Chef Heidi Vukov is a driving force of the Grand Strand culinary scene. Since opening her original Croissants Bistro & Bakery in 1995, then Hook & Barrel as well as a second location of Croissants in 2017, her concepts and creations have helped elevate Myrtle Beach to a fine dining destination. Named 2010 South Carolina Restaurateur of the Year and a 2018 South Carolina Chef Ambassador, she demonstrates a strong commitment to showcasing the best of South Carolina. Fresh, sustainable seafood, the mingling of French and Lowcountry flavors, and Vukov’s renowned pastries are a popular mix that has garnered a loyal following for each of her enterprises.
When it comes to creating dishes for her restaurants, Vukov’s aesthetic tends to lean away from pretentiousness and toward the basics. “I like to start with the best ingredients with simple preparation,” she said. “I think, too often, things are over-complicated, covering the true flavors of the food.” But when it comes to her legendary cakes and pastries, things get a little more complicated. “In baking and cake decorating, it is another story,” Vukov said. “I still use the best ingredients, but time and patience are required in order to prepare masterpieces of art that are also eaten.”
Grandmothers. They are important to any child’s life, but that’s particularly true for Vukov. Skilled at cooking and baking, both of her grandmothers – one, who favored preparing simple recipes in her Pennsylvania kitchen, and the other, who favored mastering more exotic dishes from her home on the Germany/France border – gave her an early culinary education. The experience was formative, instilling in Vukov a love for not only cooking and serving others, but instructing and receiving instruction, too.
“I love the hustle of the business, but I love the people even more,” she said. “Not just learning about where all our guests are from, but also teaching our young professionals while also learning from them. Sometimes they know better ways to get the same result or an even better plate.”