The City Magazine Since 1975

Chefs in the Wild

Chefs in the Wild
February 2019

The Lee brothers curate a bold lineup for the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition kitchen stage

(Left to right) Former Millers All Day chef Madison Tessener, emcees Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and Geechie Boy Mill’s Greg Johnsman chat about heirloom crop Indigo Popcorn at the 2018 SEWE kitchen stage in Marion Square.

The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) is perhaps best known for its birds of prey demos, DockDogs competitions, wildlife art exhibits, and conservation lectures. But in the midst of this three-day sporting-life celebration, there’s something you might not have noticed: the South Carolina Department of Agriculture kitchen stage, where the biggest talents in Charleston food and beverage share how the state’s foodways influence their menus. The best part? You can watch the events for free.

Matt and Ted Lee—brothers, authors, and Lowcountry food authorities—are curating the SEWE kitchen stage talent for the second year in a row, and they’ve put together a stacked sophomore lineup of 17 chef demos and conversations.

“We have pastry chef Cynthia Wong alongside Patrick Meyers of Lowcountry Creamery. Cynthia is making her marmalade sandwich ice cream, churned with pink grapefruit from her backyard and toasted brioche,” says Ted Lee. “From McCrady’s, we have a sweet and savory rice throwdown! Pastry chef Katy Keefe is doing Carolina Gold popsicles with sassafras and sorghum, while executive chef Jim Stein makes Carolina Gold porridge with barbecue shrimp and benne.”

You can also expect to see BJ Dennis with farmers Joseph Fields and Germaine Jenkins presenting mustard and turnip greens with a twist. “This year, we really want to reflect Charleston’s food scene as it is now with food trucks, home cooks, restaurants of every type,” Matt notes.

The laid-back atmosphere offers a rare opportunity for gastronomes to get up close and personal with their local culinary heroes. But more importantly, the Department of Agriculture aims to showcase the vital relationships connecting the region’s most esteemed chefs, and the farmers and purveyors who work so hard to grow the foods we love. Bonus: this year the SEWE kitchen stage includes free food samples. Look out shepherding demo, you’ve got some competition.

Mark your calendars: For the full 2019 SEWE schedule, visit


Photographs (4) Courtesy of Matt Lee