By Helen Mitternight
All Images By Ferris Kaplan
(Editors Note: Charleston is such a foodie town that food and beverage superstars are hiding in plain sight, out of the James Beard limelight, but still very much creating and serving amazing food and drinks. This series profiles Charleston’s “hidden F&Bs.”)
Deljuan Murphy has been executive chef at Fleet Landing for just a few weeks,and he may not be “Hidden” for much longer.
Murphy was named to the position after Drew Hedlund moved over to the new restaurant, Tradd’s.
Murphy was trained at Johnson & Wales in Charleston, but he was already invested in the world of food since his grandfather won a state competition as pitmaster in Murphy’s native North Carolina, and his father is a dining facilitator in the military.
Favorite Kitchen Tool or Gadget: My chef knives. I cut a lot of fish and there’s no better tool.
In My Refrigerator (3 Things): Almond milk, turkey wings (I always love to smoke things), and strawberries because I love to bake and I’m going to be making a strawberry shortcake.
In My Pantry (3 Things): Dried pinto beans – I love pinto beans and biscuits; quinoa because I’m trying to play with new ingredients; and lasagna noodles.
Favorite After-work Hangout: Right now, it’s the gym. I recently lost 85 pounds. When I was on Chopped, I was 320 pounds and now I’m at 230. I’m eating healthy, and the bartender here is my personal trainer.
Favorite Charleston Restaurant Other Than Yours: Xiao Bao Biscuit because I’m an Army brat and I love those Asian flavors.
Comfort Food: My grandmother’s fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, hands down. My grandfather is pretty good, but he’s not my grandmother. I’ve tried to make it, but there’s some seasoning missing. I’ll figure it out eventually.
Favorite Smell: Lilac and lavender. I have a Claire Burke potpourri in that scent, and I love it.
Favorite Drink: Tahitian Treat. It’s a soda that’s like fruit punch made by Canada Dry. I drink too much of it. And you have to drink it fast, because it goes flat quickly.
Number of Hours You Work a Week: About 50.
Customer Pet Peeve: Allergies that don’t exist.
Most Under-rated Ingredient: Lemon. It brightens up anything, savory or sweet. If I’m making an icing, a dash of lemon makes it brighter. Same with gravy for fish. It does what salt can’t sometimes.
Favorite Meal to Cook at Home: Smoked brisket. I’ve been smoking a lot lately, trying to master the grand craft. Chicken and ribs are easy, but brisket is the hardest to do. You have to do it low and slow for like 14 hours.
Best Advice a Mentor Gave You: Choose something you’re passionate about, and pursue it. My first love was music. I had a recording deal in Germany. But my second love was food and I still love it.
Fleet Landing is at 186 Concord Street. It’s open for lunch every day from 11 a – 3:30 p and for dinner Sunday –Thursday from 5p – 10 p and Friday and Saturday from 5 p to 11 p. Brunch is Saturday and Sunday from 11 a – 3 p.