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

Why FIG’s Nomination is a Boon For Local Chefs

FIG-interiorFor the second year in a row, Charleston doesn’t have a shot at claiming the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Southeast award (the last local nominee was Cypress’ Craig Deihl, who competed for the honor in 2012.) But as FIG’s beverage director David McCarus points out, his restaurant’s nomination in the Outstanding Wine Program category is a testament to the city’s thriving kitchen culture.

“This is awesome for Charleston,” McCarus says. “The possibility for Charleston to be seen as an entire entity, that’s awesome.”

Although the Beard nomination process isn’t an exact science, McCarus suspects judges were swayed by the service at FIG. “The wine list is like step A,” he says, comparing an impressive list in a poorly-staffed dining room to a gorgeous plate of food sloshed on its way to the table by an inept server. Continue reading

Websites Shower Charleston Restaurants With Awards

There are three months between the Oscars and the Tonys, but it’s always award season for Charleston restaurants. A few of the latest accolades:

  • O-Ku was designated a Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurant in America by OpenTable, which scans five million diner reviews collected over the course of the year to determine top scores in the “hot spot” category. Although the reservation service’s website doesn’t explain what’s meant by “hot spot,” it appears to have at least a tangential relationship to clubbing: Fourteen of the listed restaurants are located in Florida, with most of them clustered around Miami. Culinary powerhouses San Francisco and Seattle, where dining culture is considerably more staid, weren’t represented. Continue reading

Keeler, Johnson and Bacon Named James Beard Semi-Finalists

Three Charleston chefs are in the running for finalist status in the Southeast division of the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef awards.

Josh Keeler of Two Boroughs Larder, Kevin Johnson of The Grocery and Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh are semi-finalists for the prestigious prize, which will be awarded this May in New York City. Bacon is a semi-finalist for the third year running; Keeler was also a semi-finalist last year.

Other local semi-finalists include McCrady’s for Best Service; Sean Brock for Outstanding Chef, a national award, and FIG for Best Wine Service. “Greatest honor to date,” FIG’s sommelier David McCarus tweeted. Continue reading

The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen Finalist For IACP Cookbook Prize

leebookThe International Association of Culinary Professionals this morning via Eater released its list of food writing award finalists, and — by virtue of alphabetization — Matt and Ted Lee lead the list.

The Lee Brothers were nominated in the Cookbook-American category for The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen. They’re up against Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes and Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry Cravings.

Although the Lee Brothers are the only Charlestonians among the nominees, finalists Anne Quatrano and Andy Ricker are headed here for the Wine + Food Festival.

IACP’s awards ceremony is scheduled for Mar. 15 in Chicago.

The Ordinary Lands The Daily Meal’s Restaurant of the Year Title

theordinaryWrapping up an inaugural year which brought best new restaurant nods from GQ, Esquire and Bon Appetit – as well as a James Beard nomination in the same category – The Ordinary this week was picked as The Daily Meal’s Restaurant of the Year.

To qualify for the website’s prize, based on the votes of two dozen panelists, restaurants had to have opened this year and received stellar reviews. Weirdly, contributing to the echo chamber nature of restaurant assessment, “they had to have made a major splash” was also a criterion.

Mike Lata’s The Ordinary qualified handily, winning twice as many votes as its nearest competitor. Other Southern restaurants under consideration included Nashville’s Rolf and Daughters; Atlanta’s King + Duke and New Orleans’ Mariza (if I’d been on the panel, I would have backed Peche.) Continue reading

OpenTable and Saveur Bestow Awards on Charleston Restaurants

FIG interiorOpenTable today released its list of U.S. restaurants specializing in American cuisine which over the last year received the highest diner scores; of the top 100 finishers, four are located in Charleston.

Charleston Grill, FIG, Peninsula Grill and Tristan were named Diners’ Choice award winners. The ratings were culled from five million reviews of 15,000 restaurants nationwide.

“We’re proud to know diners thoroughly enjoyed their experience here at Tristan,” executive chef Nate Whiting was quoted as saying in a release from the restaurant. Continue reading