Saluda, SC (WLTX) - Two Midlands chefs got the opportunity of a lifetime to cook at one of the nation's top culinary locations.
Brandon and Jeanne Velie are chefs in Saluda County, who have been in the game for over twenty years. They own Juniper on Main Street in Ridge Spring but they were able to take there talents outside the small town.
The two cooks, along with their staff, traveled up to New York City to the James Beard House, a non-profit program that hosts some of the top chefs in the world.
"We had to take everything with us because we really wanted them to get a taste of South Carolina," said Brandon Velie.
Kim Jamieson is with the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism says this is a huge honor.
"Some of the most famous chefs in the world have cooked there. I can definitely see how he would say it's like winning an Oscar in the culinary world," said Jamieson.
The Velies work closely with Jamieson because they are a part of the South Carolina Chef Ambassador program that's dedicated to showcase Palmetto State chefs and local grown food.
To represent South Carolina, the cooks choose to have a peach-themed menu to showcase the importance the fruit has for this state.
"South Carolina grows more peaches tan the entire state of Georgia. Our peaches taste better. I don't know what's the matter with the soil there in that state," laughed Brandon Velie. "There's something in the ridge. There's just something magical."
When the Velie's first help get the South Carolina Ambassador program rolling, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley gave her support. It was no surprise that she would also come to the James Beard House last Monday night to enjoy the South Carolina food from the Velies.
"Nikki Haley has to deal with whole other countries and she still made time to eat with us. That just really meant a lot," said Jeanne Velie.
Although they've received this huge honor, it's not over yet.
"If anything, it raises the bar a little bit and people still expect great food every single time they show up. For us, it really doesn't change our focus," said Brandon Velie. "We knock out of the par every meal."
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