January 17, 2016 • FOOD
DJ Dines: Husk in Charleston
Did you take our advice and pack your bags for the long weekend in Charleston? Then you’d better make sure that Husk is on your itinerary. One of Reese’s favorite spots thanks to its spirited modern take on Southern classics, this grand space in historic downtown Charleston must be a must on your “to eat” list.
Read our Q&A for more with this chef and pioneer of the eating local movement.
When did you first realize you wanted to be in the restaurant business?
I took my first restaurant job washing dishes when I was 15. It was literally like the chefs were going into battle or playing in the Super Bowl. The rush, the teamwork, the misbehaving and chaos were so attractive to me.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
I play guitar every day and have been collecting guitars as long as I’ve been in the restaurant world. I am terrible at playing, but could totally see myself owning a guitar shop specializing in vintage stuff. And then there are some days that I wake up and think that I would have made one hell of a race car driver.
What are your three favorite ingredients to work with in the kitchen?
Vinegar is essential to the preservation techniques of the South. I love adding a few drops of vinegar or spraying a mist to wake a dish up.
Country ham is an enormous sense of pride for a Southerner. I keep one on the counter at my apartment, so I can carve a taste or two as the day goes on. I’m always looking around for old-timey producers.
Dried corn is responsible for most of my favorite Southern things—like cornbread, grits, tortillas, and bourbon, of course. Corn is living history in the South. That little kernel of corn can teach a million lessons and tell even more stories.
What does Southern food and cooking mean to you?
It’s all about family and home. The food that graced the table at my grandmother’s home in the coalfields of Virginia is the most perfect food that I have ever eaten.
What will we find you doing when you have a rare afternoon of “me” time?
Pretending I’m a photographer. I just bought my first serious camera and can’t stop taking pictures. You have a different perspective on things when you look through that viewfinder. I can also be found spending time with my Frenchie, Ruby. You should follow her on Instagram!
Three favorite Charleston spots we should visit on our next trip?
I really like rummaging around the local antiques stores looking for old pieces of culinary history. My favorite is a cute little place called Shop Curiosity.
Hannibal’s (16 Blake St.) is right behind the old Johnson & Wales University, where I went to culinary school. My favorite dish is the Crab Rice. I currently have a version of it on the menu at Husk Nashville in honor of Hannibal’s. It’s the only soul food restaurant that I have been to that serves cold beers. I like that.
Bowens Island Restaurant (1870 Bowens Island Rd.) has always been a special place for me. Hanging out at Bowens shucking oysters that just got plucked is a real treat.
Click here for Sean’s recipe for Cracklin’ Cornbread for his cookbook, Heritage.