HIDDEN F&B: Beverly Harrell and Hilary Curry, Cannon Green
By Helen Mitternight
(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.”)
It’s not every married couple that can work together, but, for Beverly Harrell and Hillary Curry, the combination works, maybe because Hillary is at the bar while Beverly is in the kitchen, so their work is complementary, not competitive.
Hillary has been with Cannon Green since it opened. She started as a bartender and worked her way up to become bar manager and assistant restaurant manager.
“I remember I just fell in love with the place. I just drank the Koolaid,” she recalls.
Along the way, she urged Beverly to make the move from retail to food and beverage.
“I always loved cooking so I came in and talked to Chef Amalia (Scatena, executive chef). I explained how I didn’t have any experience and she said she looks for passion and if I was willing to take the chance, she was too.”
Beverly is now a sous chef for Cannon Green.
The two have been together five years this month and recently celebrated their second wedding anniversary.
The couple’s take:
Favorite Kitchen Tool or Gadget: Beverly: My Boos board at home, I love the sound of the knife on a wood cutting board. Hilary: A bar spoon and a very good wine key. You need the bar spoon to be able to stir correctly and when you see it done correctly, it’s an art.
In My Refrigerator (3 Things): Beverly: Green Man Porter, goose fat, and vegetables from the garden. Hilary: sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica), corn tortillas, and leftover Chinese from Red Orchid.
In My Pantry (3 Things): Beverly: dried chiles, tomato paste, homemade vanilla. Hilary: at all times, whiskey and tequila and some sort of bag of chips.
Favorite After-work Hangout: Beverly: The Palace Hotel. They have a bartender who looks like Brad Pitt in “Legends of the Fall.” Hilary: If we go out, it’s the Warehouse.
Favorite Charleston Restaurant Other Than Yours: Beverly: The Grocery. It’s the first restaurant that we had dinner when we were looking to move to Charleston and, from that day on, it’s been the most inviting place. The staff has been amazing, so sweet and nice. They remember you. We are bar people, so we sit at the bar. And, with the menu, you can tell the chef is using local, fresh food. Hilary: Yeah, it’s the Grocery. They really value the ingredients and they really showcase every one they use to make it the star.
Comfort Food: Beverly: Biscuits and gravy. I would go out for that one, like to Early Bird. Hilary: I have too many comfort foods! Cheeseburgers maybe, or pan-fried dumplings.
Favorite Smell: Beverly: A Christmas tree, a pot of coffee brewing in the morning, especially when someone else is doing it for you. Hilary: Cracked black pepper.
Favorite Drink: Beverly: Porter all the way. It’s very robust. I feel a lot of people may think it’s heavy but to me it’s a very light beer. It’s complex and has notes of some of my favorite things like coffee and chocolate. Hilary: I like whiskey, neat. Rye in particular.
Number of Hours You Work a Week: Beverly: I couldn’t begin to guess. Hilary: I’ve lost count!
Customer Pet Peeve: Beverly: I want to say when someone changes the whole concept of a dish. I feel the chef puts a great amount of thought into flavor pairings and when they don’t even want to give it a chance. Hilary: For me, it’s someone who produces a fake ID.
Most Under-rated Ingredient: Beverly: I would say lemon zest. It’s such a good addition to anything you do. Hilary: Aquavit. It’s an old-school caraway liqueur and it’s constantly being described as a flavorful gin or something botanical, but actually it’s potato-based, so it’s more along the lines of vodka. It’s a way-underused flavor.
Favorite Meal to Cook at Home: Beverly: I love to grill everything over charcoal outside. I think there’s a lot of diversity and unique flavors the grill brings out in food. Hilary: I make a mean Manhattan. I like to make a Manhattan at home. Either that, or anything I can throw into a crockpot.
Best Advice a Mentor Gave You: Beverly: It was from Chef Amalia (Scatena, executive chef). Initially when we met, she told me to just trust your instincts because they are usually on point, which comes back to having enough confidence to believe in them. Hilary: It was my sister, Emily, who told me that nothing is a mistake, it’s a learning opportunity.
All photos by Ferris Kaplan
Cannon Green is at 103 Spring Street, Charleston. Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 5 pm – 11 pm and Sunday 11 am – 3 pm.