South Carolina demonstrated slightly more imagination in assembling its second class of chef ambassadors, a group that includes Forrest Parker of Old Village Post House.
Parker is one of four chefs charged with conducting cooking demos and participating in educational seminars at tourism events across the Southeast. “Humbled,” he tweeted this afternoon after the chefs were introduced by Gov. Nikki Haley at an event held at the Governor’s Mansion.
When the marketing program was launched last year, the S.C. Department of Agriculture issued a release explaining that “each year, a Chef Ambassador will be selected from the state’s four regions: the Upstate, the Midlands, the Pee Dee and the Lowcountry.” But this time around, the Pee Dee was bypassed in favor of two chefs from the Lowcountry: Parker and Orchid Paulmeier, who in 2007 opened One Hot Mama’s in Hilton Head.
Paulmeier is the daughter of Filipino immigrants, but the chef ambassadors’ diversity isn’t restricted to demographics. Whereas all four of the first chef ambassadors specialize in Southern plate lunches or steak-and-seafood dinners, the current group includes Teryi Youngblood of Greenville’s Passerelle Bistro, where the French-inflected menu includes escargot and rillettes, and Columbia’s Ramone Dickerson, who sells wings stuffed with collards and mac-and-cheese from a food truck.
A graduate of the College of Charleston, Parker joined Maverick Southern Kitchens in 2012. Early in his cooking career, he worked at Louis Osteen’s Louis’s Restaurant. He served as executive chef of Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland before returning to South Carolina.
“These chefs, and many others, strive to consistently incorporate the state’s vast produce offerings into their menus – which is wonderful to see and taste,” Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers was quoted as saying in a release announcing the slate.