You’ve heard their names and read about their talents. But have you experienced the amazing cuisine conceived by the minds and crafted by the hands of our stellar roster of South Carolina Chef Ambassadors? One or two, perhaps? Well, that’s wonderful but it begs another question: Why stop there? These chefs are the best of the best, and with nearly two dozen of them currently dedicated to sharing their creations with the dining public, it would be a major foodie faux paus to miss even one opportunity.
The time is well-nigh to do a little culinary craftwork of your own, but not in your kitchen. Instead, sit down and craft a plan to take the ultimate food tour through South Carolina. Here is a comprehensive SC Chef Ambassador listing for you to reference in your quest to fill your culinary dance card.
Begin where you like, take your time and savor the diversity of flavors. One thing that’s consistent though: Each chef is dedicated to maintaining South Carolina’s reputation as a dining destination through a commitment to the best ingredients and a focus on locally sourced products.
From the mountains to the sea and everywhere in between, there’s an SC Chef Ambassador waiting to wow you. Click Here to explore the Ultimate South Carolina Foodie Trail map.
Exceptionally fresh seafood and a menu that reflects a contemporary, inspired approach to traditional Southern cuisine—these are the calling cards of Chef Brian Waters. Experience his culinary artistry and enjoy the water views at this dining gem in historic downtown Beaufort.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Orchid Paulmeier, 2016 One Hot Mama’s American Grill 1 Greenwood Drive, Suite 7A, Hilton Head Island 104 Buckwalter Parkway, Suite 1A, Bluffton
The “Next Food Network Star” finalist’s recipe for success is a combo of cultural influences, a high-energy approach and culinary expertise. Tender baby back ribs, pit-to-plate barbecue, hand-cut steaks and chargrilled chicken keep the dining rooms hopping at both locations.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Brandon Carter, 2019 FARM 1301 May River Road, Bluffton
Chef Brandon Carter has built a career highlighting the culinary contributions of growers, fishers, harvesters and other local food purveyors who supply the larder at FARM in Bluffton. With a menu built solidly on the farm-to-table philosophy, he continues to build a loyal following and gain widespread accolades.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Sean Mendes, 2017 Gillie’s Soul Food (Formerly of Roadside Seafood and Charleston's Blue Cajun Kitchen) 805 Folly Road, Charleston
From the knee of his grandmother to leading his own kitchen, Chef Sean Mendes has come a long way to master the magic of comforting, satisfying dishes made from fresh, local seafood and produce. Shrimp, oysters, okra, sweet potatoes and more form the foundation of his homestyle meals.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Michelle Weaver, 2018 Charleston Grill 224 King St., Charleston
Chef Michelle Weaver creates contemporary Southern cuisine for Charleston Grill featuring fresh local produce, seafood and game. Emphasis is placed on the quality of the ingredients, unique presentations and sophisticated textures.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Marc Collins, 2019 Circa 1886 149 Wentworth St., Charleston
Chef Marc Collins takes a historical approach to cooking, honoring the culinary traditions of South Carolina while incorporating modern twists to create memorable dishes. The original carriage house of the historic Wentworth Mansion in downtown Charleston adds a sophisticated element.
Chef John Ondo celebrates Lowcountry bounty with dishes built upon fresh, local ingredients. Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s signature seafood restaurant is the perfect stage for spotlighting his culinary skills and creativity.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Adam Kirby, 2017 Rustic Table 10683 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island
Love—that’s Chef Adam Kirby’s main ingredient in the kitchen and you can feel it in each bite of his amazing dishes. The Rustic Table’s comfort food and homestyle dishes and the fine dining Southern and Pacific Rim cuisine of Bistro 217 have made Kirby one of South Carolina’s most celebrated chefs.
Chef Heidi Vukov has a culinary history grounded in her grandmothers, one who mastered making great dishes from limited ingredients during the Depression and one from Germany near the French border who made exquisite desserts. A combination of their styles, along with an affinity for South Carolina seafood and local produce, combined to give Chef Vukov her own distinctive style.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Jamie Daskalis, 2020 Johnny D’s Waffles and Benedicts 3301 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach 3900 Hwy 17 South, North Myrtle Beach 1200 US 17 Business, Surfside Beach
Armed with a degree in baking and pastry from the Culinary Institute of America and decades of experience working in her father’s restaurants in New York, Chef Jamie Daskalis hit the ground running in Myrtle Beach with her first location of Johnny D’s and has never looked back. She doesn’t have time to. Her waffles and benedicts keep the crowds coming, and what happy crowds they are.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Cooper Thomas, 2015 Victors 126 W. Evans St., Florence
Chef Cooper Thomas' chef philosophy eschews the "throw something together" aesthetic and focuses on local, fresh ingredients for his thoughtfully prepared dishes. Whether it’s wings or foie gras, he gives it his all with rave-worthy results.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Kiki Cyrus, 2018 Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles 7001 Parklane Road, Columbia 1260 Bower Parkway, Columbia
Chef Kiki Cyrus' chicken and waffles delight those who crave the crunchy, savory-sweet combo construction of a buttery Belgian waffle crowned with fried-to-perfection chicken wings. But her signature dish is just a hint of the hearty lineup that honors her cultural roots. Stop in for a taste of soul-satisfying dishes like shrimp and grits and grilled pork chops with sides of collards and mac and cheese.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Jessica Shillato, 2019 Spotted Salamander 1531 Richland St., Columbia
Chef Jessica Shillato has earned a place on the SC culinary stage by using seasonal local ingredients to give imaginative twists to old Southern favorites. Her creative treatment of deviled eggs is legendary, with versions topped with surprising, but tantalizing additions like country ham jam, Adluh cornbread crumbs and chicken chicharrones with hot sauce.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Raffaele Dall’Erta, 2020 Hamptons 33 N. Main St., Sumter
From Milan to Sumter, Chef Raffaele Dall’Erta has come a long way to share his amazing culinary gifts with discerning diners. His excitement for locally sourced ingredients and SC food culture have melded with his experiences in some of Italy’s top kitchens to give Hamptons a reputation for distinctive cuisine worthy of any European dining room.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Chris Williams, 2022 Roy’s Grille 711 W. Main St., Lexington
Gas station cuisine is not only a real thing, but when done right, it’s unforgettable, too. Nobody does it better than Chef Chris Williams. Fill up on his smoky barbecue, tender ribs, crispy fried chicken and a lineup of signature barbecue sauces to titillate every palate when you visit his hopping little eatery.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Amy Fortes, 2017 The Flipside Café 3150 US-21, Fort Mill
The Flipside Restaurant 129 Caldwell St., Rock Hill
Chef Amy Fortes is known for her imaginative takes on Southern favorites at her Flipside restaurants. With the opening of Salmeri’s, she also indulges her passion for Italian-inspired cuisine. Southern or Italian, her dishes always reflect an exquisite attention to detail and flair.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Brandon Velie, 2015 Juniper 640 E. Main St., Ridge Spring
Chef Brandon Velie is focused on sharing South Carolina’s seasonal gifts, and diners are the lucky recipients. Whether green tomatoes or bundle of freshly picked asparagus, he can transform them into remarkable dishes that shine with freshness and flavor. Each week brings surprises to the menu.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Jason Tufts, 2020-2021 The Village Café (Formerly of Malia’s in Aiken) 110 Coach Light Way SW
Chef Jason Tufts has a penchant for freshness that is evident in the menu at The Village Café. He has elevated sandwich-making to an artform here with handhelds that are brimming with fresh vegetables and thoughtfully curated meats and cheeses. His creativity shines through with his rotation of “at-home” meals for pick-up. Desserts are impressive, too, so leave room.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Heidi Trull, 2015 Grits & Groceries 2440 Due West Highway, Honea Path
One of South Carolina's farm-to-table pioneers, Chef Heidi Trull sources ingredients locally and looks to the seasons for reasons to create and serve her signature Southern dishes. From her famous tomato pie to shrimp and grits to that addictive praline bacon, her food-craft is always spot-on and memorable.
Chef William Cribb knows his stuff, whether he’s serving up inventive Mexican eats at Willy Taco or a two-fisted handheld stuffed with house-cured-and-smoked brisket at Cribbs Kitchen. Cooking great food is his vocation and fusion cuisine is his super power. Experience both at any of his restaurants.
Southern food is Chef Sarah McClure’s passion, especially when it comes to smoked meat. But there’s an edgy side she’s equally renowned for, and it finds expression in an eclectic mix of barbecue, seafood, steaks, homemade desserts and a cocktail program featuring more than 200 bourbons. This ain’t your mama’s smokehouse.
Chef Haydn Shaak’s talent for creating culinary excellence through an expert application of classic techniques is generating a lot of buzz. Thanks to a focus on locally sourced ingredients and an artisanal aesthetic, which he describes as “rustic elegance,” he has earned a reputation for being one of the state’s most talented chefs.
South Carolina Chef Ambassador Tania Cienfuegos Harris, 2019 Topsoil Kitchen & Market (Formerly of The Lazy Goat in Greenville) 13 S. Main Street, Travelers Rest
Chef Tania Cienfuegos Harris’ way with pastries and desserts is rooted in her formative years. As a child, she watched wide-eyed as her grandmother baked up amazing things to eat. She went on to hone her expert techniques by earning a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts from the Colegio Superior De Gastronomía in Mexico City and working in some of South Carolina’s finest kitchens. Now, Chef Harris continues building her legacy as pastry chef at Topsoil Kitchen, where her creations win regular accolades from appreciative patrons.