The kitchen is not a scary place,” insists Mark Pollard, executive chef and manager of Charleston Cooks/Maverick Kitchen Store in Greenville. Teaching eight cooking classes a week, he empowers everyone from clueless cooks to full-blown foodies—helping them gain confidence, try new techniques, and, most of all, have some fun—all while learning their way around a mise en place.
He’s stirred the pot since he was six-years-old by apprenticing in his family’s fine-dining restaurants. After attending Johnson & Wales culinary school, the Clemson alum says he is happy spending his career behind a stove. And, he’s amazed at the recent changes in the gastronomic landscape in Greenville. “It’s becoming more eclectic, more innovative—with farm-to-table leading the way as well as influences from Charleston, Nashville, and Asheville. Honestly, we are moving away from the clichéd, old-fashioned cooking of the South to frying less, using more fresh ingredients, and making simpler dishes,” he says.
Since it’s that time of year, you might have Thanksgiving angst. But Pollard will have 30 people at his table. He’ll be cooking and smoking a couple of turkeys, a ham, a pork tenderloin, and a slew of sides for the family, incorporating traditional recipes alongside new ones he hasn’t tried before. He’s generously agreed to share one of his family’s favorite delights that’s been deliciously received for more than 30 years. Try his Chocolate Chess Pie and bring something new to your feast.