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.”)
Rachel Blumenstock is the chef de cuisine at Cru Café. She wanted to do set design, but that career wasn’t to be. Instead, she thought plating beautiful food would be a good outlet for her creativity. After all, people eat with their eyes first. Blumenthal has been there since 2001 and she’s not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. She’s still creating art on a plate.
Favorite Kitchen Tool or Gadget: A chef’s knife. I can break anything down with a knife.
In My Pantry (3 Things): Peanut oil. It’s the best for cooking because it has a high smoke point. Truffle oil. And a ton of seasonings and spices.
Favorite After-Work Hangout: Well, I’m in F&B, so I go to the bar. Which bar depends on my mood.
Favorite Charleston Restaurant Other Than Yours: Wild Olive — the food is delicious and the staff is great.
Comfort Food: Zen Asian Fusion chicken wings and wonton soup.
Favorite Smell: Cooking garlic when it’s cooked almost to the point of being burned.
Favorite Drink: I drink a lot of water. Coke (never Diet), and bourbon and tequila.
Number of Hours You Work a Week: 50-60
Customer Pet Peeve: Guests who get the food but then don’t even taste it before they put salt and pepper on the food. Or people who are rude to the servers. With an open kitchen, I can hear when people talk trash or are rude to servers.
Most Underrated Ingredient: Salt. It makes or breaks a dish.
Favorite Meal to Cook at Home: Steaks and mashed potatoes. A lot of meat.
Best Advice From A Mentor: It was John Zucker and he taught me the importance of keeping your area clean and being precise.