Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

Charitable Charleston Chefs

It’s really horrible to see horrible things happen to good people, especially hard-working farmers (one of the toughest jobs out there, in my book) who happen to bring beautiful food to our local Charleston tables.

Yet, sadly, these things sometimes do happen. Last December, a devastating fire blazed through one of  Keegan Filion Farms barns, a barn built by owner Annie Keegan’s grandfather some eighty years ago, that housed over 100 young turkeys. Tragically, the baby birds perished along with the barn, tools and more.

What happened next is as beautiful as this story is sad. As they have many times before, a team of fourteen chefs banded together along with Randall Goldman, CEO of Patrick Properties Hospitality Group, to organize an event to help raise money for Annie and Marc Keegan and Keegan Filian Farm. The goal was to raise $20,000 by offering delicious food prepared by the chefs to a paying public (tickets were $50 each) on the gorgeous grounds of Lowndes Grove Plantation near the banks of the Ashley River.

So on Sunday, a slightly overcast, slightly blustery day, the Charleston community came together under elegant white tents to support these wonderful local farmers.

From left to right, Devany-Vickery Davidson, Joan Perry, Holly Herrick, and Jennifer Goldman

The tents quickly filled with an enthusiastic crowd, eager to do what they could for Keegan Filion Farms. This, in itself, was heart-warming in a big way.

But, what I found the most profoundly touching, was to see fourteen chefs and their teams come on out on what’s usually a day off, after a long and grueling twelve days of Charleston Restaurant Week, to share their talent, love and support. And, they did it with smiles on their faces with camaraderie (not rivalry) amongst their fellow chefs.   It was just grand to see the likes of Nico Romo of Fish Restaurant chortling and joking with Ken Vedrinski of Trattoria Lucca. Or to see Craig Deihl of Cypress hugging and beaming with joy at his young daughter. It felt like community, the special kind of community that is Charleston.

Despite the short-comings of the cooking setting, the chefs dished out delicious food, plate after fourteen plates of goodness.  Though I only sampled six dishes, each was nearly as delicious as the next. Two that were especially divine included FIG‘s pillowy gnocchi and Wild Olive‘s lasagna. Both featured perfectly prepared and paired lamb bolognese, pasta and plenty of cheese.

The gnocchi was ultra-moist and tender, effortlessly yielding even to a plastic fork. It was perhaps the best I’ve ever had. The sauce was layered in mild-sweet flavors of slightly acidic tomatoes and wine and the fragrant essence of ground lamb. It was finished with a dusting of finely chopped parsley and mint. On the other side of the tent, Jacques Larson and his team were dishing out generous squares of a piping hot lasagna, ribbons of tender, house-made pasta, holding together layers of tart, fresh goat cheese and another exquisite lamb bolognese.

FIG's amazing Ricotta Gnocchi with Lamb BologneseRegardless, all the dishes shared the same ingredient – generosity.  That’s something Charleston’s fabulous pool of chefs share a’ plenty. Thank you to all involved to help one of our farmer’s in need. By the end of the four-hour long event, $15,000 was earned towards the $20,000 goal. That’s saying something!





FIG’s amazing Ricotta Gnocchi with Lamb Bolognese (pictured above).


Wild Olive’s Goat Cheese and Lamb Bolognese Lasagna – out of this world (pictured left).






Go Charleston!

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