One more day until the Charleston Wine & Food festival kicks off! OpenTable will be hosting a hospitality lounge for all of the chefs and talent participating, including the South Carolina locals and visitors from all over the country. In celebration of a fun, festive weekend ahead, we’re talking to some of the city’s best chefs. Here, we chat with Jared Rogers, who helms the kitchen at Charleston hot spot Pawpaw — find out all about his inspirations, what he loves about Charleston, and what he sees for the future of southern cuisine.
You grew up in Virginia — was southern food a big part of your childhood?
Definitely. I started working for Richard Perry at Chateau Morrissette, and he was from Charleston. That kind of put a plug in my head about cooking in Charleston. He showed me all the staples and dishes, and how to make bacon and stuff like that.
I ventured out to San Francisco after high school, and I didn’t get a chance to get out here for 13 years, I got so busy with my work out there. So I’ve been trying to get back here for at least the last seven years, but I finally found a job out here and got this restaurant open.
Tell me about moving to San Francisco and working for Bruce Hill. What were some of your biggest takeaways from cooking in a different part of the country?
That was amazing. Just the sensitivity they have to ecological cooking, organic cooking, seasonal cooking, and respect for ingredients is unparalleled in San Francisco. It definitely leads the pack. That really was an education in utilizing cool ingredients and farmers market-direct stuff, stuff I’ve never seen before that was just mind blowing to be honest.
Are you seeing a lot of farm-to-table and working with local producers now?
Yeah, I’m working with GrowFood Carolina, a farmers’ market cooperative — I have become actually their best customer. I’ve seen some amazing stuff here. The seafood is amazing here, with all of the varieties of fish. It’s so much fun. Definitely enough to keep me super happy here.
Why did you want to move to Charleston? What attracted you?
I came here as a kid, and then working with Richard Perry who cooked in Charleston for many years.. Just hearing about it and knowing about it because I’m from the South. I just wanted to get back to the South. My family still lives in Virginia, so I wanted to get back closer to home.
California is amazing and I miss it, but I just wanted to seek a new challenge, and I love the South. Charleston has always been where I’ve wanted to be. [Read more…]