Waggoner leaves Charleston Grill

Bob Waggoner spent 12 years as executive chef at the Charleston Grill, and now is moving on to further develop a television show on cooking. He will be replaced by Michelle Weaver, who has been executive sous chef at the Charleston Grill since 1997.

Bob Waggoner, one of the marquee names in the area's restaurant industry, parted ways with Charleston Grill this week after a dozen years as its executive chef.

The four-star, four-diamond restaurant at Charleston Place Hotel named executive sous chef Michelle Weaver to replace Waggoner. Weaver followed her mentor to Charleston in 1997 from the Wild Boar in Nashville, Tenn.

Waggoner, 46, said it was his decision to leave. He wants to devote more time to a television series he is developing. "I've been working on my TV show for a year now, literally," he said Wednesday.

Waggoner has filmed four 30-minute shows so far, and plans many more, at a studio built in Hollywood by Charleston attorney Akim Anastopoulo to film the courtroom series "Eye for an Eye."

Called "You Cook With Chef Bob," Waggoner's show will be distributed to PBS affiliates once underwriters are found.

Waggoner will do a short cooking demonstration at the beginning of each show. He then will bring up someone from the audience to teach them how to cook a dish, all the while showcasing Charleston and the state's farmers, food producers and products.

"If we can get in 350 cities across the United States we would be pretty excited," Waggoner said.

Related projects are an iPhone application that will allow users to download the shows and specific recipes, a Web site to sell foodstuffs being used on the show and a cookbook.

This isn't Waggoner's first foray into television. A few years ago he was one of the featured chefs on the Turner South network's "Off the Menu" cooking series.

Waggoner, who has a wife and daughter, said he definitely wants to stay in Charleston.

"This is my city, and I'm not going anywhere," he said.

Charleston Place general manager Paul Stracey said the split was amicable.

"He's trying a different line of the cooking world for a little while," Stracey said.

Stracey said he has mixed emotions about Waggoner's departure. The general manager hired Waggoner and said the two worked hard to build up the Charleston Grill.

"He's grown in stature and people know him nationally now," Stracey said. "So part of me is very happy for him, that he's able to go and do these sorts of things, which came from his successes here at the hotel, and part of me is very sad that he's leaving."

Stracey also said the breakup wasn't a matter of cutting costs.

While the lodging side of Charleston Place is having a tough time, he said the hotel's "luxury" areas, Charleston Grill and the spa, are doing fine.

"Both of them are neck and neck with what they did last year," Stracey said.

Waggoner said he hopes people don't take his departure in a negative way.

"I've definitely enjoyed every moment I've spent at the Grill, and all the people and events," he said.