Gov. McMaster Announces 2019 South Carolina Chef Ambassadors

January 17, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Wednesday, Jan. 16) –South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster today named the 2019 South Carolina Chef Ambassadors. Each year, chefs from across South Carolina are nominated to serve as the state’s culinary ambassadors and the governor, this year, chose five to participate – in honor of the 5th year of the program.

The 2019 SC Chef Ambassadors include:

·         Chef Jessica Shillato, The Spotted Salamander in Columbia

·         Chef Marc Collins, Circa 1886 in Charleston

·         Chef Tania Harris, The Lazy Goat in Greenville

·         Chef Kelly Vogelheim, Town Hall in Florence

·         Chef Brandon Carter, FARM in Bluffton

“These five chefs are among the best and brightest culinary stars in our state,” said Governor McMaster. “Being named 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. We encourage visitors and locals to make the trip and dine in each of their restaurants to see all that South Carolina has to offer.”

“For the past five years, the Chef Ambassador program has promoted South Carolina’s culinary appeal,” said Duane Parrish, director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism. “Many visitors are seeking local flavor and tastes when they vacation, and our Chef Ambassador program helps them discover that.”

In 2019, the chefs will participate in a number of culinary, agriculture and tourism specific events throughout the Southeast, hosting cooking demonstrations and discussing the numerous offerings found in the cities in which their establishments are based.

“As Chef Ambassadors, these talented individuals have the opportunity to showcase our state’s culinary history,” said South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers. "From the field to the kitchen and, finally, to your table, our food has deep roots in the great state of South Carolina.”


The 2019 South Carolina Chef Ambassadors are:

Chef Marc Collins

Circa 1886 | Charleston, SC

At age 16, Marc worked as a chef apprentice aboard the yacht Paradise ll, an experience that inspired him to pursue a culinary degree at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts. At 23, he took his first chef position at the Fairmount Hotel, a AAA 4 Diamond restaurant. In June 2001, Marc moved to Charleston and became Executive Chef of Circa 1886. As the son of an artist, he learned the importance of constantly staying creative at a very young age, which serves him well in the culinary field, where he continually strives for originality in both food presentation and recipe development.

Chef Brandon Carter (Partner)

FARM | Bluffton, SC

Born in Ohio and raised in Georgia, Brandon was inspired by the allure of the kitchen during a family trip to Italy at the age of 13. Compelled by the industry’s high energy, he took his talents to the Culinary Institute of America, where he graduated in 1999. As executive chef and partner of FARM, Brandon works tirelessly to connect the dining experience with authentic farm culture. Always cognizant of seasonality and availability of ingredients, he crafts ever-evolving menus that speak to the bounty of the region while paying homage to the many farmers and artisans who inspire him.

Chef Jessica Shillato (Owner)

Spotted Salamander | Columbia, SC

Jessica took an interest in cooking at an early age. Food, cooking and sharing meals were always a big part her life growing up. Being surrounded by a family of wonderful cooks inspired her to become a professional chef. Jessica is classically trained in the culinary arts, holding two degrees from Johnson and Wales University, Charleston Campus. In 2014, she opened Spotted Salamander Café in the Robert Mills District of Columbia where she committed to making fresh, local southern cuisine with an inventive twist.

Chef Tania Harris

The Lazy Goat | Greenville, SC

Tania Cienfuegos Harris attended culinary school in Mexico City where she studied Culinary Arts in the Colegio Superior De Gastronomia for 4 years to earn her culinary bachelor’s degree. It was after graduating that Tania discovered her love for pastries, cakes and bread—and working with chocolate and sugar.

She is now in Greenville working as the pastry chef at The Lazy Goat. Being in South Carolina has helped Tania gain a wider understanding of how important local farmers and local produce are when it comes to impacting the community and the culinary scene in Greenville.

Chef Kelly Vogelheim

Town Hall | Florence, SC

Originally from Rogers City, Michigan, Kelly now resides in Florence as the Executive Chef of Town Hall Restaurant and Bar. Her passion for food began early, cooking with her mother and grandmother in the kitchen at home. Kelly earned her associate degree in the Culinary Arts at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute in Traverse City, Michigan, and continued to grow in her career from there. After moving to South Carolina, she landed her position in Florence, which she is proud to call home.

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. The initiative of Governor Nikki Haley enacted 2014 highlights the state’s talented chefs, creative recipes, authentic cuisines, locally grown produce and unique products, visitors and locals alike will further see why South Carolina is Just Right. For more information on the SC Chef Ambassador program, please visit


Editor’s note: Pictured left to right in the attached photo are Chefs Jessica Shillato, Brandon Carter, Kelly Vogelheim, Marc Collins and Tania Harris.

Need more information?   Sam Queen
Director of Corporate Communications
SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism
1205 Pendleton Street, Columbia, SC 29201
| 803-734-1779
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