As the executive chef of a 220-year old restaurant where George Washington once dined, Sean Brock has a full plate -- to uphold the legacy of a distinguished culinary destination and to serve the best possible meal with the freshest ingredients. In an effort to mine the historical roots of Charleston, he has researched the long forgotten foods and cuisine of the area and is seeking to reintroduce them into the public consciousness.
"A lot of the things that were being grown here from the late 1600s up until the Civil War were wiped out after slavery was abolished and all the rice plantations disappeared," Brook says. "A large portion of the vegetables, corn, grains, wheat, and legumes that were part of the crop rotation just disappeared."
He soon found that the best ingredients were those grown locally, but the selection was limited. So three years ago, Brock developed a 2.5-acre farm on nearby Wadmalaw Island, creating a true and very personal field-to-table dining experience. Today the farm provides 90% of the restaurant's produce.
"When you grow something yourself, you see it from the beginning to the end," he says, "you have to take care of it and nurture it and makes sure that it's going to be beautiful so that when it comes into the kitchen, it's the only thing that exists in that moment. The inspiration comes from the hours spent weeding and planting and being in the dirt with those vegetables."
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