HIDDEN F&B: Sara Prezioso, The Darling
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.”)
All photos by Ferris Kaplan
Sara Prezioso was all set to go into psychology. She liked the idea of a science-based career in Columbia, SC, studying humans.
But then in 2006, she moved to Charleston and saw how many restaurants were opening and how chefs got joy from cooking. She remembered how much she enjoyed cooking with her grandmother and how her Italian father would serve guests and walk the table, ensuring that they were taken care of before filling a plate for himself.
The memory was enough to lure her obtaining her culinary degree at the Art Institute in 2014 and, from there, to Poogan’s Porch and Mex-1. She joined the current restaurant back when it was called Union Provisions.
Prezioso has been executive sous chef since 2017.
Favorite Kitchen Tool or Gadget: One-gallon metal pitcher. I’m able to do a lot with that one thing. I can make a lot of recipes without dirtying anything else.
In My Refrigerator (3 Things): Siracha, really good fig and rosewater jam from Goat, Sheep Cow North. And I am addicted to eggs. My husband and I eat a lot of eggs.
In My Pantry (3 Things): Baked chickpeas – they come in a bag and it’s a healthy snack. Also, almond butter and club crackers.
Favorite After-work Hangout: Moe’s Crosstown.
Favorite Charleston Restaurant Other Than Yours: One of many my husband and I like going to is Barsa. It’s really open, I like the bar area and they have a patio, bold artwork. The food is great. I like the idea of tapas.
Comfort Food: Short ribs and mashed potatoes and carrots. My husband makes me that meal for my birthday every year.
Favorite Smell: Sauteed garlic and onions.
Favorite Drink: The Garden Party from Butcher & Bee. It has kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, green apple, ginger and lemon. It’s delicious!
Number of Hours You Work a Week: Depends on the season. About 45-60.
Customer Pet Peeve: Seafood allergy.
Most Under-rated Ingredient: Parsley. I feel like it once was important, back in the 90s for presentation, but really just herbs in general do get forgotten about sometimes. You can add them without adding calories and it adds a natural element to food.
Favorite Meal to Cook at Home: Breakfast. My husband and I make buttermilk pancakes, frittata. It’s a good way to clear out the fridge. It’s a good way to start the day.
Best Advice a Mentor Gave You: I’ve gotten a lot of advice over the years. Joe DiMaio (the Darling’s executive chef) gave me good advice when I first became sous chef. He said you have to look at the big picture when dealing with employee issues. You have to think of all aspects of a solution and a problem before making a decision.
The Darling Oyster Bar is at 513 King Street. It’s open daily at 4 pm.