Epicurean dream store slated to open late summer 2013 in Mt. Pleasant

  • Thursday, June 20, 2013

Southern Season carries an unending selection of coffee and tea. PHOTO PROVIDED


The South’s largest gourmet specialty food store is coming to Coleman Boulevard late this summer.

This is no grocery store, this is a specialty food store, complete with a restaurant, a cooking school and a gift store.

It’s the first of its kind in Mount Pleasant, and with the opening of this concept store, comes a new resident - Marilyn Markel who is a James Beard Cookbook judge. She will head the cooking school.

In an interview with the Moultrie News last week, she said that she will be running the culinary school for Southern Season. She will create and host two hour classes geared toward the home cook.

Southern Season has in-house teachers, and Markel will recruit local restaurants, caterers and chefs who want to teach. Markel will also bring in national culinary teachers.

Every Thursday Southern Season will host a casual wine tasting with a fixed price that pairs cheeses. Attendees can try five to six wines for just $15. And also the store’s gourmet restaurant will show this town that they know local by hosting oyster roasts on the huge new patio being built out back.

“The space can accommodate big roasts and it’s a beautiful spot with lots of natural trees and broad shade,” Markel said.

And as far as the store itself is concerned, “anyone semi interested in cooking will be interested in this store,” said Markel.

The store carries sables and luxury chartreuse as well as fresh meat offerings like trout. Southern Season is not just a daily place to shop but a great gift shop or a place to stop and buy lunch for a day at the beach,

In addition, this 44,000 square foot culinary mecca of the South will house more than 70,000 local and international gourmet food and food related products including: hard to find food products from around the world, including a large number from South Carolina; cooking equipment and gadgets of all varieties; over 3,000 upscale wines and more than 300 craft beer selections; over 380 varietals of artisanal and farmstead cheeses; an impressive floral department with flowers from all over the world; an extensive gourmet chocolate selection complete with house-made chocolates and truffles; the finest candy and confectioners collection; over 200 hand-selected quality coffee and rare loose tea varietals; and a complimentary concierge service of knowledgeable professionals that can help facilitate any shopping needs as well as assemble gourmet gift baskets for any occasion. Additionally, a new bridal registry service is available in the store and online.

Markel has extensive experience with culinary instruction, having begun her career at Central Market eventually moving to Chapel Hill where Southern Season was located to run their cooking school.

Markel will run all of the chain’s culinary schools, but since Charleston is a food destination, she’ll call the Lowcountry home.

“We will have hands-on and demonstration classes. From learning basic knife skills to a girls night out where you learn to make tacos, the classes are educational and fun.

“The subject matter for each class will vary and a lot of different ethnic classes will be held,” she explained.

Markel said that demonstration classes are for watching only but the audio visual is so great that attendees can see everything that is being done and they can eat each course paired with the appropriate wine. “You get dinner and a show,” she said. “And you get to take home the recipe.”

Other specific classes that have been extremely success at other stores are sushi making classes and biscuit making classes.

And in staying with the local theme, chefs from the area’s favorite restaurants will be invited in for demonstration classes, she added.

Dining options at Southern Season include a gourmet marketplace, bakery and deli offering a wide variety of prepared foods ideal for lunch or dinner that can be picked-up, eaten at the café or delivered. Guests looking to experience full service can dine at Southerly Restaurant and Patio – a fine-dining restaurant and bar adjacent to the store.

With seating capacity for 350 guests and the option to eat in the open-air patio, Southerly serves breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that highlight locally sourced products and produce. Additionally, Southerly offers full catering services, on- or off-site, for all occasions. Southerly’s space can be utilized for private events such as corporate functions, family celebrations and rehearsal dinners.

The flagship Southern Season, located in Chapel Hill, N.C., has been in operation since 1975 and has won more than 50 awards including Outstanding Retailer of the Year from the National Association for Specialty Food and the Retail Achievement Award from Gourmet News for its success in the area of food education.

In addition to Markel, the Mount Pleasant team will be comprised of manager Britt Johnson, a Mount Pleasant resident, who has more than 20 years retail management experience at Williams Sonoma and executive chef Chad Billings who will lead the Southerly team.

Southern Season’s Share the Food non-profit foundation, a program that fights hunger and poverty in local areas, will be a forefront of the Mount Pleasant store.

Through annual grants to local organizations from the money raised by special sales, events and in-store donations throughout the year, Share the Food provides food, education and nutrition to help promote a healthy lifestyle for the underprivileged.

Find this story and others online at www.MoultrieNews.com. Stay with the Moultrie News for more updates on the Southern Season opening, as well as additional business-related news of interest to East Cooper.

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