Geoff Rhyne Leaving The Ordinary for Leon’s; Mike Lata to Step In UPDATED

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Larry Hoffman

Geoff Rhyne, who’s served as The Ordinary’s chef de cuisine since the seafood hall’s opening, is leaving the restaurant to become sous chef of Leon’s Oyster Shop.

The eagerly-awaited restaurant from tonic man (and former FIG general manager) Brooks Reitz and Tim Mink is scheduled to open later this month. Although the pair hasn’t yet released a menu, Reitz has previously hinted raw oysters, fried chicken and fried fish would form the core of the offerings.

“I worked closely with Geoff opening The Ordinary, and was consistently wowed with his creativity, leadership and team building abilities,” Reitz says. “When the opportunity to work together again arose, I considered myself very lucky, and was honored to have him be a part of our team.”

Ari Kolender, another alum of The Ordinary, will serve as head chef. Kolender was chef de cuisine at Los Angeles’ Red Medicine before returning to his hometown of Charleston. Continue reading

Seamus Mullen to Lead L’Atelier de Le Creuset Demo

Seamus Mullen, an award-winning New York City chef who changed his approach to cooking after receiving a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, is the next chef on L’Atelier de Le Creuset’s event schedule.

Mullen will conduct a cooking demo on May 28 at 6 p.m. The $50 registration fee includes a copy of his 2012 book, Hero Food: How Cooking With Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better.

To purchase tickets, visit eventbrite.com.

Blu Appoints New Executive Chef

vendue-exterior (11)The impending opening of The Vendue‘s new restaurant has forced a kitchen shuffle at sister property Tides Folly Beach.

Steve Klatt, formerly chef de cuisine at The Francis Marion Hotel’s Swamp Fox Restaurant, is joining Tides as executive chef of Blu Restaurant & Bar. Former Blu executive chef Jon Cropf is taking the same position at The Vendue. In addition to heading up The Drawing Room’s kitchen, Cropf will oversee operations of the hotel’s rooftop bar and coffee shop.

“(Cropf) continues his rise in the Charleston culinary scene with his move,” Avocet Hospitality Group’s Ken Merkel is quoted as saying approvingly in a release announcing the hires.

The Drawing Room is scheduled to open next month.

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.

No Charleston Chefs Nominated for JBF Best Chef Southeast

brockSean Brock is the lone Charleston chef up for James Beard Foundation honors this year.

Brock was nominated this morning for the organization’s prestigious Outstanding Chef award, along with Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony, Lucque’s Suzanne Goin; Manresa’s David Kinch and Mozza’s Nancy Silverton and Vetri’s Marc Vetri. Brock , the executive chef of McCrady’s, Husk Charleston and Husk Nashville, was nominated for the same prize in 2012; he won the Best Chef Southeast category in 2010.

Local semi-finalists Jeremiah Bacon of Oak Steakhouse and The Macintosh; Josh Keeler of Two Boroughs Larder and Kevin Johnson of The Grocery didn’t make the short list, which was announced in a lengthy ceremony live-streamed from Chicago. Continue reading

Chefs New to the W+F Festival

segalEven if you’ve attended the Charleston Wine + Food Festival every year since the event’s creation, there are still plenty of chances this time around to taste food unlike anything you’ve sampled before. Here is a list of the guest chefs making their festival debut (and if you’re wondering how to buddy up to them successfully, check out Mike Lata’s tips for meeting chefs, printed in today’s print section):

Andy Ricker, Pok Pok, New York City and Portland

Brett Cooper, Outerlands, San Francisco

Chris Shepherd, Underbelly, Houston

Chris Hall, Local Three, Atlanta

Chris Lusk, Restaurant Revolution, New Orleans

Colby Garrelts, Bluestem Restaurant, Kansas City

David Santos, Louro, New York City

Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon,  Portland, Ore. Continue reading

Chef Switch at Riso Noodle House

soupThere is still an “Authentic Chinese Menu” at Riso Noodle House, but the dishes are now being prepared by a Vietnamese chef.

The West Ashley restaurant — which I had hailed for its second menu, featuring tripe noodle soup; soybean pork feet and steamed beef balls – last month hired a new chef after owner Patty Ho’s partner had to leave the kitchen permanently because of damage to his hand.

Ho described the injury as related to repetitive motion. “The pain was getting worse,” Ho says, adding that he had delayed surgery. Continue reading

Lambs N Clams Chef Lineup Released

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A dozen chefs hailing from Florida to Virginia will be in charge of the cooking at this year’s Lambs N Clams, the popular Charleston Wine + Food after-party.

Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm and Travis Croxton of Rappahannock Oyster Company are returning the event to The Grocery, which hosted the party last year. “It turned out to be the most perfect venue,” Rogers says.

According to Rogers, the pair selects Southern chefs who deserve the attention of the Wine + Food crowd. As a press release proudly notes, previous participants have cropped up on the list of James Beard Award semi-finalists. “Travis and I feel a bit like coaching fielding an all-star game,” Rogers is quoted as saying. Continue reading

Chef Switch at Kitchen 208

John Robertson this month stepped up to the Kitchen 208 head chef position vacated by Matt Pleasants, who’s planning to open a restaurant in Winston-Salem, N.C.

According to Kitchen 208’s website, before working under Pleasants, Robertson served as head line cook at sister restaurant Circa 1886. Robertson first enrolled in cooking classes after spending more than a decade in the IT sector; he moved to Charleston from Kalamazoo, Mich. in 2010.

Kitchen 208 has received tepid critical reviews since opening seven months ago, but its breakfast is popular with Yelpers, who’ve given the lower King Street restaurant a three-and-one-half star rating.

Leyla’s Opening Chef Quits

vatcheThe accomplished chef charged with helping Leyla find its culinary footing has given up on the downtown Lebanese restaurant.

“I want people to know that I am no longer associated with this unorganized and unprofessional organization,” Vatche Meguerditchian writes in an e-mail disclosing his Wednesday resignation. “I am sure they will mess up my menu.”

According to Meguerditchian, he and the first-time restaurateurs behind the three-month old Leyla had clashing philosophies from the start: He felt they micromanaged “a chef of my stature” by involving themselves in daily kitchen operations. But he says he made the decision to leave immediately when he was denied a glass of Scotch after work.

“I gave my 110 percent, but I saw that this was gonna be due sooner or later,” he writes.

Meguerditchian reports he’s returning to Los Angeles, where he ran Alcazar, a Lebanese restaurant twice named to critic Jonathan Gold’s list of 99 “essential” L.A. eating spots. Continue reading