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From beloved biscuits to fresh favorites, Charleston's female chefs are shaking up the scene

These celebrated chefs and food business entrepreneurs are redefining life in modern kitchens.
Female chefs in Charleston, South Carolina
Three female chefs in Charleston, South Carolina, are at the helm of three very unique eateries.TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Female chefs have been making waves in the food world for years, and in Charleston, South Carolina, several women are causing a big splash.

At the Charleston Wine + Food festival, which kicked off Wednesday night, many of the city's finest chefs are showcasing their culinary skills through the weekend. Among these chefs, baristas and sommeliers, are three women at the helm of three very unique eateries in the Holy City's evolving restaurant scene.

"Most of the people that used to come from out of town want to see shrimp and grits and now people come from out of town because they want to see what new and exciting thing that we’re doing," Kelly Franz, executive chef at Magnolia's, told TODAY Food.

The chef's menu speaks to her adventurous taste for fusing classic Southern flavors with eclectic spices, like with her Sweet Tea Glazed Duck and Boiled Peanut Hummus.

"Food in the South is exactly what it's called — it's called 'comfort food.' Tons of really good, yummy stuff," Franz told TODAY.

Despite the rich, buttery dishes commonly associated with Southern cooking, Franz noted how Charleston has experienced a shift during the last five years. Both locals and tourists now tend to put butter and lard aside — at least sometimes — for healthier fare.

This transition is something restaurateur Ruchi Mistry and her fiancé Tom McFall found when they opened Huriyali, a charming pressed juice cafe, four years ago.

"When we started there were no cold-pressed juice places in Charleston. It was a lot of education in the beginning," said Mistry, who grew up regularly juicing fruits and vegetables with her mother in India.

"I think we are part of the revolution, of the food change in Charleston honestly by just helping people broaden their horizons," Mistry added.

But the revolution isn't all about what's totally new. Much of what makes Charleston's food so delicious is local chefs' ability to consistently turn out amazing classics.

Courtesy Angie Hosier/Callie's Hot Little Biscuit

That's what Carrie Morey realized when she convinced her mother, Callie White, to get into the biscuit-baking business with her.

Callie's Buttermilk Biscuits

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Callie's Buttermilk Biscuits

Carrie Morey and Callie White

"Women are kind of taking over, right? A biscuit means many things, but I think, most importantly, it's sustenance and comfort ... [it's] the bread, really, of the South," Morey told TODAY. "It doesn't really have any economic barriers. They can be served at the fanciest parties or on the side of the road."

Now, millions of biscuits later, Callie’s Biscuits has received nationwide acclaim and Morey will continue to spread her baking knowledge by teaching her craft to a sold-out class at Charleston Wine + Food on Friday.