FACES of The South: Michelle Weaver

IMG_4133Michelle Weaver is one of two female executive chefs in Charleston, SC. After experiencing her culinary talents last summer, while dining at the award winning Charleston Grill, at Charleston Place, we knew we needed to find out more about the woman behind the food that may go down as one of the most enjoyable meals, ever. We are thrilled to welcome Michelle Weaver to StyleBlueprint today as our FACE of the South.

We understand that you grew up in Alabama. How did this affect your connection to the earth, food and community?

Growing up in Alabama, my mother always grew her own vegetables, and she still does. I learned the ABCs of Southern cooking from her, and her three big rules to live by were never throw away the bacon grease, vegetables taste better from your own garden and you can cook anything in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet.

Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a chef?

I’ve always loved cooking. My mother was my first teacher. I would pull a chair up to the stove or the counter to help cook. It wasn’t until my twenties that I decided to make a career of doing what I loved to do, cooking.

Our StyleBlueprint co-founder dubbed Charleston Grill as her favorite dining destination in Charleston. With so much competition in a city filled with foodies, is it hard to get the accolades your food deserves?

We have great camaraderie amongst all the chefs here. We, as a whole, believe that what is good for the city is good for all of us. We strive to create and build a community where we want to live. So, any attention or accolade anyone receives is good for all of us. The best accolade comes from a happy guest in our restaurants.

Why do you suppose there aren’t more female chefs?

I always find this question fascinating. Is a woman chef some mythical creature? Like a unicorn?! There are actually a lot of us out there. I think the media tends to focus on men being chefs and portray women as cooking personalities. Mario Batali versus Rachel Ray.

If there were one item on your menu that you wished everyone reading could try, what would it be?

My menu changes with the seasons, so I get excited about all the new items every time. The one item that is always on the menu is the crab cake. If I were to ever try to take it off the menu, I’m afraid fans would burn the restaurant down.

When visiting Charleston Grill, it was obvious that General Manager Mickey Bakst thinks you hung the moon. Can you describe what it’s like having that support at the front of the house?

Mickey is my partner, my cheerleader and sometimes my muse. We both believe that service and food go hand in hand to create the best experience for our guests. I can’t imagine doing this without his support.

How would you describe your cooking philosophy?

Southern grown with a global palette.

Is there a piece of advice that has stuck with you?

“Remember who you are and who you represent.” –My father

What does the term “Southern” mean to you?

Gracious, hospitable and cool as a glass of sweet iced tea.

What are some restaurant “hidden treasures” in the South that you try to frequent in your travels?

Decatur, Al: Big Bob Gibson’s for chicken with Alabama white sauce. Nashville: Prince’s hot chicken or Arnold’s meat and three. There are too many to name!

Do people in Charleston talk as much SEC football as they do in other parts of the South?

Oh, yeah! It’s like religion here as well, but football scores speak for themselves. Roll Tide Roll!

If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Gracious, grateful and diligent

What book are your currently reading?

Burma: Rivers of Flavor, by Naomi Duquid

What movie are you most looking forward to seeing?

Girl Rising

Name three things you can’t live without (excluding God, friends and family).

Laughter, integrity, and my mother’s tomatoes.

Thanks, Michelle!

Find out more about Charieston Grill and Charleston Place Hotel, here.