Visit the Slow Food Charleston home for news and upcominig local events.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


by Wendy Swat Snyder

Chef Nate Whiting learned to respect all things green as a youngster, working at the side of his grandmother. Whether helping out in her vegetable garden or simply picking dandelions from across the road - he was a child who loved his vegetables.

Whiting's culinary fate was sealed when his Dad recruited him to wash dishes at a local eatery in his hometown of Rochester, New York. He realized that "he just wants to be in the kitchen", and followed his passion to the former Charleston campus of Johnson and Wales.

Now executive chef at Tristan, Whiting's path has taken him to some of the country's top kitchens - Peninsula Grill, The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia, and Maestro in Washington, D.C.

In 2008, he left his post as executive sous chef at The Dining Room at Woodlands Inn for a chance to travel to Italy and study at the renowned cookery school of Da Vittorio, a Relais & Châteaux property in Bergamo.

"I told them it was one of my biggest dreams to go there and cook," he recalls. "I'd worked on getting over there for years."

Whiting says he learned some of his favorite techniques at the culinary school. "It was a great experience."

The chef shares his recipe for a simplified version of the Caprese Salad served at Tristan. The dish showcases heirloom tomatoes picked at their peak.

Nate Whiting's Simple Tomato Salad

A few heirloom tomatoes (best quality)
2 bunches of fresh basil (about 2 cups)
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 can tomato paste (we use Cento San Marzano)
1 cup neutral vegetable oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Coarse sea salt (we use a Spanish Flor de Sal)

For the basil vinegar: Pick the smallest basil leaves off the basil bunches. Reserve them for garnish. Bring the vinegar to a simmer and pour it over the basil. Press the basil down so the vinegar wilts all of it. Let it stand until cool, then strain.

For the tomato oil: in a blender at low speed, mix the tomato paste and the vegetable oil. Run until the oil turns bright red, and the blender hopper is warm to the touch (10-15 minutes). Drain the oil through a strainer, and then hang it in a coffee filter.

For the tomatoes: take a hand-held propane torch. On a fireproof surface (like a sheet pan on a stove top) blister the tomato skin with the torch’s flame. When the tomato is black all over, run the skins off with a clean towel. If torch is not available, blanch tomatoes and peel off skins.

To complete the salad: cut the tomatoes into attractive shapes (exactly how will depend on which tomatoes you used - get creative). In a bowl, toss them in a little oil, a little vinegar, some sea salt, and some cracked pepper to taste. Arrange them decoratively on a plate, and drizzle a little more dressing from the bowl around them. Add a twist of pepper, garnish with the little basil leaves, and you’re done!

If you want to dress it up a little bit, you can add some croutons, mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar, parmesan, or whatever else you want, but all you really need are great tomatoes, simple dressing, salt, and pepper.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why Food Matters

Slow Food USA is hosting a webinar at 2pm on May 17. Read more about it - Why Food Matters

Monday, May 2, 2011


by Wendy Swat Snyder

Chef Micah Garrison’s farming roots run deep – he grew up in a family of Upstate dairy farmers and took for granted dining on fare harvested from his grandfather’s land.

“To look back now,” says Garrison, “and know how fresh the products were – to have been able to literally pull the corn off the stalk before supper – it’s almost unheard of these days.”

With the help of an uncle in Charleston - a marine biologist who got him “hooked” on the life cycles of the Low Country waterways, the Columbia native soon expanded his passion for the land to the sea, and aquatic sustainalbility.

“For me to now be able to give back as a chef by simply making smart purchasing decisions is a great feeling,” says Garrison, Middleton Place Restaurant executive chef and two-time winner of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative Award.

The Middleton Place kitchen is also sustainably supplied by a 6,000 square foot production garden managed personally by Garrison and his staff. The majority of the plot contains heirloom plants, with a section dedicated to companion plants for promoting pollination and growth such as marigolds, nasturtiums, jasmine, sunflowers, berries, and herbs.

Garrison, whose culinary portfolio includes Boone Hall Plantation, Cypress, and 82 Queen, feels fortunate to preside over the kitchen once headed by renowned Southern chef Edna Lewis. The undisputed queen of country cooking, Lewis made her mark on the Middleton Place Restaurant menu with her classic plantation offerings, and he feels they share a common thread.

“One of the great things about Southern cuisine is the simplicity of it,” he notes. “Fresh, local ingredients, simply prepared – it really lets the love shine through in the dish.”

Garrison shares a newly updated recipe for locally sourced shrimp and grits...!

Micah Garrison's Shrimp and Grits

2 pounds local shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, julienned
¼ pound tasso ham, julienned
2 cups white wine
2 cups local goat cheese
3 – 4 sprigs parsley and thyme
1 quart local grits
2 cups local heavy cream
¼ pound unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the grits:

In a large pot, bring 1gallon of salted water to a rolling boil, slowly whisk in the grits and lower the heat. While stirring, add heavy cream and half the butter. Cook on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the grits are tender, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.

For the shrimp:

Pour olive oil in a large hot saucepan and add onions. Sweat the onions until tender, and add the ham and shrimp with a pinch of salt. Once the shrimp begin to color, deglaze with white wine, add the rest of the butter and herbs, and simmer until the shrimp are cooked through. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

If timed correctly, the grits should be ready when the shrimp are cooked. Ladle grits into a bowl, add the shrimp sauce, and garnish with desired amount of fresh goat cheese. Depending on the appetite of your guests, this should feed five to ten people easily.


Adluh Brothers Milling Company |

Giddy Goat Cheese |

C.A. Magwood Jr. & Sons |