A chef position once held by Edna Lewis now belongs to a former Marine who last ran a kitchen in South Jersey.
Middleton Place Foundation this week announced that Chris Lukic will serve as Middleton Place’s executive chef and director of food and beverage operations. He succeeds Brandon Buck and Micah Garrison, who split culinary duties at the historic site and planted a production garden that won recognition from Slow Food Charleston.
“I’m thrilled to take the reins at the Middleton Place Restaurant and to continue its longstanding tradition of honoring the legacy of the great Edna Lewis, as well as continuing a commitment to using locally-sourced food,” Lukic was quoted as saying in a release announcing the hire.
Lewis oversaw Middleton Place Restaurant for three years in the late 1980s. Throughout her career, she bounced back and forth between urban and rural settings, a pattern followed by Lukic.
Born to a restaurant family in Florida, Lukic studied cooking at the French Culinary Institute. He was an executive chef at Fig & Olive in New York City when a pair of Homer, Alaska restaurateurs posted a help wanted ad on Craigslist.
“In New York, you're busy all day long, working 12, 14, 16 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week," Lukic told the Homer News soon after his arrival in May 2010. "I got tired of the hustle and bustle and wanted to see something different.”
Lukic ultimately returned to the New York metro area as chef at Yellow Plum, which he co-owned with his father. New Jersey Monthly in 2014 awarded two-and-one-half stars to the restaurant for “delicious cheffy dishes,” such as oxtail ravioli and chicken lollipops. But the tone of Yelp reviews, many of them posted by disappointed Groupon holders, in early 2015 shifted sharply toward disenchantment. The restaurant closed at year’s end.
According to Middleton’s release, Lukic in his new role will draw on his experiences cooking for Marcus Samuelsson, Wolfgang Puck and Laurent Tourondel.
“Middleton Place and, most importantly, the patrons of the Restaurant, are lucky to have him on the team,” Middleton Place Foundation’s chief operating officer, Tracey Todd, says.