If you haven't heard, the most important culinary event to hit America is coming to Charleston—not New York and not L.A.—but Charleston, South Carolina. Cook It Raw will bring their first ever throwdown, open to the public, to Bowens Island. If you're not familiar with Cook It Raw, think of it as a field trip/symposium gathering of the most innovative chefs in the world, and all setting to share ideas and discover what's happening in the current comestible environment. This time around, they'll be studying the Lowcountry, and you'll get a chance to sample their interpretations of Southern flavor and culture, on October 26, during "BBQ Perspectives."
Another important element to remember, hometown hero and Husk/McCrady's chef Sean Brock will be the master of ceremonies for the week. Brock will lead the visiting chefs through his favorite haunts in the Holy City. To discover his plans for the guests and to further instill excitement in those wavering on purchasing a ticket, Eater spoke with Brock about Cook It Raw, and why he thinks Charleston is the perfect destination for the event.
How did you first get involved with Cook It Raw?
A couple years ago, I was invited to Cook It Raw Japan and had the most amazing experience of my life, hands down. That was the most insightful, inspirational and life changing trip I've been on. It was just such a cool experience to be in a kitchen with Japan's best chefs. It was completely surreal—I still can't believe I did it. The organization started throwing the idea around for an American event, and then the idea came up it would be based in the South, and the planning started. And luckily for us, they decided Charleston is where they wanted to have the event. Honestly, I can't believe that it's a reality and it's really happening. It's just completely insane.
There's just so much about the city we live in that's great. They could have picked anywhere in America, and they picked Charleston. This is a very, very, very big deal. It's the biggest thing I've ever been a part of. Some of the world's best, most innovative chefs are going to be wandering around Charleston for a week—how cool is that?
How did Bowen's Island come to be the exact location for the event?
We had several meetings and threw around a gazillion ideas, but once we took them there, they said, "this is perfect." It's one of my favorite places.
How would you explain to someone, who may not be familiar with Cook It Raw, why they should spend $100 to come out to this event?
It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's a chance to hang out and eat barbecue with some of the most important chefs to walk the face of the planet, like Albert Adria for Christ's sake! That's just insane. I can't believe it's only $100. It's going to be one of those things you'll never forget for the rest of your life. To be able to drink a beer and have a conversation with Massimo Bottura? Give me break, that's amazing! A lot of people never get that opportunity.
What I'm most excited about, really, is showing everybody how special Charleston is. I think it's the perfect place for Cook It Raw. With the Carolina rice kitchen and the agricultural history here, it's such a unique cuisine. For most of these chefs, they've never been to the South, so who knows what they think about or what they've heard. It's an opportunity for us to say, "this is a very cool place." It's a very important place in American history and American cooking, and it's an opportunity for all those people to spread the word about how special our home is.
What are some of the planned activities for the visiting chefs?
We're doing a lot of fun stuff. We are going into a rice field and harvesting rice. We'll polish it right there in the field. That's amazing. We're basically going to do things I take everyone to do when they visit—experience the city. Most importantly, the barrier islands like Wadmalaw—I'm really excited about that.
So, you guys aren't going on a carriage tour?
[Laughs] I hope not.
Awesome. Well, if that does happen, please have a video crew along for the ride.
Tickets are still available to get in on all the fun, amazing cuisine and elbow rubbing with some of the biggest names in the culinary world today. Reserve your spot online.
· Cook It Raw [Official]
· Cook It Raw's Bowens Barbecue Blowout [-ECHS-]
· Cook It Raw Tickets [Official]
[Photo: Provided, Peter Frank Edwards]