Upcoming James Island restaurant Stereo 8 finally found the chef to bring the menu of Korean tacos and crudos to life — Vanessa Middleton. Not familiar with the name? Perhaps you know her oeuvre. Middleton worked on productions of hit television shows such as Saturday Night Live, Cosby, Girlfriends, and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, but not on the craft services side — she was a situation comedy writer before realizing her calling to the culinary world.
Middleton is originally from Charleston, but her writing career brought her to New York and California. While in Los Angeles, she found herself craving the diverse cuisines she grew accustomed to in New York, and that's when she started cooking. Middle explains her transition:
I made good money that allowed me to eat well, and I always wrote my best scripts in restaurants. I always thought, "I want a restaurant." And the same way I approached entertainment, where I started out typing scripts and working my way up, was the same approach I took to the restaurant. I started from the ground up. I started serving, chopping vegetables, mentoring, staging. When I wasn't working, I was in a restaurant. It became the forefront.
Middle tells us that writing and being a chef can have some similarities. "Sometimes I refer to the customers as my audience, she says, "You want to write a menu that satisfies them. It's similar to writing a script. You want to come up with something people are going to respond to."
Middleton wants the experience of Stereo 8 to be memorable. "We're all about great experiences, and not just for the patrons, but for the people who work here — front or back of house. It's about a love of food and having a good time." She's excited about Stereo 8's raw bar, table-side guacamole, and bringing a bit of California health-consciousness to Charleston. Middleton is ready to share the food she loves to a Lowcountry audience.
Stereo 8 is in the process of stocking the kitchen and honing the menu. Look here for more info on an opening date soon.