A Beaufort chef has been chosen to represent the Lowcountry in a new statewide initiative that's intended to showcase culinary destinations beyond Charleston.

"Charleston has been, quite frankly, a major destination for culinary tourism," S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Duane Parrish said yesterday at a press conference introducing the program. "The rest of the state has these hidden gems that we believe we can bring out for those who want to travel."

Brian Walters of Saltus River Grill will serve a one-year term as a South Carolina Chef Ambassador. Although program specifics are still in development, Walters' role will require him to perform cooking demonstrations; lead discussions about childhood nutrition and promote South Carolina products throughout the region.

"We're going to use their talents, use their stage presence to highlight what South Carolina farms bring to us every day," S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said.

According to Gov. Nikki Haley, the ambassadors will also be responsible for organizing contests and supper clubs.

"This is now stepping it up so that everyone can see what the gems are we have here in South Carolina," Haley said. "I think this will open the door for great chefs hidden all over South Carolina."

Ambassadors were selected based on "their commitment to sourcing foods locally through Certified SC Grown, and for striving to make their restaurants a destination." In addition to Walters, the inaugural class includes Heidi Trull of Belton's Grits & Groceries, representing the Upstate; Brandon Velie of Ridge Spring's Juniper, representing the Midlands, and Cooper Thomas of Florence's Victor's Bistro, representing the PeeDee.

Nominations for next year's ambassadors can be submitted to Ansley Turnblad at arast@scda.sc.gov. The position is unpaid.