This is how Malcolm Hudson described the art of preparing food: “No art or craft is closer to Life’s miracle than cuisine. No art or craft shoulders the same exacting expectations of human responsibility.”
And there’s nothing like “a mankind that entrusts an alien other to prepare their physical and spiritual nourishment.”
Hudson, who died last month at 75, left an enduring legacy of appreciation for fine cuisine and in the process transformed South Carolina and its restaurant scene.
From Columbia to Charleston, Hudson shared his love of cooking and his respect for the art of nouvelle cuisine. In 1977, he opened Hudson’s restaurant in the Seibel’s House in downtown Columbia, serving upscale French food. And he became an adherent of using fresh, local ingredients long before the “slow food” movement captured America’s imagination. In 1981, he was named one of America’s 60 best young chefs.
Along the way, he tutored some of South Carolina’s best chefs, including Frank Lee, who plied his executive culinary skills at Slightly North of Broad, and Tim Peters, most recently of Columbia’s Motor Supply Bistro.
“He never complained about long hours or expensive produce or rent,” Lee told The Post and Courier in Charleston. “He was always so joyful about cooking. He said the kitchen saved his life, that outside is crazy, and inside the kitchen, there’s beauty and truth. You don’t hear people talk about that much.”
When Hudson’s closed in 1985, Hudson returned to France. In the late 1980s, Hudson came back to Columbia and operated The Random Harvest, one of the first fine dining restaurants in Vista.
A traveler and philosopher, Hudson divided his time between South Carolina and France. The Detroit native spent a stint in the military and then earned a degree from the University of South Carolina in English and philosophy, eventually finding his way into the kitchen. He traveled and lived in France, where he studied French cooking and worked in fine European restaurants. According to a biography posted on Amazon, he also spent time in Greece, Scandinavia and Haiti, among other places.
In 2004, Hudson published “Thibault and Malcolm / A Feast for Galileo,” an historical road trip back in time that wove food, feasting and romance into one the New York Times called a “rollicking ride.”
Hudson returned to South Carolina from France several years ago. He lived mostly in Columbia, occasionally catering events and private parties.
His second book, “Galileo and the Blueberry Conspiracy,” was published in 2012.