When your staff refers to you as "Mama," you know you've reached the pinnacle of leadership in the kitchen.
While it's true Chef Michelle Weaver's maternal qualities have earned her great affection, make no mistake: She is a firm commander, ensuring that the dining service at Charleston Grill ran seamlessly during her 14-year tenure there as executive chef. During that time, she built a reputation so impressive she was named a South Carolina Chef Ambassador in 2018.
In 2023, Chef Weaver transitioned into an exciting new role as culinary ambassador for all the restaurants of Charleston Place. In this capacity, she oversees recruitment and training while providing mentorship for new staff and expert direction for recipe and menu development. In other words, she might not be working the kitchen each day, but her influence is still quite evident.
"Fresh from the garden" is the foundation of Weaver's aesthetic, but that's no cliché. Her mother's talented green thumb meant a bounty of homegrown vegetables graced the family table each day. Weaver carries that tradition into the kitchens at Charleston Place where simple foods become masterpieces that pique all the senses.
"A chest filled with toys made for a chef's heart" - that's how Weaver thinks of South Carolina's rich culinary abundance.
In her mid-20s, Weaver realized her culinary calling, left her home state of Alabama and pursued formal training at the New England Culinary Institute. Then it was on to the gastronomic mecca of New Orleans for an internship in the French-influenced kitchen of Chef Daniel Bonnot.
But it was her stint at Nashville's The Wild Boar that would eventually land her at the helm of one of Charleston's most elite restaurants. There, she worked under the masterful guidance of Chef Bob Waggoner, who took Weaver with him when he accepted the executive chef position at Charleston Grill in 1997. When he left to pursue other opportunities, Weaver was the natural choice to ascend to the helm of the kitchen.
"I was fortunate to land in a place where I could create dishes with a blend of both Southern and global influences," Weaver said. "My palate leads the way."