charleston, i love you | 012: johnny battles09/21/12

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Sweeteeth is the chocolate of Charleston (and beyond). The man behind this operation is Johnny Battles and simply put, he’s a genius (just try his sea is for caramel bar). On this particular day I found Johnny in his North Charleston chocolate factory, munching on a loaf of sourdough and wrapping lots of bars (each in six seconds, for the record ). Fiercely passionate about chocolate and softer spoken than you might imagine, Johnny himself is sweet.

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What brought you to Charleston?
I had just come back to Alabama from a bit of traveling and really wanted to keep moving around a little. My long time friend had moved to Charleston a year or two before and really encouraged me to come live here. I traded an Isuzu Trooper that didn’t run for a Hyundai that did and headed toward the salty coast.

What do you love most about Charleston?
The marsh areas. They’re so beautiful.

What's your favorite spot in Charleston?
James Quinton’s chair.

What's your favorite restaurant in Charleston?
Hard question. As a vegetarian, it can be tough indulging in the staples of Charleston’s food scene. It keeps me with a core group of restaurants I just can’t stop going back to. I don’t know if I could say what my favorite restaurant in Charleston is but I can say that I’ve never, not one time, not ever had a less than great meal at Two Boroughs Larder…..and they put an egg on all my food.

How did Sweeteeth begin?
Sweeteeth was just something I liked to do for myself and a restaurant that was 100% brought to full life by the support of the eater. The more people requested the more I made and I just continued to follow their appetite. So instead of spending free time doing dangerous adventures and what not, I was spending that time trying to come up with flavors to fill candy bars with. I’ve been a cook and then a pastry man my whole working career and flavor is what I love to make. I just wanted to make food more like candy and vice versa.

What's a typical day like for you?
I get up at 6:30, shower, dress for success, get Liam up and dressed. He usually helps me with breakfast if it involves cracking or flipping anything. He’s to school by 8 and then I come home and do emails until 9 and have lots of coffee and whatever kind of carb I can get my hands on. I slide into

the shop around 9:30, turn on the tempering machines and the double boilers and start cleaning molds. I make caramel practically every day which keeps the shop smelling nice, so that's a plus. I just make candy bars all day until I go back to pick up Liam. If it’s not too crazy in the shop we’ll head back together and eat some candy or popsicles or something. I’ll take a break for dinner and story time then head back in around 8 for at least a couple hours just to finish or tighten anything up that was left hanging from the day and get ready for the day to follow. I try to get to sleep around 1 or so. Since I make all of the stuff myself, I’m able to put certain productions on certain days so the repeat is just production but it’s never the same production. All in all, not a bad day.

How does Charleston influence your work?
People here love strong flavors and know how to properly indulge. I love food myself and love to see what friends in restaurants and bakeries are doing and try to imagine making candy with flavors they work with. The food scene here can also be somewhat competitive, even if in a friendly way, so the bar is always being raised. I like to feed off that. No pun.

A standout Charleston memory?
In the first apartment I lived in here, my roommate and I somehow let an entire bushel of oysters spoil in the kitchen. The smell was terrible. It’s not the best story and I’m sure I’ve done some really neat stuff since then but that one is always up there. I’ve also talked to Bill Murray, twice.

Describe Charleston in three words.
It gets hot.
Pour me another.
We should go.
Y'all are racist.
Where's the butter?
Where's the Battery?
One way street.

charleston, i love you | 011: cyrus buffum09/14/12

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Cyrus Buffum really loves Charleston. After reading The Riverkeepers by John Cronen and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Cyrus had an idea and he made it happen; at 28, he’s the founder and director of Charleston Waterkeeper, a non-profit protecting Charleston’s right to fishable, swimmable, drinkable water.

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What brought you to Charleston?
I came to Charleston in 2002 to study astrophysics at the College of Charleston. Having grown up on Cape Cod, Charleston seemed like another world: the Spanish moss, architecture, weather, palmetto tree lined streets, and the reminder of history around every corner. Moving here was truly a culture shock, and I've loved every moment of it.

What do you love most about Charleston?
There's something special happening here, and though it's difficult to describe, I absolutely love what it is. There's so much opportunity, energy, creativity, and hustle in this city, and that combination is incredibly powerful. I love feeling as though I'm playing a role in shaping the direction of this city, this region, and even a significant moment in our time. Charleston provides that opportunity right now--to impact the direction of things. To be a part of this moving wave. It's all very exciting.

What's your favorite spot in Charleston?
Anywhere on the water. But since that's a pretty ambiguous answer, I'll also say my house. My buddy and I just finished building a really cool place on the westside of town. It's still pretty bare, but it's a great spot to work, cook, relax, read, think, write, and sleep. We installed an awesome garage-style door in the living room that opens up onto an outdoor balcony. It's kind of bad ass. 

What's your favorite restaurant in Charleston?
It's so hard to choose just one, and my list is always changing, but currently, depending on the time of day, these would have to be my picks. Coffee at Kudu, breakfast at Caviar and Bananas, lunch at Ted's Butcherblock, dinner at FIG or Fish, drinks at Belmont or Closed for Business, late night at Butcher and Bee.

How did Charleston Waterkeeper begin?
I was fortunate to grow up on the water, and I was fortunate to attend a school surrounded by water. In a way, I feel as though 

Charleston Waterkeeper was inevitable. In 2006, after travelling to Zimbabwe with the Elias Fund, an educational-based nonprofit, I returned to the states with a goal of pursuing a path that combined my passions for water, science, and people. A year later, after reading The Riverkeepers, a book about the birth of the Waterkeeper movement, a flame was ignited. I was inspired to establish a Waterkeeper organization in Charleston that would work to protect the public's right to clean water. Four years after the vision for Charleston Waterkeeper was constructively called "ambitious," I'm proud to say that we've made it happen.

What's a typical day like for you?
I don't think I've had one of those in years!

How does Charleston influence your work?
I am constantly inspired by its rich history. To be reminded of the astounding people and events that came before us is a humbling perspective to apply to one's work. Knowing that we all have a chance to play a part in this city's great story influences me to work even harder to make a lasting impact.

A standout Charleston memory?
One of my favorite things to do in Charleston is ride my bike downtown, exploring its beauty at a relaxing pace. I've learned from someone very special to me the importance of enjoying and fully appreciating one's time and immediate surroundings. Though balance can be a bit difficult for me, I've learned to stop and smell the roses a bit more often, and there's no better way to do that than with a bike ride through Charleston's streets with no destination or timeline in mind.

Describe Charleston in three words.
Making shit happen.

charleston, i love you | 010: isa salazar08/24/12

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I met Isa through her gorgeous startup magazine, Marmalade. She returned to Charleston after a stint in NYC working for Lonny, and we started crossing paths more and more often (as it happens here). Isa has a quiet calming presence, but this girl is a powerhouse; endlessly ambitious and always creating something new and beautiful.

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Charleston, I love you | 010: Isa Salazar

What brought you to Charleston?
I came to Charleston to study art and Classics. Before I officially decided to come to College of Charleston, my mom and I drove down from DC for one night to feel the place out. Wisteria was blooming along 95 South, hinting at the magic we were about to see. I was completely enchanted when I got here.

What do you love most about Charleston?
The fact that downtown is like a sitcom, full of characters. Also the jasmine and possibility that there are ghosts??

What's your favorite spot in Charleston?
I think it depends on who I'm with. I love biking to the top of the Mt Pleasant bridge for perspective, but also sitting at the end of a dock in the marsh with just the sound of the very loud cicadas.

What's a typical day like for you?
Lots of computer click-clacking. This summer I was spending many days with my laptop at Hope and Unionthough now I'm

readjusting to its departure. I've just started printing a line of cards {available at Mac and Murphy!} and have been spending more time drawing designs. It feels good to have a creative outlet outside the computer again!

How does Charleston influence or inspire you in your work?
Charleston is so romantic and charming, it's hard not to indulge in that aspect. For me it inspires my artwork, simply for the fact that it gives me energy. I'm also very much inspired by the people here. There's so much talent and warmth.

A standout Charleston-related memory/story?
Climbing to the top of a crane in the middle of the night as the Liberty Street dorms were being built. Shhh.

Describe Charleston in three words.
Hanging tree magic.

charleston, i love you | 009: jessica slaughter08/17/12

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Jessica is the superwoman of FIG. She quietly knows everything about everything and handles every situation with grace. Jessica is one of those people you can talk to for hours without noticing the time passing. She’s savvy and fun, and it feels good to have her around.

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Charleston, I love you | 009: Jessica Slaughter

What brought you to Charleston?
A scholarship to the College of Charleston. Growing up in Columbia, I visited Charleston as often as I could, even playing hooky from high school to hit the beach and shop on King Street.  When trying to choose a college my Dad said, “Go to Charleston.  I think it speaks to your soul.”  The scholarship didn’t hurt either. 

What do you love most about Charleston? 
Aside from the food, the weather, the people?  I love the energy level.  I admire the bustling energy in bigger cities like New York, but I am more suited to the pace of Charleston.  While there seems to be a near constant excitement in the air over one thing or another, Charlestonians know how to relish and luxuriate in a moment.  We take our time and enjoy the smaller moments -- bike rides, porch swings, Sunday brunch, whathaveyou --  that really make life here special. 

What's your favorite spot in Charleston? 
My drive to work.   Each morning the beauty of the city waking up takes my breath away as I come over the bridge from West Ashley -- sometimes the harbor is choppy and windblown, sometimes glassy as a mirror, reflecting blue skies or grey.  The water dotted with sailboats and yachts and marsh grass is different every day. 

What's your favorite restaurant in Charleston?  
FIG, naturally.  I’m probably a little biased since I’ve worked there for 8 years, but a meal at FIG consistently blows my mind, from food to service to drinks.

What's a typical day like for you?
Mornings at FIG are the best because I’m alone and it’s almost peaceful.  I play The xx station on Pandora, sift through emails, Twitter, and EaterCharleston while planning out my day. 

 As the day progresses more people come by and it gets busier –  fishermen and farmers needing checks, reps tasting new wines or liquors, our Chef de Cuisine wanting to write the night’s menu – until the staff shows up around 3:00 and we’re in full swing.  Evenings are for meeting friends for a drink and snack at Larder, The Belmont, or Bin 152, or cooking at home with my husband.

How does Charleston influence your work?
FIG is so obviously influenced by Charleston, from the local products that comprise the menu to the awesome local clientele.  Those local personalities make my job such a joy – getting to meet other people who are passionate about food, and watching the industry grow so much in Charleston over the past ten years.  Charleston is no longer just a place for shrimp and grits and fried foods, it’s becoming a culinary mecca.  It’s exciting to be a part of. 

A standout Charleston memory?
In February 2011 there was an unusually warm Saturday, the first of the season, so I suggested a walk on Folly Beach to my boyfriend Ryan.  He took me to the very north end, past the wall and overlooking Morris Island.  I’d been there once almost eight years before and thought it was so beautiful and secluded; I told my friend at the time I thought it was the perfect spot for a proposal.  I was remembering that very thought when Ryan dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him.  And no lie, a dolphin jumped completely out of the water just as I said yes. 

Describe Charleston in three words.
Evocative.  Visceral. Charmed.

*See the rest of the series here.

charleston, i love you | 008: peter galle08/10/12

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I met Peter the first day of my freshman year of college. His room was next door to mine and whenever there was a roach or the window was sealed shut or some other kind of unsolvable problem, Peter would come to the rescue. In our poetry classes, he was the one with his hand constantly raised, challenging our professor or otherwise blowing everyone’s minds. He has since traveled the world and blossomed as a brilliant actor. Peter always has an interesting take on things and is always up for a lengthy chat.

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Charleston, I love you | 008: Peter Galle

What brought you to Charleston?
College. When I was young an older girl from my neighborhood showed me around the campus after her first year. I applied early and got in early and didn't look anywhere else.

What do you love most about Charleston?
The ability to walk or bike anywhere. Also the heat. It's an equalizer of sorts. Everyone is sweating. There cannot be too much pretention when you are constantly reminded of your unifying bodily condition.

What's your favorite spot in Charleston?
South of Broad, but also north of the Crosstown, from Huger on up passed Hampton Park.

What's your favorite restaurant in Charleston?
That's a tough call. I would have to say it's a tie between FIG and Two Boroughs Larder.

How have your travels altered your view on Charleston?
The transition between my teenage years and early adulthood took place in Charleston, so for awhile I felt my identity was bound by the city, so much so when I left I felt unstable. After college I traveled alone across the world. When I returned I changed and no longer identified with the conceptions of the community I had grown up in. That allowed me to view Charleston with fresh eyes. This last summer I lived in New York and LA. Doing so allowed me to gain a further appreciation of Charleston and its conveniences that make each day a blessing. Now, of all the places I've lived in, Charleston is by far my favorite.

What's a typical day like for you?
I wake up and and either fix myself coffee and work at home or go to Black Tap. During the afternoons I either go rock climbing or go to the beach or watch and study films. As of late I've been watching the Olympics into the wee hours of the morning, but on a typical night I'm eating with one of my family members or alone, watching films, reading or researching my latest fascination on the internet.

How does Charleston influence your work?
Walking and biking near the water does a lot for my creative process. Being able to do that everyday is special to me. Estuaries are the most fertile places in the world. This bodes well for my art. I am also influenced and supported by the two theatre companies I work for, Theatre 99 and Threshold Repertory Theatre. The work I am able to accomplish with these companies is consistently revelatory. I am lucky they are here to foster my process as a filmmaker, actor and artist.

A standout Charleston memory?
Graduation day. For me, it summed up so much more than my experience in the classroom. I left with an English and Philosophy degree on paper. But my time was filled with so many other ventures. At the end of college the doorstep of the world was open. I could feel it. Sitting on the stage in the Cistern I was excited and thankful for all that had come and all that would come.

Describe Charleston in three words.
Luxuriant. Magical. Free.

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