At Fork and Plough, Chef Shawn Kelly puts his local spin on traditional dishes from around the globe
Stuffed cabbage rolls, haluski (a cabbage and noodle dish), kielbasa, pierogis: these are some of the dishes Shawn Kelly remembers eating when he was growing up. “Being from northeast Ohio, the things I think of as traditional are things my grandparents made, which are traditional Polish or German dishes,” says the executive chef/partner of Fork and Plough.
Despite his upbringing in the Midwest, Kelly has cooked his share of Southern cuisine since coming to South Carolina after college. At Fork and Plough, he likes to mix things up by randomly adding dishes from his past, such as cabbage rolls and haluski, to the menu. “It depends on what comes in the door,” he says. “If a farmer brings you a lot of cabbage, you have to find a way to use it.”
Using local ingredients is the founding tenet of Kelly’s restaurant. Opened in 2018 as a partnership between Kelly and Chad Bishop and Roddy Pick of Greenbrier Farms in Easley, Fork and Plough depends heavily on the produce and meat that Bishop and Pick raise, as well as products from other area farmers. “We try to use as many local products as we can,” the chef explains. “Our menu [which changes for lunch and dinner daily] is seasonal and local, and we aren’t pretentious about it. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Kelly fell in love with cooking when he was working in restaurants while attending the University of Akron, enchanted by the camaraderie in the kitchen and the ability to make people happy. After graduation, he set off to culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Charleston, admitting it was “the only culinary school I could find that was on a beach.” Fortune paired him with celebrated Southern chef Frank Lee in Charleston, first in the kitchen at Slightly North of Broad (aka SNOB) and a decade later at High Cotton. In 2015, Bishop and Pick invited him up to Greenville to do a beer dinner at Greenbrier Farms. The trio hit it off, and three years later, they opened Fork and Plough.
When asked to describe his cooking style, Kelly laughs as he answers, “erratic.” He’s likely to have foie gras on the same menu as a pulled-pork sandwich, or stuffed local squash blossoms on the same menu as a Philly cheesesteak. “We try to be diverse so that anyone can find something they like.”
Kelly believes that all cuisine is rooted in traditional dishes. “No one’s really inventing anything new,” says the chef. “[At Fork and Plough,] we might do a hoppin’ John using fresh local field peas, or different rice grains from Anson Mills. We take things that are traditional to French or German or Italian cuisine, but we use local ingredients to put our own spin on them.”
The Winter Succotash recipe he provides here “is about as traditional as it gets,” he insists. “If you really dig deep and trace its origins back, the simplest version of corn, beans, and squash [a combination known to the Cherokee as the “three sisters”] was taught to the early settlers by Native Americans.”
Fork & Plough, 1629 E. North St., Greenville, 864.609.4249, forkandplough.com
Succotash recipe from Chef Kelly of Fork and Plough
Chef’s Note: I simply love butter beans and feel it’s a shame to only enjoy them in the summer. So, the following recipe is a fall or winter version, pairing butter beans with root vegetables and greens, as that is what you will find fresh in December and January. Feel free to follow the outline and substitute any vegetables that you may find at your local market.
Winter Vegetable Succotash
- 1 Tbsp butter
- ½ cup bacon lardons or thick-cut strips of country ham
- 4 cups frozen butter beans (green or speckled)
- 1 white onion, diced
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper (red is good for color, but any color will work)
- 1 turnip, diced
- 2 cups turnip greens (kale, collards, mustard greens, or spinach will also work)
- 2 small carrots, sliced
- 2 cups diced butternut squash
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 3 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup chopped herbs (any will do, but I like a combination of thyme, parsley, and tarragon)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 4 shakes hot sauce
- Bring 2 quarts of salted water (like the ocean) to a boil and add butter beans. Cook for 8–10 minutes and drain. Set aside.
- Over medium heat, melt the butter and cook bacon until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook until soft.
- Add all remaining ingredients (including the butter beans), except the herbs. The liquid should just cover all the vegetables. If necessary, add more stock or some water. Cook over medium-low heat until the root vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Cooking even longer won’t hurt, but don’t let the roots get too soft. Taste for seasoning.
- Succotash can be made ahead to this point. Just before serving, stir in the chopped herbs. Garnish with a drizzle of good olive oil and serve.
Photography by Tara Ashton.