"Get Fresh With A Farmer"
Starting out as a dishwasher at The Starving Artist Cafe, to what has now turned into a lifelong pursuit of culinary and agricultural education. I soon found myself entwined in a sub culture that many years down the road would become a main stream focus with a spotlight into the creative underbelly of the food & beverage industry.
To think about how I got here, my mind drifts remembering the reception of my apron for the first time while Chef Shawn Crookshank in a deep raspy voice humorously giving me a half sober motivational speech to begin my tenure at the dish pit. Then to Chef Roger Goodson handing me beers in a wily fashion while I finished up the evenings dishes. Along with the food & beverage romanticism of gluttonous indulgence that comes with being a Chef, as a 15 year old dishwasher I had no sense of the rollercoaster path I was putting myself on. In the words of Hunter S Thompson "I bought the ticket , and I took the ride". Now those days find themselves further behind me, the lessons learned, while also burned into my memory, and the skills gathered from friend and foe is what I have been left with.
Finding my way out of small town USA seemed to be simple twist of fate, that without it these words would not have been written. Charleston SC became the next stop of my culinary life cycle. Johnson & Wales a seemingly mirage that hid what Charleston really had to offer in the ways of life & culinary lessons. In Charleston the Professors are the Chefs and experience is king. Short days and long nights and so many stories in-between I will need to write a book to confess the culinary sins of the past. I try daily to grasp the endless memories and stories to which some will stay deep in the pluff-mudd of the days in the heat of the Low Country kitchens.
I soon found myself graduating and going on to work with renowned Charleston Chefs such as Chef Chris Brant of The Ocean Room, Chef Fred Neuville of Ru de Jean and The Fat Hen, working with while also having the honor to cook at The James Beard House in New York with Chef Brett McKee of Oak Steakhouse, Chef Dan Carusso, Chef Jassen Campbell, Chef John Whisenant, Chef Sean Brock, Chef Eric Williams, Chef Rick Pawlak, along with working beside so many top shelf line cooks, sous chefs, and all other positions that held the line. Then over time becoming a chef myself. But also over time with the stress and ups and downs of the kitchen along with the weight it can bring on family life, physical health and just finding myself wanting to take a different look on how chefs could have a bigger impact on their communities. The transition to find a way to continue working with food and supporting the community and agriculture became increasingly on my mind. That passion became renewed with a dinner series modeled after the one and only Jimi Hatt of Guerilla Cuisine. Having experienced a handful of these soirées, I became well attuned to sharing the joys of good food, good music, good art, and good company. Along with combining these dinners with local food distribution, there once again came a sense of purpose the human species so undoubtedly needs to survive with any vigor. Southern Culture originally was born a sushi company that was small business focused and community driven. Today that has turned into Southern Culture Cuisine Appalachian Produce & Food Service Provisions. It will continue to grow as I hope I do, along with the communities and people who understand and care about what we are trying to do as a company.
The goal is to be ingrained with the true poetic romance that is the culinary industry, and the importance of the community. While bringing people together with good food and libations. In turn having the passion and spirit that embodies the culinary community. This life long journey has been straught with ups and downs. But none the less has been a true honor for me to be a part of and hope to continue the progression of moving forward.
Chef Nathan Tyler
Southern Culture Cuisine