SC Commissioner Hugh Weathers: Chef Ambassadors

The 2020 Chef Ambassadors have been announced. Here to tell us more about the program and to announce this year’s ambassadors is SC Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers.

  • The South Carolina Chef Ambassador initiative continues to be an outstanding program for the state. Over the last five years, both the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture have worked very closely with a total of 21 Chef Ambassadors on a number of events and programming that shine a spotlight on South Carolina cuisine and wonderful, undiscovered destinations
  • The program showcases South Carolina agricultural commodities, creative recipes and amazing destinations, and is a great way to reinforce the importance of buying local and supporting local businesses/towns.
  • We continue to bring more awareness to SCDA’s Certified SC Grown program by increasing demand for locally grown agricultural products across the state.
  • This year’s slate will represent the state at various events and will perform cooking demonstrations with locally grown products, conduct educational discussions on healthy eating for children, demonstrate how easy it is to incorporate buying local into every day meal planning, and showcase South Carolina’s agriculture and tourism.
  • This year’s Chef Ambassadors are:
  • Kevin Mitchell – a Chef Instructor at the Culinary Institute in Charleston, SC
  • Raffaele Dall’Erta with Hamptons in Sumter, SC
  • Jamie Daskalis from Johnny D’s restaurant in Myrtle
  • Jason Tufts from Malia’s in Aiken, SC

We look forward to showcasing these chefs and South Carolina agriculture!

Chef Kevin Mitchell (Chef Instructor)

Culinary Institute of Charleston | Charleston, SC

Chef Kevin Mitchell’s culinary work embraces traditional American flavors, sumptuous soul food flair and delicate French cuisine. This broad mastery of global and regional techniques earned him the Grumpy Gourmet’s title of “Super Chef.” Chef Mitchell began his training as a young boy in his grandmother’s kitchen, where he first paid his dues by picking greens – cleaning collard greens, kale and spinach. This experience laid the foundation for his dedication to moving food from the fresh market to a white tablecloth, and he’s steadily climbed up the culinary ranks ever since.


Chef Raffaele Dall’Erta (Executive Chef)

Hamptons | Sumter, SC

Born and raised in Milan, Chef Raffaele Dall’Erta was introduced to cooking at a very young age. His father’s love of food and skill in the kitchen was a great influence on his youth, as were early foraging trips with his grandmother where the only rule was not to come home empty-handed. Chef Dall’Erta attended culinary school at Vallesana in Northern Lombardy and took on apprenticeships which led to positions in top Italian kitchens including Don Lisander and La Rondine. He has spent time in world-renowned restaurants such as The Fat Duck in the United Kingdom and Per Se in New York. After 11 years as the Sous Chef at the renowned Inn at Little Washington, Dall’Erta joined the team at Hamptons.


Chef Jason Tufts (Executive Chef)

Malia’s | Aiken, SC

Chef Jason Tufts has served as the Executive Chef at Malia’s in downtown Aiken since 2017. Prior to that, he served as Executive Chef at the Doctors Hospital of Augusta, the Green Boundary and Woodside Plantation Country Club. He graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, SC in 1999. Jason is a big proponent of using local products and was nominated by the founder of the Chef Ambassador program, Brandon Velie, of Juniper restaurant in Ridge Spring, SC.


Chef Jamie Daskalis

Johnny D’s Waffles and Benedicts | Myrtle Beach, SC

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with a degree in Baking & Pastry, Chef Jamie Daskalis is a 20-year restaurant business veteran. Growing up, her father had four restaurant locations in New York, and it was in those restaurants that her love of food started. In Myrtle Beach, she found an amazing sense of community leading her to open Johnny D’s in the Grand Strand. Recently, Jamie was awarded “Best Chef” from South Carolina Woman Magazine and Grand Strand Magazine. In 2020, she will release “Making It Delicious,” her first cookbook.


About the SC Chef Ambassador Program:

Tourism and agriculture have a significant impact on South Carolina, contributing tens of billions of dollars to the state’s economy each year and accounting for hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide. The South Carolina Chef Ambassador (SCCA) program was established to create greater unity between these two major industries, while enhancing the overall promotion of South Carolina as a top culinary destination. Enacted by Governor Nikki Haley in 2014, the program highlights the state’s talented chefs, creative recipes, authentic cuisines, locally grown produce and unique products, showing visitors and locals alike why South Carolina is Just Right.