Lowcountry Cuisine in the Spotlight at MenuDirections

Conference looks at unique flavors & foods of the Carolinas.

Any visitor to Charleston, S.C., is likely to be exposed to the region’s celebrated Lowcountry cuisine. Attendees of MenuDirections got a full immersion, starting with an overview of the signature ingredients and flavors from chef Mike Ellis, followed by an actual taste at his restaurant, A.W. Shuck's, one of three standout local places included in the conference’s Dine-Around.

As Ellis explained to the 250 foodservice professionals in attendance, Lowcountry cuisine is “perhaps the first true regional cuisine,” extending back to colonial days. It reflects “many early influences, including Indian and European,” he noted.

Those cooking styles and flavors were further influenced by the West African touches and techniques that slaves brought with them to the New World, yielding dishes that remain the cuisine’s staples.

Ellis provided a quick overview of commonly used ingredients, which include rice; corn, served both on the cob and ground into flour or grits; oysters, “so plentiful in the low country that oyster roasts have become as common as the backyard barbecue”; fried green tomatoes; and “the holy trinity” of peppers, onions and celery.

Attendees sampled a number of those components during the Drive-Around. Ellis, for example, served a gumbo made with local creek shrimp and other seafood.

Fleet’s Landing provided hefty samples of shrimp and grits, a traditional breakfast now served by many Carolina restaurants and households for dinner as well. It also served a hush puppy stuffed with seafood.

High Cotton, part of Charleston’s Maverick Southern Kitchens restaurant group, provided what one chef-attendee described as highly refined southern specialties, like pickled cauliflower and pork rillettes, a pate-like dish.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
oversized portions

Here are the trends FSD's Chefs’ Council members wish would go away.

Kale Gluten-free Sriracha Chipotle Microgreens on everything Sous vide cooking Aversion to bread Healthy desserts Vegan diets Lies about local sourcing/organic food Fast food Cupcakes Pumpkin spice Fat-free or low-fat Meatless Mondays Bread cones Rigid child nutrition guidelines Bacon on everything Cajun Doughnuts with over-the-top toppings Oversized portions Fried foods Pinterest
Ideas and Innovation
Frose

Frose, sushi burgers and single-item restaurants are hot topics as of late, according to Forbes, which recently released a list of seven buzzwords in the foodservice world. Here’s what’s trending, in no particular order.

Blended burgers Frozecco and frose Goth food Hemp Single-item restaurants Sushi burger Upcycling
Industry News & Opinion
MeuDirections

One of my favorite cartoons shows a commander whose soldiers are in the midst of fighting a war with bows and arrows. Without turning around, he tells a man who has come up behind him, “I’m sorry, I’m too busy to talk to you.” The man was a rifle salesman.

In today’s time-pressed world, we are all too busy. So, it can be difficult to find time to reach out to others for ideas, solutions and best practices. But as that cartoon illustrates, it’s critical to being successful. The sharing of knowledge is a pillar of FoodService Director . Through our magazine and events, we have been...

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

FSD Resources