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Day 1: Dinner at McCrady's

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Outside McCrady's in Charleston, SC

© Courtesy of Tom Colicchio
Outside McCrady's in Charleston, SC

Editor's note: Tom Colicchio, the head judge on Bravo's Top Chef (and a Food & Wine Best New Chef 1991), will be blogging every day this week about his road trip from Atlanta.

When I asked Glenn what chefs in the area were doing southern food the old-fashioned way, he named Sean Brock at McCrady's in Charleston.

Since Charleston was our next stop, we took Glenn up on his suggestion and invited Matt and Ted Lee to join us. The Lee Brothers have written extensively for this magazine, know just about everything there is to know about Charleston, and were kind enough to offer to show us around their stomping grounds.

We were treated that night to locally caught stone crab and triggerfish, as well as a house-made charcuterie selection starring Sean Brock's own Yorkshire pigs. Anson Mills grains appeared in two courses during our dinner: Farro and Sea Island Red Peas were served with a rich block of pork belly, and Carolina Gold Rice accompanied swiss chard and lamb with vadouvan. I found Sean Brock's cooking to be a mixture of the traditional and the modern, applying progressive, contemporary techniques and presentations to time-honored southern ingredients and flavors.

Sean prides himself on buying as much as possible from small farmers and fisherman in the Charleston area, and even grows some of his own food at his farm in McClellanville. After our meal at McCrady's we were all eager to meet Sean's growers, so he offered to take us to a friend's farm the next day.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.