The OpenTable team is heading down to Charleston this week for the city’s annual Wine & Food Fest, where we’re hosting a VIP hospitality lounge for all chefs and talent. In anticipation of an exciting and inspiring weekend ahead, we spoke to local Chef Elliot Cusher, who helms the kitchen at Indaco and will be participating in various events throughout the festival. Here, he tells us how Charleston’s restaurant scene has evolved, what he loves about the locals, and what he’s most looking forward to this weekend.
Read the Q&A below to get inspired, and if you’re in town, come by and see us!
You worked in London, Dublin, New Orleans, and Miami before landing in Charleston. What attracted you to the city then?
I’m actually from here originally. In my early 20s I backpacked Europe and was trying to stay over there. I had a Michelin guide and some working interviews, and I went around for about three months and did stages at a bunch of places.
I had a job lined up in Ireland and it fell through at the last minute. Then I came back to Charleston. I think I left when I was 28 and went back to Miami for a little time, and then I went to New Orleans for three years. I wanted to get some more exposure to different places. Then I decided that the grass was not always greener, and Charleston really blowing up, and I knew it was where I would eventually land. So I boogied back to Charleston after five years.
How have you seen the dining scene in Charleston evolve over the years?
It’s definitely getting more recognition nationally. Growing up here, cooking, I worked at some really amazing places, and those people were already developing relationships with local farmers. A lot of the farmers have been working with the local chefs for more than a decade already.
Just with how the restaurant scene has blown up here — if you’ve already got the relationship with the farmer and provider, then you’re already on that list of people they’re going to be working with. Your Jeremiah Bacons and Mike Latas and guys like that really get the top billing — they’re the guys that people go to first. But I’m lucky that I’ve had a relationship with all of these people and can continue to use local product that’s pretty amazing. [Read more…]