Charleston, SC | Circa 1886
The city of Charleston has a rich history steeped in many cultures that have traveled its beautiful land and sea many times over. It is blessed with a diversity in its people and its culinary past so much that it has its own name, Low Country Cuisine, to define it. That “cuisine” is woven not only by the dishes brought to it by the colonists, French Huguenots, trade routes or slaves but also by the ingenuity and fortitude brought on by pure Americanism.
Today’s chef cares about not only the quality of the food coming to him but where that food comes from. Collins is no exception to this rule except that he takes this one step forward. He asks the question “What about you?” We as Americans have more choices than ever before and that’s a good thing. But this has created a backslide which Collins feels needs to be addressed and that is the issue of health. Great ingredients need to shine and shouldn’t be muddled by heavy cream or rich butter. It’s not good for you or them” says Collins.
“It is possible to redefine a style of cooking like the South by giving those ingredients a sense of purpose and lightness” says chef Collins “And that purpose can also be had without the guest noticing its been done because we chefs live in an exciting era of Gastronomy that gives us the ability to really play with our food.” How does one achieve this? “The key to pulling off this wizardry is to replace the normal fats with vegetables cooked in such a way as to emulate those fats. By taking this approach Collins’ guests can leave knowing they too have been thought of just as much as the food they’ve eaten.
Chef Collins founded the Charleston Wine & Food Festival and was given an award in his name for this accomplishment in the fifth year of its operation. His restaurant is also the recipient of the Forbes four star rating as well as AAA’s four diamond rating. He has also been a staunch supporter of Louie’s Kids a non profit devoted to ending childhood obesity one child at a time. It was this very cause that made Chef Collins seriously think of the impact on his guests and the impact his menu decisions make. “America has fallen accustomed to a certain way of eating and that has found its way to our kids. It’s imperative that we invest in them because they will inherit this great country!”