Q: Is it possible to get the recipe for Mona’s Chili, which is served at Trotters Restaurant at the Town & Country Inn in West Ashley? It’s on the soup-and-salad bar each Friday year-round, and it is very good!
A: Short answer: No.
Just a few weeks back, I wrote that we no longer run a recipe exchange column because almost every conceivable recipe is just an internet search away. But there’s no way to Google the mind of Ramona Campbell, who’s been cooking at Trotters for more than three decades.
“I’m sorry,” manager Ronnie Silva said when I passed along your request. The restaurant is regularly asked for Campbell’s chili secrets but its employees are trained not to reveal them. Silva adds, “That’s one of the draws on Friday.”
Silva wouldn’t confirm if there is a written-down recipe for the popular beef stew, embroidered with diced tomatoes. If there is a standard preparation, its creator isn’t averse to deviating from it.
“I heard it was extra spicy today,” Silva said when he rang up my ticket on a recent Friday.
So, for chili fans who haven’t yet dined at Trotters, 2008 Savannah Highway, it’s probably worth visiting not just on a Friday, but on multiple Fridays, in order to experience the full spectrum of Campbell’s chili prowess.
If you stick to the soup-and-salad bar, lunch costs $11.99, but it’s worth anteing up another $4 for the full buffet, which when I last visited included barbecue chicken, fried fish, mac-and-cheese, collards, red rice, cornbread and strawberry shortcake. Somewhere in that Southern spread, even the most devoted chili aficionado should be able to find solace in the face of not having a copy of Campbell’s recipe.