The beguiling city of Charleston, South Carolina, boasts a multitude of charms, not the least of which are its unique brand of hospitality and its signature Lowcountry cooking. While the pastel historic buildings and the profusion of crape myrtles draw the attention of typical visitors, foodies find themselves under the spell of the chef-instructors at a cooking school (and kitchen shop) aptly called Charleston Cooks! Here they are tutored in the nuances of the local cuisine, whose name derives from the South Carolina Lowcountry—the marshy coastal area along the state’s Atlantic shoreline.
“Lowcountry cooking has strong ties to the area’s history,” explains Chef Danielle Wecksler, general manager of the Charleston Cooks! culinary center. “It has roots in the French-influenced cuisine preferred by Charleston’s founding ‘aristocracy’ and in the vibrant spices of the Caribbean and Africa. Yet it’s not fancy food, but homey and approachable.”
Lowcountry cooking classes are offered almost daily. Danielle and co-chef Emily Kimbrough—Emily is shown here conducting a class—change the program frequently, and many of their students return time and time again, eventually building a repertoire of recipes. “The Lowcountry has an abundance of shrimp, fish, crab, and oysters,” notes Danielle. “Rice is a staple. In summer, there’s lots of corn and peaches.”