Many years ago the leadership of a kitchen was a narrow point. The Executive Chef was at the top and everyone else was underneath. Young cooks didn’t have a voice, you did as you were told and that was that. If you were lucky you worked for a chef that provided the why to the how. Why am I skinning this fish in this manner? Why should I not use room temperature butter to make a beurre blanc but warm melted butter to make a hollandaise?
That was my experience as a young cook, that was also Jeff Kelly’s. Five years spent inside the kitchen of Charleston’s Peninsula Grill working for Chef Bob Carter, at one time one of the top guys in the country and one of the first Charleston chefs to branch away from coastal Carolina style of cuisine. Bob’s food was brilliant and those formative years really show in Jeff’s food. Today Jeff helms one of the top rated restaurants in the Upstate and his journey included almost two years cooking with me at 33 Liberty. From a simple Cole slaw to gorgeous desserts, everything he made was first class.
One another recent rainy day, Jeff joined me at the farm and we chatted about his youth, his time with Bob Carter, the good times at 33 Liberty and of course his leadership lessons he’s learned over the years.