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Four chefs tapped to promote SC food, tourism

The 2017 SC Chef Ambassadors, announced at a Thursday news conference, are William Cribb, left, of Spartanburg; Adam Kirby of Pawleys Island; Amy Fortes of Rock Hill; and Sean Mendes of Charleston.
The 2017 SC Chef Ambassadors, announced at a Thursday news conference, are William Cribb, left, of Spartanburg; Adam Kirby of Pawleys Island; Amy Fortes of Rock Hill; and Sean Mendes of Charleston. Provided photo

Four new Chef Ambassadors will spend the coming year promoting South Carolina’s culinary heritage.

The four – William Cribb of Cribb’s Kitchen and Willy Taco in Spartanburg; Amy Fortes of Flipside Café in Fort Mill; Adam Kirby of Bistro 217 in Pawleys Island; and Sean Mendes of Roadside Seafood in Charleston – were announced at a Thursday news conference at the S.C. State House.

Cribb is the executive chef of Cribbs Kitchen and Willy Taco, as well as Cribbs Catering. He previously worked in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and North Carolina.

Fortes started out studying medicine before realizing her true passion was cooking. She worked in restaurants in her hometown of Lockport, New York. Today she is co-owner and chef of The Flipside Restaurant, The Flipside Café and The Flipside Catering Company in Rock Hill and Fort Mill.

Kirby is chef and co-owner of Bistro 217 on Pawleys Island. The Atlanta native and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu of the Western Culinary Institute gets cooking inspiration from his Southern roots and mother and grandmother. His travels have included Hawaii, Portland and San Francisco.

Mendes learned about different cuisines growing up as the child of parents who served in the U.S. Air Force. In 2012 Mendes launched the Roadside Seafood food truck in Charleston, and just over a year later opened a restaurant by the same name. This year, Mendes opened the Blues Burger Joint in Charleston.

The Chef Ambassadors program, launched two years ago by Gov. Nikki Haley, promotes South Carolina as a culinary destination for travelers by leveraging chefs who use locally grown and harvested products in their recipes and who offer distinctive flavors and tastes at their restaurants. The ambassadors, who serve one year, travel to places and events throughout the United States promoting the state and its cuisine.

Outgoing 2016 chefs include Ramone Dickerson of 2 Fat 2 Fly and Wing City in Columbia, Teryi Youngblood of Greenville’s Passerelle Bistro, Orchid Paulmeier of One Hot Mama’s in Hilton Head, and Forrest Parker of Drawing Room at The Vendue in Charleston. Appearances by the Chef Ambassadors ranged from cooking demonstrations at local farmers markets to the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, Music to Your Mouth at Palmetto Bluff, and the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. As a group, the four chefs prepared lunch and dinner at the James Beard House in New York in August.

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