The blogosphere is a crazy place. Everyone from Britney Spears fans to internationally recognized pastry gurus, like Michael Laiskonis, make up the chatty web medium.
Lucky for Charleston it's the latter — Laiskonis — not the former who'll be on hand at BB&T Charleston Food + Wine Festival for the third year in a row.
"I've long been impressed by the strength and diversity of the city's culinary scene, and without a doubt, Charleston is probably one the most charming places in the country," says Laiskonis.
The pastry chef of Eric Ripert's critically acclaimed New York restaurant Le Bernardin, Laiskonis is as well respected as the restaurant at which he works. He was the recipient of Bon Appétit magazine's 2004 American Food & Entertaining Award and was named one of the 10 best pastry chefs in America in 2002 and 2003.
This year's guests can enjoy the four-star chef in a new capacity.
"I've tried to mix it up a bit each year. In the past I've presented demonstrations both at the Festival itself, as well as for the culinary students at Trident College. And last year I prepared dessert for a special gala dinner in a beautiful penthouse overlooking the city. This time around, I will be one of the guest chefs at FIG's Dine Around event. The highlight each year, of course, is the Bubbles and Sweets party, celebrating all of the local pastry chefs, as well as us out-of-towners," he says.
To get a preview of Laiskonis' skills and interests, guests can log onto his blog, Notes from the Kitchen.
"One of the advantages of having my own blog is that I can turn others on to up-and-coming chefs all over the country," Laiskonis says. One such chef is Sean Brock of McCrady's. "I've known Sean for some time, and I think the city is very lucky to have the opportunity to experience the modern cuisine that he is presenting at McCrady's." He's also a fan of Mike Lata of FIG. "Mike is also a good friend, and while there are so many great chefs in Charleston and the Southeast, I think he is truly a rising star. And in a way, I get inspiration from every chef I meet; in this business there is always something to learn from your peers."
Coming from one of the best pastry chefs in the nation, that's some high praise. "Every year, I'm increasingly impressed by the creativity of all of the local pastry chefs, and I'm looking forward to spending more time with them this year as well," he says. "And with Charleston's culinary scene as vibrant as it is, the attendance of guest chefs such as myself is less about what we bring from the big city, and more about joining in and celebrating what is already here!"