At the Table with Terry Fox, Co-Founder of Charleston Arts Festival

terry fox, charleston south carolina, charleston arts festival
Photo by Jonathan Boncek

Terry Fox is the co-founder and associate director of Charleston Arts Festival and one of the organizers of Charleston’s PechaKucha event. When I interviewed Terry for this introduction, it was clear that I need to write a separate post to detail the many fascinating layers of his life! So, I did (and you can find it here).

When we launched the CurEat App in Charleston in 2017, Terry was one of our first creative CurEaters in the city. Anyone who has extraordinary taste for art most definitely has an impeccable taste for food and beverage. If it hadn’t been for Terry’s restaurant and bar recommendations on CurEat, I would’ve never known about The Belmont. Thank you, Terry! Now without further ado, pull up a seat and enjoy your time at the table with one and only Terry Fox!

Drinks

  1. Most notable food memories? A multi-course welcome-to-Tuscany banquet at La Rosa del Trinoro in a picturesque hill village, Castiglioncello del Trinoro; any meal at John Ondo’s much mourned Lana in Charleston; exquisite fare at Champ Speidel’s original Persimmon in Bristol, Rhode Island before its move to Providence (this meal also included my first ever-addicting taste of Hendrick’s Gin); a stunning medium rare steak with roquefort sauce at Le Jardins Boetie in Paris; meals at Floyd Cardoz’s remarkable Tabla in NYC (his passing to COVID remains one of the saddest losses of this pandemic); discovering the wonders of old-school lasagna way back in the ‘70s at Frieda’s in Charleston.  
  2. Most sought after dinner guests, living or not? In addition to my usual cadre of great dining pals, a looooong table will be needed:  Flannery O’Connor, Colin Jost, Tina Turner, Hanna Raskin, Prince, Leonard Bernstein, Marilyn Monroe, Audra McDonald, Keith Haring, Amy Winehouse, Steve Mangano, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sal Mineo, Whoopie Goldberg. 
  3. If you were not doing what you were doing what would you be? A visual artist, painter, or cartoonist… a facility in drawing has been my sole notable life skill.
  4. Junk food vice? I shudder to think of all my wasted years before discovering Cheetos Puffs six months ago… incredible!!  (Full disclosure: I just bolted to my cabinet for a fix!)
  5. When/how did you become a foodie? I had always relished my food experiences during travel, both in the USA and internationally, but it was when I was hired as a student affairs administrator at Johnson & Wales University that I came to have a more comprehensive picture of both the science and the art of the culinary life. Despite the precipitous decision of upper-tier J&W administrators to bolt from Charleston, fortunately many uber-talented J&W grads opted to remain and have since served as prominent drivers of the vital F&B industry that has developed here.                
  6. What restaurant do you most want to visit when we can safely do so? Right now there would be a three-way tie between Renzo, Wild Olive, and Babas on Cannon. 

Cocktails

  1. What is your favorite food city that you have been to? Without question, that would be pre-pandemic New York City.  It had everything culinarily…
  2. What city do you most want to visit that you have not been to when we can travel again? Barcelona: Food, art, architecture, beautiful people.       
  3. What quality do you most look for in a vegetable? Day-after effects: asparagus and beets can always be depended upon for next morning impacts.  Fortunately, they are also the star ingredients in two fave recipes: linguine with asparagus and mustard and beet tartar.
  4. What are your larder staples? Frozen chicken breasts, bananas, Plochman’s Stone Ground Mustard, at least three kinds of mayo—Hellman’s, Miracle Whip and of course DUKE’s— Miller Lites, V-8, several deep-hidden cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli.    
  5. What/who do you listen to while cooking? When I am cooking by myself, I have to maintain a very deliberate, by-the-recipe focusas I am far from a natural, intuitive chef.  Lots of focus is essential.  Thus, NO distractions!
  6. What has been your favorite meal that you’ve cooked during quarantine? Do you use a cookbook? And if so, which one is your favorite? I revived a long-favored and simple recipe for chicken mole, which I found in the New York Times years ago, and made enough to share with numerous also quarantining pals.  Although I have several shelves of cookbooks, I almost never refer to them.  My most often returned-to recipes have been discovered in unexpected publications like GQ (!!) and The Week.  I also maintain an unruly years-old stack of Food & Wines and Saveurs for inspiration as needed. 

Breakfast and Lunch

  1. Where would you love to cook a meal other than your home? In an ocean-front home on Folly Beach with breezes whipping through French doors opening onto an expansive view of the surf.
  2. What’s the most overrated ingredient? I would have to say that I truly have never gotten truffles, but KALE was never intended to be consumed by humankind!  
  3. If you had the chance to redo one meal you’ve ever served? Buried deep within my kitchen piles of Saveurs is a March, 2002 issue containing probably my all-time favorite recipe: Gordon’s Chili.  The eponymous Gordon Fowler is the husband of Texas’s legendary Red Hot Boogie Woogie Queen, Marcia Ball, and his chili is as kick-ass as her blues singing and piano-pounding.  I have whipped it up innumerable times and crave another batch any moment.  The makins’ are in my kitchen right now.  Be sure to snag the super-ingredient: ground  ancho chili.
  4. If you were only allowed to keep one sense, what would it be? Sight as I am a beyond avid reader.  My books keep me sane.
  5. Biggest bartender inspiration? Why? Mickey Moran, proprietor and genius behind Charleston’s The Belmont, which I have for almost ten years and without hyperbole described as being the best bar in the universe ever.
  6. What book are you currently reading? I am re-reading LaBrava, a vintage Elmore Leonard from 1983.  Next up, actor-playwright David Lee Nelson’s bound to be compelling and poignant, yet funny as hell, cancer memoir, Hope in the Time of Chemo and Lost Restaurants of Charleston.

Dinner

  1. What changes do you want to see happen in the food and beverage industry once restaurant doors can open again? More than anything, I hope to see my numerous loved and respected F&B pals come through all this insanity with businesses intact.  There is still so much risk and uncertainty that projections are meaningless presently. Additionally, I am looking much forward to two soon-to-be-opening new doors:  1) Bar George, a hipster hotspot-restaurant-cocktail lounge specializing in oysters, crudo and hot dogs, being opened by local food and beverage luminaries, Alex Lira (Bar Normandy, The Lot), Hank Weed (Chico Feo), Joey Goetz (The Belmont) and Brad Cline (The Ordinary, The Belmont) and 2) Neon Tiger, a vegan cocktail lounge by John Adamson (The Rarebit), which will fast-forward us into the year 2048 with globally recognized vegan chef/advocate  and cookbook author, Doug McNish, being imported from Canada to helm the kitchen.
  2. Who has inspired you the most during this time? My mostly-dachshund rescue, Pick.  I would have been lost without his constancy. 
  3. How are you making the most of what was handed to us? To date, I have read more than 40 books since lock-down.  I have been developing loose plans for a FIFTH iteration of the Charleston Arts Festival whenever our futures become more clear.  I have quaffed Miller Lites beyond number. I have reconnected with one of my longest-time friends who lives in Kingston, Jamaica and refreshed a long distance friendship with an artist in Boston with whom I had a completely random one-hour convo at a gallery show in NYC three years ago.  Friends, friends, and more friends.
  4. How would doctor up store bought Ramen? I make an incredible peanut sauce inspired by a recipe from a long ago issue of Gourmet (RIP),which is an all-purpose zipper-upper!! 

Brunch

  1. What would you tell your 20 year old self? GO TO ART SCHOOL!!  Conventions of the time be damned!!  (I am very proud to have gone to UNC…)
  2. What do you most value in your peers/team? A sense of humor and a willingness to tolerate mine!!
  3. What’s your death row meal? LASAGNA!!  Bacco and Wild Olive are doing superlative versions locally, but there is NO bad lasagna!!  RIP Frieda’s!!
  4. What is your motto? Apologies for dodging this one, but I generally refuse to order my thinking and my life in bumper-sticker-like increments.

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