Before he became Eater Charleston’s 2018 Chef of the Year, Evan Gaudreau grew up working at restaurants, but never thought of it as a career. He went to Emerson College for film, but he continued to work in kitchens during his time as a student. “I had this realization that it was something that I was good at,” he tells Eater — so he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
After CIA, he visited a friend in Charleston and walked into a job at the Ordinary. After the famous fish hall, he moved on to Asian comfort restaurant Xiao Bao Biscuit. While working downtown, he discovered Faculty Lounge as a fun industry hangout to wind down after work. Gaudreau became friends with the owners Erik and Nayda Hutson.
After an extensive trip to Israel, Gaudreau thought he might want to leave Charleston, but he meet his now girlfriend Eva Suárez and realized he wanted to stay. “I didn’t know where else I wanted to work,” Gaudreau says, “But Erik and Nayda approached me a week later with the Renzo opportunity. I didn’t know anything about pizza, but I said yes.”
Gaudreau went into full-on research mode. Together with his friend and former Butcher & Bee baker Henry Jones, they explored different types of dough and went on pizza-eating missions.
“We never tell people that Renzo is an Italian restaurant — because it’s not really,” he states, “It’s pretty eclectic. I think having lots of cuisines in my background helped create the restaurant Renzo is today.” For those you haven’t been, the menu ranges from an elote pizza to a lo mein carbonara.
Over the first year at Renzo, the young chef has learned to find Renzo’s voice. “It’s a gradient, there’s no black and white. It’s more of a feeling as to what makes the menu.” During that year he also was nominated as a Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation.
Going forward, Gaudreau want to keep that voice going with Renzo’s bagel brunch and constantly evolving the dinner menu with the seasons.
• Faculty Lounge Still Shaking (Cocktails and Booties) a Year After Revamp [ECHS]
• All Renzo Coverage [ECHS]
• James Beard Awards 2019 Restaurant & Chef Semifinalists for Charleston [ECHS]
• Will Charleston Finally Have a Decent Bagel Place? [ECHS]