Three South Carolina chefs will represent the state’s culinary scene at food festivals and other events after being named South Chef Ambassadors for 2024.
The three were appointed Jan. 18 by Gov. Henry McMaster, Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers and Duane Parrish, director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, according to a news release.
The three honorees are:
Chef Leslie Rohland of The Cottage Cafe Bakery and Tea Room, Bluffton.
As founder, owner and head chef/baker at The Cottage Café, Bakery & Tea Room, Rohland serves up innovative cuisine and Southern hospitality in Bluffton. After the success of The Cottage, she opened May River Coffee Roasters, The Juice Hive, SideCar Catering, and The Bluffton Pasta Shoppe, all committed to offering fresh, local cuisine.
Chef Michael Sibert, Anonymous Burgers, Greer
Sibert hails from Greenwood and is a graduate of Cornell University and the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas. He trained in New Orleans before moving to Greer, where he has headed up high-end eateries for more than a decade. He opened Anonymous Burgers in Cartwright Food Hall in 2023.
Chef Javier Uriarte, Ratio in Elgin
Chef Javier gained his culinary experience in Washington, D.C., area restaurant kitchens before moving to Columbia in 2013. He is chef and owner of Ratio in the Kershaw County/Northeast Columbia region, a tapas-style restaurant influenced by his Peruvian background and Southern comfort food.
This is the 10th year of the program, which was created in 2014 to highlight South Carolina as a destination for great food. Chef Ambassadors represent the state through food festivals and other promotional opportunities, sharing South Carolina’s culinary traditions, agricultural heritage and undiscovered places with the world.
“The Chef Ambassador program celebrates two important sectors of our booming economy — agribusiness and tourism,” McMaster said in the release. “Our state’s outstanding culinary talent contributes to the rich cultural heritage and quality of life that makes South Carolina unique and attractive to all.”
South Carolina Chef Ambassadors support the state’s farmers by using Certified South Carolina produce, meats, dairy, seafood and other farm-fresh foods in their own ways.
“South Carolina’s food culture is second to none, and farmers make it all possible,” Weathers said in the release. “I’m impressed by how each and every Chef Ambassador over the past 10 years has supported local food and forged relationships with farmers, and I look forward to working with this talented new class.”
Parrish said the program is beneficial for tourism because the ambassadors help showcase the diversity of South Carolina’s flavors as well as different destinations statewide.
“From their signature dishes to the cities and towns they passionately represent, our Chef Ambassadors have helped enhance and amplify our culinary reputation with audiences around the world,” Parrish said in the release. “I know our 2024 class will continue that tradition.”
To learn more about the program and past Chef Ambassadors, visit discoversouthcarolina.com/chef-ambassadors.P