Gwen Fowler



Lantern's chef named best in Southeast

Posted 5/9/2011 9:57:00 PM

Chef Craig Deihl of Cypress didn’t take the top honor for the Southeast at the James Beard Foundation awards dinner May 9, but that was only because his many fans weren’t doing the voting.

Andrea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C., was named Best Chef for the Southeast.

Other chefs who were final nominees in the category were: Hugh Acheson, Five and Ten, Athens, Ga.; John Fleer, Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley, Cashiers, N.C.; Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta; and Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, Ky. The Southeast region includes South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

A win by Deihl would have been the fourth straight for a Charleston chef, an accomplishment no city in the nation has attained except for New York City, which is in a category of its own.
Sean Brock of McCrady’s and Husk won in 2010, Mike Lata of FIG in 2009 and Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill in 2008.

The James Beard Foundation Awards, often called the Oscars of the food world, are the most prestigious honors for chefs. The foundation is a nonprofit organization established to celebrate, nurture and preserve the nation’s culinary heritage and diversity.

Deihl also was nominated for the Best Chef for the Southeast award in 2010.

On his website, Deihl identifies himself as the executive chef at Cypress but writes: “I’m not just a chef. I’m a husband, author, butcher, snowboarder, leader, salami maker, fish cutter and, most importantly, a father.”

Deihl’s first restaurant job was at the Pine Bark Inn in his hometown of Danville, Pa. He came to Charleston to attend Johnson & Wales University and began working at Magnolias in 1996. He moved to Cypress when it opened in 2001 and became executive chef six months later.
Cypress and Magnolias are owned by Hospitality Management Group Inc., which also operates Blossom Cafe. The three restaurants are in the same block of East Bay Street.

He began Artisan Meat Share in 2009, a CSA-like program where shareholders get packages of Deihl charcuterie quarterly. He also is author of a cookbook, “Cypress,” published in 2007.