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The Fig bar in Charleston

South Carolina

South Carolina’s Culinary Stars: 8 Chefs and Their Must-Visit Restaurants

By: Samantha Crespo

Andrew Cebulka
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  • States:
    South Carolina

In South Carolina, abundant fresh ingredients have inspired a longstanding tradition of authentic, local cuisine made deliciously evident in signature dishes.

Lately, a wave of chefs across the state is building on this tradition, inviting diners into restaurants defined by their personal styles, creative recipes and deep talent. These eight chefs represent awardees of the prestigious James Beard Foundation and members of the South Carolina Chef Ambassador Program, designed to introduce travelers to restaurants in each of the state’s four regions.

Sean Brock

Chef/Partner of McCrady’s in Charleston
James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southeast, 2010

Brock’s menu changes daily to showcase ingredients from South Carolina producers and his own rooftop garden. The results mix tradition and invention, as in poached oyster with Jimmy Red Corn, a sweet native variety that’s naturally vibrant red.

Chef Sean Brock uses his own rooftop garden as well as produce from local South Carolina growers to offer inspired, fresh and traditional dishes.

Chef Sean Brock uses his own rooftop garden as well as produce from local South Carolina growers to offer inspired, fresh and traditional dishes.
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Ramon Dickerson

Chef of 2 Fat 2 Fly’s Wing City in Columbia
2016 South Carolina Chef Ambassador

Dickerson starts with bone-in, South Carolina-raised chicken wings, then stuffs them with flavorful combinations: One popular version blends jalapeno peppers, bacon and cheddar cheese. From his restaurant or food truck, anticipate an indulgent but laid-back meal.

The wings fly out of Chef Ramon Dickerson’s 2 Fat 2 Fly Wing City in Columbia, featuring multiple varieties and mouth-watering sides.

The wings fly out of Chef Ramon Dickerson’s 2 Fat 2 Fly Wing City in Columbia, featuring multiple varieties and mouth-watering sides.
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Mike Lata

Chef/Partner of The Ordinary and FIG in Charleston
James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southeast, 2009

Behind the scenes of two local favorite restaurants, Lata works with local fishers, farmers and producers to create a lively spot that’s part oyster bar, part seafood hall at The Ordinary. Expect anything from a traditional fish fry to briny, raw oysters to crispy rock shrimp.

With its classic appeal and inspired flavors, Chef Mike Lata’s The Ordinary in Charleston offers an extraordinary seafood experience.

With its classic appeal and inspired flavors, Chef Mike Lata’s The Ordinary in Charleston offers an extraordinary seafood experience.
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Orchid Paulmeier

Chef of One Hot Mama’s American Grille on Hilton Head Island
2016 South Carolina Chef Ambassador

Paulmeier’s menu is part South Carolina, part Hawaii and all comfort, featuring deliciously messy platters heaped with hand pulled pork, juicy hamburgers and saucy wings. Try the Maui Wowii, marinated in pineapple, ginger and soy. >

Chef Orchid Paulmeier of One Hot Mama’s American Grille on Hilton Head Island brings a touch of Hawaii to her flavorful comfort foods.

Chef Orchid Paulmeier of One Hot Mama’s American Grille on Hilton Head Island brings a touch of Hawaii to her flavorful comfort foods.
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Michael Hrizuk

Forrest Parker

Chef of Old Village Post House in Mount Pleasant
2016 South Carolina Chef Ambassador

Born, educated and trained in South Carolina, Parker infuses his menus with native flavors. For brunch, try the omelet of freshly caught shrimp and crab. For dinner, sample a local pork chop with pimento cheese grits.

South Carolina born and raised, Chef Forrest Parker of the Old Village Post House in Mount Pleasant uses fresh, local ingredients in his creations, such as a shrimp-and-crab omelet.

South Carolina born and raised, Chef Forrest Parker of the Old Village Post House in Mount Pleasant uses fresh, local ingredients in his creations, such as a shrimp-and-crab omelet.
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Jason Stanhope

Executive Chef of FIG in Charleston
James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southeast, 2015

Stanhope creates new signature dishes at FIG, such as marinated razor clams with golden raisins and pine nuts. He embraces high-quality ingredients whether he’s sourcing heirloom vegetables from local farmers or making pasta in-house.

Chef Jason Stanhope of FIG in Charleston uses heirloom vegetables in his exquisite salads and as sides to his signature dishes.

Chef Jason Stanhope of FIG in Charleston uses heirloom vegetables in his exquisite salads and as sides to his signature dishes.
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Robert Stehling

Chef/Owner of Hominy Grill in Charleston
James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southeast, 2008

At Hominy Grill, local, seasonal ingredients and made-from-scratch preparations shine in Stehling’s offerings: Imagine tender field peas and rich, cheesy grits on a vegetable plate, or a Charleston classic such as She Crab soup with sherry.

Made-from-scratch favorites highlight the inspired-by-the-traditional menu at Chef Robert Stehling’s Hominy Grill in Charleston.

Made-from-scratch favorites highlight the inspired-by-the-traditional menu at Chef Robert Stehling’s Hominy Grill in Charleston.
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Teryi Youngblood

Chef de Cuisine of Passerelle Bistro in Greenville
2016 South Carolina Chef Ambassador

Sit at the chef’s bar to watch Youngblood take a French approach with South Carolina flavors: Brie cheese and ratatouille fill buckwheat crepes; banana bread pudding is refined with chocolate ganache and chocolate-hazelnut gelato.

Chef de Cuisine Teryi Youngblood, of Passerelle Bistro in Greenville, takes a traditional dish, adds a French twist, then mixes in a few modern touches.

Chef de Cuisine Teryi Youngblood, of Passerelle Bistro in Greenville, takes a traditional dish, adds a French twist, then mixes in a few modern touches.
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Getting There

Getting to South Carolina is easy via direct and connecting flights to several gateway airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) in Georgia, and Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) in North Carolina.

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