Raskin Around: Le Crueset, shortbread shop, shrimp festival and celebrity fishermen
Hanna Raskin – Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Le success of L’Atelier
The Grocery’s Kevin Johnson is the next chef scheduled to conduct a cooking demo and tasting at L’Atelier Le Creuset, but nobody — organizers included — knows for sure who’ll take the stage in October.
“Our vision was if we built it, they would come,” spokesman Will Copenhaver says. “Then we had to figure out what we would actually do.”
Copenhaver says the cookware’s first public center has been enormously successful since opening in April, but staffers have had to scramble to develop a calendar for the state-of-the-art show kitchen. In 2014, Le Creuset hopes to schedule and announce guest chef appearances at least six months in advance.
Still, Le Creuset has managed to host an event each month, charging guests $50 for the privilege of attending an intimate cooking workshop with a well-known chef. Mike Lata and Ed Lee have both led programs this summer.
In addition to upscale demos, the display kitchen also has served as a backdrop for Le Creuset videos, including an instructional series hosted by Michael Ruhlman, and as a training venue for participants in Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters nutritional courses and children’s cooking classes. Prior to being invited to Le Creuset, students were stuck in a nonprofit space which Copenhaver describes as “a cold, industrial back room.”
The Atelier, located in a former Landry’s Seafood house, also has hosted a dinner for the ambassador from Trinidad and Tobago.
According to Copenhaver, Le Creuset hopes to replicate the Atelier in more of the 77 countries in which the producer keeps offices.
“In places like Japan, we want to have this,” he says.
Johnson will appear at the Atelier at 6 p.m. Sept. 26. Tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, call 723-4191.
Folly farmers markets
At the start of August, Folly Beach didn’t have its own farmers market. By the end of September, the community will have two.
The Folly Beach Farm & Artist Market (facebook.com/follybeachfarmmarket) debuts this Friday, just a short time after the Folly Beach Farmers’ Market (facebook.com/FollyBeachFarmers Market) began convening on Wednesday evenings. While organizers initially contemplated a joint effort, diverging visions resulted in the bifurcated set-up.
For non-Folly folks, here’s a guide to keeping the markets straight:
The Folly Beach Farmers’ Market is located in the parking lot alongside The Grill at 43 Center St. Because it’s on private property, participation is capped at eight vendors, although The Grill’s owner is confident supporters can successfully lobby for a change in the local ordinance: “We have no doubt we can push forward and grow,” Jason Craig says.
“We’re conceiving of ourselves as an event with live music,” he adds.
While Craig says the market has “a couple of anchors to make sure key bases are covered,” various artisans and specialty producers rotate into the weekly lineup. Market hours are 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays.
By contrast, the Folly Beach Farm & Artist Market is “going to be at least three times as big,” promises organizer Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms. She and the Old Whaling Company’s April McCarty are aiming to host 25 vendors at Folly River Park.
According to a release, “Supporting Folly Beach and surrounding local businesses is a priority for the creators of the market and all vendor products will be grown, produced or crafted in the Lowcountry or immediate surrounding area.” The Farm & Artist Market, held every Friday from 4 p.m. until dark, will also feature live music.
Mom-and-daughter shortbread shop
Emily Herr’s 3-year-old daughter immediately cottoned to the idea that her mother was creating a dainty, child-sized tearoom in which she could hold her December birthday party. The concept that’s harder to grasp — which won’t surprise any parents of toddlers — is sharing the play space.
“She doesn’t quite understand that other people will have their parties here,” says Herr, who opened Butter Blossoms Shortbread Shoppe & Tea Party Room in West Ashley last weekend.
The bakery’s an outgrowth of an online shortbread shop that Herr, a Johnson & Wales grad and Sanctuary Hotel alum, launched after her daughter was born. Herr and her mother, Shell DiTullio, developed 50 shortbread varieties to sell on Etsy.
“They’re definitely more adult flavors,” Herr says, citing lavender-chocolate and rosemary-pine nut.
Butter Blossoms will keep a rotating selection of eight to 10 different shortbreads in stock.
“We wanted to have more of a presence in Charleston,” Herr says of the offline move.
The bakery will continue to offer cookies via the internet, although Herr hopes to move sales from Etsy to Butter Blossoms’ own website. According to Herr, shortbread makes an ideal wedding favor.
Throughout September, the bakery will be open only on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. But starting in October, Butter Blossoms will keep a Tuesday-Saturday schedule.
Butter Blossoms is located at 1713 Ashley River Road. For more information, call 737-0129 or e-mail email@example.com.
Yemassee Shrimp Festival
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 officially kicks off Sept. 19. The American Heart Association describes the event, scheduled for 6 p.m. that day, 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 7,000 to 8,000 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 at yemasseeshrimpfestival.com.
‘Mind of a Chef’ premieres in N.Y.
A 15-year-old Johns Island seafood business stands to become a Martha Lou’s Kitchen-level food world sensation after “The Mind of a Chef’s” second season debuts this month.
The PBS show, which endeavors to probe the methods and motivations of the nation’s most progressive chefs, last year won a James Beard Foundation Award for its season’s worth of episodes devoted to David Chang. For the second season, April Bloomfield is splitting hosting duties with Sean Brock; the show’s first eight episodes feature Brock’s travels in Louisiana, Virginia, Tennessee and Senegal.
But the show’s opener, which has already premiered on stations around the country yet is scheduled to air locally at 10 p.m. Oct. 17, is set mostly in Charleston. To demonstrate that Southern food “is not just a plate of fried chicken,” Brock invites a series of pals into Husk’s kitchen. He makes a peanut and field pea salad with Steven Satterfield, who regularly demonstrates his vegetable mastery at Atlanta’s Miller Union, and prepares Delta-style tamales with Mississippi’s John Currence.
“We’re at Husk,” points out Currence, who Brock identifies as one of his best friends. “How the hell do you not make tamales?”
“There will now be tamales on the Husk menu,” Brock promises.
Then Brock heads out for a field trip to Fishnet Seafood with Matt and Ted Lee, who maintains that deviled crab (sold as Jesus crab at Fishnet) is “ready for its comeback moment.”
Yet it’s the fried crabs which captivate Brock, who had never before visited Fishnet. Brock reports he chose the venue for filming: For Fishnet, it may have been a propitious choice.
“Now it’s in my rotation to bring people who’ve never been to the South,” Brock tells the camera in a sit-down interview after the excursion.
While Fishnet’s previously showed up in the national press — Jane and Michael Stern extolled the shop’s “wildly delicious ... brittle-crusted shrimp, local oysters, crab cakes, filets of flounder, bone-in or bone-out croaker” on their Roadfood website and public radio’s The Splendid Table — Brock’s word carries significant weight with food writers. His oft-voiced love of Martha Lou’s probably helped land the restaurant a spot in a 2011 New York Times review of McCrady’s and Husk, in which then-critic Sam Sifton concluded, “In the cosmology of Southern cooking, Martha Lou’s is no dwarf planet. It is close to the sun itself.” Culinary tourists have been flocking to the once-sleepy soul food joint since.
“We came all the way from Philadelphia for this!” a visiting chef recently exclaimed when Martha Lou Gadsden stopped by his table to survey the emptied plates of pork chops, fried chicken and lima beans.
Fishnet manager Jeanette Wethington says every media mention brings a throng of first-timers to the store. “They kind of look lost,” she says. “The outside of the building looks nothing like the inside.”
Confusing matters further, on “Mind of a Chef,” the inside of the building looks nothing like the inside: The show’s crew brought a table to Fishnet, making it appear as though the take-out joint offers seated dining.
Despite the adjustments, Wethington enjoyed the filming: “We were all pretty nervous, but it went pretty well,” she says.
Wethington says Fishnet is ready to serve “Mind of a Chef” fans, although the store’s now coping with owner Joe Pleasant’s recent injury.
“The bossman got himself hurt pretty bad,” Wethington says of Pleasant’s lawnmower accident. “It messed him up pretty good: He got a ruptured spleen, broken ribs.”
Pleasant worked for three days following the accident before taking time off to recuperate.
Pleasant’s absence has strained the staff, which is also hustling to keep up with an expanded schedule. In a move which will surely please folks inclined to take Brock’s advice, the store last month added Sunday hours.
Get your shrimper’s autograph now
In a release announcing The Ordinary’s coronation in Southern Living’s current issue as one of the region’s best new restaurants, Travel & Features Editor Jennifer V. Cole implied it was no coincidence that the honor went to a kitchen with a seaward orientation.
“Mark my word,” Cole’s quoted as saying. “Fishermen will be the culinary rock stars of 2014.”
While not disputing Cole’s prediction, “Clammer Dave” Belanger, who supplies clams and oysters to restaurants including The Ordinary and Husk, pleaded with shellfish groupies to go beyond worshiping producers and help to protect their livelihoods.
“For sure fishermen will have at least one thing in common with rock stars in the future,” Belanger says. “There won’t be many of them.”
According to Belanger, the collective disregard for resource management and water quality is endangering his profession.
“At the current rate of marine habitat degradation and declining fish populations, I can see where in the not-so-distant future, the return of a fishing boat to port would be cause to strike up the band,” he says. “I am saddened by the very real possibility that I won’t be able to pass my business to my grandchildren as the salt marshes abuses worsen rather than improve.”
The complete list of Southern Living‘s Best New Restaurants is at southernliving.com.
Food + Wine Ticket Launch Party
Get a “taste” of what’s to come during the 2014 BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival at the Ticket Launch Party on Wednesday.
With a “new and improved” Culinary Village set to make an appearance next year, attendees of the event will be able to find out the details before anyone else.
In addition, local chefs, artisans and bartenders will be offering up samples of their food and drink while Charleston Symphony Orchestra members will provide the event’s musical accompaniment.
This year’s event will be held at the newly opened Mixson Bath & Racquet Club in North Charleston, so bocce and badminton have been appropriately added to the evening’s festivities.
Tickets are $40 a piece and are almost sold out. Go to charlestonwineandfood.com.
Reach Hanna Raskin at 937-5560 or firstname.lastname@example.org.