September 2017

2017 The Faces of Food & Beverage

Author: Special to CH2


It’s people with passion who make a business successful, and nowhere is that more evident than in the
Food and Beverage industry. In this special section we honor those who work long hours, stand in hot kitchens and surround themselves with stress. Thanks so much to those of you who give us a night off from cooking!


Jeff Congdon (Executive Chef) & Trevor Brown (Guest Manager)
The Bluffton Room

The Bluffton Room, celebrating its third anniversary in Old Town Bluffton, continues to provide our guests with a memorable dining experience in an intimate, yet relaxed atmosphere. Whether entertaining friends for an important occasion or simply meeting neighbors at the open-air bar for a well-crafted cocktail, our menus are designed to make every evening a special one.

Our New Orleans-themed Friday lunch has become a new Bluffton tradition. Executive chef Jeff Congdon seeks out the finest ingredients from around the corner to around the globe to create classic dishes with his own creative point of view. Guest leader Trevor Brown ensures that the service is both personal and attentive. Our tableside preparations of salads and desserts bring a lost tradition back to classic dining.

Jeff, Trevor and their teams bring a special passion for food and service together to create a memorable dining experience. Please join us soon, and thank you for continuing to support The Bluffton Room!

The Bluffton Room
15 Promenade St.
Bluffton, SC 29910
(843) 757-3525
theblufftonroom.com


Ivy Burdick
Porter & Pig

Occupation: Owner, Porter & Pig

If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Anyone who has ever been to Porter & Pig could guess this one. 1) Cheese. Any kind, any time—with a little of our delicious porter beer mustard to go with it. 2) Tomatoes. There is nothing that screams fresh and summer as much as a perfectly ripe tomato. Sliced with a little salt and pepper is perfection. 3) Local shrimp. We have the absolute best here in the Lowcountry.

If you had to choose another profession, it would be…
Something creative. I love to write, and I have a history in graphic design and marketing, so someplace in advertising. Or, because I love watching Project Runway and my mom is patiently teaching me to sew…maybe fashion design.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen or read all week?
I am currently reading The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Now that my daughter is in school, I am going to try to carve out more time to catch up on the reading I missed this summer!

Part of the world you’re dying to visit for the first time:
Southeast Asia. Everyone I know who has ever traveled to this part of the world has fallen in love with it. I would love the chance to immerse myself in the culture, cuisine, artwork, history…everything.

Porter & Pig
Village at Wexford
1000 William Hilton Parkway,
Suite J7C
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 715-3224
porter-pig.com


Chef Matt Valentino
The Pearl Kitchen & Bar

Occupation: Executive Chef, The Pearl Kitchen & Bar
Years in F&B Industry: 16

I enjoy working in the industry because the fast pace makes my day go by faster, and every day delivers a different experience.

If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be? Pizza, dry-aged steak, and Thai curry.

What three famous people, living or dead, would you want to host at your elegant dinner party?
Jim Croce, Gordon Ramsey, and Adam Sandler.

Cake or pie?
My mom’s chocolate pudding pie she calls “dream pie.”

Name a product or service you love so much that you’d happily be that company’s spokesperson for free: Global Knives.

Your spare time is filled with: Spending “Daddy Day” with Harper Jayne, my 15-month-old daughter, and cooking dinner with my wife Christel.

The Pearl Kitchen & Bar
55 Calhoun St.
Bluffton, SC 29910
(843) 757-5511
thepearlbluffton.com

Alex Nightingale
The Pearl Kitchen &Bar, ELA’s, and Roadhouse BBQ

Occupation: Restaurateur
Years in F&B Industry: 9 years

What three famous people, living or dead, would you want to host at your elegant dinner party?
John Lennon, Peyton Manning and Elon Musk.

Cake or Pie?
My wife Abbey’s cake, all day!

Best advice I’ve ever received:
Work is only hard when you’re not having fun, so either have fun or switch jobs.

What do you dip your chicken nugget in?
Polynesian sauce.

My spare time is filled with:
a lot of laughs and hugs from my wife Abbey, and two children, Raegan (4 years old) and Max (1 ½ years old).

Part of the world I’m dying to visit for the first time: I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba and try a Cuban sandwich.

The Pearl
55 Calhoun St.
Bluffton, SC 29910
(843) 757-5511
thepearlbluffton.com


Clayton Rollinson
Lucky Rooster Kitchen & Bar

Occupation: Chef/Owner, Lucky Rooster
Years in F&B Industry: 23

I enjoy working in this industry because: Watching green cooks and servers learn and grow and become professionals is by far the most rewarding part.

If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Bacon cheeseburgers, sausage, and stinky cheeses.

Cake or Pie? Cake

Best advice I’ve ever received:
Passion is great but, but consistency and discipline will make you successful.

If I had to choose another profession, I would be… a custom furniture maker. Getting to work with raw materials and turning them into functional pieces is amazing.

My spare time is filled with: Golf when I can, or with my family. You can’t keep my two kids off the beach or out of the pool.

Lucky Rooster Kitchen & Bar
841 William Hilton Parkway
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 681-3474
www.luckyroosterhhi.com

Branco and Flora Raiac
Flora’s Italian Cafe

Years in F&B: Forever
Occupations: Chef/Baker

Best advice ever received: Not to marry a chef. (But, of course, I didn’t listen!)

Drink of choice
Hennessy, Bertani Amarone.

If you had to choose another profession, it would be: Gardener.

Favorite holiday and why: Palm Sunday, because Flora was born on Palm Sunday!

Your spare time is filled with:
What is spare time?

Flora’s Italian Café
South Island Square
841 William Hilton Parkway
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 842-8200
florasitaliancafe.com


Alexander’s Restaurant & Wine Bar

Brian Coey
Occupation: Director of Food & Beverage, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
Years in F&B Industry: 21

I enjoy working in this industry because I’ve always felt that dining out is more than just a meal; it’s an experience. I love the opportunity to create lasting memories for our guests through a great meal, fantastic bottle of wine, and stellar service.

If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Sushi, pork BBQ, and watermelon.

What is the best advice you ever received?
“Don’t tell them why, tell them what you’re going to do to fix it”—regarding guest recovery or handling a challenging situation.

My spare time is filled with: I love to spend time with my wife Yolanda and three year-old son Jacaob as well as golfing at one of our area’s scenic and challenging golf courses.

Part of the world I’m dying to visit for the first time: I would love to visit Paris. The food, wine, and history would keep me busy for weeks.

_____________

Sean Carroll
Occupation: Chef
Years in F&B Industry: 20

What is your favorite restaurant in the area (other than the one where you work) and why?
Calhoun’s in Bluffton. I love going to this place on a day off. It has the atmosphere, food, and vibe that I can’t get enough of.

If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Bacon, pasta and apples

What three famous people, living or dead, would you want to host at your elegant dinner party?
Marco Pierre White, Sean Connery (James Bond), and Julia Child

Cake or pie? Cake

hat is the best advice you ever received? You are only as good as the last dish you put out.

What do you dip your chicken nugget in?
Fancy sauce

Favorite holiday and why: Thanksgiving. The possibilities of deliciousness are endless.

_____________

Guillermo Carrera
Occupation: Manager, Alexander’s
Years in F&B Industry: 10+

I enjoy working in this industry because being in this industry gives you an appreciation for all things food related, which is obvious, but it also makes you a more humble person.

What three famous people, living or dead, would you want to host at your elegant dinner party?
God, Elon Musk and Sharon Jones.

Cake or pie? Cake.

What is the best advice you ever received?
Nothing lasts forever.

Drink of choice: Bourbon on the rocks (depending on the bourbon).

If I had to choose another profession, it would be: Food blogger.

Part of the world I’m dying to visit for the first time:
Europe and Asia.

_____________

Kaitlin Reed
Occupation: Beverage Manager, Alexander’s
Years in F&B Industry: 16

If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be? Cheese, pasta and chocolate.

Cake or pie? Cake. My affection is easily bought with a slice of good cake.

What is the best advice you ever received?
Quit wasting time being indecisive. Make an educated decision and stick with it for better or worse. You don’t learn anything by failing to make a decision.

Drink of choice:
I love to hang out on the couch with a good glass of wine, but when dining out I’m easily sold on a well-thought-out specialty cocktail!

Favorite holiday and why: Thanksgiving is the best excuse to spend the day eating and drinking all day with loved ones.


Amie Baima
Skillets Cafe & Grill

What is your favorite restaurant in the area (other than the one you own) and why?
My house (at home, in my comfy PJs, on the couch, away from people).

If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Pasta, bread, and carbs.

Cake or pie? Cake

What is the best advice you ever received?
When first opening the bakery, my dad told me, “You’re young, and if by chance it doesn’t work, you can try again.”

Drink of choice: Red wine

If you had to choose another profession, it would be...working with CH2, selling ads, and part-time work at Starbucks to keep engaged with people. I would also love to do charity work if I could support myself.

What do you dip your chicken nuggets in?
Honey mustard

Favorite holiday and why:
Christmas, because it is the one day we are closed.

Your spare time is filled with:
What spare time? An evening at the theatre
and Westin spa days.

Part of the world you’re dying to visit for the first time? Italy, but only if I had two weeks.

Skillets Café & Grill
Coligny Plaza
1 North Forest Beach, Unit J
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 785-3131
skilletscafe.com


Santa Fe Cafe

David Strosnider
Occupation: Santa Fe Cafe, Chef
Years in F&B Industry: 22

I enjoy working in this industry because at Santa Fe, we have an open kitchen, so we actually see and meet the people we are cooking for.

What three famous people, living or dead, would you want to host at your elegant dinner party? Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe.

Drink of choice: Jack Daniels whiskey

Part of the world you’re dying to visit for the first time: Spain

807 William Hilton Pkwy #700, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 785-3838
santafehhi.com
______________

Austin Harris
Occupation: Santa Fe Cafe, Head Chef
Years in F&B Industry: 27

I enjoy working in this industry because it’s always busy, and there is always something to do. As an artist, I can use my dishes as artwork.

What three famous people, living or dead, would you want to host at your elegant dinner party?
JFK, Stevie Ray Vaughan and BB King.

Drink of choice: Tequila.

If you had to choose another profession, it would be… Art teacher.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen or read all week?
My daughter, taking her to her first day of school.

Outdoor Rooftop Dining,
Early Dining 5-6pm,
Happy Hour 5-7pm
Check out our rooftop camera
at santafehhi.com


Time Singleton
Ruby Lee’s North/South & Timbuk2 Cigar Lounge

Years in F&B: 6

What is your favorite restaurant in the area (other than the one where you work) and why?
Currently, I’m in love with Pour Richards in Bluffton or Sage Room on Hilton Head Island.

If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Steak, pineapple, and PB&J (is that cheating?).

What three famous people, living or dead, would you want to host at your elegant dinner party? Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, and Ruby Lee Singleton.

Cake or pie? Pie.

What is the best advice you ever received? “Take emotion out of it.”

Drink of choice: Bourbon

If I had to choose another profession, I would be a commercial investor.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen or read all week?
“Hustle until your haters ask if you’re hiring.” A good friend sent me that quote.

What do you dip your chicken nuggets in?
Spicy mustard

Favorite holiday and why:
Christmas, because I get to watch my boys open all their presents plus all the things they didn’t ask for.

My spare time is filled with:
Emptiness. I’m looking forward to finding some new hobbies.

Part of the world you’re dying to visit for the first time: Brazil.

Ruby Lee’s North
46 Old Wild Horse Rd.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
(843) 681-7829
rubylees.com

Ruby Lee’s South
19 Dunnagans Alley
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 785-7825
rubyleessouth.com


Peter Russo
Sippin Cow

Occupation: Chef
Years in F&B Industry: 20

What is your favorite restaurant in the area (other than the one where you work) and why?
Saigon Café, because I love pho.

I really enjoy working in this industry because… I like creating culinary delights that people will enjoy.

What three famous people, living or dead, would you want to host at your elegant dinner party?
Lucille Ball, Julia Child, Ron Howard.

Cake or pie? Pie, blueberry.

What is the best advice you ever received?
We are just cooking food, not saving lives.

Your spare time is filled with: Having fun with Leo, my three-year-old son.

Part of the world you’re dying to visit for the first time: Madrid, Spain

36 Promenade St,
Bluffton, SC 29910
(843) 757-5051
www.sippincow.com


Craig Hutchings
Duck Donuts Hilton Head

Occupation: Owner, Duck Donuts Hilton Head
Years in F&B Industry: 6

What is your favorite restaurant in the area (other than the one you own) and why?
One Hot Mama’s American Grille. I love their BBQ ribs.

I enjoy working in this industry because it is such a social industry, and I love to interact with our customers. I love seeing people enjoy our amazing donuts. The smile on their faces, whether it is their first time trying Duck Donuts or they are regular customers, is always so rewarding. It is great to be able to be part of the Hilton Head community; the locals and visitors are always so friendly.

If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Donuts of course, pizza, and tacos.

hat three famous people, living or dead, would you want to host at your elegant dinner party?
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos. These are three extremely successful businessmen, and I would love to talk business with them.

Cake or pie? Cake.

What is the best advice you ever received?
“Attitudes are contagious; make sure yours is worth catching!” This simply means that even if I’m having a bad day, my attitude can affect anyone I interact with, so I try to have a positive attitude.

Drink of choice: Coffee.

Name a product or service you love so much that you’d happily be that company’s spokesperson for free! Amazon Prime. It’s just so convenient!!

Duck Donuts
Fresh Market Shoppes
890 William Hilton Parkway, Suite 70
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 842-3825
duckdonuts.com/location/Hilton-head-sc


CQ’s Restaurant

Broderick Weaver
Years in F&B: 13
Originally from: Iowa

What is your favorite restaurant in the area (besides the one where you work) and why? OKKO, I really enjoy the sushi selection.

Drink of choice? Warm sake

When not working you can usually find me… outside or at the beach!

I really enjoy working in this industry because…
I get to come in each day and experience something new in an always-changing industry.

What’s your favorite thing and least favorite thing about working in F&B?
My favorite thing is by far the people I meet and the connection I get from spending so much time with them. My least favorite part of being a chef is the lack of natural light in most kitchens.

Where do you like to go for an after-work night cap? Porter & Pig in the Village at Wexford

Shout out to a favorite customer? Walter Czura!

______________________

Kynif Rogers
Years in F&B: 16
Originally from: Lynchburg, Virginia

What are your favorite restaurants in the area (besides the one where you work), and why? Fish Camp

Drink of choice?
Crown & Coke

When not working you can usually find me…at the beach or pool… or driving to work!

I really enjoy working in this industry for… the thrill of cooking amazing food, watching guests enjoy their meal, being creative and having fun doing it.

What’s your favorite thing and least favorite thing about working in F&B?
My favorite thing about F&B has to be the group of people I work with and building a bond with them. I also love learning new things!

Shout out to a favorite customer? Aleksandra Sashka Vasic

____________________

Linh Craig
Years in F&B: 27
Originally from: Vietnam

What are your favorite restaurants in the area (besides the one where you work), and why?
Saigon Café, because it reminds me of my mom’s cooking, and Old Fort Pub, because I can have a leisurely dinner and enjoy the sunset.

Drink of choice? BIG Cabernets

When not working you can usually find me… on the boat fishing or in the backyard tending to my chili pepper plants. I make my own hot sauce.

I really enjoy working in this industry because… it is exciting to work with other team members towards a common goal. It’s a great feeling knowing you can come together night after night to host over 100 guests seamlessly.

What’s your favorite thing and least favorite thing about working in F&B?
My favorite part is working with my team to make all of our guests happy. My least favorite part is on that rare occasion when we fail to meet a guest’s expectations.

Where do you like to go for an after-work night cap? I go home and enjoy a glass of wine with my wife.

Shout out to a favorite customer? The Duffys and the Buryks. Still on top of the list of favorite patrons.

140 Lighthouse Rd.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 671-2779
cqsrestaurant.com


Eric Seaglund
Occupation: Executive Chef
Years in F&B Industry: 27

What is your favorite restaurant (other than the one where you work) in the area:
I really enjoy the food and ambiance of Santa Fe Café.

I enjoy working in this industry because… food is my life. Food is my passion! To express myself through culinary creations and to share the result is self-fulfillment.

If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Mussels, pasta Bolgonese, and cioppino.

What three famous people, living or dead would you host a dinner?
James Hetfield (huge Metallica fan), Frank Sinatra, and Marlon Brando.

What is the best advice you ever received?
Watch the nickels and dimes; the dollars will take care of themselves.

Drink of choice: Any drink that contains Tito’s vodka.

Name a product or service you love so much you’d be happy to be the company spokesperson:
Maple Leaf Farms.

If you had to choose another profession, what would it be?
Growing up in Detroit, it was my dream and every kid’s dream to play hockey for the Detroit Red Wings.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen or read all week?
I was so excited to see the solar eclipse, only to be disappointed with clouds….

What do you dip your chicken nuggets in?
A special sauce I like to whip up.

Robber’s Row Grille
Port royal Golf & Racquet Club
10 Clubhouse Drive
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 681-1760
hiltonheadgolf.net/port-royal/dining


Faisal Dahnoun
Years in F&B: 46 total, 38 on Hilton Head Island
Originally from: Tangier, Morocco

What is your favorite restaurant in the area (besides the one where you work), and why?
CQ’s in Harbour Town. I enjoy the food and ambiance.

When not working, you can find me… walking on the beach, playing bocce, or tuning in to international soccer.

I really enjoy working in this industry because of… the people I get to meet, both customers and co-workers.

What is your favorite thing and least favorite thing about working in F&B?
My favorite part about this industry is the interaction with people and having the opportunity to communicate in different languages. My least favorite part of the job is the late hours.

Where do you like to go for an after-work night cap? The Jazz Corner

Shout out to a favorite customer?
Thank you to the many islanders who have supported me during my career on Hilton Head Island!

65 Skull Creek Dr.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 681-2386
oldfortpub.com

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