Warehouse Resignee Eva Keilty Not Sure Where She’s Headed Next

warehouseWith restaurants continuing to open in Charleston at a breakneck pace, it hopefully won’t be too long until former Warehouse chef Eva Keilty finds a job.

“I’m leaving without any future plans, so I’m looking for a project to get involved with,” Keilty says.

Keilty declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding her departure from the four-month old restaurant, which received tremendous acclaim for its food during her tenure. Keilty says she feels “blessed” by the media attention, which culminated this week with Warehouse earning a spot on Eater National’s list of “30 Hottest Cocktail Bars in America.” Keilty and three-time James Beard Foundation award finalist Naomi Pomeroy were the only chefs cited by name in the accompanying bar descriptions. Continue reading

Eva Keilty Leaving Warehouse; Sous Chef to Take Over

AR-130919839.jpg&q=80&MaxW=750&MaxH=350Eva Keilty, the Ted’s Butcherblock vet who made Warehouse an eating destination, is leaving the Spring Street bar next month.

Keilty will be replaced by sous chef Emily Haan, who has also held sous jobs at Carolina’s and Monza’s. According to spokesperson Angel Powell, the menu will not change when Haan takes over the kitchen in mid-November.

Powell didn’t have any information concerning Keilty’s future plans; Keilty did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Continue reading

Final Reflections on Cook It Raw

photo (65)The last of the Cook It Raw chefs are now flying home, marking the end of one of the more ambitious culinary events to choose Charleston as its venue. Having spent the week embedded in the program, this is probably the proper time (to use an adjective favored by the many UK-based participants) to assess the week’s success.

Overall, I think the program was successful, although perhaps not in the ways I initially imagined. Because the young organization is still wrestling with identity issues, it hasn’t yet hammered out a concise explanation of its purpose: Its representatives have a knack for using words like “collective” and “curation,” which don’t always resonate in the goal-oriented U.S. What I took from the very little information I was provided prior to the event was that Cook It Raw aimed to sequester an enormously talented group of chefs for a week of creative kitchen mayhem.

The chefs did spend the week together at Middleton Place, but nothing occurred which I’d classify as crazy. I’ve been approached by countless locals asking about the event’s backstory, and I assume they’re terribly disappointed when I tell them the chefs spent their off-hours drafting ingredient lists and getting to bed early. The world’s top chefs earn their status partly through consummate professionalism, and their approach to this trip was no exception. Covering Cook It Raw wasn’t too different from covering finals week at any respectable college. Continue reading

First Reflections on Cook It Raw

cirCook It Raw is now just past its midpoint, with its participating crew of 25 chefs from around the world having gathered the necessary ingredients for a 17-course dinner tonight at McCrady’s. They’re now at the restaurant, cooking and — quite possibly — fretting: The chefs are spread across two kitchens and a makeshift workspace, doing their best to flush genius from wild herbs they’ve never before encountered and collaborations with colleagues they’ve only just met.

Tonight’s meal is supposed to reflect what the visiting chefs have learned about the lowcountry, and food historian David Shields will be on hand to assess how well they’ve understood their subject. Since it’s a day devoted to taking stock, this morning seemed like an opportune time to share a few initial observations about the event, with which I’ve been embedded since Monday:

1. Great chefs aren’t necessarily snobs.

Folks who don’t eat for a living always expect me to scorn everyday food, which is hardly the case. Yet I made the same mistake by assuming participating chefs would be finicky about what they were fed. Impressively, they haven’t fussed about hotel-made fried chicken biscuits or Wild Olive ravioli, neither of which was garnished with foie gras. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that many of the humbler-seeming dishes have been exceptional, including Butcher & Bee’s sesame peanut butter and Hominy Grill’s pies. Continue reading

“Culinary Event of the Millennium” on Bowens Island is Sold Out

BBQ-Poster-Sold-OUt-edition-731x1024Got your ticket to BBQ Perspectives, the first-ever public component of Cook It Raw? If not, it’s now officially too late.

The last of the 550 tickets to the upcoming Bowens Island bonanza was sold earlier this week, according to an organization publicist.

Buzz about Cook It Raw has been relatively muted in national food media circles, perhaps because the supremely exclusive event doesn’t fit the standard food festival format. The event’s more analogous to the invite-only Renaissance Weekends beloved by Bill Clinton, where really smart folks gather to trade ideas and inspiration. Continue reading

Republic Reign’s Former Chef Bound for Hilton Head

pitarepublicIt’s indisputable that I had a really lousy meal last Monday at Republic Reign. What’s unclear is who was responsible for it.

Eater Charleston last Thursday reported that the razzle-dazzle watering hole, which looks like the backdrop for an MTV show shot in Miami, had lost its opening executive chef. But a publicist today was unable to say when Benjamin Harris left the five-month old lounge, meaning it’s impossible to know with certainty whether the poor quality of the food predicated his departure or resulted from it.

Online clues point to the latter explanation: According to a Saturday update on Harris’ Facebook page, the 26-year old chef – who previously worked at Poogan’s Porch – has accepted a position with SERG Restaurant Group and is relocating to Hilton Head on Thursday. Continue reading

John Currence Coming to Town

PP&W-CH-3-interior_thJohn Currence, whose City Grocery has functioned as a Southern Foodways Alliance clubhouse since the organization’s inception, is as indispensable to modern Southern cuisine as the pickles, pigs and whiskey celebrated by his debut cookbook’s title. Charlestonians who haven’t yet had the chance to dine at one of his four Oxford, Miss. restaurants can discover why next month, when Currence’s book tour alights on High Wire Distilling.

To celebrate the release of Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey, Jason Stanhope (FIG), Sean Brock (Husk, McCrady’s), Josh Keller (Two Boroughs Larder) and Stuart Tracy (Butcher & Bee) on Nov. 19 will be cooking up evening snacks inspired by Currence’s recipes. The $85 ticket price includes liquor from High Wire, with cocktail assistance from Bittermilk; wine from Grassroots Distributing and a “special brew” from Edmund’s Oast. Currence is making punch (quite possibly with all of the above; as he writes on the book’s first page: “I’d rather punch you in the mouth with fantastic flavors than poke you in the eye with fancy presentations.”)

Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

Charleston Chefs Get VIP Treatment at Greenville’s Euphoria

The Grocery

The Grocery’s oyster-based contribution to Taste of the South.

Greenville this weekend hosted the eighth edition of Euphoria, the song-and-food festival founded by Edwin McCain and the restaurateur behind Soby’s. While I couldn’t stay for the entirety of the event (Taste of Charleston beckoned!), it didn’t take more than a few hours to appreciate the city’s enormous civic pride, which seems to extend equally to its restaurants and rubberized sidewalks.

But with stiff competition in both directions on I-26, Greenville may still be a few years away from unseating either Asheville or Charleston as a culinary destination. Continue reading

Taste of Charleston Iron Chef Pits Men Against Women

bildeIt’s unimaginable that a friendly competition would divide chefs by religion, race or ethnic background. But the gender war format is exceedingly popular in culinary circles: When Top Chef went to Texas, it pitted men against women in Restaurant Wars, and MasterChef Australia built an entire season around the conceit.

And next weekend, Taste of Charleston is basing its Iron Chef event around the “men vs. women” theme, following up on the gender allegiances which naturally rippled through the crowd at last year’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival when Michelle Weaver and Mike Lata met in the Waffle House Smackdown.

At Taste of Charleston, the showdown features Drew Hedlund (Fleet Landing) and Brandon Buck (Middleton Place) taking on Jael Allen (Mosaic) and Eva Broyles (Eli’s Table).

So what happens if the women win? Does a victory advance the cause of kitchen equality? Or does it reinforce the idea that men and women cook differently? Continue reading

Tickets on Sale for Charleston Food + Wine Ticket Launch

Bocce and badminton are the newest additions to the Charleston Wine + Food Festival’s annual Ticket Launch party, scheduled for the Mixson Bath & Racquet Club on Sept. 18. Tickets to the evening event — priced at $40 apiece — are now on sale.

In addition to participatory sports, the kick-off will feature local chefs, artisans and bartenders, offering up samples of their food and drink. Other cast members include local cookbook authors and Charleston Symphony Orchestra members, who will provide the event’s musical accompaniment.

To purchase tickets or learn more about the event’s line-up, visit the festival’s website.