Today, restaurant diners and home cooks alike are discovering what those in the Lowcountry have known all along—well-prepared, fresh food using high-quality local ingredients simply tastes better.
Farm-to-table cooking in the Lowcountry started back when farmers, their families, neighbors, and farm workers used seasonal ingredients that reflected Lowcountry culture and heritage, including European, African, and Caribbean influences. What evolved was a melting pot of cuisine that focused on fresh flavor.
In the 1980’s and ’90s, the farm-to-table appetizer course revived the Charleston area’s restaurant scene, as chefs like Slightly North of Broad’s former chef Frank Lee carried the Lowcountry platter into the 21st century.
We reached out to Chef Lee, one of the Charleston area’s seasoned stars who has twice served as guest chef at the James Beard House, to learn what inspires his love for Southern fare and Lowcountry ingredients.
“I really love the doing. There’s a Tao about cooking. For us chefs, the kitchen is the only place where things make sense.” – Chef Frank Lee
Charlestonly: Tell us about the history behind Slightly North of Broad (SNOB).
Frank Lee: SNOB opened in December 1993 led by Richard Elliot, David Marconi and myself. We wanted to offer locals superior cuisine based on French technique in a homey Charleston environment.
C: What are your favorite Lowcountry ingredients?
FL: Agriculture and seafood. Whatever is in season!
C: What inspires your cuisine?
FL: Collaborating with chefs, their unique cuisine, our guests, travel, smells.
C: What is your favorite meal to create?
FL: I gravitate towards birds and seafood, paired with seasonal produce, stock sauces, 8-block drum or spot tail bass, soft-shell crab, citrus and olive oil seasonal vegetables.
C: What are your go-to Charleston restaurants?
FL: FIG, Xiao Bao Biscuit and Obscure Taco Truck.
Pick up a copy of “The S.N.O.B. Experience” to learn more about Chef Frank Lee’s trailblazing experience in the culinary community, and score a compilation of recipes including SNOB classics, long-running seasonal plates and numerous side dishes that played a role in establishing the restaurant’s loyal following since 1993.