THAT DAMN CAKE

Restaurateur Hank Holliday may jokingly curse the popularity of Chef Robert Carter’s coconut cake at Peninsula Grill, mainly because online orders of the thing keep staffers busy making and shipping them out every single day, but Carter understands that the massive cake is his restaurant’s calling card. In fact, that calling card recently got into the hands of one Martha Stewart, who received a cake at Christmastime and sliced into it for her nephew’s birthday. She called Peninsula practically before she swallowed the first bite to book Carter on her show to demonstrate the recipe. He’ll be appearing in May (stay tuned for specifics). In the meantime, Carter has been keeping extremely busy, celebrating Peninsula’s 10th anniversary, organizing last week’s Lowcountry Chef’s Feast — which raised over $18,000 — and coordinating the Dine Around for the Food + Wine Festival this weekend. Oh, and Holliday says Planters Inn will host next year’s 2008 Relais and Chateaux North American Delegation, a prestigious event that will bring hospitality luminaries to town March 30-April 2. —Stephanie Barna

CULINARY STUDENTS GET SWEET TREAT

Le Bernardin’s executive pastry chef Michael Laiskonis has a local connection to Charleston. His folks live in the area, which must explain his willingness to return for the second year in a row (we hope he brings those little egg cups we missed tasting at last year’s Bubbles + Sweets party). While he’s in town, Laiskonis will be teaching a special class to Culinary Institute of Charleston (CIC) students. He promises to show Chef Bernd Gronert’s advanced baking class “a contemporary interpretation of a classic dessert” — Lemon Vacherin from the menu of Le Bernardin, New York’s famed four-star restaurant. “I will show the students how to build and harmonize flavors, as well as how I use both time-honored and new techniques. In short, I’ll prepare a light vanilla mousse, which will be combined with a citrus biscuit, lemon cream, crisp meringue, and lemon sorbet.” Yum. Unfortunately, this class will be open to CIC students only, but hopefully some of his sweet genius will rub off on a local kid destined for one of our very own kitchens. —SB

EVO SETTLES DOWN

EVO, our favorite mobile pizza oven, has decided to settle down in a permanent location. They’ll open a storefront in North Charleston’s Park Circle at 1075 East Montague in March. In addition to their awesome hand-crafted pies cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven, Ricky Hacker and Matt McIntosh will be serving a menu of fresh items like homemade soups, salads, cured meats, and sandwiches on fresh-baked artisan bread. Local beers on tap and European wines by the glass promise this will quickly become a neighborhood favorite in an area that’s ripe for quality restaurants. —SB

McKEE SPREADS THE MAGIC

Another very busy local chef, Brett McKee, will be hitting the road as soon as the Charleston Food + Wine Fest wraps up. First, he’ll jet off to L.A. to prepare a special dinner in Dennis Hopper’s home on March 8 for the CineVegas film festival’s award honoree (yet to be announced, but in the past Christina Ricci and Adam Goldberg have been so honored). Then, he’ll return to the James Beard House in New York City on March 12 to prepare a “Sensation Steak Dinner” for a sold-out house. The five-course menu includes sea scallops, wild boar ragout, and a duo of steaks (Pittsburgh-style filet and venison tenderloin). —SB