Lee Bros. and Duvall Events Take James Beard Dish for Test Ride

smallleesThe James Beard Foundation journalism awards ceremony, at which Matt and Ted Lee are serving as emcees and first-course cooks, is a private affair. But a local sneak peek of the brothers’ awards dinner dish is free and open to the public.

On  Apr. 29, the Lees and dish collaborator Matt Greene of Duvall Events will host a tasting demo at the catering company’s North Charleston headquarters. The event includes wine, with liquor drinks available for purchase.

Details of the dish have not yet been disclosed, but the Lees are apparently pumped. Continue reading

Slow Food Columbia Hosts Chefs’ Showcase This Weekend

1 Slow Food at Indie Grits by Jonathan Sharpe (800x533)

Jonathan Sharpe

How’s the eating in Columbia these days? An upcoming party hosted by the city’s Slow Food chapter could provide a chance to find out.

Slow Food Columbia’s fifth annual Sustainable Chefs’ Showcase and Potluck on Apr. 13 will feature more than a dozen chefs who’ve been tasked with preparing a dish showcasing a local ingredient. Restaurants represented include Terra, Baan Sawan Thai Bistro, Rosso Trattoria and Good Life Café, which publicist Tracie Broom describes as “a rad vegan place that finally opened on Main Street. Hello, nutmeat tacos.”

Tickets to the Showcase and Potluck at Indie Grits, 711 Whaley, are priced at $20. Broom warns the tickets typically sell out the day before the event. Slow Food USA members are eligible for a $5 discount. Continue reading

Candy Maker Sues Local Vodka Outfit Over “Lemon Head” Name

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Thomas Rousing

A promotional website for Lemon Head vodka describes the Charleston product as “daring,” “sexy,” and “carefree.” But a lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court claims it’s also in violation of trademark laws.

The Ferrara Candy Company, manufacturer of Lemonhead – a sour candy dating back to 1963 – argues the name is “likely to cause consumer deception and confusion.” Ferrara’s attorney did not return a call seeking further comment

According to Lemon Head Vodka’s web site, the spirit is “proudly distilled and bottled by Striped Pig Distillery.” Striped Pig’s co-owner Casey Lillie clarifies the forthcoming vodka is not a Striped Pig product, but is produced by the distillery on a contract basis. Continue reading

Tsukemen-Slurping Time at XBB

tsukemenCelebrity chefs’ reverence for ramen – the subject of the first-ever issue of Lucky Peach, David Chang’s uber-hip food quarterly, and a recurring theme on Anthony Bourdain’s shows – has helped a nation of eaters understand there’s much more to the genre than the noodle packages they bought for a dime apiece as college students. But now that ramen’s common, it’s tsukemen’s turn.

Like ramen, tsukemen is composed of noodles, pork, egg and vegetal accoutrements. But if ramen is a symphony, tsukemen is a concerto, with each component taking a solo turn. Instead of mixing the elements together in a bowl of hot broth, a tsukemen chef serves the noodles, naked and cool, alongside a concentrated dipping broth. Tsukemen – pronounced SKEH-men, almost like lemon – is ideal for warm days. Continue reading

FED Now Serving “American Eclectic” in Mt. Pleasant

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FED

Nick Arbuckle, the 30-year old owner of the newly-opened FED in Mt. Pleasant, has moved away from the Charleston area just once. And now that he’s back, he’s vowing not to leave again.

After spending eight years at Langdon’s, Arbuckle helped open Latitude 32 outside of Atlanta. The short-lived restaurant featured global food from the 32nd parallel (don’t bother consulting an atlas: it stretches from Georgia to Sichuan to Iran), which may help explain why Arbuckle chose a more basic concept for his first independent venture.

“American eclectic is the best way to describe it,” he says. “It’s not fine dining, but a step above average.” Continue reading

Wine + Food Festival’s Economic Impact Is “Essentially Flat”

cwf3The Charleston Wine + Food Festival’s most successful 2014 innovation may have been a mobile app, according to a visitor survey report released today by the College of Charleston.

According to the report, 100 percent of the 975 attendees who completed the e-mailed survey downloaded the free scheduling app. More than one-third of them credited the app with enhancing their festival experience.

Other introductions weren’t as warmly received: For example, a mere five percent of respondents named the Artisan Market, an element of the remade Culinary Village, as an event they’d like to see return in 2015.

Overall, the numbers closely mirrored those collected last year. “The study is essentially flat in comparison to last year, although out-of-town guests spent more this year than ever before,” College of Charleston associate professor Wayne Smith is quoted as saying in a release, which pegs the economic impact at $9.8 million. Continue reading

Smoke on the Lodge Keeps Food on Crowded Weekend Menu

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The first weekend in April doesn’t lack for organized events: More than 200,000 people flock to the Flowertown Festival, and another 40,000 people compete in the Cooper River Bridge Run. Thousands more attend the Family Circle Cup. But for leisure-seekers who care most about food, Smoke at the Lodge may well be the weekend’s marquee gathering.

Now in its 11th year, the hotly-contested barbecue contest is the Summerville Masonic Lodge’s biggest fundraiser. While it occurs on the outskirts of the Flowertown Festival, it’s not affiliated with the event: It’s a stand-alone campaign to raise money for the Masons’ chosen cause (this year, juvenile diabetes is the beneficiary.) Gregg Griffiths, master of the lodge, is reluctant to say just how much money the two-day event generates, lest he spoil the surprise when his lodge presents its donation at a district meeting, but suggests the figure’s in five-digit territory.

For attendees, though, the value is apparent. The night before the Boston butt competition is judged, the 25 participating teams enter an “anything but” cook-off, in which the only rule is “no pork.” The teams sell samples for $1 apiece, making the Friday night food fair one of the area’s most affordable culinary events. Continue reading

RiverDogs’ Smoker Program Takes Shape

smokerIn time for tonight’s opener, the Charleston RiverDogs have revealed more details about their meat-smoking program, new to the ballpark this season.

According to John Schumacher, a local chef will be stationed at the smoker every Sunday (provided there’s a game, of course.) The preliminary line-up includes Ted Dombrowski of Ted’s Butcher Block; Culinary Institute of Charleston dean Michael Saboe and Justin Moore, who served as chef of Carolina’s.

“Each chef will be provided a list of unique cuts of meat from Halperns’ Steak and Seafood, and will select one item to be smoked,” a press release elaborates. “Each chef will have access and use of our commissary kitchen and smoker, and all spices or seasonings (other than salt and pepper) will be provided by the guest chef.”

The items will sell for $5-$7, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank.

Halls Chophouse Plans to Open The Other Halls This Summer

hallsOne of the perpetual complaints about downtown Charleston dining is the dearth of upscale lunch options: The problem’s particularly pronounced on Upper King Street, where burgers reign at midday. But a forthcoming lunchroom from Halls Chophouse may mitigate the problem.

According to an application filed with the Board of Architectural Review, the steakhouse wants to transform the former La Fourchette space at 432 King Street into “The Other Halls.” Although general manager Tommy Hall was reluctant to release any details, he revealed that plans include fine dining lunch service: The menu is still being developed. Continue reading

FIG to “Start Paying Extra Attention to Pastry”

figintAlthough online reviewers have described FIG’s desserts as “fabulous”, “delicious”, “excellent” and “amazing” (because, really, what else can you say about the restaurant’s famed sticky sorghum cake?), chef Mike Lata says the restaurant’s taking a “new direction” with its sweets course.

FIG is now looking to hire its first dedicated pastry chef. The position is being advertised in markets including New York City.

“We want to start paying extra attention to pastry,” Lata says. “Although we currently are inspired to create desserts and are proud of our program, (chef de cuisine) Jason Stanhope and I feel like the program deserves the attention of a pastry chef with focus, pedigree and passion.” Continue reading