Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dear America, don't freak out about the tiny crabs inside the oysters on the 'Top Chef: Charleston' premiere

We've got crabs

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 10:59 PM

Pea crabs are a delicacy - FLICKR: ZANE HOLLINGSWORTH
  • Flickr: Zane Hollingsworth
  • Pea crabs are a delicacy
I can hear the gasps of horror now. Thousands of Top Chef: Charleston viewers just mumbled to themselves, "What the fuck is a tiny crab doing in an oyster?"

The reason? Deep in an oyster roast Sudden Death Cook-Off at Boone Hall's Cotton Dock between returning cheftestant John Taser and newbie Gerald Sombright, the latter steamed some oysters only to discover upon shucking them tiny little crabs. Gasp!

Gerald Sombright - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Gerald Sombright
"I start to pop the oysters open and they have little small crabs in them. I cannot serve the judges crabs!" said a frantic Sombright.

Dear. God. NO. Charleston's got crabs?!

Yes. And don't freak out, America. Those Lilliputian crustaceans are normal.

In fact, what Sombright didn't realize is that finding a pea crab in an oyster is not only OK, it's a sign of good luck. For real. I swear. Here, breathe in a paper bag while I explain.

Local historian Suzannah Smith Miles says that the pea crab is a tiny soft-shelled crustacean (Pinnotheres ostreum) that "lives symbiotically in the oyster and is considered a delicacy by gourmands when found in a steamed bivalve."

For the premiere of Top Chef: Charleston, Bravo used ACE Basin biz St. Jude Farms' oysters and as the company's oysterman Danny Hieronymus explains, the pea crab is kind of like an oyster's canary in the coal mine.

John Taser - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • John Taser
"They're in oysters in very good, high quality water," says Hieronymous. "They live together inside the oyster and show up in water with good salinity. It's a very good sign to see them."

Hieronymus agrees that getting one in an oyster is good luck. "And they're delicious," he adds. That's right, you can eat those suckers and Hieronymous says you should. "You gotta eat the crab, that’s best part of it!"

Garden & Gun's Jed Portman has a bit more on the itty bitty delicacies here. But the bottom line is this: You shouldn't freak out about finding pea crabs in your oysters and Sombright shouldn't have either.

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Fatty's Beerworks plans for early 2017 opening

Fatty's comin' to town

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 10:21 AM

Free Fatty :: Mural B-side. | client : @fattysbeerworks, designer : @jpegfletcher

A photo posted by Gregg Pavone - Limelight (@limelightsignco) on

Yesterday, we noticed a colorful mural going up on the side of an aluminum building (1436 Meeting Street Road). Come to find out, said building is home to Fatty's Beer Works, one of Charleston's — count 'em — 23 breweries, either existing or in the works.

Rob Russell, Fatty's chief operating officer, tells us the brewhouse, located directly in front of a cemetery and next to a tattoo parlor, will have a tasting room onsite. Russell hopes to have all brewing equipment installed before the holidays and he says that February 2017 could be the date of the brewery's official opening. Follow along with Fatty's progress on their website. And read more about the story behind the mural and can design in our Beer Week article about local beer label designers.

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MENU: Pawpaw restaurant eyes Dec. 20 opening date

No relation to the cat cafe

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 10:02 AM

Chef Jared Rogers and GM Jared Jones will open Pawpaw on Dec. 20 - ANDREW CEBULKA
  • Andrew Cebulka
  • Chef Jared Rogers and GM Jared Jones will open Pawpaw on Dec. 20
The evolution of East Bay continues. Almost a year exactly since the closure of grain alcohol slurpie vendor Wet Willie's, replacement restaurant Pawpaw: Southern Plates (not to be confused with Pounce + Cat Cafe) eyes its opening. On Dec. 20 the restaurant plans to unlock its doors.

Pawpaw takes its name from the pawpaw fruit, the largest edible fruit native to America. Owners Jared and his father Keith Jones (who also owns Stars) loved seeing pawpaws growing in their backyard in North Carolina, so they decided to name the restaurant after the funny fruit that grows from the Great Lakes down to the Florida Panhandle.

Andrew Moore, author of Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit, says pawpaws taste like a cross between a mango and a banana. You can eat them raw, but Moore recommends pawpaw ice cream. And that's exactly how you might enjoy them at Pawpaw: Southern Plates once the fruit is back in season. Unfortunately, pawpaws are a fall fruit so the ice cream won't be on the restaurant's opening menu. But come next October you'll likely be able to taste it by the scoop, and we're told a pawpaw Bellini is also in research and development.

As for the accompanying menu, according to a press release, Pawpaw's Chef Jared Rogers will serve Lowcountry flavors in shareable plates. For example, "entrees include wood-grilled options like hickory-smoked ribs with charred green beans and oven browned potatoes; and wood-grilled shrimp and grits with crispy okra." There's also fried chicken, mac and cheese, a pork chop, and something called "Millionaires Cut" ribeye (many millionaires cutting it? Or a ribeye large enough to feed multiple millionaires?), in addition to Rogers’ house-made pastas. Check out the full menu below.

Pawpaw will be open Sun.-Thurs. from 5 – 10 p.m. and Fri. and Sat. from 5 – 11 p.m. Lunch will launch Dec. 26 and brunch service will begin in January. For more information, visit


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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Let's take a look at Top Chef: Charleston's cheftestants


Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 1:59 PM

Local contestant Emily Hahn gets grilled by Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio - PAUL CHENEY/BRAVO
  • Paul Cheney/Bravo
  • Local contestant Emily Hahn gets grilled by Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio
Now that you've gotten to know Top Chef: Charleston competitor Emily Hahn, executive chef at Warehouse, let's take a look at her competition. Battling this year for Top Chef supremacy are eight returning cheftestants and eight newbies.

So who is Hahn up against?


  • Bravo
First, there's Jamie Lynch. Does the name sound familiar? That's because he oversees 5Church Charleston as well as 5Church Atlanta and Charlotte. Here's what we know about him: he's covered nearly head to toe in tattoos and in an interview with Kathleen Purvis for the Charlotte Observer, Lynch confessed that should he fail, “I could be the laughing stock of North Carolina.”

Brooklyn's Silvia Barban is another new kid on the show. She's Chef/Owner of Aita Restaurant and LaRina Pastificio e Vino and hopes to be Italy's first Top Chef winner.

Annie Pettry's name should also be familiar. She was here last year and competed in the Waffle House Smack Down that I judged with United's Michael Anthony and Mission Chinese Food's Danny Bowien. Pettry, the owner of Louisville, KY's Decca lost in the end, but from what I've seen in the Smack Down arena, the woman is a perfectionist and should put up a good fight.

Sylva Senat is from Philly's forthcoming Maison208. He's a native of Haiti and, fun fact, worked at Jean Georges' restaurant at Trump Hotel.

Gerald Sombright, Chef de Cuisine at Ario on Marco Island, Fl., calls his cooking style "nostalgic edible." And that's all I have to say about that.

Right on trend, BJ Smith runs Portland, Ore.'s Smokehouse 21, a Southern-style barbecue joint. Naturally we're curious to see how he does when Rodney Scott makes a cameo.

Interestingly, contestant Jim Smith from Montgomery, Ala. doesn't have his own restaurant. Rather, he's the Executive Chef of the State of Alabama. What the hell does that mean? Well, Smith cooks all the meals for Gov. Robert Bentley and his family in addition to planning and preparing menus for events sponsored by the State.


Amanda Baumgartner last competed on Season 7: Washington, D.C. - BRAVO
  • Bravo
  • Amanda Baumgartner last competed on Season 7: Washington, D.C.
This season's returning cheftestants are a successful lot. Sam Talbot, who can't seem to shake being named one of People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive competed in Top Chef Season 2: Los Angeles and placed third. Talbot is no stranger to Charleston, however. He attended Johnson & Wales here. And I interviewed him prior to his Charleston Wine + Food Festival visit back in 2008.

This is the third time on the merry-go-round for Casey Thompson. She was on Season 3: Miami and Season 8: All-Stars and lives in Napa Valley, CA but is the exec. chef at Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

Even though Amanda Baumgarten (Season 7: Washington, D.C.) has a killer chef CV — she's worked at four Michelin-starred restaurants — today she's getting her masters in mixology working as a bartender at Chicago's The Victor Bar. Might make her a tad rusty in the kitchen, but who knows.

Brooke Williamson (Season 10: Seattle) lives in L.A. where she and her husband run Hudson House, The Tripel, Playa Provisions and Da Kikokiko. As if that wasn't enough, she's managed to find time to compete on Top Chef Duels, win a battle on Esquire Network's Knife Fight, and hosted MTV's House of Food.

Katsuji Tanabe - BRAVO
  • Bravo
  • Katsuji Tanabe
Maui's Tin Roof owner Sheldon Simeon was also on Season 10: Seattle where he finished as a finalist. But although he was a "Fan Favorite," Simeon told the Hollywood Reporter that he was a "hot mess in front of the cameras at the beginning of the show." Having lived through it once though, he might have the upper hand with his stage fright out of the way.

In 2011, D Magazine called John Tesar (Season 10: Seattle) the meanest chef in Dallas. That reputation continues to precede him. But does the chef of Knife at The Highland Dallas and oldest participant in this season still have his edge?

Shirley Chung (Season 11: New Orleans) lives in Orange County, Calif. where she's chef and partner of Twenty Eight. Chung has opened restaurants for Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Mario Batali, and she nearly took the win in NOLA, ultimately placing third. Incidentally, celebrity judge Emeril Legasse thought she should have won.

And this season's final competitor is arguably one of the show's faves. Katsuji Tanabe's personality is as over the top as his style. The Season 12: Boston competitor lives in L.A. where he runs Mexikosher Restaurant. The Mexico native was raised by his Mexican mother and Japanese father and brings a Kosher twist to his Mexican cooking. He also competed on Top Chef Mexico.

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Details on the transfer of power from Joe Pasta to JohnKing Grill + Bar

So long, Joe

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 12:17 PM

All Joe Pasta signage has been removed at 428 King St. - KINSEY GIDICK
  • Kinsey Gidick
  • All Joe Pasta signage has been removed at 428 King St.
After holding court at the corner of King and John streets for 17 years, Joe Pasta has ended its reign and JohnKing Grill + Bar now takes the throne.

Eater first reported the ownership change on Tues. Nov. 29. Today we've learned that the new restaurant will be a "gourmet bar." That's according to manager David Platte.

Platte says that owners King Inc., who also operate Juanita Greenburg's and Andolini's, had been in discussions to take over Joe Pasta for the last year. Since acquiring 428 King St., they've completely remodeled the upstairs and plan to complete the downstairs in January. JohnKing officially opened for business this Monday.

"The food is burgers, wings, steak sandwiches, that kind of place," says Platte. JohnKing has brought in former Rue de Jean Chef Jacob Schor to run the kitchen. "He's doing things like bacon fat confit wings that we fry them to order," adds Platte.

But even with a more luxe take on bar food, JohnKing will have a sports bar feel. "Upstairs already has five big screen TVs. The downstairs will match that look. You won’t recognize it," says Platte. "We had an artist paint rock murals on the walls. It's a totally new, different thing."

JohnKing Bar + Grill is open daily for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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