Cru Cafe’s 20 years and the evolving foodscape

Executive chef and proprietor of Cru Catering and Cru Cafe John Zucker got here into the Charleston culinary panorama round 2000, when he opened Cru Catering, turning into one of many metropolis’s prime caterers in City Paper’s Best of Charleston awards since 2001. 

Then, in 2002, following the swift success of Cru Catering, Zucker opened Cru Cafe on 18 Pinckney St. Twenty years later, the cafe has turn into a Charleston culinary landmark, serving revolutionary and international-inspired delicacies that, in its preliminary inception, was new to Charlestonian style buds. 

Before he got here to Charleston, Zucker graduated prime of his class at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, adopted by a profession working with superstar chef Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Las Vegas, then he turned the sous chef at Canoe in Atlanta, which was nominated as Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation in 1996. 

In honor of the cafe’s milestone, City Paper caught up with Zucker for Cru Cafe’s twentieth anniversary to replicate on the twenty years of being one in all Charleston’s prime institutions and the modifications within the metropolis’s evolving culinary scene since opening Cru. 


“I always felt lucky that what I like to eat is typically what a larger percentage of what the public likes to eat, so I just followed my personal likes and put those things on the menu,” Zucker stated about Cru Cafe’s key to longevity. “Typically, we get an incredible response as a result of what you’re actually attempting to do is get on the market and hit as many individuals as you may and make as many individuals proud of the meals you’re placing out and never limiting your self.

“And back then, [Charleston cuisine] was very limited,” he added. “I helped open up a restaurant called Sonoma … and that restaurant had a really eclectic menu. Then when we opened up [Cru Cafe], my background was this mix of French and Californian cuisine, and I carried that theme from Sonoma over to the cafe, and there was really nothing in town like that at all, nothing that was eclectic or bringing additional flavors to the table that I felt Charleston really needed.” 

With an ongoing staffing disaster within the meals and beverage business, tacked on with the COVID-19 pandemic the previous two years, Cru Cafe has managed to climate the storms to succeed in its two-decade milestone. And it’s all due to the dedication of its employees, Zucker stated.

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