TV Host Chuck Hughes Likes Charleston, Plain and Simple

If Chuck Hughes, host of Cooking Channel’s Chuck’s Eat the Street, had his druthers, an upcoming episode focused on King Street would have dedicated a segment to The Ordinary.

www.dominiquelafond.comThe filming marked Hughes’ first visit to Charleston, and he chose Mike Lata’s newest restaurant — recently named one of the South’s best new restaurants by Southern Living – for his maiden meal. “Looking at the restaurant, I didn’t think it could be as good as I thought it was going to be,” he recalls. The restaurant surpassed his expectations, but since the shooting schedule couldn’t be adjusted, the Charleston-themed show doesn’t feature any Ordinary footage.

Still, Hughes found plenty to prepare and eat on air, including frogmore stew at Charleston Grill; a chorizo sandwich at Butcher & Bee; goat cheese doughnuts at Glazed and soft-shell crabs at The Grocery.

“Crab has a tendency to be deep-fried and smothered in spicy mayonnaise,” Hughes says. “We did it in a wood oven with salt and pepper. Why alter them so much?”

In Hughes’ estimation, Charleston chefs’ respect for local ingredients – and willingness to present them nearly unadorned – is what’s earned the city its culinary reputation.

“There’s an honesty in Charleston when it comes to food,” he says. “Nobody’s trying to hide. Instead of a three-tiered plate with fireworks, it’s real honest food.”

Hughes further believes the city’s enthusiastic embrace of plain dishes has helped unite its eaters.

“In so many places, food is a big class divider,” he says. “I get the feeling in Charleston that everybody’s eating the same stuff. Everybody’s eating the shrimp. There’s a sense of community greater than anywhere in the U.S.”

The Charleston episode of “Chuck’s Eat the Street” premieres next Thursday at 10 p.m.

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