Soby’s past and present chefs serve up memories of the last 20 years

RJ Scruggs joins Soby's as newest Executive Chef

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Soby's has been serving up its New South Cuisine since 1997 | photo provided

In continuation of Soby’s New South Cuisine’s 20th anniversary celebration, Soby’s chefs and pastry chefs from the past 20 years will serve up the ultimate New South Family Style Sunday Supper Nov. 12. Axel Schug will present wine pairings, and the Soby’s 20th Anniversary Maker’s Mark Private Select will be unveiled.

RJ Scruggs | photo provided

Those past and present Soby’s chefs who will be cooking during the event include the newest Soby’s executive chef, RJ Scruggs, who joined the team in October from Occidental Grill & Seafood in Washington, D.C.

“I’m very to be glad, as well honored, to be apart of something so monumental,” Scruggs says. “Cheers to Soby’s and the next 20 years!”

We asked the other eight chefs and pastry chefs who will be participating in the commemorative dinner about their memories from their days in the Soby’s kitchen and where they see Soby’s headed in the future.

Read about it in their own words:


Rodney Freidank
Soby’s Executive Chef March 2001 – April 2003
Current: corporate chef for Table 301 restaurants

“I was the sous chef of Soby’s New South Cuisine from opening (actually a few weeks prior to opening) until we opened SOS [Soby’s on the Side]. Chef/partner David Williams went to open SOS, and gave me the executive position.

“From the time we opened, Soby’s was bigger than life! We were a HUGE fish in a small town. We had the best cooks, the best servers, an unequalled wine list, and Carl, David, and Frank (Kapp) managing the restaurant. It was intense! We were passionate about everything we did, and people responded like crazy. Working with that group, I learned that ‘excellence isn’t an act; it’s a habit.’ We didn’t create that phrase, but we tried to live by it. It was HARD!

“I actually only had a handful of experience going into that job. It wasn’t like now, when you could go online and in two minutes, read recipes for what you’re thinking about making, by five of the best chefs in the country, then step up and make your own version. I had (still have) a collection of more than 200 cookbooks, and was buying them as fast as they came out, in order to ‘learn as I went.’ Especially since I was a pure-bread Yankee, cooking Southern cuisine, in the South! I remember being nervous every day. Would the food be good? Would the idea I woke up at three in the morning with actually work? Will we get hit so hard tonight, that we can’t keep up, and we fall apart? But, it was exciting. We were the best, and we knew it, and we wanted to do better. We were like a cult. I know I fed purely off of the energy of the excitement of making so many people happy.

“Everywhere I went in public, I would overhear conversations where people were telling each other what an amazing time they had at Soby’s. One time I was standing in line at the Peace Center because someone gave me tickets to a show (one of the rare times I could get out of the restaurant on a show night – after the show crowd left, of course), and people all around were talking about how great the dinner was that they just had. Emotion took over and I found myself crying standing there in front of them all. They had no idea that just moments before I was one of the crew sweating it out in that kitchen while they enjoyed that meal! While I’m sure I could go on for pages, but that, in a nutshell, is what it was like to be the chef of Soby’s.

“Currently I am the corporate chef for Table 301 restaurants. It’s also an amazing job. I’m still nervous every day that I won’t be successful in my goal of making people smile, but it’s different now. We have a bunch of chefs and managers, cooks, servers, bartenders, dishwashers, server assistants, that share that pressure. I would say my job now is easier than being the chef of Soby’s.”


Rob McCarthy
Soby’s Executive Chef May 2003 – December 2006
Current: Marketing Associate with Sysco

“I am always amazed at how people will remember dishes that we did while I was there with such great detail and enthusiasm! ‘Oh, I loved that lobster macaroni and cheese you did!’ or ‘We would go some nights just for the she-crab soup!’ You can see these food memories come back to them, and they start drooling on the spot. It fills me with pride when I know that I helped make those memories for them and when I hear folks talk about Soby’s today with almost a reverence. It feels good knowing I was part of creating such an iconic dining spot in Greenville.”


Shaun Garcia
Soby’s Executive Chef January 2007 – June 2015
Current: Chef of Copper Whiskey Bar in Bozeman, Mont.

“My fondest memories of Soby’s – having the great opportunity to mentor and work with great young culinarians over the years. I’m so proud of my staff that has moved on to other places to be Chefs. You can’t teach passion.”


Haydn Shaak
Soby’s Chef de Cuisine, July 2015 – February 2017
Current: private Chef, The Loft at Soby’s

“When I was chef at Soby’s I used to think about how special it was that I was on stage everyday and the people that came to eat my food could see me. When the dining room was full and you looked around and think to yourself every single person in here came to eat my food, you realize these are the things that make me want to be a chef. Having that chance to touch the lives of so many people is what’s it’s all about.”


Stacie Amesbury
Pastry Chef
Current: pastry chef Table 301 catering/Soby’s on the Side

Favorite memories: “Clemson football lunches, banana cream pies, people celebrating graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, wine cellar.”


Lindsay Beck
Pastry Chef
Current: working in North Carolina

“It was really a place I could let my creativity run wild which I loved. With so many different things going on at all times, you can do so many different things and work with really cool ingredients.”


Teryi Youngblood Musolf
Soby’s Pastry Chef – 2005 – September 2012
Current: Working with Ballentine Equipment selling restaurant equipment to chefs and continuing to participate as a chef in culinary events, both locally and regionally

“Fond memories, I have a few…. Then there is the recurring banana cream pie nightmare that haunts me even now… 🙂

  • Quiet mornings with my sweet Petra prepping in silence before the wild boys of Borneo arrived to blast their varied music
  • Vonne letting me sneak my first tastes of duck confit right out of the fat ❤
  • Obediah Kirven playing air drums to Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” every afternoon just before service
  • Having to tell servers to savor the Dessert of the Day at line-up [and] not descend on it like vultures. It’s not your dinner people, eat before you get here.
  • Laughter through tears with everyone I’ve ever worked with there, the camaraderie and lifetime friends I’ve made
  • Crying with Carl [Sobocinski] in the back kitchen, in the front kitchen, in the basement, in the office, in the dining room, in the office, on the mezzanine….. you get it, right???
  • David Williams with this glasses way down on his nose so that he can look dead into your eyes while he’s whisper screaming at you
  • Rodney’s shuffling feet and singing “fruit salad” by the Wiggles
  • I could go on and on….. but best is all the family that I spent most of my time with for many, many years that made it such a fulfilling experience that I hated to leave. So much love!!!”

John Conti
Pastry Chef, Soby’s July 2015 – present

“I had just finished cooking breakfast at the Coast Guard Base Charleston. I was doing my military reserve duty when I received a phone call that would bring me back full circle with Soby’s. I was asked if I would like to come back to Soby’s as Pastry Chef. I was currently at Nosedive as Pastry/Sous Chef. Getting to come back to where I started with the company back in 2010 was very exciting. What I like best about the company is we have chef-driven menus that allow us to experiment, source the best ingredients, and craft innovative inspired dishes.”


Soby’s 20th anniversary events

For tickets: ShopTable301.com

Nov. 12
Soby’s Sunday Supper
The Soby’s chefs and pastry chefs from the past 20 years serve up the ultimate New South Family Style Sunday Supper. Axel Schug will present wine pairings and the Soby’s 20th Anniversary Maker’s Mark Private Select will be unveiled.
$95/person (includes gratuity).

Nov. 13
20th Anniversary Party
Greenville Downtown Airport at 7 p.m.
Dinner, open bar, and live music with Edwin McCain and friends and a live artistic performance by Jared Emerson. Tickets are $50 and include open bar, dinner, and entertainment. Ticket proceeds will benefit the Meyer Center for Special Children.

 

 

About Soby’s

Cuisine
southern
Meals
dinner
lunch
sunday brunch
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