Chef Amy Fortes might have been born in New York, but her connection to the Palmetto State is firmly ingrained. In 2017, she was named a South Carolina Chef Ambassador, and it was a well-earned appointment. Years spent serving a discerning York County clientele through Flipside Catering, Flipside Restaurant and Flipside Cafe provided a canvas against which Fortes could create her signature dishes and thereby catch the eye and palates of foodies in the know. Working side by side with her husband, Chef Jon Fortes, she has built a solid reputation for culinary excellence.
There's one thing most every notable South Carolina chef has in common: an affinity for locally sourced ingredients. Fortes is proud to embrace that tradition, regularly using a rainbow of seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients like microgreens, pea shoots, veggies and squash blossoms, to name a few. It's an aesthetic she strives to instill in everyone working in the Flipside kitchens.
"We have some great South Carolina resources when it comes to what we use in our restaurants," Fortes said. "I have, on more than one occasion, made an intern or line cook stop what they're doing when a delivery comes in just to look at and appreciate how beautiful something as simple as a head of lettuce can be."
Once a candidate for a medical career, Fortes discovered she preferred the title "Chef" over "Dr." while a college student working as a part-time dishwasher and sandwich maker. The energy of the kitchen was riveting enough to nudge her to visit Johnson & Wales, where she subsequently enrolled and graduated with a degree in Food Service Management. She invested a lot of sweat equity and sharpened her skills through hands-on training with Zink American Kitchen and other Charlotte eateries. Her rise to the top was rapid, propelling her to full chef-dom and restaurant co-proprietorship in just five years. In 2013, she and her husband established Flipside Restaurant Group, and since have been wowing not just South Carolinians, but Charlotte diners, as well.
"What I'm doing has become more than just cooking to me now," Fortes said. "It's getting to know the people who appreciate and love our food and the passion we have for our craft."