The recipe for she crab soup, a Lowcountry favorite, has long been believed to have come from a butler of a Charleston mayor in the early 1900s.
A Google search will show different variations of the "original" recipe that legend says was first served to President William Howard Taft during a visit to the city.
Hank Yaden of Beaufort believes he has the real recipe for she crab soup, passed down through generations by the butler's family.
He has been serving the soup — along with crab cakes — at the Port Royal and Bluffton farmer's markets this past year.
The success of Hank's Lowcountry She Crab Soup at the markets has inspired Yaden and his wife to take a leap of faith into a brick and mortar location. The company will open a restaurant of the same name at Beaufort Town Center in September.
Yaden started in the Charleston food scene in the early 1980s working at restaurants such as Fish Market Restaurant and The Cotton Exchange. It was in Charleston where he first started learning the proper way to make the soup, he said.
After a few years, Yaden moved to Mount Pleasant to be a chef at a restaurant there.
The ingredients for the she crab soup there were below par, Yaden said. He the spices were wrong, that it included evaporated milk and lacked crab roe. Crab roe is believed to be the main ingredient that differentiates the recipe from classic crab soup.
"One night I was called out of the kitchen by two women," Yaden said. "They asked, 'Were you the gentleman that made our soup'. I hung my head down, knowing what was coming."
The two elderly sisters scolded him.
"'It is not even close to our great-grandpa's,'" Yaden said they told him. "They then handed me a napkin with a recipe."
It wasn't until the next day that he looked at the recipe and saw the last name Deas signed to it.
"Luckily I have memorized it," Yaden said. "I had it put away ... and my son and a buddy were playing with matches and burnt down the shed it was in."
Yaden started selling the soup at farmer's markets a little more than a year ago.
"I made eight gallons of soup the first day, and we sold out," Yaden said. "The next week I made 14 gallons, and we sold out again."
The soup will be one of a few dishes the Beaufort restaurant will serve, Yaden said.
Lunch specials will start at $7.95 and ingredients will be locally sourced.
Yaden said he will continue selling the soup and crab cakes at farmer's markets when the restaurant opens in September.