For Deihl, this table-time ritual remains one of the biggest influences he has had as a chef. Lauded for his rich interpretation of Southern cuisine, he is actually no son of the South – he grew up in Danville, Penn., on a seven-acre farm inherited as a wedding gift to his parents from his grandfather. But it’s how people relate to food – not their gastronomy - that matters most to this two-time James Beard award nominee.
Lured to the South by the culinary program at Johnson & Wales University (then in Charleston), Deihl began working after graduation at Charleston’s beloved Magnolias, where he worked for nearly five years before opening Cypress. Deihl would be the first to say that he cooks Southern food with a Pennsylvania accent, placing on Cypress’ menu the same types of dishes his mother would have crafted.
In 2007, Deihl penned Cypress, a cookbook that focuses on the American and global food laissez-faire that has garnered him an international reputation. At its center are the global flavor profiles he uses of hot, sour, salty, sweet and bitter, combining recipes of his signature menu items and highlighting his simple, eclectic style. Deihl was chosen in 2010 as Chef of the Year by the Charleston chapter of the American Culinary Foundation. That same year, he was a semi-finalist for a prestigious James Beard Foundation award for best chef Southeast. He was a nominee for the award in 2011 and 2012.
Deihl is a founding member of the Butcher’s Guild, a network of meat professionals that promotes responsible butchering through education and community. Since 2011, he has led Slow Food Charleston’s Chefs-in-Schools program, which places local chefs in schools and educates students on healthy food choices through classroom demonstrations, after-school programs, tastings and professional development. Deihl is also a steadfast observer of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative, a program that works with partner chefs to help ensure future fish populations and promote the use of sustainable and local seafood in South Carolina’s restaurants.
Through a partnership with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) and farmer Gra Moore of Carolina Heritage Farm, Deihl had the opportunity to be the first chef in over 100 years to utilize the rare American Guinea Hog. This same passion for preserving meat prompted him to adopt a CSA-like concept for meats he calls the Artisan Meat Share. Started in November of 2009, participants receive local charcuterie and local farmers, in turn, receive support from the increased product demand in what Deihl describes as a win-win scenario for both. Part of preserving is the commitment to utilizing every part of the animal, and Deihl takes pride in the over 80 types of charcuterie prepared, stored and cured in-house at Cypress.
Varley expanded this goal to the county, then the state, and soon was working in the New York kitchen of Lespinasse—all before attending culinary school at The Culinary Institute of America. He honed his skills at Boston restaurant Clio, and Parcel 104 in Santa Clara. In 2005, Varley accepted a position as chef de cuisine for Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas. Still in Las Vegas, Varley helped launch the Company American Bistro brand before moving to the Trump International Hotel and Tower as opening chef de cuisine.
In 2008 Varley accepted the executive chef position at Bourbon Steak in Washington, DC’s Four Seasons Hotel. He proceeded to do the last thing anyone would expect at a restaurant with the word “steak” in the name: plant a garden. Sixty-five varieties of herb and 25 types of vegetables mean that very few dishes are free of produce from the garden in season. He continues to step outside the Washingtonian comfort zone—with fabulous results.
Trevor can be found at Union Square's Greenmarket three to four mornings a week sourcing fruits, vegetables and meats for Blue Hill's ingredient inspired menus. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife Jasmine and their two beautiful children, Oscar and Cyra.
After high school, McPhail attended Seattle Community College and received an ACF-accredited degree in culinary science. Counselors suggested he pursue work in either the Big Apple or the Big Easy, citing their respective fertile culinary learning grounds. New Orleans, with its history, soul, and Mardi Gras celebrations won him over, and at just 19, he was hired by Commander’s Palace Executive Chef Jamie Shannon and worked through all 12 stations of the kitchen, honing his craft and making a positive impression on his boss.
In search of “as much experience as possible, as quickly as possible,” McPhail later completed a series of stints at culinary hot spots, including the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, FL; the Michelin-starred L’Escargot in London and its sister restaurant Picasso Room; and the Caribbean/Creole-intensive Mongoose Restaurant in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In spring of 2000, McPhail returned to the Commander’s family as executive sous chef at Commander’s Palace Las Vegas. Though he loved his job there, New Orleans beckoned—as did Shannon—and he returned to the Big Easy, where the Brennan family named him executive chef of the original Commander’s Palace in January 2002.
Today, McPhail continues his dedication to creating and sustaining strong relationships with local purveyors, as well as executing exciting dishes in the Commander’s kitchen. “I’m always thinking very forward when it comes to Creole food,” he says. An animated and resolute chef who pursues culinary perfection, McPhail delights in exploring a variety of flavors in his seasonal menus—embracing Creole traditions while updating classic dishes with fresh, local ingredients.
McPhail has earned numerous accolades for his work and has appeared on several top-rated television programs, in addition to a number of industry-related events.