Say hello to our latest addition to the seasoned culinary team at Patrick Properties – Banquet Chef Peden Rucker!
Chef Peden brings to the table nearly a decade of experience in high-end weddings and events, where his expertly tailored menus and thoughtful presentation shine brighter than that winning smile. Hard to believe a career in the culinary field was a switch hit for this former pro baseball pitcher! Read on for more on this and other interesting facts as we get to know the talent behind each memorable bite served across our historic Downtown Charleston venues.
PPHG: Chef, where did you learn how to cook?
Rucker: My grandmother – she took cooking very seriously, and I learned from her attention to detail and respect for fresh ingredients. Her discipline and enthusiasm for food paralleled mine for sports; eventually they grew into equal passions, and have been ever since.
PPHG: That’s right, you played professional baseball before you became a chef! Does that experience shape your approach in the kitchen?
Rucker: Playing pro ball, in my opinion, was perhaps one of the best ways I could have ever prepared myself to work in a professional kitchen. It’s all about teamwork and placing the success of each event above your personal goals, ensuring each dish is well executed and that service is flawless. After a shoulder injury that required surgery, I continued to pursue baseball until it finally became clear that I had to make a choice for what came next; for some, pursuing another career is difficult, but the path to cooking was just as natural and exciting for me. I hung up my mitt and enrolled at The Culinary Institute of Charleston after my last season.
PPHG: And you hit the ground running, splitting classroom time with long hours on the line of some very impressive, high-volume kitchens.
Rucker: I coupled my degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality with real-world kitchen experience, then worked my way up! I started in catering and events, both as a part of the banquet team and later, was promoted to executive management. I’ve been fortunate to refine my skills under the mentorship of some of Charleston’s top events and culinary professionals.
PPHG: You’ve also cooked alongside some renowned celebrity chefs! What have been your favorite events?
Rucker: Charleston Wine + Food Festival is always an incredible collaborative experience because it brings a wealth of talent from all over the country – from James Beard chefs, sommeliers and master mixologists to culinary artisans and producers. Being in the kitchen and building relationships with top chefs like Vivian Howard during Festival events is so inspiring; the knowledge and techniques I learn from them pushes me in my own approach. This year, I’m really looking forward to working with Ruth Reichl (prolific author, former NYT restaurant critic and editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine), and two James Beard Award-winning chefs – Ashley Christensen and Vivian Howard – for one of the Festival’s premier dinners hosted here at The William Aiken House.
Thanks, Chef! Look for Chef Peden – and his exceptional cuisine – across PPHG’s historic properties this fall.