Charleston, South Carolina is a magical place, integral to me becoming me. Less James Dewitt Whetstone Jr, more Jamey Whetstone. One of the spots that indelibly imprinted the Low Country ideals of drink hard, play hard, work hard on my soul was Magnolias… Uptown Down South Southern Cuisine.
The year was 1994. Two hour wait any-night-of-the-week with reservations booked for months in advance. No other front/back team like it ANYWHERE in the Carolinas at that time. I’d grab a case of Budweiser and a 5th of Jack Black on my way into work and give it to the kitchen pre-shift when I arrived to set up my station; I did this knowing I’d f@ck something up at some point during service and need a re-fire on the fly without any explanation. Fast forward to heat of battle at 8:30pm Saturday - order 2 rickshaws to cobblestone Lodge Alley side of the building, call Carolinas down the street and set up tequila shots with beer backs for 4 at the bar, confirm your station was handled by the Server Assistants for next 8 minutes, jump in rickshaws and have them ride like hell to Carolinas, jump out and cruise into their packed restaurant in full Magnolias uniforms (slick advertising right?!), guzzle said booze, hop back into rickshaws, re-enter your station with enough adrenaline and (smug) stoke to push through the rest of the shift.
Donald Barickman was the founding chef/owner of Magnolias and a good friend of mine. To say he set the bar for fine dining in CHS from the day they opened in July 1990 would be a gross understatement. He was the first I knew of to establish relationships with local purveyors of all things - rice, flour, seasonal vegetables and fruits, seafood, beef, poultry, dairy.
What follows are a few of my favorite recipes of his paired up with our wines:
Warm Cream Cheese Brownies with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Chocolate and Caramel Sauce + just cause you should ;)