Trail to Table: Chef Andy McLeod's Culinary Journey

Trail to Table: Chef Andy McLeod's Culinary Journey
17 gen 2024 · 28 min. 7 sec.

The Appalachian Awakening of Chef Andy McLeod Chef Andy McLeod’s journey is a testament to life’s unexpected turns. Originally not envisioning a life in the culinary world, his pivotal moment...

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The Appalachian Awakening of Chef Andy McLeod
Chef Andy McLeod’s journey is a testament to life’s unexpected turns. Originally not envisioning a life in the culinary world, his pivotal moment came while hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2009. It was here he crossed paths with a chef from Blue Hill at Stone Barns, leading to a profound change in his culinary direction. This encounter not only sparked his passion for sustainable food sourcing but also set him on a path back to Charleston to pursue a career in culinary arts.

Southern Roots Influencing a Sustainable Future
Chef McLeod's South Carolinian heritage deeply influences his culinary style. His experiences growing up around traditional farming and food preservation are the foundation of his approach at Fleet Landing. Inspired by Chef Dan Barber, McLeod integrates sustainable practices into his cooking, marrying his Southern roots with a commitment to local and sustainable food sourcing. His unique perspective on traditional Southern cuisine is a direct reflection of these formative experiences.

Fleet Landing Celebrating 20 Years with Innovative Additions
Fleet Landing is set to celebrate its 20th anniversary with the exciting introduction of a raw bar. This addition is a testament to an innovative approach, offering guests fresh seafood experiences that complement the existing menu. McLeod emphasizes the importance of evolving while respecting the restaurant's history, ensuring Fleet Landing remains a culinary landmark in Charleston.

A Chef's Life Beyond the Kitchen
Outside the kitchen, Chef McLeod is a father, an outdoor enthusiast, and a lover of travel, all of which influence his culinary creations. He values the importance of bringing people together through food, a passion that extends into his personal life. His role as a father has particularly deepened his appreciation for shared culinary experiences, echoing in the dishes he creates at Fleet Landing.

Vision and Advice for Future Culinary Artisans
Looking towards the future, Chef McLeod envisions continued innovation and growth for both himself and Fleet Landing. His advice for upcoming chefs and culinary artisans is to stay focused on their individual paths and to find their unique voices in the culinary world. He emphasizes the importance of self-focus and authenticity in one's culinary journey, echoing his own experiences and philosophies.

Chef McLeod’s Personality Reflected in a Dish
In line with the tradition of Chef AF, I asked Chef McLeod my signature question: if there were a dish that represented his personality, what would it be? His response was a cheeseburger, symbolizing a blend of simplicity, depth, and universality, perfectly encapsulating his approach to both cooking and life.

Reflecting on a Culinary Trailblazer’s Journey
Chef Andy McLeod's story, from his transformative experience on the Appalachian Trail to his leadership at Fleet Landing, is a remarkable journey of passion, innovation, and dedication to the culinary arts. His commitment to sustainable practices, coupled with his deep respect for Southern culinary traditions, makes him a standout figure in Charleston's rich culinary landscape.

RECIPE: Stuffed Hush Puppies

Hush Puppies:

House Autry hush puppy mix, follow instructions. Vegetable or canola oil, for frying
Turn fryer to medium high heat. Scoop mixture ½ cup at a time and drop into hot oil (use a 2 oz. industrial scoop to get more round shape). Fry until 75% done – about 1.5 to 2 minutes and golden brown. Shake out and release onto paper towel-lined plate. Cool in refrigerator. Make leek sauce as the puppies cool. Cut a small piece off of the top and bottom of each hush puppy to level out. Hollow out insides using a small spoon or cocktail fork. Drop them back into the fryer for 10-15 seconds.

Leek Sauce:

½ cup (one stick) butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 ears corn, cut off cobb
2 leek whites, cut into circles
1 tsp Old Bay
1 tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp paprika
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup lobster base
1 T crab base
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups water, use as needed

Melt butter. Saute the leeks and corn for one minute. Whisk flour in and add heavy cream and water. Stir until it has a nice saucy consistency. Add shellfish bases and seasonings, salt and pepper to taste.

Mix of seafood: Rock Shrimp (or 70/90 count white shrimp), Crawfish, and Lobster
Heat up in warm leek sauce, scoop into and around hush puppies, and serve!
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