Landrum chef Sarah McClure chosen as SC Chef Ambassador for 2018

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Sarah McClure, chef and manager of Southside Smokehouse in Landrum, was named as one of South Carolina's Chef Ambassadors for 2018.

For a second consecutive year, a Spartanburg County chef will serve as one of South Carolina’s culinary ambassadors.

Gov. Henry McMaster on Friday, Dec. 8, named Sarah McClure, chef and manager of Southside Smokehouse in downtown Landrum, to the list of the state’s four Chef Ambassadors for 2018.

Chefs Kiki Cyrus with Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles in Columbia, Heidi Vukov with Croissants Bistro & Bakery and Hook & Barrel in Myrtle Beach, and Michelle Weaver with Charleston Grill in Charleston, were also named to the list.

The chefs were announced during a ceremony Friday at the Statehouse in Columbia.

“These four women are among the best and brightest culinary stars in our state,” McMaster said. “Being named as an S.C. Chef Ambassador allows these chefs to shine a unique spotlight on not only their exceptional talents but also on the destinations in South Carolina where they live and work.”

McClure’s selection to the list was announced during a ceremony at the Statehouse in Columbia on Friday, Dec. 8. Here she stands beside S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers and in front of Gov. Henry McMaster and Duane Parrish, executive director of SCPRT.

McClure will follow in the footsteps of fellow Spartanburg chef William Cribb, who, in 2017, became the county’s first selection to the list.

Founded in 2014 by Gov. Nikki Haley, S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers, and the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (SCPRT), the Chef Ambassadors program highlights the Palmetto State’s locally grown crops and culinary talent.

Each year, four chef ambassadors from across the state are chosen from a pool of nominees to attend events, perform cooking demonstrations, conduct educational discussions, and promote the offerings of the communities where they are based.

“I am very honored,” said McClure, 31, originally of Landrum. “As a chef, it’s important to build relationships with fellow chefs, farmers, and others in the industry. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

To celebrate the achievement, McClure was presented with a blue chef’s jacket embroidered with her name and the Chef Ambassador logo.

“I’ve watched in amazement the growth in Landrum and the whole of Spartanburg County,” McClure added. “I can’t wait to tell that story to others outside of our community. Landrum, I think, is uniquely positioned to benefit from the food scenes in Spartanburg, Greenville, and Asheville.”

McClure, who hails from a family of restaurateurs, graduated from Landrum High School in 2004. She attended Wofford College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history.

While she was pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Georgia, McClure fell in love with food.

She went to work at The National restaurant in Athens, Ga., where she learned from chef Peter Dale.

In 2012, McClure moved back to Landrum to run the kitchen at her family’s restaurant.

She said she has remained true to Southside Smokehouse’s menu comprised of fare that ranges from classic American to Cajun and barbecue.

But McClure has put her own stamp on the business with chef specials that incorporate fish or game, seasonal produce, and pastas.

On their days off, McClure said she and her husband frequent their favorite dining spots in Spartanburg, which include Willy Taco, Miyako Sushi Group, and The Farmer’s Table.

“Food is what I spend all of my extra time and money on,” she said. “Whenever we travel, we do a lot of eating. I might read about something, and I always try to think about how I can make it more accessible and affordable.”

McClure and Spartanburg chef William Cribb, who served as a Chef Ambassador in 2017.

McClure said she once put a rabbit dish on the menu and was concerned that customers wouldn’t like it.

“I put it with a nice mushroom cream sauce just to make it more appetizing,” she said. “It ended up being a huge hit.”

McClure said she is excited to serve as a Chef Ambassador during the year that the Tryon International Equestrian Center will host the World Equestrian Games.

The event is expected to bring more than 500,000 visitors to the region and have an estimated $400 million economic impact.

“I think Sarah is awesome,” Cribb said. “Her family is awesome. The more we can do to get Spartanburg on the map, the better. It was an honor to serve as a Chef Ambassador. I wish her the best of luck during the coming year.”

McClure is featured in the Hub City Writers Project’s new “Taste of Spartanburg” book, which was unveiled in November.

“Spartanburg County’s food scene is really starting to make its mark,” said Chris Jennings, executive vice president of the Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are so excited to have a Chef Ambassador in back-to-back years. This will create a lot of great exposure for the community and provide residents in other parts of the region a taste of the authenticity we offer.”

SCPRT spokeswoman Kim Jamieson said this is the first year that all of the Chef Ambassadors chosen are female.

“When we started this, one thing we wanted to focus on was highlighting the undiscovered communities in South Carolina,” Jamieson said. “I think it’s going to be a fantastic year.”

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