Charleston is such a foodie town that chefs are hiding in plain sight, out of the James Beard limelight, but still very much creating amazing food. This series profiles Charleston’s “hidden chefs.”
Analisa LaPietra had a double degree from Penn State — anthropology and psychology — and she was headed for grad school when she got a restaurant job in Cambridge, Mass. She decided that her love of eating and cooking would be more fun to pursue than grad school and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York. An accelerated course allowed her to skip over the “basic stuff” like how to hold a knife, she says, and then she worked at the now-closed Arielle in Rhinebeck, NY helping with both the restaurant and events. She also served as a personal chef in New York (“a job I loved, loved, loved,” she says) and at Primo in Maine under two-time James Beard award winner Melissa Kelly, as well as ZoZo’s in the Virgin Islands. When friend Greg Garrison from CIA became executive chef at Prohibition, he heckled La Pietra until she agreed to be his sous chef in April 2016.
Favorite kitchen tool or gadget: My little pocket knife. I always have a pen, a Sharpie, and a little pocket knife and it always comes in handy for anything from breaking down boxes to cutting the tops of wine bottles (for cooking of course…)
Three things always in my refrigerator: Cheese, pickles, a million different condiments. I rarely eat at home, so I have little fresh food because I’m at Prohibition all the time.
Three things always in my pantry: Many bottles of Crystal Hot Sauce, a bunch of different salts. I like salt a lot. And really good olive oil; it makes everything taste better.
Favorite after-work hangout: Luckily, I live around the corner. I go by HoM and I tend to spend a lot of time there. It’s like an oasis. It’s not overcrowded with college students and drunk people and the bartenders are friends.
Favorite Charleston restaurant other than yours: Xiao Bao Biscuit. I live way too close to that to be good for my budget or my health. And Artisan Meat Share. I love good charcuterie.
Favorite comfort food: Pasta, hands down. It’s simple, with garlic, chili flakes, ricotta cheese if I’ve been to the grocery store lately, and bread crumbs.
Favorite smell: My grandparents had a garden and it always had fresh basil. It was a nice smell. Also, when I moved here, the Confederate Jasmine flowers were blooming. It was magical.
Favorite drink: Gin and tonic — two of them at least.
Number of hours you work a week: 50-60
Customer pet peeve: Luckily, I don’t have to interact with people, except the ones in the kitchen. I hate when they say, “What’s the best thing on the menu?” It’s kind of a pointless question. How can you answer that?
Most under-rated ingredient: Butter. In general, it’s gotten a bad rap in the public eye. But the reason restaurant food tastes so good is we use real butter, nothing imitation or light.
Favorite meal to cook at home: Pasta. It’s quick, easy, and there are a million different variations you can do.
Best advice a mentor gave you: My father used to say, “If you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all.” I think about that a lot at work and all the time. If I see a piece of trash on the ground, I can’t just walk by and not do something about it.
Prohibition is at 547 King St. and is open Mon. to Thurs., 4 p.m. – 2 a.m., Friday, 12 p.m. – 2 a.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. – 2 a.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.