Bob Waggoner may have hosted an Emmy-winning PBS show, been knighted “l’Odre du Mérite Agricole” in France, and earned Charleston Grill the AAA Four-Diamond designation for the 12 years he was executive chef, but the man is not above painting his own restaurant.

“I did all this myself,” he shared in an interview yesterday at 164-A Market, the location of his new cooking school, In the Kitchen with Chef Bob Waggoner. Painting, window washing, even photographing all the images for his promo posters — it’s all part of Waggoner’s new one-man operation. And that even includes washing the dirty dishes.

He’s not above the grunt work, and frankly he’s fed-up with those who are. “I’m done working with kids with no urgency, no passion,” says the 52-year-old.

After a two-year stint as consulting/executive chef at Nashville’s Watermark restaurant, Waggoner says he got tired of the lack of drive among the younger crowd. “All these kids want to be Guy Fieri,” he says.

His frustration, coupled with the fact that his 83-year-old father who lived in Nashville could no longer live on his own, sealed the deal. Waggoner decided it was time to return to Charleston and do something on his own.

“I know how to treat people, I just want to have fun,” he says. And fun is exactly what In the Kitchen with Chef Bob Waggoner sounds like it will be. For $125 a person, 10 guests a night will be ushered into what Waggoner refers to as a 1,600-square-foot Kiawah-style kitchen. Then, for the next three hours, they’ll learn to prepare a four-course meal.

But this isn’t some kind of cooking demo. “Everyone will really have to make their own food,” Waggoner says. “So I’ll come by and ask them, “How’s it taste?” and one person may say, “It’s not right yet.” So I’ll tell them to add some more salt or two cranks of pepper — whatever.”

And while the pro teaches his guests to make dishes — something like scallops, “maybe crayfish, a warm salad,” he says — Waggoner will be serving up French wine. “I don’t want to drink any $10 stuff,” he says. “We’re going to have some great wines.” Guests will dish up their creations onto Limoges china and eat with Italian flatware. “I could never use Limoge if I was working at someone else’s restaurant,” he says clearly thrilled. And that’s part of the DIY piece too. Waggoner has had boatloads of gear donated. Le Creuset is hooking him up with cookware, Reclaimed Designworks is creating the oak floors, and Ferguson is handling the sinks and faucets.

In the corner a player piano, courtesy of Lexus of Charleston, will add ambiance. However, as anyone who’s met Waggoner can attest, the entertainment will likely come mainly from the man behind the cutting board.

“I just want to have a party,” he says. “I’ll work when we have reservations and when we don’t I won’t. It’s that simple.”

Or is it? From what it sounds like, Chef Waggoner’s In the Kitchen will really be a BOGO deal — dinner and a show.

Waggoner hopes, if the permits come through, that In the Kitchen with Chef Bob Waggoner will be open by October. To learn more, visit

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