Cookie Washington became friends with Chef Shane Whiddon after holding a pop-up art show next door to Virginia's
Jonathan Boncek file photo
is a regular at Virginia's. Last summer the local artist and quilter had a pop-up gallery at 414 King St.
, next door to the restaurant. The Passages Artists Collective presented, The Holy City: Art of Love, Unity, and Resurrection
, in memory of the Emanuel 9. Washington met Virginia's GM Tom Schiller on her first day setting up the gallery, and Chef Shane Whiddon shortly after.
"He was just walking down the street and he saw me struggling and said, 'Hey my name is Tom, do you need some help?' He just started helping me unpack. He gave me his card and said, 'Let me know if you ever need anything,'" says Washington.
When Washington held an artist's reception at her gallery, she knew she needed food and drinks, but had no idea who to ask or even how many attendees there would be. "I asked Chef Shane and Tom, 'What's the best price I can get?' And they said, 'Don't worry about it.'" Virginia's catered the reception for free. "Shane told me, 'I believe in what you're doing,'" says Washington.
Washington interacted often with both Schiller and Whiddon. "Shane was just getting hired [as I was moving into the gallery]. And after my very first conversation, I just fell in love with him," she says.
Washington had her birthday party at Virginia's this past year. "I told all my friends, 'This is Chef Shane, he is so special to me.' I don't know if I believe in reincarnation, but if there is, this young white man is the reincarnation of my dead black grandmother. He cooked just like her," says Washington. "I asked him what the secret to his biscuits was. He said, 'You know it's lard, girlfriend.'"
Washington lives in Goose Creek to care for her mother; she says that Whiddon, also a Goose Creek resident, offered to take her elderly mother fishing, and to hold a barbecue for her family.
"They are such generous guys," says Washington of Schiller and Whiddon. "One of the last conversations I had with Shane was how he was trying to help people down on his luck."