Born in Milan, Chef Raffaele Dall’Erta’s career has taken him to some of Italy’s most reputable restaurants. As executive chef of Hamptons, Dall’Erta’s locally inspired, seasonally focused dishes have turned the small town of Sumter into a fine dining destination.
“I love the variety of ingredients I can find here,” says Dall’Erta. “It’s not just fresh produce, we try to use as many local products as we can—fresh fish from the coast, honey and cheese from the Greenville area, pork from Florence. We want to support local farmers because they really have a unique product.”
Over the last decade, there’s been a shift in how people think about food. More and more, people aren’t just interested in eating healthier—they’re also interested in where their food is coming from.
“When guests see the name of the farmer on the menu, it creates a conversation about the dish and the product is better.”
Bell Honey Company Beekeeper Craig Bell became interested in local honey to help his wife with her allergies. He began beekeeping as a hobby, and what was two colonies has grown to over a thousand honeybee colonies across South Carolina.
“I grew up in South Carolina and being able to work out in nature, to produce a product and harvest that product and build relationships with customers—it’s very enjoyable work,” says Bell. “I love to deliver honey to restaurants and have conversations with the chef about how they are planning to use our product. It’s always great to see their creativity and how they put it all together.”
The color and flavor of honey differs depending on the flowers visited by the honeybees. There are as many flavors of honey as there varieties of flowering plants, and while honey is produced in every state, certain types of honey are produced in only a few regions.
“Typically, in the spring we get a lighter flavor, a lighter colored honey. Later in the summer its usually a darker, bolder, stronger flavored honey. It’s all wildflower honey, whatever is blooming out in the field. And it’s a raw honey, it’s directly from the beehive and hasn’t been pasteurized or filtered.”
Whether you want to buy honey in bulk, by the jar or as raw honeycomb, you can find what you need on their website.
Oven Roasted Carrots with lemon yogurt, cipollini onions, red pepper and Bell Honey
Roasted Onion and Pepper 6 cipollini onions 6 sweet baby peppers 1 cup kale 3 Tbsp olive oil 1 Tbsp butter
Lemon Yogurt (Labneh) Labneh is a soft Middle Eastern cheese made from strained yogurt. It has a thick, spreadable texture similar to soft goat cheese or cream cheese and, thanks to its yogurt base, its flavor is rich and tangy.
¾ cup plain Greek yogurt Juice of 1 lemon ¼ tsp cumin powder 1 clove garlic (minced) ¼ tsp sugar salt to taste
To Make Labneh To make the labneh, line a fine strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and set over a bowl. In another bowl, combine yogurt, salt and lemon juice. Stir to incorporate and then spoon the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. Fold cheesecloth over yogurt to cover completely. Put bowl in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, until desired thickness is attained.
To Cook the Carrots Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash carrots thoroughly in cold water and then cut them in half and put in a bowl. Add all the ingredients and toss until all are coated evenly.
Put carrots on a sheet pan and roast in oven on middle rack until carrots are lightly caramelized and al dente, approximately 15-20 minutes depending on oven. Remove from the oven and let cool.
To Cook the Onions and Peppers Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Take cipollini onions, roast in oven at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Then take sweet baby peppers, cut in half, and roast in oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
In large sauté pan, at high heat, add oil and butter. When it starts to smoke, add roasted carrots, cook 1 minute and then add roasted onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When vegetables are hot, add kale and sauté 2-3 minutes until kale is wilted.
To Plate Spread yogurt on a plate in a thin layer. Place carrot mixture on top of the yogurt. Drizzle honey on top. Garnish with edible flowers and herbs (basil, rosemary, sage, nasturtium, marigolds).
Chef’s Tip: Make sure you always have fun in the kitchen.