I spent the better part of a week on Hilton Head Island for the food and wine festival last month, had a wonderful time. While I was there, I got a text from a chef friend of mine. “Hey, how long are you on the island?” “Stop by and see me.”, he said. I knew he had been working at the South Carolina Yacht Club, but I thought he was the Executive Chef there. The next day I enter the spectacularly beautiful Windmill Harbor and make my way to the Yacht Club. A few minutes later, here comes Lee Lucier around the corner, decked out in jacket and tie.
“What’s this about?”, I ask immediately. “I’m the GM.” Well, alrighty then.
Lee Lucier has been around the block a few times. One look at his bio and you see that. He’s been here, there and everywhere sharing his skills. He’s been part some of the biggest food and wine festivals in America. He’s appeared on national television. Most recently he spent half a decade traveling the world with Hilton Head Island favorite Robert Irvine as part of Chef Irvine’s Restaurant Impossible television show. It undoubtedly required lots of travel. It wasn’t uncommon to see Chef Lee send out a photo via social media of him spending time with his family on the beach Sunday afternoon only to see another photo of an airplane’s wing at 6:00am the next morning. He was on the road again. A seemingly never ending road. “I had to get out.”, he says. “I wish all of those guys well, but it was time to go.” That has a tendency to happen once you’ve seen every airport and stayed at every nice hotel. Besides, who could blame him. He makes his home on Hilton Head Island.
So what’s with the coat and tie? “This was a great opportunity.”, he says. “I don’t mind getting out the kitchen. We have a great staff in the kitchen here.”
Here is the aforementioned South Carolina Yacht Club. Chef Lee makes the rounds, looks at some things he’d like to tweak here and there, but mostly it’s his vision to “change the food scene around here” that gets him the most excited. Beginning this Friday and continuing five or six times a year and perhaps beyond, The South Carolina Yacht Club is going to be hosting a “Guest Chef Series”.
Friday night will be the first, featuring Chef Kevin Sbraga, winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef: Season 7”, along side SCYC Executive Chef Kevin Cavanaugh. “The low country has so much to offer, from local purveyors, scratch cookeries and culinary history and South Carolina Yacht Club wanted to be part of it. Our cuisine in the Hilton Head area is exploding with local chefs and newcomers and I wanted to take it a step further at SCYC. We have great food from Chef Kevin Cavanaugh, now we can pair that with national chefs, allowing us to showcase their combined talents in one dinner.”
The menu includes some classics like Fried Oysters, Carolina Shrimp Sausage and Dry Aged Pork, but also includes some great sounding dishes like a “Trio of Blue Crab Roe Flan, Confit of Rabbit, and Buffalo Style Frog Leg”. Each paired with a wine. The menu is inspired by Chef Sbraga’s restaurant “The Fat Ham” in Philadelphia. “Kevin’s food…wow!”, he says. “As a chef I would say it is spice driven. He understands and blends spices so well. Secondly, he sees food differently from so many other chefs. His food is clean, just so good.”
Five courses with a wine pairing, “Al Fresco” at the South Carolina Yacht Club. Just the beginning of what Lucier says will be game changers in Low Country dining scene. It’s pretty clear he is having fun in his new role at the Club. A quick tour of the grounds showed us their plans for remodeling and overall improvements to an already beautiful facility. “We are planning five to six dinners per year. Chef Ed Cotton is coming next in May. He is a great chef out of NYC. Just a great resume including Sous Chef on Iron Chef, Top Chef, David Burke Restaurants, and on and on. His dinner should continue to help us raise the bar.”
The dinner is absolutely open to the public, reservations are required and space is somewhat limited. For more information you can call (843) 681-4844 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.