Welcome to One Year In, a feature in which Eater talks to the chefs and owners of restaurants celebrating their one year anniversary. Here, chef Ryley McGillis talks about Grand Bohemian restaurant Élevé.
How did the concept of Élevé come to be?
The groundwork of Élevé’s concept was shaped early in the construction by many key factors. The concept can be most easily described as uniquely classical, tying in historical influences from the Junior League of Charleston while highlighting classical French techniques and preparations. The heavy coastal influence is recognizable, as well as the high-quality, locally- and regionally-sourced ingredients.
How has the restaurant changed over the past year?
When we opened our doors on August 27, 2015, we all knew we were going to be part of something special. The entire Kessler family was here, hanging pictures, touching up paint, setting up guest rooms, cooking, cleaning — you name it. It was an incredible experience that turned out to be the foundation of our culture.
The restaurant and team has experienced incredible growth over the last year. Our service team is highly proficient, and we are fortunate to have a very skilled culinary team. Subsequently, we have found great consistency. Our relationships with the community has become much stronger, and we are very privileged to have the unwavering support from the city of Charleston.
Were there any pleasant surprises in the first year?
Too many to count. Each Kessler Collection property is very unique, however, they all share a passion for art, music, and food and wine. Two notable experiences were hosting internationally known artists, Stefano Cecchini and Jean Claude Roy. Grand Bohemian Charleston displays dozens of these artist’s best pieces. Twice a year we host art dinners, a unique event where we create a five-course menu that speaks to each artist’s work. Additionally, our sommeliers create very specific wine pairings for each course in our wine blending room. Designing and executing an experience that can stand up to the incredible work of these artists is simply daunting.
Has there been anything that didn’t work out as expected?
It’s common knowledge that opening a hotel is not an easy feat, however, the rewards outweigh the challenges. In order to be successful you have to set very high expectations, anticipate market conditions, be humble, and make wise adjustments. Charleston deserves, and in my opinion, requires an over-the-top Sunday brunch experience. We have created this experience and we are very confident that Élevé’s Sunday brunch will soon become one of Charleston’s many must-do traditions. On behalf of the team, I suggest you come try it.
Our food is evolving and changing with the weather and our craft cocktails are an experience in itself. If you haven’t visited the hotel in a while, I recommend a visit to the wine tasting room, a tour through our art gallery, followed by dinner and drinks in Élevé. Be sure to reserve a wine blending course before you go. I can tell you that we are making moves. Exciting moves. I can’t release the information yet, however, as soon as I can share with you I surely will.