Chefs picked to offer a taste of SC culinary scene

bguzior@thestate.comJune 24, 2014 

South Carolinians love their food.

A new statewide program aims to spread that love.

Gov. Nikki Haley on Tuesday introduced three S.C. chefs who will serve as ambassadors. The three chefs – Heidi Trull of Grits & Groceries in Belton; Brandon Velie of Juniper in Ridge Spring, Brian Waters of Saltus River Grill in Beaufort – will work with the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and the Department of Agriculture. A fourth Chef Ambassador, Cooper Thomas of Victor’s Bistro in Florence, didn’t attend the event.

Steven Jankowski, chef in the Governor’s Mansion, will advise the ambassadors.

Agriculture department director Hugh Weathers wants to highlight not only the food the state grows but the diversity of restaurants, cooks and what’s sold in grocery stores.

While the state’s foodie reputation is centered in cities such as Charleston, Greenville and, increasingly, Columbia, the chefs were picked to represent rural areas of the state – a focus of PRT’s “Undiscovered South Carolina” tourism campaign. PRT is partnering with the agriculture department on this program.

Last year, the tourism agency created a barbecue trail, featuring more than 200 places to explore. This is a natural extension of that effort, said director Duane Parrish.

“We’re going to see the faces behind the great culinary recipes we have in South Carolina,” Haley said.

The ambassadors will do cooking demonstrations, be present at schools and serve as public faces for the culinary diversity of the state. One emphasis, Haley said, is to educate young children about healthy food choices and get more S.C. food products into the schools.

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