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

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

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

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

Southern Living Names Basico as One of The South’s Best New Bars

AR-130909748.jpg&q=80&MaxW=750&MaxH=350Basico’s updated country club vibe earned the Park Circle taqueria a spot on Southern Living’s list of The South’s Best New Bars, featured in this month’s issue of the magazine.

According to an editor’s note, the 20 chosen bars are “a throwback to a time when whiskey and Champagne were sipped by elegant folks in sleek social rooms,” minus the pretension. Basico at Mixson Bath & Racquet Club won praise for its summery, un-stuffy ambiance and spicy grapefruit margarita.

Basico was grouped with Nashville’s ultra-trendy Pinewood Social, the carnivalesque eating-and-drinking warehouse from The Catbird Seat team, in the “social club” category. Continue reading

StarChefs.com Assembles Carolina Culinary Talent for Awards Gala

Chicken Liver Pâté, Pickles, and Pistachio PestoStarChefs.com, an online magazine which stages regional parties to recognize “up-and-coming chefs and culinary professionals,” found nearly all of the talent for its Carolina Rising Stars gala in Asheville and Charleston: The cities are home to eight of the 11 chefs participating in a Dec. 11 tasting at Memminger Auditorium.

“In Charleston, we found a tight-knit community of chefs that sees itself as the keeper of what is one of the richest food traditions in America,” editor-in-chief Antoinette Bruno is quoted as saying in a release from the organization, which considered 100 chefs in 18 cities and towns for the honor. Bruno added that Asheville chefs have distinguished themselves by being “weird,” in keeping with the town’s unofficial slogan.

Charleston’s chef honorees are Husk’s Travis Grimes; Two Boroughs Larder’s Josh Keeler; FIG’s Jason Stanhope and Butcher & Bee’s Stuart Tracy. Charlestonians also made the cut in a number of additional categories: David Schnell of Brown’s Court Bakery was an ‘artisan’ winner; Aaron Siegel of Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ took the ‘concept’ prize; Social Restaurant + Wine Bar’s Brad Ball shared the ‘sommelier’ title with Maximilian Kast of Fearrington House and The Gin Joint’s Joe Raya claimed one of two ‘mixologist’ awards.

Attendees who buy $85 tickets (or $115 tickets, if they want VIP status and the caviar reception which accompanies it) will undoubtedly eat well. But it’s the few chefs who hail from beyond the Carolina powerhouses who may well emerge as the evening’s breakout stars. Continue reading