Give us a current play-list of some current musicians or songs you are into right now.

 Jeremy Current:  I take pretty significant breaks from listening to any new music while I’m recording an album, but a few of the artists that influenced the making of “Dark Land of the Sun” are Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Elliott Smith, Wilco and John Lennon. Those are some of my all time favorites. I am looking forward to listening to some of the new albums coming out soon, such as the one from Gillian Welch coming out this year.  

 CFB:   My friend Claire has seen you play a few times and said …”In my opinion, his music has a very pure folk/rock sound mixed with an edginess that’s occasionally unexpected…it might be interesting to see if his taste palate matches his musical aesthetic. [i.e. classic flavors with a twist?]”  What do you think about that statement?

Jeremy Current:   I appreciate when people try to stamp a genre on my music because it feels a little ambiguous to me. I have influences coming in from so many directions. Everyone I listed in my influences has purity in their sound and at least occasional edginess, if not often. I often listen to much harder music than I tend to write. But ultimately, I write out of a mood and a situation, and most of those situations are just more beautiful and sad than they are violent or loud. 

Photo by Josh Goleman. Reprinted with permission

Dinner and Drinks at Basil in Charleston with Fitz and the Tantrums

April 13, 2011
by Scott Wink of


Charleston, SC-  Fitz and the Tantrums’ lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick is pacing up and down Ann Street in downtown Charleston.  The tour bus is silently getting a few hours of rest. Michael is wearing a sweatshirt with the hood up.  It covers his distinctive hair style.  He appears to be listening to music with ear buds but is actually on the phone.  King Street is buzzing with activity. The town has not been silent today. Cannons have been firing all afternoon for the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.  Those first shots were fired just a few hundred yards from where we stand now.  As I join the table the band’s drummer John Wicks is seated next to the band’s new tour manager.  Glasses of Zing Zang cover the table.  The band arrived in Charleston today just after noon and the members have been free to roam the city while they await showtime.  I know that Virginia’s on King Street, messages, and coffee from Kudu where popular activities of the day.

Now it is dinner and we settle into outdoor seating at Basil.  John and I talk about the menu and thai food briefly.  They hope they have picked a good place to eat and I assure them they have. Basil is one of my favorites.  John recalls a thai place in Seattle that is one of his favorite, Tup Tim Thai.   John and I have a few similar food influences.  He has lived some in Pensacola, New Orleans and Seattle and I have lived in or visited all those places often.  The bartender at Basil, Xan, is serving me his ginger blossoms and a cocktail of his choice with blood orange. I need to circle back later to get the details of the blood orange drink because it is good.


John had answered some Q&A for us a few days before arriving in Charleston. The band is really picking up steam when it comes to publicity.  VH1 and Rolling Stone have recently done some work with them.  They have been touring pretty heavily all year and although it looked like the road might be wearing them down a bit you could tell they are still excited to be here and enjoy what they do.  A few passers-by recognized Michael, now with hood down,  and spoke briefly as they passed.  I asked if it was ever annoying to be recognized or to be asked for interviews and the consensus was that those were both good signs. Signs that people were listening to them and getting it.  The age range of their fans is massive.  I would later in the night see a group walk into the concert that appeared to be a family of 3 generations. A grandfather, a father and a son.  Michael tells a story of a man in his 60s stopping him today and saying not only was he going to the concert tonight but he would be following them to Atlanta and going to their next show this week.

Before wrapping up dinner my friend Dave Fuerte came by and joined us.  Dave is an avid dancer (salsa, swing, jazz etc.).  He talked with the guys about soul music and the lack of good dance in most of today’s music scene and how refreshing and authentic their music sounded.  I agreed.


It is pretty obvious that Kudu was their favorite find of the day. Now that dinner is over they are desperate to seek out that last quality cup of coffee before suiting up for the show.  They quickly bust out the iPhone, locate Kudu’s number, dial, and are informed that they closed 30 minutes ago.  Sadly they know that they are going to have to settle for a Starbucks. I get a quick photo with they guys before they stroll back down King Street swatting at no-see-ums and enjoying the sights and smells of the city searching for that nearest Starbucks.

The show is great. The opening act was April Smith and the Great Picture Show.  The crowd showed up and filled the Music Farm.  I was not sure how well attended it would be but I was happy to see how packed it got.  Local band Leslie was there promoting their Friday CD release party (you should all go!) as well as local DJ “The Critic” from 105.5 who introduced the main act.  I thought that was very appropriate since he has been playing Fitz and the Tantrums before anyone else maybe in the southeast.

The energy of the Fitz and the Tantrums performance was great.  The dynamic between singers Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs was electric.  They complimented each other well vocally. The dancing, hand clapping, and tambourine shaking was non-stop.  No guitars.  John’s drums lead the band through song after song that kept the crowd moving.  The unexpected treat of the night was a rendition of Sweet Dreams by the Eurythrmics.  The encore finished with the song the whole crowd came to hear…..MoneyGrabber.  It delivered despite being so anticipated by the crowd.

The band hung around after the show and signed for the crowd. They didn’t just meet and greet for 5 minutes. They hung around until everyone that wanted a CD or something signed was taken care of.  It sounded like a few post show drinks were to be had before retiring to the bus for some sleep. Sleep that would rudely awaken them in yet another new city the next day.  I wish these guys nothing but the best. They are a quality class act and put on a hell of a show.



(l-r) Drummer John Wicks, Scott Wink (me), lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick


Music to feed the soul with Fitz and the Tantrums’ John Wicks

Fitz and the Tantrums will be performing Tuesday night at the Music Farm in Charleston, SC.  They are currently touring in support of their album Pickin’ Up the Pieces.  Their biggest hit “MoneyGrabber” is getting tons of airplay in Charleston and it should be a great night of music. We spoke with John Wicks who is the drummer of Fitz and the Tantrums about soul, food, and soul food.


Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) : What area of the world did you grow up and do you want to share any good childhood food memories with us?

John Wicks:  My father was a Commander in the Navy.  We moved around a lot during my early childhood and one place we were fortunate enough to live was New Orleans.  My mother was extremely enthusiastic about music, jazz in particular.  If there was music happening, my mom was there and she always had me in tow whether it was a jazz funeral, Mardi Gras, Preservation Hall, or whatever.  When we lived in Pensacola, Florida, we would hang outside of a black gospel church almost every Sunday just to hear the music.  We felt like we would be looked at as impostors if we entered, until finally one Sunday, they just invited us in.  It felt like we were floating a couple of feet off of the ground.  All of these early experiences had a huge impact on me, and I’m so grateful to have lived in that part of the country during that time.

 CFB:   Your music has a lot of indescribable soul in it.  I think that music and food can really “feed” and a persons individual soul….what else do you think can feed a person’s soul?

John Wicks:
Reading.  Most great songwriters have are also extremely well read.  We have to have a well do draw from and the more we read the deeper the well.

CFB:  What are several of your favorite restaurants in the US?

John Wicks:  Mother’s at 401 Poydras Street in New Orleans for Po‘ Boy sandwiches. Try the “John G. with debris,” my personal favorite.

Di Fara Pizza
1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn NY 11230, You have not had pizza until you have had Dom Demarco’s legendary pie.

Tacomiendo in
Culver City, CA for great homemade and fast Mexican food.

Abraco Espresso at
86 East 7th Street in Manhattan for the best espresso in NYC and Mediterranean influenced pastries.

Espresso Vivace in
Seattle at 321 Broadway Avenue East is the best espresso in the US.


CFB:  Being on the road a lot do you have a normal eating schedule? What do you like to eat on the road?

John Wicks:  It’s very tough to eat healthily on the road, so Whole Foods is used whenever possible, and eat on the bus.


CFB:  What are a couple of things you think people in Charleston should know ahead of your performance on April 12th?

John Wicks: You should know that it is an unpretentious, sweaty, dance party and that we expect you to shake your ass or you will get called out from the stage!


CFB:   What are a few of your favorite cocktails or drinks?

John Wicks: I’m a beer guy and have a lot of fun trying any local micro-brews from the towns we’re playing in.


CFB:  What other groups or songs are you guys personally listening to right now?

John Wicks:  Stepdad, Lightspeed Champion, and Neon Indian.


CFB:  What other acts besides April Smith and the Great Picture Show do you think your sound or style matches or compliments that would make an amazing concert experience?

John Wicks: Cee Lo Green, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, The B-52’s, Stepdad, and Lightspeed Champion.


CFB:   Has anyone in the band ever been to Charleston or have any connections to the city?  Do you have any other plans of things to do in here during your brief stay?

John Wicks:  I have played in Charleston before and I loved it!  I plan on eating soul food and boiled peanuts!


Thanks for talking to us John. We look forward to your show on the 12th. They will be bolting across the country after they leave Charleston. They will hit Atlanta on 04/14/11, Mobile on 04/17/11, and then back out west before heading to Europe.  They were just this month named by VH1 as Artist on the Rise You Oughta Know.

John Wicks, drummer

Holeman and Finch in Atlanta has Charleston connections

This is one of the 5 Atlanta spots we are going to feature from our recent trip.

     Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta celebrated its 7th anniversary this April. Their chef Linton Hopkins also was nominated for the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast. He has been nominated for four years in a row. He will be competing this year against several other finalists including Charleston’s own Craig Deihl of Cypress.  Linton Hopkins has been to Charleston many times. We were able to eat at his Wine and Food Festival Dine Around with Jeremiah Bacon at Carolina’s last year.  Chef Hopkin’s team also runs the neighboring Holeman and Finch Public House.  It is a smaller, slightly more casual version of the flagship Restaurant Eugene.  In our past interview with Top Chef fan favorite Kevin Gillespie he told us that Holeman and Finch would be a required stop in order to have the perfect day of eating in Atlanta……so there we went.

The food was fantastic.  We started off with one of Greg Best’s signature cocktails “The Oracle” (rye whiskey, lime, Regan’s orange bitters, with a splash of Theia jasmine liqueur) recommended by our excellent server Lee Starnes.  We then progressed to a course of charcuterie, a crawfish pie and then fried rabbit livers with farro and candied kumquats.

Besides the great food our server Lee Starnes was also able to dish out some great Charleston connections. We decided to dig a little deeper and see if he could give us more insight into Holeman and Finch, Atlanta, and what else he was into these days.

Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) : Who was the chef here that you mentioned has worked in Charleston? 

Starnes:  James Ellington worked with Sean Brock and he does all  our charcuterie here at Holeman and Finch.

CFB:   You said you came to Charleston recently and ate at  McCrady’s. What brought you to town? How often have you visited and where else have you eaten?

Starnes:  I came to Charleston for the Charleston Marathon.  While  I’m not a runner, they offered a 62 mile bike ride attached to  it. Evan, a bartender at Holeman and Finch, went with me.  It was the first time in Charleston in a long time and we were there for just a couple days.  McCrady’s is the only place of note we got a  chance to get in.  

CFB:  Have you lived in Atlanta for a long time?

Starnes:  I’ve lived in Atlanta for 11 of the past 12 years.  I grew up in Augusta, moved to Atlanta where I went to Georgia Tech for 6 years and finally graduated in 2006.  I then moved to Thailand for a  little over a year and traveled around SE Asia taking photos.  
I worked for a newspaper and did freelance architecture photography.

CFB:  What does Lee do when he is not at Holeman and Finch?

Starnes:  When I’m not at H&F, I’m a working photographer here in Atlanta.  You can check my work at If I’m not doing that, I’m on my bike.  I try to drive as little as possible these days.  The south kind of affords me that luxury.  It allows the inner fat kid in me to not turn into a roly poly.  After all, I eat at H&F nearly every shift I work.  

(You should check out his website.  He does some excellent work, especially with musicians!)

CFB: You gave us some suggested places to go Antico, Cakes and Ale, Lee’s Bakery, and Bell St. Burrito. What would you typically eat at those places?

Starnes:  Antico has the best pizza in the city in my opinion.  The Diavolo is my go to.  Sopprasata, pepperonata, and bufala.  No frills, brown paper, sheet pans, byob, and some of the best cannolis on the planet.  

Cakes and Ale is a super cool spot over in Decatur.  Good bar program, quality ingredients coming out of the kitchen with a focus on local, farm driven fare.  Nothing fancy, but an eye for detail in making the simple things shine.  Nice intimate space perfect for dates.  One of my first recommendations I give to out of towners.

Lee’s Bakery is my go to for Bahn Mi in the city at 2.50 for a sandwich, you cannot go wrong.  On the ethnic food Mecca of Buford Highway, its in an innocuous strip mall full of other ethnic stores.   Absolutely legit.  Just as authentic as it is in Vietnam.

Bell St. Burrito.  This place’s menu is based off an old Burrito Joint, Tortilla’s.  Tortillas was the hangout for so many of us years ago, and was the best burrito in the city for sure.  Then Moe’s moved in a block away and Tortilla’s went under.  Bell St. Burrito has resurrected the flavors so many of us craved for so many years.  The red sauce and the beans could not be matched.  Those heart strings are gently pulled every time I go down there.

CFB:   What are you listening to in music these days?

Starnes:  Music.. oh wow.  such a hard question. I’m musically A.D.D., so I’m all over the place.  But here’s what’s been on the rotation as of the last week.  

CFB: Favorite TV shows or characters in TV shows?

Starnes:   TV shows.  Right now its Sportscenter. March Madness is running everything.   But I really liked Boardwalk Empire, Treme, Madmen, and don’t tell, but I kind of have a guilty pleasure in the show Swamp People.  Something about Creoles wrangling Alligators never gets old.  Hope ATL treated you well.  Hopefully I can make it down to Chucktown sooner than later. I had a great time.  I hear Brock’s new venture, Husk has him busy as ever.  That will be on the docket next time around.  


The Watson Twins come to Charleston on April 28th 2011

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We wanted to catch up with The Watson Twins to talk food. They have a big show at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on April 28th, 2011.  They will be opening for local product gone big time Amos Lee.  The Watson Twins are identical twin sisters Chandra and Leigh Watson.  They were raised in Louisville, KY.  Like many of the great southern singers they first got into singing at an early age by performing with their church choir . They both went on to graduate from college at the University of Evansville in Indiana.  Leigh was an art therapy major and Chandra a theater major. They quickly moved to California following graduation and began making connections with musicians. They would then go on to share their sweet, gentle, voices with the world.

  The move out of Kentucky landed The Watson Twins in Silverlake, CA.  Silverlake was the heart of the 90s alternative and indie rock scene.  Artists such as Beck, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addicition, Tom Waits, Henry Rollins and Silversun Pickups (“Silver” in their name is from Silverlake BLVD). I am big fans of the Silversun Pickups. I saw them at the Capital Hill Block Party in Seattle. We will have to leave that story for another time.  Their biggest connection to come out from Silverlake might be Jenny Lewis who is also the lead singer of Rilo Kiley.  Jenny Lewis performed here in Charleston this past year with Band of Horses. Jenny Lewis did a side project with The Watson Twins.  The 2006 album called Rabbit Fur Coat was released under the bill Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins. The twins own debut album Southern Manners was also released in 2006. The twins later released Fire Songs in 2008 and Talking To You, Talking To Me in 2010.  You can catch a sneak peak of some of their new material on their website . Their new EP to be released in April 2011 is going to be a cover album called Night Covers.  It will featuring songs by such performers as The Cure, The Eurythmics, and the Black Keys. 

   With a southern upbringing followed by many years touring and living in LA, the twins have had a chance to taste very contrasting styles of food. We wondered if there were any foods they missed or craved from back home in Louisville.

Chandra: I miss biscuits and gravy most of all… our mom makes a killer Vegetarian Gravy and there is absolutely nothing like it. Second on the list would be fresh picked tomatoes, straight off the vine with a little salt and my grandma’s slow cooked green beans.

Leigh: YES! The fresh southern produce. We used to go to the farmer’s market in Frankfort, KY with my aunt. The tomatoes warm from the morning’s sun, squash and zucchini for days, plus all the homemade pickled green beans and okra…ever had a “Dilly Green Bean“? (CFB likes “Phickles“)

Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) :    Touring can sometimes take its toll on a person’s diet.  These girls obviously try and eat healthy but how can you do that on the road.  We asked them what their favorite snack foods are.

Chandra: Wasabi peas and dry roasted almonds are a nice little treat. Great food when you are on the road (be)cause it gives you a little protein boost.

Leigh: Cheese, olives and crackers. I know it sounds boring, but there are so many amazing cheeses out there in the world. St. Andre has been a favorite in the last few months, its soft like brie, but creamier. Add some warm French bread to the picture and heaven is a bite away.

CFB: What is your specialty in the kitchen?

For me it’s all about simple ingredients.  I like to play off the flavors of fresh fruit and vegetables. The perfect meal in my world is a baked sweet potato with roasted kale and some black eyed peas (not the music the food).  Add a fresh baked baguette and some Saint Andre cheese…heaven. Easy, quick and fresh!

Leigh: I love a big salad. I usually call it “Everything but the kitchen sink”. Arugula to start and then I just go for it. Veggies, beans, quinoa…whatever I have could make it in the bowl.

CFB: We are always interested in where people love to eat. What are you favorite restaurants in the world?

Chandra:  Wow! In the world… that’s tough. There is a Guatemalan restaurant in Oklahoma City called Cafe Antigua that will blow your mind… fresh mango juice anyone? Delicious!

Leigh: Lucile’s Restaurant: Fort Collins, CO– Soul food, homemade everything. ‘sNICE: Park Slope Brooklyn, NY- Healthy Vegetarian Fair, light and lovely. Mother India: Glasgow, Scotland- Curry to die for. Little Dom’s: Los Angeles, CA- Walking distance from home and never disappointed, the burrata and beet salad is perfection. (Nick Offerman of NBC’s Parks and Recreation recommended this place as well…..they might be neighbors!…..naahhh)

CFB: What other female artists are you listening to a lot right now?

Chandra: Our friend Laura Veirs record “July Flame” is on constant rotation over here as well as some old favs like Shirley Brown “Woman To Woman“… our friend got us the record on vinyl for Christmas, it sounds sweet.

Leigh: The Adele record of course, the song “Someone Like You” is amazing. A friend turned me onto a soul singer from the late 60’s called Little Ann and her record Deep Shadows is new discovery. The XX, Little Dragon, Sade, Erykah Badu, Franciose Hardy… I could go on, constantly inspired by female singers new and old.

CFB: Since they are identical twins in appearance we asked if we would be able to tell the two apart by what they put on their plates.

Chandra: This isn’t really a food thing but a flavor difference… Leigh likes cinnamon gum and toothpaste and I’m mint all the way!

Leigh: Is it possible that we have identical taste buds?? We both gravitate towards similar foods… the healthy, fresh, local foods of the region and the delicious Mexican flavors of Southern Cali… it’s on both plates.

 We can’t wait to go see the show April 28th at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center.  Good luck with the new album.  Our friend and DJ at 105.5 “The Critic” plays you guys quite often and I am sure will be excited to get your new album.  I really liked your July Flame and Deep Shadows recommendations.  Now here are a few Charleston recommendations for you based on your answers to our questions.

 Charleston food we recommend for The Watson Twins:

5 Loaves Café


(maybe we can bribe our way back stage if we bring dinner??)

Charleston musicians we recommend for The Watson Twins:

Cary Ann Hearst,

Danielle Howle,

or maybe James Justin & Co.



“Hello, my name is BBQ” means business!!!

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(***Feb 2012 update***  Hello My Name is BBQ is getting ready to open a sit down restaurant on Meeting Street in downtown Charleston. The new restaurant will be at the base of the Ravenel Bridge and is expected to open late Feb or early March 2012!!!!)

March 24th, 2011
by Scott Wink of

Charleston, SC  –   People in South Carolina have been enjoying good Bar-B-Que since childhood.   Everyone here seems to have a favorite type of sauce or way to eat BBQ.  I myself have Home Team, Melvins/Bessingers, and Jim ‘N Nick’s as some of my local favorites.  Several years ago I even had Melvins cater my wedding rehearsal dinner.  I have also eaten BBQ in many of the self proclaimed “BBQ capitals of the US” such as Owensboro, KY  Memphis, TN and ….anywhere in Texas.  I know that not all BBQ is equal. So when Charleston food truck “Hello, my name is BBQ” opened in West Ashley  on HWY 17 (in the Avondale area by next to Triangle Char and Bar and Lowcountry Scooters) last September I was a little skeptical.  I initially held off running up to the mysterious new food truck. I wish I wouldn’t have waited.  What I found was a BBQ gold mine!!!!  (Open Monday-Friday 11AM-3PM)

  Cody and Ryner Burg are the secret ingredients behind “Hello, my name is BBQ”.  They own, cook, and serve the food coming out of their truck.  Do you know what that means???? QUALITY CONTROL!  They don’t have high school kids messing up your orders in the kitchen or cashiers giving you attitude.  You get their heart and soul every day and that makes a difference.  Here are the other things that make “Hello” stand out from the crowd:

The bun:  It is a brioche that is toasted very nicely.
The meat:  It is braised……and in beer! They change the beer with the season. They are using Holy City Brewing right now and plan on doing some bacon stout or pecan flavored beers soon. (Vegetarian options too)
The sides:  Jalapeno Mac and Cheese, hoppin’ johns with bacon that was cooked in the BBQ sauce crumbled on top  etc, etc.
The quality:  All of the food and sauces are home-made with little changes everyday to keep the menu exciting and constantly improving.

I have to tell you a funny story that happened as I waited in line to order.  The owner of “Hello” recognizes the man ordering in front of me and says, “Hey are you still working for Home Team BBQ?”   The man was caught a little off guard and hesitantly admitted that he was but that he liked “Hello'”s BBQ better!  Now that got me excited. 

  Let’s talk about the secret ingredients for a little longer.  Cody is originally from Columbia and had done real estate until the recent slow down.  Ryner is from Charleston and has been doing food and beverage for quite a while.  She is the one behind a majority of the recipes. They have lived in NC and Hawaii.  We got to talk a little about some of the food trucks we both knew in Oahu.  Food trucks are really big on the islands.  Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, Zippy’s, the malsadas truck on the North Shore, and Hawaiian shave ice are their favorites.  I said it correctly….shave ice not shaved ice.
  I asked them what they liked about living in Charleston and Cody quick-wittedly said, “Because this is where all my stuff is.” After another second to think it over they added that the art, music, and food scene in Charleston is really something special.  They work together with other local food trucks are planning several food truck rodeos with Diggity Doughnuts, Little Highrise, Roots Ice Cream, Geechee Island, and Happy Camper SnoBalls.  Doug also says he enjoys surfing out on Folly Beach. 
   Since they spend so much time in their vehicle we asked what they listen to while driving.  They said their mp3 playlist has a lot of classic rock and country like AC/DC and Johnny Cash. They also listed a lot of their favorite local bands like Cary Ann Hearst, and the Garage Cuban Band.

   They said there were a few things they would like people to know about “Hello”.  One is that there are rather restrictive laws for food trucks in Charleston county.  They had a visit very soon after opening from some local officials trying to shut them down.  After showing the officials the permits and licenses the officials were a little shocked that anyone in the county had permits……..not a good sign for a food lovers community.  They hope that the community will help push our officials to allow food trucks to park freely around the county like in most other food loving communities.  Cody said they also painted the truck themselves and perform many parody videos posted on YouTube or their Facebook page.  I really like the old style look to the videos. It reminds me of the opening credits to the 80’s TV show The Wonder Years.  I hope they film another one and use that old style footage for the entire thing.  Those fun clips like the skateboard scene and wearing the Christmas hats are great. Keep up that fun energy.  I heard a few songs just waiting for a “Hello” parady……Eminem’s “My Name Is” and The Doors “Hello, I Love You”.  

     It is obvious after talking with Cody and Ryner, tasting their food, and seeing those videos that they love what they do and do it well.  They didn’t open a BBQ food truck to be trendy they opened it to compete toe to toe in taste with the big boys in BBQ…..and they came out swinging!

-Scott, Charleston Food Bloggers

Mike Isabella: Best Year Ever??



D.C. chef Mike Isabella is having what VH1 might call “The Best Year Ever”.  Mike is currently in the final three of Bravo’s smash hit cooking competition show Top Chef All Stars. That of course means that he appeared on a previous season of Top Chef and came really, really close to winning.  Top Chef All Stars is his chance at redemption and his making the most of it.  Mike also left his head chef position at Jose Andres’ restaurant in D.C. Zaytinya. He left in order to design and own his own restaurant due to open later this spring Graffiato.  It will be an Italian inspired two level location. Mike has excelled in Mediterranean cuisine since his boyhood days watching his grandmother.  He told us his grandmother was definitively on of his biggest inspirations and greatest memories from childhood.  Graffiato will be just across the street for the Verizon Center which is the home to both the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitols.  Mike is taking up residence in a block that had been almost abandoned but over the next 12 months looks to become home to a handful of new and exciting dining projects.  The construction going on at 707 6th St NW in Washington looks an awful lot like how a renovation might go in Charleston.  The basic structure and frame are being kept but the inside is being gutted.  You can view the construction pictures on Graffiato’s Facebook page or website.


Charleston Food Bloggers (CFB ) : You have made quite a name for yourself in recent years at Jose Andres Zaytinya and on Top Chef. How does it feel to know be going out on your own?


Chef Isabella:  It feels great.  From cooking at a young age with my grandmother, to going to culinary school, to cooking with great chefs throughout the country, I feel that all of my hard work has paid off.  At this time in my life I am ready to take the next step and follow my dreams of owning my own restaurant. It is stressful and fun all at the same time.  The stressful part is all the planning.  You never really know how everything is going to match and fit until it is in place.  The fun part is that I have a say in all the decision making and can make my vision come to life. 



CFB: Do you have a ballpark idea of when Graffiato may open this year?


Chef Isabella: Late Spring


I have really grown to like and admire Mike Isabella.  I can see and appreciate all of the hard work he has put into his career.  He earns everything he gets. He works hard everyday to get better.  I think he has grown as a person right in front of our eyes.  He appears more comfortable with himself on Top Chef this time then in season six. He appears not to be afraid of who he is.  Lastly, he plays to win both in challenges and in life.  Making the gamble to leave Zaytinya and start Graffiato is a bold move.  If this were a poker move Mike just went ALL IN.


CFB:  What are your favorite dishes at Jose Andres’ restaurants in DC?


Chef Isabella:  At Zaytinya I really enjoy the classic spreads with pita.  Chicken croquettes and black paella at Jaleo are a favorite as well.


CFB:  Where are some of the places you think we need to check out in D.C.?


Chef Isabella:  Defiantly stop at The Source.  Sit in the lounge and order the dumpling platter. 


PS 7’s for cocktailsMixologist Gina Chersevani can create you a cocktail on the spot…you just have to ask.


701 is great for an upscale tasting menu.


2Amys is the best spot for pizza…go early or be prepared to wait for a table.



We followed up on Mike’s recommendations from Jose Andres’ restaurants as well as his places to check out in D.C.  We met up with mixologist Gina Chersevani and Mike was absolutely correct. Gina’s cocktail menu is top notch. We feature Gina in her own article….Check it out.  The rest of our travels through D.C. will be forthcoming.


CFB:  Top Chef has a hard core following. Are fans of the show always stopping you and slowing you down when you are out in public? 


Chef Isabella:  My experience on Top Chef has been really rewarding and fans who stop me to say hello are very friendly and supportive. It’s exciting to tell fans about my forthcoming restaurant, Graffiato, and I hope lots of people who saw me on Top Chef will come in to try my food. 


CFB:  What bands, TV shows or movies are you really into now?


Chef Isabella:  I tend to enjoy more of the classic rock genre.  If you stop into Graffiato late night you will hear a lot of old school rock. 



Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations; I’m excited to see the new season and where he travels.


I watch a lot of the Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV and the MMA pay per view fights.  I used to wrestle and love the competitiveness of the fighters.


I don’t have a lot of time to enjoy new movies but I did get the chance to see Black Swan and it was very inspiring.  I have been hearing great reviews of The Fighter and would love to see it soon. 


CFB:  Have you ever been to Charleston?


Chef Isabella:  Not yet, but it is on my list of places to go.  I hear of a lot of great restaurants and chefs coming from Charleston.  Maybe one day I will be there for the Charleston Wine and Food Festival.


It makes complete sense that Mike would like rock, MMA, wrestling, and the movie “The Fighter”. I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.  Those types of things can help keep his eyes on the next prize. I think that is why I like seeing him with chefs like Michael Voltaggio and Richard Blais.  Those chefs just constantly reinvent their dishes and experiment with new flavors and techniques and help push Mike to push himself even farther.


We are happy to see that he wants to come to Charleston… you hear that BB&T Charleston Wine and Food Directors!!! Call him up and book him for 2012 today. We can’t wait to try Graffiato in D.C. and we hope he comes down and smells the pluff mud of the South Carolina Lowcountry soon.




Mike we thought you might enjoy this:

NBC’s Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman! (aka the boss Ron Swanson)

a nick offerman

NBC comedies have been my favorites for as long as I can remember. The current line up of Parks and Recreation, The Office, 30 Rock, and Community are keeping that trend alive.  I really think the characters and writing for those comedies are just outstanding.  One character that has intrigued me the most recently is Ron Swanson .  Ron is the head of the town Parks and Recreation Department.  Ron is anti-government and anti-vegetable!!!  Ron Swanson is somewhat of a food blogger of his own. In a recent episode he showed a photo album of every steak he had ever eaten from his favorite steak house.  His obversion of vegetables goes so deep that  he has a motto that says fish are for sport only, not eating, since they are practically vegetables.  If served vegetables unwillingly he will even politely give them back.  This week on Parks and Recreation the long awaited Pawnee Harvest Festival will air.  Hopefully they will have some potatoes or corn harvested (starches) so that Ron can share in the festivities.  We caught up with comedian Nick Offerman who play Ron Swanson to talk food.

Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) :  You play a character, Ron Swanson, that loves red meat and hates vegetables.  Does Nick Offerman have similar eating patterns?

Nick Offerman: Nick Offerman would very much like to eat a similar diet to that of Ron Swanson, but unfortunately, Nick resides in the real world where real arteries can become clogged with real cholesterol. When I cheat every once in a while, I do go full-on Swanson and slather everything in bacon.

CFB:   What are your favorite snack foods?

Nick Offerman:  I don’t snack too much, but I love nuts, especially Virginia blister peanuts . I also like beef jerky and venison jerky .

CFB:    What are a few of your favorite restaurants?

Nick Offerman: Easy.  In LA: The Oinkster , Jar , Lou , Little Dom’s , Tacos Villa Corona , The Village Cafe

CFB:   Growing up, what were some of your fondest food memories?

Nick Offerman:  When I was young, we would go the Stone City VFW on Fridays for a fish fry and bowling. Also, for a special occasion we’d go to Merichka’s in Crest Hill, IL for Poorboys . My family farms corn and beans, so our sweet corn has always been amazingly fresh and delicious. I am fully corn-fed.

CFB:  Do you drink? If so, what would be your “usual”?

Nick Offerman:  I drink a lot less than when I was a Chicago theatre troll , but when I do, it’s Lagavulin Scotch , Jameson’s Irish , a Guinness , or an Old Speckled Hen .

CFB:  You provide so many people joy and laughter in your role on Parks and Rec.   What musicians, actors, movies, or TV give Nick Offerman the most joy?

Nick Offerman: Tom Waits, Megan Mullally, Neil Young, Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler and the insanely funny cast of my show, Will Arnett, Paul Giamatti, Jeff Bridges….. The Big Lebowski is my favorite movie.

CFB:  If you had to describe yourself and a few of your cast-mates as a piece of food, what would it be and why?

Nick Offerman: I would obviously be an extra-fatty bone-in ribeye….Aziz I guess would be a smoked Ham, Pratt would be a humongous elk loin,  Adam Scott would obviously be a calzone, …..and I don’t think it’s appropriate for a married man to describe women as comestibles.

CFB:  Have you ever been to Charleston or anywhere in South Carolina?

Nick Offerman:  I have only been to Rock Hill and Chester while working on an indie movie with Rob Corddry and Justin Long . I was sore I never had time to get into Charleston and eat, but we had an amazing lady on set with a rolling deep-fryer, and every night she would make chicken or catfish and the hush puppies…..Swanson-riffic.


Not only is Nick a talented comedian, but he is also an accomplished woodworker.  He has done instructional DVDs on canoe building and has a website showing some of his work.




The Lowcountry High Rollers’ Dame Right talks derby……and dinner.

The Lowcountry High Rollers will knock you out. Dame Right of the High Rollers is talking with us today about derby……and dinner.  If you haven’t gone to see Charleston’s ladies on skates you are missing out.  They had to open up extra areas of seating at their season opener in February because so many people came to watch.  Their next match is March 26th at the Citadel’s McAlister Field House .

   To me roller derby is today what wrestling was in the early 80s . I compare them because are typically set up in places not designed for their sport. They both involve a lot of physical contact and risk of injury.  The athletes love what they do and that gets the crowd really pumped up.  There are counterculture overtones everywhere. There is a spirit of fun throughout. You see it in the names of the athletes, the drama between the coaches and refs, the way the crowd participates with signs and shirts.  There is one big difference……..THIS IS REAL.

            Annie Simpson goes by the derby name Dame Right and her jersey number is 110%.  She is the nicest person you will ever meet until you start counting points at something and then the competitive side takes over.  I have seen her play dodge-ball and single handedly come back and win after being the last person on her team on the court. She came back and beat 7 opponents….mainly men. That kind of play doesn’t rely on competitive spirit alone. It takes conditioning and preparation.  She says that there is also some dietary preparation required the days leading up to a big bout. “We are heartily encouraged to change our eating habits in the two days prior to playing in a big game. I constantly have one of our coach’s voice (Blood T-Bone) in my head saying, ’You all need to carb load and lay off the red meat’. We are also encouraged to eat a big breakfast on the morning of, including bananas, pancakes, eggs, etc.”  The derby match consists of dozens of short rounds called jams. The jams can last a maximum of couple minutes but can be called off at any time by the lead jammer.  Football players only have to play for an average of 8 seconds per play before getting to stop and huddle. These girls have to go for several minutes and need to build up endurance.  Dame Right is mainly a blocker which means she is in charge of slowing down the jammers and laying big hits on opposing players to prevent their team from scoring.  She is fantastic at blocking, hitting and just plain pestering opposing jammers.  She will hit you, knock you off balance, or just put the breaks on right in front of you.  If you happen to get around her at first don’t count her out. She will speed up and get right back in your way. 

            Here is some of our interview with Dame Right:

Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) : We hear you live in James Island, SC. What is your favorite restaurant or place to eat over there?

Dame Right: My most consistent and favorite thing is grabbing a burger at the bar of Planet Follywood on Center St. on Folly Beach. Their burgers are the best, and they cook them to order at whatever temp you choose, a must as far as I am concerned! For brunch, there is no better spot than The Lost Dog Cafe on Folly.   

CFB: What about your perfect day of eating around Charleston?
Dame Right:  Hmmm, a perfect day of eating in Charleston is a tough one, especially because I tend to cook at home most of the time. I would start with breakfast and bottomless Mimosas at Gene’s Haufbrau in West Ashley. It is the perfect cure for a heavy head from a night out. Lunch would hands down include enjoying the Lunch Express deal at Slightly North of Broad . Two courses, plus a drink, at one of the best restaurants in town all for under $10 can not be beat! My current favorite spot for dinner, drinks, and dessert is The Wild Olive on John’s Island. It is a quaint Northern Italian gem that my mother and I frequent at least 3-4 times a month. Plus they have $19 wine bottle specials on Sunday and Monday nights.

CFB:  Have you seen many dirty moves during bouts?
Dame Right: I can’t say that I have seen many dirty moves since I began playing Roller Derby in the fall of 2009. The strangest and most upsetting thing that I saw recently was when a team was getting pretty badly beaten, they came out on the rink after half-time and began protesting by not engaging when the jam’s were started. They let at least three or four jams go by without engaging in the play at all. They were just skating around like stick figures. It upset me to see the poor sportsmanship and I was really mad that they were letting the fans down. In the end, they began playing again, but I will never forget their strange behavior.

CFB:  Does it hurt really bad when you fall?
Dame Right:  As for falling, most of us have no problem and no fear of falling. We are trained from the very beginning to fall properly and safely (although falls that result in floor burns are really the pits). What can really hurt is getting hit. I have gotten hit in the solar plexus so hard that I was seeing stars. The most memorable hits on our team tend to come from Sexual Chocolate. She hits like a brick house. I have told her many times that she makes a poor chiropractor even though she makes it her job to dis-align my spine. Thanks goodness we have Dr. Sean Gaffney as our team Chiropractor who is always setting us back to rights.

      That is one tough cookie. I don’t care how much someone teaches me to fall it is gonna hurt.  There are many derby teams near Charleston.  Here are the teams scheduled to play the High Rollers this season:

Appalachain Roller Girls from Boone, NC

Mother State Roller Girls from Richmond, VA

Charlotte Roller Girls from Charlotte, NC

Jaded Misfits from Bluefield, WV

Palmetto State Rollergirls from Myrtle Beach, SC

Richland County Regulators from Columbia, SC

Rogue Rollergirls from Fayetteville, NC

Savannah Derby Devils from Savannah, GA

Uncivil Warriors from Richmond, VA

URGE from Greenville, SC





 If there is a team near, you go check them out. You will have a good time and all of your friends will be amazed if you can teach them the rules.  I promise they will knock you out… don’t sit too close!

P.S. High Rollers I have some songs by female artists that I think would work well in your music rotation….(unless they are already in the mix):

Joan Jett:  Bad Reputation

Garbage: I Think I’m Paranoid …or…I’m Only Happy When It Rains

Florence and the Machine: Dog Days are Over

Adele: Rolling in the Deep (see below)

We Have Found a Slice of Heaven and It Is At the Gospel Brunch With Chef John Ondo.



The Charleston Wine and Food Festival is finally here.  Chefs and foodies from all over the country are converging on Charleston. Foodies are instinctual gifted at seeking out the best food experiences possible from long distances away…..much like how sharks can smell fresh blood from a mile away.  This year’s feeding frenzy promises to be one of the best ever.

     One of my favorite events at the festival is the Sunday Gospel Brunch .  Unlike the Dine Around events that can set you back $175 this year the brunch is a more reasonable $75.  It is held under the main tent in Marion Square from 11AM-1PM and features some very talented Charleston chefs and choirs.  This year there are ten local chefs participating and guests had to choose in advance which chef would be serving them.  The chefs did not announce what would be on their menu as people purchased tickets.  The only thing you knew was that the Bloody Marys would be flowing and music would be in the air!  The Charleston Food Bloggers have the inside scoop on what courses Chef John Ondo from Lana Restaurant ( ) will be serving.  John says, “The Gospel Brunch is a lot of fun.  I get to think outside of the box because at Lana we don’t serve brunch. It is a nice creative outlet for me. This year each restaurant or caterer will be feeding 50-60 people a three course meal.  We (Lana) will be doing fennel cured salmon and potato latke, then a crispy pork belly with Bloody Mary broth, and then finally an olive oil cake.”   Now that sounds like a fantastic brunch!!!  Here is some of the rest of our Q & A with Chef Ondo.

Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) :  What are a couple of your favorite Food and Wine Festival memories?

Chef Ondo: Each year brings new memories.  Some memories are about the great food and some are from working with other chefs.  I would have to say my favorite was working with John Currence from City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi. We had an absolute blast. Another good memory was the year I partnered up with Robert Stehling from Hominy Grill and we won our cooking competition.

CFB: In case the readers don’t know, Chef John Currence is scheduled to compete on the coming season of Top Chef Masters Season 3 starting on April 6th and is a recent James Beard Award Winner….CFB has got to find an excuse to head to Oxford, MS to try City Grocery!

What are a few of your favorite restaurants in the US?

Chef Ondo:  Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, AL ;  John Besh’s August in New Orleans, LA ;  John Currence’s City Grocery in Oxford, MS ;  Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin  NY, NY .

CFB: Do you enjoy meeting other great chefs from around the US?  Anyone in particular you would like to meet or work with?

Chef Ondo:   For the most part I’ve always enjoyed meeting other chefs but sometimes you meet the occasional chef whose ego is so big it’s not worth wasting my time trying to talk to them.

CFB: Yeah we feel like many chefs are gaining rock star status.  Sometimes that may be well deserved but we can see how it can inflate some egos.  What music or rock stars are you really into right now?

Chef Ondo:  I am a big fan of the old school stuff like ZZ Top, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and  Hank Williams. I also really like opera.  My cooks hate that I listen to the opera on NPR on Saturdays in the kitchen.

CFB: Speaking of opera, we hear that you spent some time traveling in Europe.  Where there any things about Italy that blew your mind?

Chef Ondo:  Italians have such a beautiful attitude towards eating and food.  It is absolutely amazing.  They have a profound respect for the simplest things and ingredients. Its like they inherently know that simple food is the best food.  Most cooks want to add something to a dish, but the Italians are more likely to take something out.

CFB:  Your menu at Lana is fantastic.  However, most menus over time slowly evolve.  Any ideas or dishes on the Lana menu you are working on now?  

Chef Ondo:  Our menu at Lana changes each season and sometimes once during that season depending on product availability. Our menu is constantly evolving and that just corresponds to us.  As we grow in life and as cooks our menu will evolve with us.

CFB: Besides cooking, what are some of your other passions or hobbies?

Chef Ondo:   I don’t even know if the stove at my house works, so I rarely cook at home. I love riding my motorcycles and I also enjoy working on them.   I am not the best mechanic so as long as it still works when I am done, but I enjoy it. I enjoy a quiet day spent with my wife or watching soccer.   I used to play but gave it up because of a lack of time, and loss of step….. I wasn’t that fast to begin with.

CFB: Chef, we bet you like the Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Khris
Kristofferson). Enjoy!!!