When people request a Lowcountry boil from catering duo Italo and Leila Marino, the couple first feels compelled to point something out.
There’s no boiling involved in their version of the Charleston staple, also called Frogmore stew.
The Marinos, whose catering/private chef company is called Embers and Ashes, instead grill all of the ingredients involved in the recipe.
“We have to tell them, ‘It’s not actually a boil,’” Leila Marino said. “We grill the boil, basically.”
It has become their most requested item for events, from small dinners to 200-person weddings, and was featured in Candice Herriott’s 2018 cookbook, “Provisions To Plate: A Charleston Seasonal Collective.” Other favorites are grilled clambakes and crawfish boils.
The dish includes shrimp from Tarvin Seafood, blue crab, sausage, corn, potatoes poached in butter and garlic, as well as caramelized onions. The pair grill everything over an open flame and then cover the ingredients in melted butter and a spice mix.
“It started becoming a thing that people were asking for,” Italo Marino said. “It’s a really fun and cool dish, because of the flavor you get from grilling everything, versus boiling it. It is so much richer and smokier.”
Plus, it creates more of a show than a boil.
“It’s a little bit more unique and more of an experience to do the grill,” Leila Marino said. “People watch us grill everything and can interact with us while we’re grilling.”
It helps that their Kudu grill is, as Italo Marino says, “very eye-catching.”
“It works as a really great centerpiece,” he said. “People don’t feel super stuffy. It makes it a little bit more inviting.”
The Marinos met at The Culinary Institute of America in New York City before moving to Charleston, where they served as co-executive chefs of Monza. They started Embers and Ashes two years ago.
Since they began putting their twist on Lowcountry boils, the couple says they haven’t heard any complaints.
“We’ve never had anyone say, ‘We’d rather a boil,’” Leila Marino said.
But they have decided to keep calling it that.
“The reason we still say boil is because, otherwise, people would not understand what it is,” Leila Marino said. “We want people to have that familiarity with it. As soon as you say Frogmore stew or Lowcountry boil, people know what you’re talking about.”
“They know what they’re getting themselves into,” Italo Marino added.