Southern Living’s Summer Food Issue on Newsstands Today


Today marks the release date of Southern Living’s food issue, and the magazine’s new food editor wants you to know this isn’t your mama’s Southern Living. It’s maybe closer to your grandmama’s.

“Forty years ago, there would have been an essay about why shrimp matters; a profile of a shrimper and great recipes,” Hunter Lewis says when asked how the magazine would have handled, say, the arrival of shrimp season in previous years. “In certain eras, we went away from that and just gave recipes. I think we’re getting back to that.”

The heart of the food issue is an alphabetical guide to Southern food, described as a compendium of “the recipes, tastemakers and trends that define our culture right now.” The list ranges from Agricultural Renaissance to Zucchini – with fried chicken and Champagne; a Birmingham teaching farm and pitmaster Aaron Franklin populating the in-between pages. Charleston’s High Wire Distilling Co. shows up under “X” — as in “XXX” for moonshine. Continue reading

Sustainable Seafood Dinner at Edmund’s Oast

Edmund’s Oast is serving butter-poached crab and shrimp; slow-baked grouper and soft shell crab for its first-ever Sustainable Seafood Dinner.

Other responsibly-harvested ocean creatures on the menu for the May 19 event, organized by the South Carolina Aquarium, include flounder and clams.

Dinner starts at 6 p.m., and tickets are priced at $95 (or $135 with beverage pairings.) Ten percent of the proceeds will benefit the South Carolina Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Initiative.

For reservations, call 727-1145.

Five Chefs to Cook Unpopular Fish



Back in August, sometime before the ink had dried on my business cards, I blogged about the surprisingly conservative nature of many South Carolina Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Dinner menus.

“While the upshot of (an) approachable menu is it gently reminds consumers of which favorites pass muster with sustainable seafood advocates, it fails to take into account the diversification that now represents the forefront of responsible eating,” I wrote about a dinner featuring mussels, shrimp and trout.

Fortunately for adventurous eaters and ocean advocates, there’s nothing gentle about the proposed menu for the first-ever Trash Fish Dinner, organized by Abundant Seafood’s Mark Marhefka and Fish chef Nico Romo. Although the fish line-up will be determined by what’s biting on June  5, a press release hints the roster could include overlooked “species such as amberjack and white grunt, little tunny, Spanish mackerel and jolthead porgy.” Continue reading

Nico Romo Selected for JBF’s Sustainable Seafood Boot Camp

James Beard Foundation

James Beard Foundation

Reflecting the increasingly common understanding that sustainable seafood isn’t merely a coastal concern, the roster for the James Beard Foundation’s upcoming Chefs Boot Camp for Policy & Change includes chefs from Cleveland, Minneapolis and Sacramento.

Nico Romo of Fish is also joining the group of 15 chefs, which will convene later this month in California for a three-day series of workshops “designed to provide chefs with tools and support to be effective leaders and advocates for food-system change.”

The Beard Foundation in 2012 launched its Chefs Boot Camp at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn. The holistic program includes media coaching; brainstorming sessions; policy briefings and other workshops meant to help chefs develop and deliver messages pertaining to the camp’s specific topic. Continue reading

Chasing Down Calabash’s Correct Definition


Seafood Hut, Calabash, N.C.

I first encountered calabash in western North Carolina. I worked part-time in politics, and so split my time between Calabash houses and barbecue joints. The prevalence of deviled crabs in the mountains is astounding.

But Calabash’s dominion apparently reaches much further west than south. When I mentioned to a friend here that I’d probably manage a Calabash supper on a Myrtle Beach outing, she didn’t have a clue what I meant (Hold your outrage: She’s only lived here a few years, and the southernmost Calabash restaurant I can find in South Carolina is in Surfside Beach.)

As I tried to explain it to her, I realized I wasn’t entirely sure either. Is the Calabash style characterized by its seasoning? The makeup of its breading? Or the oil in which it’s fried? I figured if I couldn’t win every miniature golf game in Myrtle, I could at least use the trip to quell my Calabash curiosity. Continue reading

MUSC Researchers Uncover New Seafood Concern



A toxin found in seafood may pose an even more serious threat to human health than previously believed, according to new research from the Medical University of South Carolina.

The study published this month in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology demonstrated that domoic acid causes kidney damage in mice. While domoic acid has already been linked with brain damage – sea lions who feast on sardines and anchovies with high levels of domoic acid “go crazy and die,” MUSC associate professor Michael Janech is quoted as saying in a release announcing the study’s results – the researchers say the kidney is the more sensitive organ in this case: They documented kidney damage at concentrations 100 times lower than the level associated with brain damage.

Although the findings have not yet been extended to humans, the researchers are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to revisit its domoic acid standards, which are based on brain damage concerns. Continue reading

$35 Three-Course Daily Special Debuts at The Ordinary

bildeThe Ordinary has been lavished with love since its 2012 opening, but the perpetual complaint about the upper King Street seafood restaurant is “too pricy.” Starting this Sunday, though, eaters will be able to feast on three courses for $35.

In a salute to the genre of old world taverns which lent its name to Mike Lata’s second restaurant, The Ordinary is adding a prix-fixe, three-course daily special. The meal, which will change nightly, will be available until it sells out. A press release describes it as “fun, accessible and value-oriented.” Continue reading

John’s Island Welcomes First (Partially) Korean Restaurant

Someone else's bowl of jajangmyeon/ stu_spivack

Someone else’s bowl of jajangmyeon/ stu_spivack

After months of fending off anxious queries from eaters hungry for bibimbap, Kenny Tyler is finally on the cusp of opening Sunae’s, a fast-service hibachi and Korean grill. If the planning department approves it, the John’s Island restaurant will start serving on Wednesday.

“All I hear is ‘when are you going to open?’,” says Tyler. “At the new Bi-Lo, even at the Publix on Savannah Highway, everywhere I go, it’s ‘When are you going to open? What’s the holdup?’”

Tyler says it took three months to convert the 1766 Main St. storefront which previously housed Billy Dee’s Premium Chicken; the fried chicken shack closed in 2011. After “DHEC came in and tore it up,” Tyler had to update the space to comply with current building codes.

“That wasn’t no picnic,” he says. Continue reading

A Local Sustainable Seafood Story That Predates Chefs Collaborative’s Charleston Visit By More Than a Century

David Heber Hammer's Photography

David Heber Hammer’s Photography

Chefs Collaborative, the nation’s leading network of sustainability-minded food professionals, is this weekend bringing its annual conference to Charleston for the first time. But the seafood topics on the National Summit agenda aren’t new to the city: In the 1880s, a local African-American retailer and amateur ichthyologist had already figured out how to “tempt guests with unfamiliar seafood,” a practice now considered a cornerstone of healthy aquatic ecosystems.

Prior to the Civil War, Charleston’s fish market was in sad shape. According to food scholar David Shields, who generously shared the manuscript for his forthcoming Charleston culinary history, most shad were shipped north, and clams, shrimp, scallops and crabs were rarely offered for sale; Shields quotes a disappointed Duke of Saxe-Weimer-Eisenach as reporting in 1826 that “fish were not presented in so great a variety as I expected.”

Shields attributes the dearth of fish at market to northern control of the commercial smack fleet and a mosquito fleet which delivered its catch directly to plantations, whose overseers forbade slaves from sidelining in fish sales. But emancipation didn’t solve the problem of connecting local eaters with local seafood: So many men took up fishing for profit that fish populations were at risk of being wiped out. Continue reading

Yemassee Shrimp Fest Challenges Attendees to Seek, Cook and Eat

Phu Thinh Co

Phu Thinh Co

Among the most popular shrimp-related Google search terms in the Charleston area are “shrimp and grits”, “shrimp pasta”, “shrimp sauce” and “fried shrimp,” which may help explain why the American Heart Association is partnering with the Yemassee Shrimp Festival to host a scavenger hunt with a cardiovascular component.

HeartChase is the newest addition to the weeklong celebration, which kicks off next Saturday with a beauty pageant. The American Heart Association (AHA) describes the event, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m., as a meld of The Amazing Race and Minute-To-Win-It-style challenges. According to the AHA website, the competition “provides a fun, new way to promote healthy living.”

Less-healthy activities planned for the festival, which annually draws 7000-8000 people, include a shrimp cook-off, shrimp concessions and a shrimp-eating contest.

“People need to come hungry so they eat a lot,” organizer Paula Hagan advises.

The complete schedule, including location information, is here.