Famed Southern plantation property the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort, in Bluffton, South Carolina, is undergoing a transformation both in terms of the property and in the form of a greater commitment to its food and beverage program. In 2014, the property was acquired by California-based Montage Hotels & Resorts. Since then, Montage has vowed to expand the property while maintaining its spirit and commitment to the local community. Over the coming months, the property will add 12 new cottages and an additional 150 rooms.
As part of that expansion, a new chef, Nathan Beriau, is now at the helm of the Inn at Palmetto Bluff. In conjunction with beverage manager David Mason, the team will roll out a new culinary program and work on additional restaurants and eateries once the property has expanded.
Chef Beriau hails from the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, where he advanced from cook tournant first to executive sous chef and then to executive chef after more than a decade at the hotel. He began his career by earning a degree in culinary arts from Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.
Beriau and Mason sat down with The Daily Meal to discuss their vision for the next phases at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff and their goal of expanding the property’s Food of Place events.
“The property here is amazing, with over 22,000 acres of space for us to host all different kinds of culinary and private events,” Beriau explained. “The F&B programming is approached with an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s owned and defined by its chefs, staff, and other influencers at the hotel. Our main focus is to make sure nothing ever feels cookie-cutter.”
To that end, in the first days of arriving at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, chef Beriau and Mason put together their inaugural Food of Place dinner: Salt, Smoke and Cure, which took place this May.
The hotel co-hosted the event alongside Joe Davis, winemaker and owner of Arcadian Winery in Santa Barbara, California. The trio was extremely meticulous about crafting a menu that not only went along with their theme of smoked food but also complemented Arcadian’s best wines.
“I have a very prescriptive style of food,” began Beriau. “There were subtle nuances throughout the menu, but I also came at it from a global perspective. For example, one of the appetizers I created for this dinner was crispy steamed buns with mustard that very much resemble a banh mi.”
The menu consisted of a variety of air-dried and cured meats, including air-dry ducks for the program’s Peking duck with rhubarb, alliums, spring peas, and sweet and sour sauce. It was paired with the 2001 Garys’ Syrah.This was exhibited in dishes like first of the season South Carolina peaches with La Quercia guanciale, spicy basil, burrata, and Georgia wildflower honey.
Other dishes combined chef Beriau’s sense of adventure with his willingness to work with fresh, local ingredients. This was exhibited in dishes like first of the season South Carolina peaches with La Quercia guanciale, spicy basil, burrata, and Georgia wildflower honey.
In conjunction with the hotel’s larger events, the F&B program also offers first Friday dinners at the hotel’s most beloved casual dining restaurant, Buffalo’s. Additionally, there are artisan cooking classes for home cooks and novices alike. One upcoming class in July will teach students how to charcoal grill with the very best of them.
There is arguably no better place to create such culinary events, says the duo. They have an extensive number of venues to choose from, such as Buffalo’s, the Inn’s wine cellar, or the event space right in the middle of property next to the town’s wedding chapel. They also cater a number of private events and can create tailored menus for weddings or even gatherings for homeowners on the property.
Mason, who began his career at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff before making his way up to the position of beverage manager, has been on a mission to solidify strong relationships with small boutique wineries throughout the country, enhancing the beverage programming on the property. The hope is that these wineries will team up with the hotel to work on special culinary dinners and wine programming.
Both Beriau and Mason are behind the special programming that can be seen throughout the year, no matter the season. The process is quite collaborative, they believe, and they work with many of the seasoned staff members to create memorable dining experiences for their guests and the property’s homeowners.
Next up for the Food of Place events is the Pig & Swig Beer Dinner on September 6, which will feature the River Dog, Allagash, Stone, Anderson Valley, and Victory breweries. For more information on the upcoming culinary programming, click here.