Moving deftly through an award-winning career spanning decades and a variety of haute cuisine styles, Chef Ken Vedrinski has found his passion and heritage in Italian fare. Following the success of his former Charleston restaurant, Trattoria Lucca, the three-time James Beard Award semi-finalist opened Coda del Pesce in Isle of Palms, offering Italian seafood with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The coastal setting, known for its rich bounty from the land and sea, is a long way from land-locked Columbus, Ohio, where he was born.
Vedrinski grew up cooking in his grandmother's kitchen under her passion-infused, Italian-influenced tutelage. He was an eager student with such fervor for food that it led to his degree in restaurant management from Columbus College and a three-year apprenticeship under Certified Master Chef Hartmut Handke. His lifelong passion and career was ignited. Years later, Vedrinski was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University.
Vedrinski's first stint as an executive chef was at the acclaimed Opus Restaurant in the former Swissôtel Atlanta, where his talent was quickly lauded when Opus was named "One of the Best New Restaurants in America (1991)" by Esquire Magazine. Chef Vedrinski was an early adopter to the practice and promotion of farm-to-table freshness as he heralded Georgia homegrown foods, landing him a spot on The Today Show.
His next stop took him to Summerville, S.C., where he served as executive chef at Woodlands Inn & Resort. Vedrinski earned the only Mobile Five Stars awarded to a South Carolina restaurant at the inn's on-site dining establishment. In 2002, The Restaurant at the Woodlands received the only perfect food score in North America by Condé Nast Traveler.
Vedrinski then moved to Daniel Island, a suburb of Charleston, where he co-owned and operated Sienna Restaurant, his first professional commitment to exclusively Italian cuisine. Once again, Esquire Magazine took notice with yet another "One of the Best New American Restaurants (2004)" designations. John Mariani with Esquire Magazine said, "Were I to award points in this annual restaurant survey, only Sienna would get a ten solely for its cooking."
Embracing his culinary heritage, Vedrinski embarked on food-fueled expeditions to Italy in search of the most authentic ingredients, olive oils and wines. His journeys took him to Lucca in Western Tuscany, which he claims to be the home of "the best olive oil in the world." Inspired by the beloved olive oil and his love for the region, Vedrinski opened Trattoria Lucca in 2009, acting as sole owner, executive chef and sommelier. The charming restaurant was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant in 2009, and Vedrinski also was recognized as a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast in 2011.
He went on to open Coda del Pesce and now focuses his culinary skills on creating innovative cuisine for diners at the acclailmed contemporary Italian-influenced restaurant located on the main street of Front Beach. Most every dish at Coda del Pesce features fresh, locally or sustainably caught seafood in primi, secondi and piatti selections that change daily based on what's fresh and available. Vedrinski continues to offer his popular house-made pasta with an extensive selection of Italian wines mostly comprised of hard-to-find varietals, all hand selected by Vedrinski.