Culinary Q&A – Chef Sarah O’Kelley

Apr 16 2014

by Whitney Long

Culinary Q&A with Chef Sarah O’Kelley, Chef/Co-Owner

Glass Onion Charleston, SC

Last week I introduced you to one half of the dynamic chef duo (Chris Stewart) at the oh, so good Glass Onion in Charleston. Now, it’s time to meet the other half – the equally talented and brilliant Sarah O’Kelley.

After reading the first sentence of her bio, I knew she was my kind of girl. She states, “Life just doesn’t get any better than a tomato sandwich on white bread with plenty of Duke’s mayonnaise” and I, for one, concur. She laughingly says that her dark secret happens to be that during her childhood in Georgia she actually knew nothing but Hellman’s… the horror! Somehow she still managed to find a career in food after a winding path via kitchens and keyboards when she landed jobs with Emeril and various publications in New Orleans and Charleston. This, and her gift for gab, enables her to talk endlessly about all food topics.

Get to know Chef O’Kelley and see some of her favorites below. I am guessing that Duke’s Mayo makes the cut and her last meal has me drooling as mine would be the exact same!

First food memory:

So many delicious vegetables from my grandparents’ gardens – peas, squash, tomatoes, berries…I was lucky to know the profound flavor of freshness at an early age.

Ingredients always in your pantry:

Quinoa (I try to be healthy at home!) Honey (by the gallon – I’m obsessed!) Backup

Ingredients always in your fridge:

Duke’s Mayonnaise (of course!), Glass Onion Thunder Sauce, Wickles (the wickedly delicious pickle from Alabama!, Tin Mustard (from our good friend Tin in Brooklyn – so good on our Belle’s Sausage!), Sea Island Raw Milk & Eggs

What are some of your go-to items you like to serve at a cocktail party?

Pimento Cheese (of course!), Variety of artisanal cheeses with locally made preserves & honey (like I said I’m obsessed), Southeastern Charcuterie (the Olli Salami from Virginia is outstanding!)

What would you want for your last meal?

I’ve been asked this before, and I am sticking by my answer of a full Southern spread of fried chicken, grits, greens, squash casserole, biscuits and an old fashioned vanilla layer cake with caramel icing!

Dream guest list of three people for a dinner party and why?

Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, Harper Lee – three amazing Southern women who wrote beautifully – how could that not turn into a magical evening?

Career if you not a chef?

Novelist! I love to write and so enjoyed writing our cookbook, but the idea of writing a novel amazes me – wish I had that in me! (Hence my answer to previous question. J)

Do you have a favorite Southern dish that is always better “old school” rather than updated or “improved?”

Most of our food at the Glass Onion leans more towards a classical version rather than some nouveau interpretation – so my list would be long! Why reinvent the wheel?

Five Favorites –

Favorite Cocktail:

Gin and Tonic – with Cardinal Gin and Jack Rudy Tonic

Favorite Cookbook:

Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking – so groundbreaking and monumental!

Favorite Kitchen Gadget:

I’m not sure it qualifies as a gadget, but the microplane is pretty awesome!

Favorite artist/musician to listen to in the kitchen:

Any jazz but some with a bit of funk always sounds good – Jimmy Smith!

Favorite culinary destination and why?

New Orleans or France – are they that different?

If you liked this post, read about:

Chef Michelle Weaver here

Chef Shawn Kelly here

Chef Chris Stewart here

Chef Marc Collins here

Whitney Long is c0-founder of The Southern C and a Southern Living contributing editor. Through this series, she gets to meet some of the South’s finest and most creative chefs all while indulging without the calories.


Whitney Long View More Blog Posts from this Author

Whitney Long is co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit. Mama x 4, wife x 1. Entrepreneur, thinker, doer, writer, researcher, believer. Enjoys working alongside creative entrepreneurs to build community while supporting established and upcoming brands. Hobbies include travel, reading, bike rides and clever craft cocktails.

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One response on “Culinary Q&A – Chef Sarah O’Kelley

  1. leighannthornton

    I shouldn’t have read this at lunchtime! I’ll start with a tomato sandwich on white bread with Duke’s mayonnaise then have fried chicken, grits, greens, squash casserole, biscuits and an old fashioned vanilla layer cake with caramel icing. Then I’ll waddle back to my desk and sleep until time to go home… Okay, maybe I’ll just have the sandwich.

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