Every year since 2015, the SC Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and the SC Department of Agriculture has named four chefs from around the state to serves as Chef Ambassadors. The chefs will spend their year-long tenure representing South Carolina at regional food festivals and special events while highlighting their talents, authentic cuisines and the locally grown produce unique to South Carolina.
Chef Ambassadors are nominated by their peers and former Ambassadors. The four chefs for the class of 2018 were chosen from 91 nominations.
For 2018, Governor Henry McMaster announced that the Chef Ambassadors are four female chefs from around South Carolina, making it the first time the group has been comprised entirely of women.
Kiki Cyrus, Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles, 7001 Parklane Rd., Columbia, kikischickenandwaffles.com
Kitwanda “Kiki” and Tyrone Cyrus opened their restaurant in 2012, serving homemade soul food. The establishment’s signature dish is four crispy fried and seasoned chicken wings on top of a warm Belgian waffle. Come for the food, stay for dinner and live jazz.
Sarah McClure, Southside Smokehouse, 726 S Howards Ave., Landrum, www.southsidesmokehouse.com
Chef McClure received a BA in Art History before deciding to become a chef. After working under Chef Peter Dale at The National in Athens, GA, McClure returned to her hometown to take over the family business. The menu at Southside showcases “eclectic upscale cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced and seasonal produce.”
Heidi Vukov, Croissants Bistro & Bakery, 8014 North Kings Hwy., Myrtle Beach, croissants.net
Heidi Vukov opened Croissants Bistro & Bakery in 1995, offering everything from coffee and espresso drinks to homemade soups, salads and baked delicacies. Vukov has been named a SC Restauranteur of the Year, and authored a cookbook, Bonjour, Y’All: Heidi’s Fusion Cooking on the South Carolina Coast. In 2017, Heidi’s Corner Restaurant Group planned a second location of Croissants Bistro & Bakery at the Grande Dunes and a new dinner restaurant, Hook & Barrel.
Michelle Weaver, Charleston Grill, 224 King St., Charleston, www.charlestongrill.com
Chef Weaver began her culinary training at the New England Culinary Institute. The Alabama native has been at Charleston Grill for 16 years, the last five as the Executive Chef. The restaurant is known for contemporary interpretations of regional favorites as well as dishes inspired from global flavors. Chef Weaver does offer a 6-course tasting menu for diners wanting to savor the range of her talents.
Former SC Chef Ambassadors
2017: Adam Kirby, Bistro 217 and Rustic Table, Pawleys Island; William Cribb, Willy Taco, Cribbs Kitchen and Cribbs Catering, Greenville/Spartanburg; Amy Fortes, Flipside, Rock Hill; Sean Mendes, Roadside Seafood and Blues Cajun Kitchen, Charleston
2016: Ramone Dickerson, 2 Fat 2 Fly, Columbia; Forrest Parker, Undiscovered Charleston; Teryi Youngblood, formerly of Passerelle Bistro, Greenville; Orhid Paulmeier, One Hot Mama’s, Hilton Head
2015: Heidi Trull, Grits & Groceries, Belton; Brandon Veile, Juniper, Ridge Spring; Cooper Thomas, Victor’s Bistro, Florence; Brian Waters, Saltus River grill, Beaufort