Lowcountry Food Scene

Chef Wendell Osborne and Concept Chef Lee Lucier have that special bond that comes through developing recipes, experimenting with new ingredients and talking about and tasting food endlessly. “We want to be able to be a great fish house. It’s not stuffy food. We’re foodies and we all came from the back of the house and the food has got to be right. We’ve worked together for over seven years at Windmill Harbour. Wendell is from here and has a good understanding of what food and culture are here.” explains Chef Lucier. FISH owner JR Richardson’s father, Norris Richardson, built Coligny sixty years ago. The first quickserve restaurant was in Coligny - a simple, fried seafood and chicken spot called Fin and Feather.

Mouth-watering pastries and desserts are displayed in shiny glass cases – cinnamon rolls, chocolate dipped madeleines and scones disappear as quickly as they come out of the ovens. Macarons are lined up like colorful polka dots. The delicate macarons bring pure joy to the customers, which in turn brings pure joy to the owner of The French Bakery Marek Belka. “It’s a family dream. My son Tomazs and my daughter-in-law Ellie and I all work together. Ellie runs the front and Tomazs is cooking and running the kitchen. I used to be in corporate life so I missed a few of my son’s football games so now I’m with him every day.” says Marek.

Few Hilton Head Island restaurants can claim the history that Barbara and Vassili Maniotis can. They’ve been running It’s Greek To Me on the island since 1997. But their story really begins back in 1979, when the couple fell in love and got married. During their month-long honeymoon in Greece, Vassili’s home country, Barbara learned to cook traditional Greek dishes and mastered Vassili’s family recipes. Many years later, when the couple moved to Hilton Head, they opened It’s Greek To Me, which quickly became one of the most popular in the area.

Michael and Lauren Cirafesi are the owners of OMBRA Cucina Rustica in The Village at Wexford. They are pictured here in their restaurant with their sons (from left to right): Paul, Kurdt, Tim, David, Laer and Salvatore.


For Lauren and Michael Cirafesi, running their award-winning restaurant OMBRA is all about family. And for them, family includes not only their six sons, but also their staff and guests.

An interview with host and chief executive foodie Jesse Blanco

QUESTION. What’s your take on the food scene on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton?
ANSWER. The food scene in Hilton Head Island has always been a few steps ahead of anything else in this area. It is a large part of what made the island so popular. It's nice to have a big beautiful house on the beach or a place to play golf, but unless there are great restaurants, then it’s just not the same. What is going on in Bluffton, meanwhile, is nothing short of amazing. So much good food popping up there. No surprise really with the number of people moving there. I'm even hearing about restaurants in Savannah expanding to Bluffton. That will tell you how they feel about the area.


Kenny Ballard was born in Middletown, Ohio, and says it was the best place to grow up. His father was a theater director and his mom was a tennis coach and teacher. Ballard graduated from St. Louis University and Miami of Ohio with degrees in Accounting and Political Science but he chose a different path, taking on a job with the Four Seasons Hotel while dating his future wife Lavern.


As summer approaches, visions of black truffles, watermelon, peaches and fresh figs dancing in Chef Michael Cirafesi’s head become tangible - some of the seasonal ingredients he most enjoys working with at his restaurant OMBRA Cucina Rustica. Celebrating accolades as a top choice for fine Italian dining since opening in 2012, the restaurant continues to draw in a constant stream of repeat and new customers. The dinner menu, in the classic Italian tradition, consists of four courses: antipasti, primi, secondi, and pasticceria.

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall,
Ninety-nine bottles of beer,
Take one down and pass it around,
Ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall...

There are thousands of beers out there - why stick with the same beer every time? You could easily try a new one every day of the year, or however often you drink beer. It’s easy to order the same old familiar beer each time but since variety is the spice of life, venturing out to sample different types is a passion many beer lovers take pride in and pursue quite seriously. Breweries are opening up all over the country in record numbers and after water and tea, beer is the beverage most consumed globally by millions.