Highlands Food & Wine, with support from the Southern Foodways Alliance, invites you to a celebration honoring Louis Osteen. Seven All-Star chefs convene in Highlands, NC to offer a culinary tribute to their friend and mentor. The evening will also serve as the official premiere of “The Many Lives of Louis Osteen,” a documentary short produced by The Southern Foodways Alliance. Your ticket to the evening will include cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a four-course meal complete with wine pairings, live music and exclusive viewing of the film.
No one in the small town of Anderson, SC would have guessed that Louis Osteen, a descendant of three generations in the family theater business, would become a chef. Nor would they have ever anticipated that he would eventually be recognized as the Godfather of Lowcountry cooking.
But in fact, Chef Louis Osteen has been a part of the southern food renaissance from the beginning, helping to elevate the country cooking of coastal Carolina into haute cuisine. You could even credit him with establishing Lowcountry cooking as a tourist draw in Charleston. Indeed Osteen was the first to introduce Lowcountry cooking to restaurant diners. As southern food historian and cookbook author Damon Fowler noted, "Classical Southern food was founded on English cooking, enriched and nourished by new native ingredients, and transformed in the hands of African cooks." For generations, that food was found only in the kitchens of the Lowcountry and not in its restaurants
Osteen was the original in Charleston. He started just north of Charleston in Pawleys Island in 1980 and then in 1989 relocated to Louis's Charleston Grill at the Omni Hotel (now Charleston Place). There he became well known for cooking the cuisine of his childhood, discovering the traditions of the Lowcountry, and proving to naysayers and Yankees alike that southern cooking isn't about mushy overcooked vegetables and fatback. It's about local ingredients and ancient traditions. Nationally, he was credited with securing Lowcountry and Southern cooking a stronghold in the regional American culinary movement that began in the 1970’s and thrived in the 80’s. Esquire magazine identified Osteen as “the premier interpreter of New Southern Cuisine”.
Osteen’s creative, intelligent, and respectful regional southern cuisine has put him in the pantheon of southern chefs, earning him (among other honors) a James Beard Best Chef Southeast in 2004. His menus are elegant and creative with dishes like braised lamb shank, Blue Ridge rainbow trout, chicken-fried duck breast, and a scrumptious interpretation of shrimp and grits, where the grits are formed into a timbale and served with Lowcountry shrimp gravy.
Osteen took regional favorites to new heights and put them in print in his cookbook: Louis Osteen’s Charleston Cuisine. In appearances on the TV Food Network, and Discovery Channel Osteen comes across as Southern gentleman with a wonderful sense of humor, the epitome of Southern hospitality.
Now retired, Osteen’s career has spanned multiple decades and locales as Chef and restaurant owner, including Louis’s Charleston Grill and Louis’s Restaurant in Charleston, SC; Louis at Pawleys and The Fish Camp Bar in Pawleys island, SC and Louis’s Las Vegas and The Fish Camp Bar in Las Vegas.
CHEF BILL SMITH is as well known for his sumptuous take on Southern comfort food as he is for his exceptional food writing—including the New York Times Notable and Food & Wine Best-of-the-Best cookbook Seasoned in the South and his recent book, the bestselling Savor the South title, Crabs & Oysters.
Bill Smith stands out as the only James Beard Foundation “America’s Classic Restaurant” chef ever to have been named a final-five finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast—and twice.
Continually interpreting found heirloom recipes, Bill Smith’s recipes have their way of becoming iconic dishes, first served at the Chapel Hill, NC, restaurant Crook's Corner.
Among the recipes that have become classics are Green Peach Salad (featured in the New York Times), Tomato & Watermelon Salad (featured on the cover of Southern Living), Cheesepork! (the southern schnitzel), Southern Risottos & Tamales and of course his many desserts, including his most famous, Honeysuckle Sorbet and Atlantic Beach Pie (dubbed by NPR the “Oh, My God Pie.”) Among his most loved interpreted, found recipes are the Atlantic Beach Pie, Orange Red Hot Sorbet, Soft Shell Crabs, Jerusalem Artichoke Relish, Bourbon Brown Sauce and possibly the tastiest Eastern NC House-cured Corned Ham, Fried Oyster and Banana Pudding renditions—anywhere.
Recognized by Chefs Collaborative as a Southeastern finalist for an award given to chefs who are leaders in incorporating local foods into their menus, Chef Bill Smith has long worked with farmers and also homestead gardeners and foraged himself for ingredients that gather season by season on the Crook’s Corner menu.
A foremost chef-expert in Southern foodways, he has served now for years on the board for the Southern Foodways Alliance.
Also notable, his grounded commentary on Mexican immigrants has been featured in CNN’s Eatocracy, in Southern Cultures, in the Brett Anderson-edited edition of the SFA’s Cornbread Nation, and in Garden & Gun.
Many American cookbook authors have included a Bill Smith recipe, or two. Find them in Jean Anderson's Love Affair with Southern Cooking, Molly O'Neill's One Big Table, The Southern Foodways Alliance's Community Cookbook, Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies, John Shelton and Dale Reed’s Holy Smoke, many of the recently released Savor the South cookbooks, Staff Meal's from America's Top Restaurants and the soon-to-be published title: America’s Classics Cookbook by the James Beard Foundation.
In honor of the legacy set forth by Dickie and Lauren's father, Dick Brennan Sr. in the 1970s, Dickie Brennan & Company was established to continue the rich history of New Orleans cuisine through locally inspired and nationally recognized cuisine. Dickie Brennan's restaurant group includes four restaurants located in New Orleans' picturesque French Quarter: Palace Cafe, Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, Bourbon House, and Tableau.
Dickie Brennan, Owner and Managing Partner of Dickie Brennan & Company, is a trained chef and third generation New Orleans restaurateur of the renowned Brennan family. Growing up under the tutelage of esteemed Chef Paul Prudhomme, Dickie helped New Orleans institution Commander’s Palace lead the American Regional Cuisine movement by introducing the world to Cajun and Creole cooking. Along with Managing Partners Steve Pettus and Lauren Brennan Brower, Dickie is dedicated to serving modern and inventive Creole cuisine which builds upon the fundamentals established by Dick Brennan Sr.
Mike Lata is Chef/Partner of FIG Restaurant in Charleston, SC, which he opened in 2003 with Partner Adam Nemirow. In 2009, Mike took home the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southeast. In 2015, his protégé Chef Jason Stanhope garnered the same award – a rare achievement for one restaurant to earn this prestigious prize twice. Additionally, FIG was nominated in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 for Outstanding Wine Program by the James Beard Foundation, and took home the award in 2018. Now a local institution, FIG is consistently voted by locals as the “Best Restaurant in Charleston” in Charleston City Paper.
In December 2012, Lata and Nemirow opened The Ordinary, a classic oyster bar and seafood hall in Charleston’s Upper King district, to much local and national acclaim. The James Beard Foundation nominated The Ordinary as Best New Restaurant in 2013, and GQ, Esquire and Bon Appétit named it in the top 20 best restaurants of the year.
A native New Englander, Mike started his culinary career at an early age, working in kitchens in Boston, New Orleans, Atlanta and France before landing in Charleston in 1998. He is a hands-on, self-taught chef who is relentless in his pursuit of the freshest products, which constantly inspire and define his work. Mike’s mission is to create bright, satisfying food that is both uncomplicated and elegant, all the while paying respect to the efforts and traditions of his family of purveyors. His longstanding and outspoken commitment to support these local farmers and fishermen has cemented his position as a notable champion for Charleston’s flourishing culinary renaissance.
Mike’s food, philosophy, and contributions to the Charleston community have earned him recognition on national platform, including coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Esquire, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, The New York Times and many more. He has been featured in several television appearances, including Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” Bravo’s Top Chef, PBS’s Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking, and ABC’s “Nightline Platelist,” which described his food as “so good it will buckle your knees.”
When he’s not in the kitchen, Mike can be found hitting the links, riding his prized Ducati motorcycles, or enjoying life with his son, Henry.
Frank Stitt’s fondness for humble Southern ingredients comes directly from his roots in rural Alabama. He grew up in Cullman, a leading agricultural county in north Alabama, where there was a great deal of pride in being a small family farmer. Stitt, from an early age, developed a deep appreciation for the land and farming. But there was another side to his childhood: Stitt's father, like his before him, was the county doctor, and his love of travel exposed young Frank to cosmopolitan cities and leading restaurants. He was equally at home experiencing some of the great restaurants of New York and New Orleans, as he was picking the first tender shoots of asparagus with his Grandmother White in her beloved garden.
Stitt's culinary journey began to take shape when he moved to San Francisco, and as a philosophy student, noticed cookbooks were taking precedence over the works of Plato and Kierkegaard. He honed his kitchen skills at various Bay Area restaurants, including the kitchen of Alice Waters at her now legendary restaurant, Chez Panisse. Waters introduced him to Richard Olney, who at the time was working on the Good Cook series for Time-Life Books and needed an assistant. His professional path further evolved as he worked alongside Jeremiah Tower, Stephen Spurrier and Simca Beck. Eventually, travels throughout the French countryside led to work in vineyards in both Provence and Burgundy.
Stitt made his way back to the American South and returned to the foods and traditions of his childhood. Those roots, combined with his vast culinary experiences and adventurous spirit, led to a singular, deeply rich and passionate approach to food. Highly committed to sustainable agriculture and humane animal husbandry, he was one of the first Alabama chefs and restaurateurs to champion these practices. His influence in this area has been noted in his community and beyond.
In 2018, Highlands Bar & Grill received the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant after being nominated for the prestigious award each year since 2009. Stitt received the Foundation’s award for Best Chef: Southeast in 2001 and was nominated for Outstanding Chef in 2008.
Highlands Bar & Grill features a daily-changing menu rooted in classic French technique and simple Southern ingredients. Soon after its debut in 1982, Stitt opened Bottega (1988), Café Bottega (1990) and Chez Fonfon (2000)—all in Birmingham, Ala.
His first cookbook, Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill (Artisan Books) was published in 2004 and was named best cookbook that year by the Southeastern Booksellers Association. Five years later, Stitt’s second book, Bottega Favorita: A Southern Chef's Love Affair with Italian Food (also Artisan Books), was released.
Stitt was recognized as a leader in the global hospitality industry when he received the Horst H. Schulze Award for Excellence in Hospitality from Auburn University in 2017. Previously, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Foodways Alliance and was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor in 2009, the most distinguished award given to an Alabamian.
Two years later, Stitt was inducted into Esquire Magazine’s Restaurant Hall of Fame and to the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.” His restaurants are regularly featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Garden & Gun and Southern Living.
A standing board member of the Jones Valley Teaching Farm and Pepper Place Farmer’s Market, both in Birmingham, Stitt served on the board of the Downtown Rotary Club of Birmingham from 2015-2017. He lives in Birmingham with his wife and business partner, Pardis. He has two children, Marie and Weston.
A native of Winston-Salem, NC, John Fleer was named one of the “Rising Stars of the 21st Century" by the James Beard Foundation and is a five-time finalist for the James Beard "Best Chef: Southeast" award.
Inspired by the “culture of food” he experienced in Venice while a Religion and Philosophy major at Duke University, John began his culinary career humbly, working in kitchens as a way to pay for graduate school in Religion and Culture at UNC. His passion ignited, Fleer chose to change career paths and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America. Following a fellowship at one of the CIA’s restaurants and a stint as personal chef to Mary Tyler Moore, Fleer joined the team at Blackberry Farm, where he served as Executive Chef from 1992 until 2007.
Chef Fleer transforms local ingredients into world-class dishes. The unique “foothills cuisine” he helped establish at Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm walked the line between refined and rugged; fancy and familiar. It focused on interpreting the regional larder through classical and traditional techniques, eventually catapulting the resort to the honor of Relais Gourmand. Under Fleer’s leadership, the Tennessee destination was honored by Zagat Survey in 2003 and 2004 as #1 Small Hotel in America and #2 Hotel Dining in America.
In May of 2009, John took his first step back across the Blue Ridge from Tennessee, and opened Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley in Cashiers, NC, where his food was enhanced by one of the most beautiful restaurant settings in the country. Chef Fleer left Canyon Kitchen in the summer of 2013 to focus his time on Rhubarb, which opened that fall.
Rhubarb was the next step in Fleer’s culinary journey; here, he brings the relaxed atmosphere of his previous pastoral posts to Pack Square, broadening his approach with a freestyle American cuisine well-suited for its location at Asheville’s vibrant crossroad.
Over the course of his career, Chef Fleer has served on various boards, most importantly as a member of the Board of Directors for the Southern Foodways Alliance from 2003-2009. When he’s not in the kitchen, you can find him on the soccer field or spending time with his wife and three sons.
Shelley Cooper was born in Memphis, Tennessee, into a family that revolved around a bountiful table always filled with farm fresh Southern cuisine.
Her maternal family hails from the Mississippi Delta, and her father from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. She credits this combination with providing her Southern culinary roots. Both families placed a high regard for fresh, seasonal, and ‘made from scratch’ foods, as well as instilling the appreciation of pure simple ingredients. Shelley could not help but to be positively affected by such inherent passion. She was professionally trained at Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute in Charleston, South Carolina and The San Francisco Baking Institute.
Chef Shelley honed her craft at Belfair Club in Hilton Head, South Carolina, 30° Blue at Bay Point Resort in Florida, Craggy Range Winery in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, First and Hope Supper Club in Los Angeles, Alaska Expedition on the Gulf of Alaska, Monettes Artisan Seafood on the big island of Hawaii, and TerraMáe Appalachian Bistro in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Now she is tapping into her true roots and fully embracing her heritage at Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro in Townsend, Tennessee. The culmination of her life travels and culinary passion have merged to create her unique version of highbrow Appalachian fare.
Many chefs have their first exposure to cooking at a young age. For Sean Brock, who was born and raised in a Virginia coal-field town with no restaurants or stoplights, it was the experience of his family growing and preserving their own food that left a deep impression. This ignited lifelong passion for exploring the roots of Southern food, and recreating its bygone cuisine through the preservation of heirloom ingredients.
Brock attended Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, SC before starting his professional career under Chef Robert Carter at the Peninsula Grill in Charleston. Two years later, he moved to Richmond, VA to work for Chef Walter Bundy of Lemaire Restaurant at the Jefferson Hotel, where his success quickly led him to promotions within the Elite Hospitality Group. In 2003 at age 25, Brock was named executive chef at Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, TN, where he remained for the next three years.
In 2006, Brock returned to Charleston to join the Neighborhood Dining Group and take the helm at McCrady’s Restaurant. There Brock created inventive and refined Southern cuisine that helped thrust Charleston’s dining scene into the national limelight. He also developed a 2.5-acre farm on Wadmalaw Island, where he experimented resurrecting and growing crops at risk of extinction, especially those indigenous to the Lowcountry pre-Civil War. Brock has since become a relentless advocate for seed preservation and remains dedicated to the rediscovery of antebellum cuisine and the revival of the Southern pantry. He diligently studies 19th century Southern cookbooks--which he also collects—to educate himself on Southern food history.
In November 2010, Brock opened his second restaurant with the Neighborhood Dining Group, Husk. Just down the street from McCrady’s, Husk is a celebration of Southern ingredients, solely serving food that is indigenous to the South. The emphasis at Husk is on local farmers and purveyors while using tried-and-true techniques of seed-saving, heirloom husbandry, in-house pickling, and charcuterie programs on a menu that changes twice daily. In September 2011, Bon Appétit magazine crowned Husk “The Best New Restaurant in America”.
Brock and the Neighborhood Dining Group opened a second location of Husk in Nashville in 2013, which was named one of the Best New Restaurants of the year by both GQ and Esquire. Expanding to the upstate of South Carolina and the lowcountry of Georgia, Husk Greenville opened its doors in December of 2017 followed by Husk Savannah shortly after in January of 2018.
In 2014, Brock opened Minero, a restaurant inspired by the flavors and culture of Mexico through the lens of Southern ingredients. A second location of Minero opened the following year at Ponce City Market in Atlanta.
In 2016, Brock reinvented McCrady’s. In the former McCrady’s location, he unveiled McCrady’s Tavern, a lively everyday gathering place serving reimagined American Classics. In the adjacent building, McCrady’s became a 22-seat, tasting menu only restaurant featuring exceptional hospitality and an open kitchen.
In 2010, Brock won the James Beard award for “Best Chef Southeast” and is a four-time finalist for “Outstanding Chef”. He has appeared on “Iron Chef America”, and hosted season two of Anthony Bourdain’s “The Mind of a Chef” on PBS. His first cookbook, Heritage (Artisan Books), was released in October 2014, and is a New York Times bestseller and recipient of the 2015 James Beard Foundation Book Award for “American Cooking”. After being diagnosed with autoimmune disease Myasthenia Gravis in 2015, Brock has become an ambassador for the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America. He divides his time between Charleston and Nashville.
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