Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CIC Grad Benjamin Dennis IV Featured in City Paper

Chef BJ Dennis Delves into His People's Gullah Geechee Past to Inspire His Future

October 10, 2012  By Stephanie Barna

"As a kid growing up near West Ashley's historic Maryville neighborhood, BJ Dennis (that is, Benjamin Dennis IV) had no idea there was anything special about the area. He was clueless to the fact that it was a historic place where local blacks established a town in 1886, named after an educator and leader named Mary Mathews Just. Maryville was the first model of black self government in South Carolina.

"He didn't know much about Gullah Geechee either, the nation of West Africans that grew a unique culture on American soil. As far as he knew, he was just a regular Charleston kid growing up in a neighborhood that, he says, wasn't ghetto but was definitely hood."

Read the rest of Ben's story of his life through the trenches, as he gets his culinary degree at CIC, and the journey that eventually takes him back to his roots. "At his Sunday pop-up dinners at the Butcher & Bee he's found an eager audience for his purloos and okra soup, including food critic Jeffrey Steingarten, who gave him a mention in his big Vogue story on Sean Brock. 'He called my food "exceedingly savory",' says Dennis, obviously stunned and thrilled by the unexpected attention. Right now, he says, 'I'm just riding the wave to see where it takes me.' Ultimately, he thinks his future is turning diners on to the true Lowcountry cuisine that people, particularly the Gullah Geechee, eat at home. 'That's my biggest challenge," he says, "bringing it back.'" photo credit: Jonathan Boncek.

No comments: