Gwen Fowler



Chef Sean Brock "hottest chef in the country"

Posted 11/23/2011 7:48:00 AM

Charleston Chef Sean Brock seems to be everywhere these days. He’s the subject of lengthy stories in The New Yorker and Time magazine. He traveled to Japan with Anthony Bourdain of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations. He was hanging out with Andrew Zimmern, the host of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, who was in Charleston filming a segment. And CBS aired a feature on him on the Early Show on Nov. 18.

Brock, the executive chef at McCrady’s and Husk, has definitely been in the spotlight for the last couple of years, especially since he was named Best Chef in the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation in May 2010. The publicity has intensified since Bon Appetit magazine in September named Husk the nation’s best new restaurant.

The New Yorker story, which takes up most of 11 pages of the magazine, focuses on Brock’s attempts to bring back Southern foods that were almost lost. It talks about his love of pork, especially the Ossabaw hog; his garden at Thornhill Farms in McClellanville, where he’s grown benne from old seed before the plant was modified; his grandmother’s seed collection, which he has stored in the attic at McCrady’s.

It also describes the differences in his two restaurants. McCrady’s, the article said, draws “Charleston’s country-club set,” while “Husk pulls in a more homespun crowd – red-faced farmers and retired schoolteachers, double-wide tradesmen and grandparents out for dinner with their grandchildren.” (Actually, the country-club set and every other set has been lining up to get in the restaurant since it opened. Read my review here.)

The Time article, in the Nov. 21 issue, talks about the two sides of Brock: the one who, at Husk, fries chicken the way his mother did and the one who plays “molecular gastronomist” at McCrady’s.

The CBS segment showed Brock cooking at Husk and talked about his efforts to return Southern food to its past, to something he called “pure and honest.” It called Brock not only the most celebrated chef in Charleston these days but also “maybe the hottest chef in the country right now.

Brock traveled to Japan with Bourdain earlier this month. Among Brock’s tweets about the adventure: “Just had the absolute best sushi experience of my life in Ishikawa:” and “I just ate raw bear.”

In October, Zimmern visited several places in the Charleston area -- McCrady’s, Husk and Fig and Bowens Island Restaurant – as well as Scott's BBQ in Hemingway.

Zimmern told Charleston City Paper the episode on Charleston “will be a love letter to Charleston cuisine.

"Now, along the way are there going to be some little oddities that we're tasting? You bet. Are there things that are served here that are bizarre with a lowercase 'b'? Sure. I mean look at what Sean [Brock] has done with pig ears.”

(Husk serves a delicious pig ear lettuce wrap. Don't miss it!)