Charleston is such a foodie town that food and beverage superstars are hiding in plain sight, out of the James Beard limelight, but still very much creating and serving amazing food and drinks. This series profiles Charleston's "hidden F&Bs."
Jessica Grossman didn't go to culinary school until she was in her 40s and most of her classmates were much younger. "I was such a thorn to most of those children," she recalls. "I asked too many questions and I ruined the curve."
Grossman, who creates pastries for Patrick Properties Hospitality Group (PPHG), which includes the restaurant Fish and the event venues William Aiken House and Lowndes Grove Plantation, started baking cakes in her Easy Bake Oven. She was always the one to bring the dessert to any gathering, but her day job was as a photography assistant at Alterman Studios. Grossman's love of food soon took her to Jestine's Kitchen, where she did some freelance baking and later baked in what would become Jestine's Sweet Shop. It was while she was there that she got her culinary arts degree at the Art Institute of Charleston and "ruined the curve" for other wanna-be chefs. In 2013, Grossman joined Patrick Properties when then-Executive Culinary Director of PPHG Nico Romo asked her to join him there.
Favorite kitchen tool or gadget: My immersion blender. It takes up very little space and it's extremely versatile.
Three things in my refrigerator: Dijon vinaigrette, vegetables from my Lowland Farms CSA share, and Greek yogurt.
Three things in my pantry: Homemade granola, coffee, wine. I really like Coffee-mate and have a side of coffee. It's all about that caffeine injection.
Favorite after-work hangout: Barsa.
Favorite Charleston restaurant other than yours: Chez Nous because that's one of the best meals I've had in a long time.
Favorite comfort food: Scrambled eggs.
Favorite smell: Right now, it's the Confederate Jasmine.
Favorite drink: Pimm's Cup.
Number of hours you work a week: Well, keep in mind that it's wedding season. So, at least 80. Probably more.
Customer pet peeve: When they pre-judge and they say, "No, I don't like that" when they haven't even tried it.
Most under-rated ingredient: Corn syrup. It gets a bad reputation, but it has a myriad of uses and most is not high fructose. You can use it to add body to sorbets, and it can help stop your caramels and sugars from crystallizing.
Favorite meal to cook at home: Soups. I love to cook soup.
Best advice a mentor gave you: It was Susan Wigley (on the culinary faculty of the Art Institute of Charleston). She got me to agree to the public speaking course because she said I would need it later for my TV show.
Fish is at 442 King Street and is open Monday-Sunday, 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. The bar is open later.