I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Furey, an up and coming chef in Charleston. Her story of going from a student to achieving her dream chef position is one not to miss.
Furey grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA and jokes "Yes, the cheesesteaks in Philly are good, but you should try my mom’s." And that's where her journey began, cooking with her mom.
Furey's love for cooking started at a young age. She has fond memories of her childhood family meals.
"I think my love of cooking actually is rooted in a love for feeding others. I used to replace paper napkins on the dinner table with our best silverware rolled up in linen dinner napkins, and surprise everyone with personalized name tags. I used to write menus for my dream dinner. My nana and I used to make cornflake- crusted chicken cutlets and meatballs, and occasionally pulled out the pizzelle maker. I used to sit on the counter by my mom while she cooked, often veggies and very healthy yet delicious food. I became really interested in going to the library and coming home with a mountain of cookbooks and food magazines."
Furey began her love for food when she was young and this love continued into her high school years. She credits Chef/Owner Carlo Demarco of 333 Belrose Bar and Grill in Radnor, Pennsylvania for initially encouraging her to jump into the culinary arts. He gave her an opportunity to work side by side with him as his culinary intern in high school. After this taste of working in a restaurant as a professional chef, she couldn't get enough.
After high school, Furey wanted to escape the cold and head to Charleston, a place known for its cuisine. The "sunshine, soul and surfing" in Charleston attracted her to the city. She found herself double majoring in business administration and hospitality and tourism at the College of Charleston. As a member of the school’s Schottland Scholars program, she is grateful for the opportunity to spend time intimately with leaders in businesses of all kinds. The hospitality department is deeply connected with the hospitality industry and has provided her with connections and mentorships around the city.
Furey's first pop-up show is this week. She is pairing up with Charleston’s first poet laureate, Marcus Amaker, to bring the pop-up event, Poetic Plates, to Daps, a new café/bar on Ashley Avenue. Poetic Plates, part of Amaker’s Free Verse festival, will feature a 3-course rhyme-inspired menu with live readings from some of Charleston's favorite poets. Furey designed the menu in a classic Italian style spotlighting with some of her favorite local purveyors. This pop-up is unique and unmissable because each item has a story.
Furey most recently apprenticed with Nathalie Dupree, a James Beard award-winning chef, author, and cooking show host who works primarily with American Southern cuisine.
"Nathalie taught me to always season with love and is instrumental to my confidence in the culinary arts," Furey said.
Furey says she is a personal chef, cooking for private events and everyday meals. She also loves to give in-home cooking lessons. On top of this, she works with the College of Charleston's fitness director, a nutritionist, and researcher to create a holistic student health program. As if she doesn't have enough on her plate, she also takes students food shopping to source healthful and local ingredients on a college budget. She then will cook wholesome recipes through her workshops and cooking demonstrations for College of Charleston students.
You might see Furey at a local restaurant near you! She likes to cook Italian food because of her family's heritage and she fully believes, “you are what you eat.” As a runner and surfer, she enjoys eating foods that provide good energy.
Her all-time favorite meal to cook is focaccia bread. It can be done in so many ways and can be paired with anything from prosciutto to seafood salad to olive oil and rosemary.
"You can find me next doing pop-ups or collaborating with local culinary entrepreneurs for a variety of events. You can also find me at cafes like the Harbinger, and if you do, feel free to join! My friends and I started a potluck dinner club and always have room for more people," Furey said.
Furey's ultimate goal is to pursue an entrepreneurial career in the culinary arts and television while continuing to do pop-up restaurants. She is inspired by trailblazing women in the industry, such as Dupree and Giada de Laurentiis. She believes women helping women grow is an important concept, and looks forward to working with and learning from more women in the industry. Dupree has a theory called the "pork chop theory" and it goes, “one pork chop in a pan goes dry; two or more and the fat from one feeds the other.” This is an inspiration for Furey.
Learn more about Furey at https://www.laurenfurey.com/.