The chefs at Kiawah Island Golf Resort and a recipe for Palmetto Quail from Jasmine Porch

We recently traveled to Kiawah Island, South Carolina to work with the culinary team at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.  Just thirty minutes south of Charleston, you are immediately immersed in the beauty and solitude of this special island upon your arrival.  As you drive toward The Sanctuary, the smell of the ocean settles in and you are surrounded by spectacular beaches, native plant life and flowers and perhaps, even an alligator or two along the way.  The developers of Kiawah Island have focused on coexisting with the indigenous wildlife and preserving the natural beauty of the island. They have succeeded.

Kiawah’s beaches are rated some of the most beautiful beaches in the country

Residents and guests on the island coexist with the alligators living in their natural habitat

We first met with Robert Wysong, Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage at The Sanctuary.  As we strolled the grounds and Chef Wysong discussed the development of the property from its inception, I was most impressed with his respect for the natural surroundings at Kiawah.  Wysong and the culinary team have translated the developer’s vision of cohabiting with the environment into a culinary perspective where they buy directly from the community of farmers, fishermen and other purveyors of local bounty.

What a truly special place to work as a chef

“Buying local just makes the most sense.”  With so many natural resources and an almost year-round growing season, this is the perfect environment to support local producers.  By eliminating the middle man, they are able to reduce their carbon footprint, lower their distribution costs and provide their guests with the freshest and best tasting products.

Chefs Ryley McGillis and Robert Wysong

We sat poolside at Loggerhead Grill with Chef Wysong and Ryley McGillis, Chef de Cuisine of Jasmine Porch and Loggerhead Grill (both at The Sanctuary), on our first full day at Kiawah to discuss their philosophy and how their operations work.  “It was much different when I was coming up through the ranks.”  Chef Wysong said, “We used to see a large truck deliver our products in blue and white boxes.  Now we have crates delivered from our local farmers, fishermen and other providers with what is fresh and available on that day.”   This is a win-win for the guests, the community and the chefs.

The Ocean Room, The Atlantic Room and Jasmine Porch

Chef McGillis added, “People want to support local.  It is beneficial to the community.  While it is much less expensive for me to buy farm-raised shrimp from South America, I will take measures somewhere else to keep costs in line.  We need to support the shrimping boats that come in off the coast and not sacrifice all that we have here.  We want to educate the guests to know where it comes from and how it was raised.  If I keep buying from Cherry Point (a local marina), they will continue to bring in better fish and the guests will benefit.  It is a concern for me at home, too.”

Dishes from Loggerhead Grill, Jasmine Porch and The Ocean Room

With Chef Wysong at Loggerhead Grill

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