Kevin Mitchell

Years of Participation

2010-2012, 2020-2023

As a small child, Kevin Mitchell learned the importance of cooking within his Grandmother Doris’s kitchen. Since then, he has become one of Charleston’s most recognizable and accomplished chefs. As an instructor, historian and scholar of historical foodways of the American South, Chef Mitchell works tirelessly to preserve southern ingredients and champion the historical significance of African Americans in the culinary arts.

Upon earning dual degrees from the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Mitchell further refined his skills in notable restaurants throughout the country. In 2008, he became the first African American Chef Instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston.

Among Chef Mitchell’s passion for good food, he expertly shares the stories behind the uniquely regional dishes we enjoy today. In his own words, it is vital to “connect the food to the people” and remember the once enslaved chefs and cooks “on whose shoulders we stand for creating the food we now know as Southern cuisine.”

This was especially true in 2015 upon the 150th anniversary of Nat Fuller’s Feast. The original 1865 event, held by once-enslaved Charleston chef and caterer Nat Fuller at his then-famous Bachelor’s Retreat Restaurant, gathered together black and white patrons for a racially integrated banquet. It was the first formal gathering of its kind to be held in South Carolina after the Civil War. Commemorating this remarkable occasion, Chef Mitchell acted as the Chef Coordinator for the anniversary event, masterfully recreating dishes from the original menu including pickled vegetables, shrimp pie and roast partridge.

Today, Chef Mitchell continues to enrich and refine his expertise of historic southern cuisine. Earning a master’s degree from the University of Mississippi in 2018, his thesis, entitled “From Black Hands to White Mouths: Charleston’s Freed and Enslaved Cooks and their Influence on the Food of the South” will serve as a guiding text for HCF’s forthcoming interpretive phase of its Nathaniel Russell House Kitchen House Project.

He sits on numerous boards and advisory committees including Slow Food Charleston, he's a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance (of which he was also a Nathalie Dupree Graduate Fellow in 2016) and The Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, to name a few.  Most recently, Chef Mitchell was named a South Carolina Chef Ambassador for the year 2020, a leadership position he will hold through 2021. In 2019 Chef was contracted by the University of South Carolina Press to write a book that addresses South Carolina products and dishes.  He  wrote this book with Dr. David Shields, professor at the University of South Carolina, and it was released in October of 2021.