Happy August, foodie friends! This month, I wanted to call out a local chef who’s been doing some amazing things around town (seriously, check him out), Steve Seguin. I discovered Steve when I was looking for someone to do a private dinner / cooking class for T-Quizzle’s bachelorette party (speaking, of which, I need to come up with a new nickname for her now that her last name has changed. Ideas welcome!). Steve came out to Edisto and did an amazing hands-on gnocchi making class and served us a world class 4 course dinner. Since then, I’ve stopped by a few of his pop ups, and they’ve all been fantastic, so you should definitely be sure to check him out!
What inspired you to start your pop-up dinner series, and where would you like to see it grow in the future?
So, first time I decided to do this was after I started seeing my friends hustle to start their own businesses, and try to be their own boss. An old girlfriend and I started this about four years ago, calling ourselves “The Ciao Hounds.” When we planned out our first dinner, we pulled in close to $300 each! That’s when the light clicked on for me. I get to share my love of food AND get paid? Perfect. We’ve since split up, but I’ve kept on cooking. It’s been tough rolling solo this last year or so, but I finally feel that I’m picking up some momentum and and just going to keep hustling! I’ve met a lot of great people who are supportive and they help keep me going. Look for me at PROOF on King Street on August 17th!
#Ravioli di #testa with #mustard, arugula and #fennel blossom. . . Making #freshpasta is so relaxing, and this one was a process for sure, but well worth it. #chseats #eatlocal #holycityeats #embguestchef #makepastanotwar #noweatthis #italian #comforfood #charcuterie . @jacques_larson thank you for letting me be expressive through my food. Can’t thank you enough
I am currently working on Piacere, my pop up meals. Piacere means two things to me. One is a friendly, informal greeting. It’s means, “Pleasure to meet you.” It’s also literally means pleasure. So, I am welcoming you into a place where you can relax and enjoy a good meal, filled with delicious tastes, and it also refers to the pleasure you derive from the meal.
When you’re not cooking, where do you like to hang out?
When I am not cooking, I need to unwind. Lately, I’ve been spending time with my girl, seeing shows, going to movies, cooking at home, or whatnot. I also like to ride my bike around town and just generally be outdoors. Taking my dog to the park, heading to the beach, reading a new book, taking a roadtrip and making new friends. I recently reached out to Fiorenzo, one of the founders of CBFB Tablescapes studios, who invited me in to meet him and chat one day. Such a warm and generous man. Can’t wait to get in there and learn how to work with some kiln-fired pottery! I like to do new things, meet new people, so my life doesn’t get boring. There’s too much to see and do in this world! My grandmother always said, “are you bored, or are you boring?”
What’s one of your biggest “wins” that you’ve accomplished in your food career?
I’d say one of the biggest wins so far is over the past five years or so, really growing into a better cook and learning to trust my creative instincts. Making food for my peers, having them taste it, and getting that nod of approval; that “Mmmmm, that’s good” face, is a big win. I got to compete in a San Pellegrino Young Chef competition in culinary school, where I won the school competition, and was sent to Atlanta to compete for the regional title. Long story short, I didn’t win that day. However, I learned that sometimes when you don’t win, you can still come out on top by taking something positive away from a scenario. From that scenario, I met Linton Hopkins, Gerry Klaskala, Kevin Rathbun and Ford Fry. They were all very impressed with my dish, and even a couple of them came up to ME and said “Man, I really wanted you to win. Your dish was REALLY good!” That lit me up like a Christmas tree! It was so encouraging!
Thank you to all who came to share in good times and some good food last night @elliotboroughminibar for #embguestchef night! Can’t wait to see all of you @eclecticcafevinyl on the 20th for Taco Night! Then I’m back at Mini Bar on the 25th for a #3coursemeal that you DON’T want to miss 🤘(there may or may not be a pig head involved)
What inspires your menus?
My menus are inspired by things I have tasted and learned over the course of my lifetime, and keeping my mind open to new things as well. My taste memories as a child (for example, I love milkshakes, particulary a chocolate malt. The Malted milk and honey pana cotta I recently made was a play on that. The malted milk custard, chocolate meringues as well as a homemade chocolate shell, strawberries, and a peanut butter crumble.) I love those flavors! You’ve got a play on words with “Milk and honey,” chocolate shell which was an old ice cream shop stand by (who doesn’t love crunchy chocolate, amiright?) and peanuts and strawberries. Flavors that all play well together, but come together in a new way. I like to play with those old taste memories, and get them to you in a different format. You can see that flicker of recognition of people’s faces, like “Where have I had this before?” That’s fun for me!
And also, sometimes I just see a new technique I want to try. Like making a new pasta shape, or using a flavored liquid to make pasta instead of water. (Saffron and vegetable stock, for example) I am also inspired by other chefs. I’m inspired by lots of things, and by keeping my eyes open and having a certain sense of playfulness and childlike curiosity, I keep new ideas coming along!
Who’s your food hero?
My mother, 100%. When my sister and I were growing up, my Mom always made our birthday cakes, as well as birthday dinners. She always had a little something in a Tupperware container on the kitchen counter. Even though she was going to school, and raising two kids, and being a Mom and a wife, she ALWAYS found time to have a little treat for us. That could have been chocolate chip cookies, No-bake cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, Rice Krispie treats, brownies, banana muffins (my favorite), a huge spread of Christmas cookies, or any number of other little treats! I remember one year, right after I moved to Charleston, I was sending my Mom a birthday card, and had no idea what to say in the card. So, as I slowly let my thoughts come to me, I was tending to a pan of banana bread in the kitchen, and the AH-HA moment came: I got my love of sharing food with others from her. I remember one night, sneaking into the kitchen for a little refrigerator raid, and seeing that my Mom was asleep, face-down in her school book, on the kitchen table. She was getting her degree in Special Education at the time. She always put us first, wanted us to be happy. Just from her wanting to make us a little snack. To her, making us happy was so very important. She made those goodies, and birthday cakes, and all of those birthday meals because she LOVED US.
I love sharing my food with others, because to me, Food Is Love. My mom taught me that. I love making that connection with my friends, my guests, co-workers, and anyone else who will let me cook for them!
What are you really craving right now?
Finally, what am I craving right now? Hmm, well it’s 3:33 am, and I’m always craving Pizza. Now that I think about it, chips and salsa could be good, too. Or a ham and cheese sandwich… perhaps a handful of pretzels… maybe a spoonful of the Horchata ice cream I have in my freezer… this time of the day, just about anything! (but seriously though, a margherita pizza with some spicy soppressata would be the BOMB right now!)