Hunter Lewis visits Charleston to discover the people behind the city's warm and inviting restaurant scene.
So I grew up five hours north of Charleston North Carolina and I would come down often in college to visit friends and as I rose up in my career first as a cook and then as an editor I would come down at least once every year and this trip is all about discovering the people that make the hospitality so warm and the ingredients that make the cuisine so great. If I'm here first at Chum Creek to meet with Mark Marhefka of Abundant Seafood. He's a legend among chefs because his catch is so pristine. No gill net, no trolling, no, you're not dragging the bottom? No. Every fish is caught by hand. Sitting down with the chef, talking with them, understanding what they're needs are is very importan I feel like a lot of chefs get bored at times and they wanna try different things and that's kind of where I step in. When they get a quality product, they don't have to do a lot to it. And that's what they like. Now we're working with Rebellion Farms down in Redbank. We take the carcasses down there. They turn it into compost. Those veggies that are in that farm then go back to Fig and the rest of the great restaurants in Charleston. That fish gave its life to give us life. And we made it full circle as much as we possibly could. Charleston Grill is famous for its hospitality. And I've come to meet Mickey Bakst and Michelle Weaver to learn from the masters themselves. How do you share your vision for hospitality with your team? I think my hospitality is based on something really simple. The belief that I wanna treat people that I wanna be treated. You come to a restaurant not just to eat. You come to a restaurant, in my world, to be. Pampers, catered to, and to make new friends. In this city people reach out their hands more than I've ever seen. That's what makes it magical, and that was what made me come here. 21 years ago when we first moved here we automaticallyr eached out to the farmers. At that time we could get collard greens, eggplant, And maybe some asparagus two weeks of the year. And as more restaurants have come in and, demanding more, wanting more things fresh from here, more farmers were able to start their own businesses, as well. Now we have this variety of things that are coming out of the ground just for the chefs, and for people, as well. I'm here at FIG, a Charleston institution, to meet Mike Lata, and to see how they're gonna prepare the snapper that they received from Mark this morning. The most important part about going to the source and finding the best ingredients is finding the people that are producting those ingredients. We felt the responsibility to kind of grow the market for young producers. So like with Mark Marhefka, if I talk to him about the way that we cook In the way that we run our restaurants. He's almost like a soul-mate in that respect where he handles his business with the same kind of approach and integrity. We have all these great things that we can, you know, that we can celebrate. Which I think makes us one of the best food regions, you know, in America. You can't beat that. My favorite way to end a perfect day in Charleston is with a classic bourbon martini at Little Jack's, a tavern run by my friend, Brookes Reitz. This has been an amazing trip and I'm so impressed with the Charleston restauranteurs and chefs and purveyors, who've raised the bar on hospitality. Every single day. [MUSIC]