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One night only

Special appreciation dinner brought together trending foods and design to celebrate those who make a difference in our community.

Photography by Lloyd Wainscott

As the holiday season wrapped up another year marked with the generosity and passion for the community, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce along with chefs for this year’s Chamber Ball hosted three area nonprofits for a five-course, al fresco meal at the home of Joni and Rick Vanderslice as a way of thanking them for making a difference in our community.


Who’s at the table

Bluffton Self Help – Bluffton Self Help provides hunger relief in the area as well as short-term financial assistance. Executive director Kimberly Hall attended with her husband, Chris.

The Children’s Center – The Children’s Center provides working families affordable and accessible early childhood education and childcare services. Executive director Jody Levitt attended with Tim Stehly, vice chair of the Center’s board of directors.

H.O.P.E. Life Lymphedema and Rehabilitation – H.O.P.E. Life Lymphedema and Rehabilitation is a nonprofit physical therapy center specifically for cancer patients and survivors. It also won the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce 2019 Start-Up of the Year and Spirit of Small Business of the Year awards. Founder and owner Dennis Ittenbach attended with his wife, Ann.

The Valentine Project – Valentine Project is an orphanage in Tanzania founded by Dr. Rick and Joni Vanderslice. Joni is the founder and owner of J. Banks Design, an internationally acclaimed interior design company based on Hilton Head Island. Rick is a local urologist.

Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce co-hosted the evening along with area chefs, who picked the nonprofits represented. President & CEO Bill Miles attended with his wife, Debbie.


Table-setting trends

Mix and match: Interiors no longer have to be slotted as “traditional” or “contemporary.” The mix is trending. Here, the table was set with traditional and contemporary silver; it’s not the same set. The pheasant blue glasses and plates are by Juliaska.

Collect items that you love from your travels: The hand-blown glasses are from the Vanderslices’ travels to Italy. This gives your home a unique character that matches your life and experiences.

Scale: Mix the scale and proportion to accommodate the scale of your room or space. On this table, the candles are taller but you can see through them, and the flowers are shorter.

Outdoor living: All of J. Banks Design’s projects – residential or hospitality – have a focus on outdoor living. Dining outside is an amazing treat and can happen almost year-round in the Lowcountry.

Unique Touches: The Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower straw napkin holders reflect the many nationalities that visit and live on Hilton Head Island.


So many chefs in the kitchen

The meal was prepared by some of the Lowcountry’s most innovative chefs.

BACK of the house

  • Cesar Acevedo, executive chef at Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa, plus two sous chefs
  • Chaun Bescos, executive chef at WiseGuys
  • Brian Coseo, executive chef at Sea Pines Country Club
  • Philippe Feret, owner of Hilton Head Social Bakery
  • Clayton Rollison, owner of Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar

Dinner is served

Chilled Sweet Jesus oysters, pickled country ham, serrano chile and sturgeon caviar prepared by Chef Acevedo.

Sorghum molasses roasted Tuten Farms butterkin, Anson Mills farro verde, black eye pea miso, farmed shiitake mushrooms with toasted walnuts, Three Sisters Farm broccoli greens and yuzo-roasted cauliflower prepared by Chef Bescos.

Anderson Farms Ranch lamb loin with badger, candy-striped and gold beets, butter potatoes from chef’s garden, and wild foraged yellow foot, chanterelles and shimeji mushrooms served with a red currant sauce prepared by Chef Coseo.

Lemon basil pana cota, mango mint cloud, and flourless chocolate cheesecake, petite fours prepared by Chef Feret.

Roast Grassroots Farm Porchetta with candy roaster squash and Mushu Apples finished with brown butter and herbs prepared by Chef Rollison.

Lucky Rooster’s signature bacon horseradish deviled eggs.

Food: Fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients. Ingredients for the dishes came from local spots including one chef’s personal garden, wild-foraged mushrooms, Three Sisters Farm in Bluffton, Tuten Farms in Hampton, and Grassroots Farms in Waverly, Georgia.


The rise of the Lowcountry chefs

Many destinations in the South are becoming culinary hotspots, and the Lowcountry is part of that trend. A number of our local chefs have cooked at the famed James Beard House in New York, have made appearances on various Food Network shows, and have been hand-picked as South Carolina Chef Ambassadors, traveling around the country to showcase the signature fresh and coastal dishes for which the area is known.

Chef Acevedo, Chef Bescos, Chef Coseo, Chef Feret and Chef Rollison will share a kitchen with former chefs at Manhattan’s famed Windows on the World at this year’s Chamber Ball, where wine guru Kevin Zraly and former head bartender at Windows on the World George Delgado also will host wine and cocktail bars in the grand salon.