Chef David Young, owner of Roastfish & Cornbread on Hilton Head Island, is a busy man these days. The Gullah-inspired restaurant on Marshland Road is popular with locals and visitors alike, and Young has been working to refine dishes that have been on the menu since the eatery opened in 2009. And he's been busy giving back to the community where he grew up.
Also the author of a cookbook entitled "Burnin' Down South," Young was one of the featured chefs at the prestigious culinary festival "Music for Your Mouth" at Palmetto Bluff in November.
He's featured in a photo in the February issue of Bon Appetit magazine, where he's shown using a clam rake on the beach at Mitchelville Beach Park. It's part of an ad campaign by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, designed to promote culinary tourism in the Lowcountry.
Young was chosen because he's a great chef and a native Islander, said the Chamber's Charlie Clark. "Culinary tourism is hot now, and we wanted to capitalize on that," she said.
The photo promotes Hilton Head Island's Gullah Festival, taking place through Feb. 28, and the island's 26th annual wine and food festival, to be held March 1-12.
On Feb. 20, Young will be at The Westin Resort on Hilton Head Island, helping raise money for Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry at the non profit organization's annual "Cooks & Books" fund raiser, which brings together the area's best chefs and authors. And on March 7, he'll present a cooking seminar with a heart healthy menu in conjunction with The Healing Store in Palmetto Bay Marina.
"I'm going to teach how to make stuffed mushrooms with mango and avocado chutney, which is very simple to put together," he said about the seminar.
Roastfish & Cornbread specializes in vegetarian, organic and locally grown or caught foods. Young said that in addition to being heart healthy, the stuffed mushrooms are both vegan and gluten free. Another stand out vegetarian dish at Roastfish & Cornbread is the sweet potato hummus with cucumbers, celery, pepperoncini and carrot sticks, which is served with New York flat bread or gluten free crackers ($7.50). It's slightly sweeter than traditional hummus and is an adaptation of an Ethiopian recipe, Young said.
For a classic Lowcountry dish that Young has perfected, try the organic stewed chicken at Roastfish & Cornbread. The chicken is baked, then pulled off the bone and seasoned with sea salt, pepper, garlic, thyme and a kiss of curry. Then it's quickly seared and simmered with chicken bacon, onions and tomatoes.
It's served with two sides plus sweet potato cornbread-one of the restaurant's signature dishes. The light, moist bread is topped with Young's sweet potato syrup, made with ginger and a touch of his own jerk seasoning.