Share Plates: Carlton “Vandy” Vanderwarker III
I’m guessing that, if you thought hard enough, your fondest memories involve food or drink in some way. Even if you aren’t particularly a “gourmand,” most memorable moments shared with others seem to happen around a table.
Champagne toasts, wedding cake being smashed into faces, late night conversations in 24hr diners – the common thread in these standout memories are food-related. Like it or not, food and drink do play a large supporting role in your life. And because of this, the items on which your snacks or beverages are served play a part. To us here with The Shelter Collection, they play an especially important part. By providing the vessel in or on which you are served, we get the honor of becoming a very small part of your fondest memories.
Today’s featured chef is Carlton “Vandy” Vanderwarker III, Chef de Cuisine of the amazingly un-ordinary Charleston restaurant, The Ordinary.
Known for perfect seafood towers, well manicured oysters, and clean but rich dishes that leave you feeling satisfied and not heavy, The Ordinary is the perfect backdrop for Vandy’s creativity and finesse in the kitchen. I mean, you don’t win Food Network’s “Chopped,” like he did in 2015, without knowing a thing or two about food, right?
Vandy chose our Pasta Bowl to create a flower laden Wahoo Crudo (recipe below!). Here are a couple things we asked him:
Do you have any pieces in your own collection that have any sentimental value, or that you treasure more than any other items and why?
I have one plate that is an 8″ dinner plate, white, with two gold pinstripes around the rim. I think it is the “fancy simplicity” of it. This plate bridges the gap between pedestrian and haute French cuisine.
How long have you been a chef?
I have been cooking for 13 years. It takes a lot of time, work, and dedication to your craft in order to use the title “chef”. That is professionally. I have been cooking alongside my mother since I was 5. She got me started on this whole cooking thing!!!
Do you remember when plating became important to your work?
I worked in a lot of high end NYC restaurants that focused on plating and garnish, and taste became secondary. It wasn’t until I worked under Mike Lata (Chef/Owner of The Ordinary/FIG) that I came to the realization that food needs to taste amazing first, and you can figure out the rest later. I also realized that everything on the plate needs to be edible, it can’t just look cool.
How and/or why do you choose specific serving ware for your dishes?
I choose plates according to how the customer would eat the dish. If they need to scoop something up, I use a bowl or large rimmed plate in order to do so. The devil is in the details and everything needs to be thought out. I do love simple white plates the best, food shines on them.
What’s the worst vessel you’ve ever been served food/drink in?
Plates that are used just to look cool. Ones that aren’t functional at all. Huge plates with three bites of food on it, plates with calculated designs or holes, all don’t make sense to me and chefs begin to lose focus, or a sense of reality.
- 2.5 oz wahoo
- 1.5 oz asparagus coins
- 1 tsp. chopped chive
- 1 tsp. chopped shallot
- ½ tsp. lemon juice
- ½ tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- Locally foraged edible flowers
For the mayonnaise mixture (this makes more than is needed for the dish):
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- ½ tsp. salt
- Zest of one lemon
Prep your asparagus by removing top layer with a vegetable peeler. Using a mandolin, slice the asparagus into coins. Cut wahoo into small pieces slightly larger than the size of the asparagus. In a bowl toss the wahoo, asparagus coins, chopped chive and shallot, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt together. Transfer to a plate and arrange nicely. Dot with the prepared mayonnaise mixture (below), sprinkle with flowers. Enjoy!
To prepare the mayonnaise mixture:
Combine mayo, lemon juice, salt and the zest of one lemon. Transfer to a squeeze bottle. Dot onto prepared crudo.