Chef: Bill Green
Restaurant: Gullah Grub Restaurant and Catering
Town: St. Helena Island
What is one thing you want people to know about Gullah cuisine?
Gullah-style cooking is when you cook the food that is growing during its season. When you eat what is grown in season, the food is more flavorful and it benefits the body because it is at its best.
Do you have a summer dish that you are known for?
I am well-known for my crab soup and fish chowder. The fish chowder is a great summer dish because it is tomato-based and I complement it with celery, onions and pepper. With only 100 calories per 8-ounce serving, it's very healthy and a great appetizer.
What is one of your favorite ingredients to work with and why?
One of my favorite ingredients to work with is garlic. I learned at an early age that garlic is so healthy for you, and everyone I knew had a patch of garlic growing in their backyard.
Is there a food or drink that you can't live without?
I can't live without red rice and mullet fish. That was a special that most of the families I grew up with used to have on Friday nights. Mullet fish sustained the Gullah people for many years before they became familiar with other types of fish.
When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
I knew I wanted to be a chef when I was about 10 or 11, when I cooked my first pot of pork and beans and rice. When I was about 13 or 14, I toted water for the moonshine still for the old men in the neighborhood, and somehow they found out that I could cook. I cooked them a pot of lima beans and stew chicken, and everybody told me how good it tasted because I used herbs and spices, onions, black pepper, salt and garlic -- and I knew how to make (the ingredients) speak their name and make you smile. I learned how to taste as I go and control the flavor, letting the dish tell me which flavors needed to step up over the next one, so all of them could speak their name. As I got older, I really knew that I was going to be a cook when I started working at Middleton Plantation. I befriended the old ladies who had lived most of their lives on the plantation. They were great cooks and teachers. They were the ones who inspired me how to cook with love in your pot.