Our Charleston Food Tours guides all have one thing in common – their love of the culinary delights and the southern foodie scene. Our guides have varied foodie and culinary credentials and each bring a unique perspective to the Food Tour of Charleston experience. Let our local guides help you navigate the culinary arts that comprise the local, Charleston, SC food and culinary scene.
Our Tour Guides
I grew up with grits and hush puppies but never appreciated pimento cheese, deviled eggs, mac and cheese and red velvet cake till I found the Lowcountry of Charleston 11 years ago. I find myself in the kitchen making all of the above, and I am seen in at least one restaurant a week sampling other Lowcountry fare. Many of my summer days are spent tending to my patch at the community garden filled with collards, okra, and heirloom tomatoes.
My name is Cathy Hinson, a guide for almost 24 years, and my favorite tours are the Culinary Tours. I cook a lot. I love comfort food, Italian food, and veggies, and am an avid gardener. This year, I grew 26 varieties of tomatoes in my backyard garden. In addition to my profession as a tour guide, I also supervise an annual Tea Room at Second Presbyterian Church, held during Spoleto each year. Thanks goodness for Charleston, a true food mecca!
I grew up in Athens, GA and have lived in Charleston for the past 26 years. My fondest food memories are growing up in a time when my mother would make homemade biscuits or cornbread for almost every meal, plus meat and two vegetables cooked the slow southern way. It was a slower time and we always dined together at the kitchen table or dining room on special occasions. My favorite restaurant dining experience was when I worked for AAA. The food critic that does the reviews for the AAA tour books invited me to join him for dinner while he rated a Charleston 4 diamond restaurant. Needless to say, the food and service that night were both fantastic!
One of my greatest pleasures is introducing visitors and locals to the flavors of Low-Country cuisine and sharing the history of the many cultures which contributed to its flavors. I like to look at our culinary tours as an exploration of roots and routes. The routes are the many paths that brought people to Charleston from all over the world, and the roots are both the agricultural and cultural seeds that they planted to provide to create the exciting cuisine we enjoy today. I have had a life-long love affair with food. I started helping my grandmother in the kitchen as soon as I could reach the counter-top. After a career as a flight attendant, I opened a catering business, taught culinary classes, and worked as a chef in two restaurants. I continue to teach at the Culinary Institute of Charleston. In 2010, after living in France for 7 years, I decided to re-locate back to the US part-time. On an impromptu visit to Charleston I fell in love with the cuisine, beauty, history, and culture of the Holy City.
Diane’s love of food began in her hometown of Camden, SC. Growing up at her mother’s side, she became a natural in the kitchen, and by the age of 12, was cooking Sunday dinner for her extended family. Diane’s favorite food is anything Southern. When asked what her favorite restaurant is, she said there are too many great ones to choose from. Diane is not only a culinary tour guide, she also runs this show. In addition to the daily tours, she also books and facilitates group culinary tours, educational groups, and culinary speaking engagements.
In addition to being a 9th generation Charlestonian, I am the proud mother of 4 children and the grandmother of 3 precious grandchildren. In my spare time, I love to invite friends over and serve them my newest culinary creations. I often use local recipes handed down over the years and jazz them up with a variety of spices and other flavorful concoctions. Among my favorites are shrimp and grits, crab dishes, collard greens, she crab soup, okra soup, and boiled peanuts. I love doing the culinary tour because it’s one more way to show off this wonderful city. We have some of the finest cuisine in the world. That’s why I say your experience in Charleston will be that much better when you indulge in our food while you enjoy our city.
John’s culinary tour epiphany came during a ghost tour with The Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis. Giada was asking him ghost questions but John was more concerned with talking about food. Realizing he was more passionate about food than ghosts, John bought the only culinary tour company in town and added it to the menu of offerings at Bulldog Tours. “Of course I love food, I’m a Southern boy, grew up on biscuits, bacon, Coca-Cola, and lots of gravy. Every family function revolved around food, whether it was a birthday, funeral, football tailgate party, or a church social. Food is the common denominator of every social gathering in the South.” It’s a good thing these tours involve some walking or John would be 300 lbs. Some people eat to live; John on the other hand, lives to eat.
For Mary Lindsey food has shaped her into the woman she has become. As a child Mary spent half her time at the outerbanks of North Carolina and the other half in Charleston. In North Carolina Mary learned to crack open her first raw oyster, while she also enjoyed shrimp, fish, collards, mustard greens, country ham, and fried corn bread from her uncle’s smokehouse. In Charleston Mary learned to plant and care for food from her mother. Her mother taught her that a meal wasn’t complete without rice and grits. Her favorite meal is now fish and grits! Mary truly believes that the history of Charleston cannot be retold without including the culinary influence. “Our chefs have excelled in bringing the tastes of the past alive again, reinventing the old ways, utilizing the entire animal after slaughter, preserving and canning what is grown locally – all to create the food that is alive with flavor and rich in the traditions of Charleston,” she said.
Raised in the Northeast on Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, Maine lobsters and Massachusetts clam chowder, Sarah arrived in the Lowcountry in 2006 to steep in the history of its Lowcountry cuisine. She joined the staff of the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, became the Manager of the nationally ranked Charleston Farmers Market and a culinary tour guide. After retiring from the Market, Sarah continues to provide visitors with insights into the heritage and lore of our local cuisine and the personalities of the local Farm to Plate movement which has vaulted Charleston chefs into the national culinary spotlight.
I have no “claim to fame” except that I recognized that old family recipes would get lost if not carefully collected! I started at age 10 to collect! Over the years I followed old aunts and the like around and not only got recipes, but learned to be a good cook. Luckily I had a mother who encouraged not only excellence and elegance, but adventure as well. Love the family favorites, but try the new!! Hate to admit it, but I have been cooking for over 60 years!