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Building Blocks of Charleston

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Building Blocks of Charleston Cuisine is a series that celebrates the connection between the Lowcountry and its vibrant food scene. Each week features a dish, restaurant, or chef that’s played a role in keeping the region’s culinary history alive.

Tempest: Atlantic snapper

Tempest Atlantic snapper

The Atlantic snapper dish at Tempest comes with a rich veal demi glaze, tinged with hints of roasted orange.

When executive chef Tyler Cook was searching for a hearty dish to add to the menu at Tempest, he looked far outside of Charleston — to Ecuador, where he had once interned under renowned chef Jerome Monteillet at his eponymous restaurant in the capital city of Quito. The commitment to quality seafood, Cook found, bridged the continental divide.

And the result is the snapper dish added to the menu at the 32C North Market St. restaurant, where Cook has worked since its opening in 2020. The snapper served at Tempest is all native to the south Atlantic, caught anywhere between North Carolina and central Florida. Then comes the twist Cook learned in South America — complementing the fish with a rich veal demi glaze, tinged with hints of roasted orange.

“Veal demi has a level of umami and richness that highlights the meatiness of proteins,” said Cook, who began his culinary career at 14 years old at a resort in Geneva, N.Y. “Once it is given a small amount of acid, the dish transforms and the flavor of the fish can stand out.”

Cook pan-sears the snapper on the skin side only, which results in the fish having a firm, meatier texture and crispy skin. The snapper is served with farro and a micro radish salad from King Tide Farms, a hydroponic farm which grows organic produce inside shipping containers in North Charleston.

“There is a high level of black pepper flavor from the greens,” Cook added. “It’s a flavor that we know well with demi, but peppercorns can ruin fish if it’s not ground fully. So the natural pops of pepper are what we wanted.”

It’s difficult to argue with the final result, and a colorful plate presentation that’s further elevated by the historic surroundings of the former Harriott Pinckney Home for Sailors. Cook describes his cooking style as one rooted in simplicity with touches of creativity, an effort certainly fostered by the charcoal oven that helps set Tempest dishes apart. Whether in North or South America, it’s a process with proven results.

Building Blocks of Charleston Cuisine is a series that celebrates the connection between the Lowcountry and its vibrant food scene. Each week features a dish, restaurant, or chef that’s played a role in keeping the region’s culinary history alive.