Downtown. 289 E. Bay St. 534-2202
It’s always gratifying when personal favorites win categories in our annual readers’ poll, and John Zucker at Cru Catering is definitely a favorite. His catering operation sets the scene at countless weddings, parties, and events throughout the year, putting out ridiculously tasty food. You might be familiar with Cru for such notable hits as the macaroni and cheese or house-smoked lavender salmon.
Zucker started Cru Catering way back in 1999. “Nobody was doing upscale catering at the time,” he remembers. “We were first to pursue it, and it was just another challenge for us. Everyone was used to Hamby’s and kind of lower-end Southern barbecue stuff, and we were putting out product that was all handmade, nothing pre-bought. It was a challenge to educate people about that. Most caterers pre-buy stuff, take it out of a box, which we don’t do.”
Zucker got his start in Charleston as a consulting chef, working on projects as diverse as Zebo and McCrady’s before settling into an executive chef gig at Sonoma, an eclectic wine bar that was located in King Street Grille’s current spot on King Street. Sonoma was well-loved, but just didn’t make it. “It was a great space with great food. It should have done better.”
After Sonoma, Zucker went back to consulting, working on projects like Fish and Rue de Jean while getting his catering outfit off the ground. As he grew more successful, doing the food for such notable events as Chef Robert Carter’s wedding, his clientele continued to demand more from him, and Zucker opened Cru Café in Feb. 2002 in the old Pinckney Café spot. Since then, his catering company has continued to grow, winning Best Caterer every year since the category was established in 2000, and Zucker has easily kept his reputation as one of the coolest chefs around, effortlessly pulling off a serious catering business while at the same time pleasing patrons in his cozy café on Pinckney Street.