Exclusive Interview with Chef Joe DiMaio of Stars Restaurant -Rooftop Bar & Grill Room

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As soon as you walk into stars restaurant   your taken  back in time ,Stars brings you back to the 1930s  in style!

Located at 495 King Street, in downtown Charleston, SC with a fantastic Rooftop Bar! Live Wood-Fire Grill  Steak, Seafood, American, Vegetarian with local healthy food, vegetables, hormone + anti-biotic free meat,   Executive chef  Joe DiMaio has made stars one of the top restaurants to try this Summer & Fall Season. 

Chef Joe DiMaio Has been so kind and given WhereWeStandMAgazine.com An Exclusive interview

“An Inside look at what it means to be a young , successful chef in Charleston South Carolina! ” 

Joe DiMaio has been Credited  with starting The Carolina Cuisine Movement What does this mean you ask?     

first to develop a personal relationship with the fishermen, cattle ranchers, and farmers who grow and harvest the ingredients that go into their Menu items and

Second  is the use of a live fire grill, spit roasting, flame baking and the flat-top plancha girdling techniques to prepare fresh meat, fish and vegetables.

With these two components its easy to see why STARS has become a Go to destination!

Not just for 5 Star FOOD but also the Rooftop Bar! Which features more than 15 artisan wines on tap, available by the glass, 500 ml., or 1 liter, and six, mostly local, craft beers are on tap at all times.

Dinner Starts at $8.5 for the Duck Confit, W/Crisp Vegetable Slaw

There is  something for everyone at STARS ! Ranging from BBQ, Burgers , Wood-Grilled Tuna, Octopus, She Crab Soup And of course 28 Day Aged Bone-In Ribeye! (these are just some of the many unique items you can order! 

Stars Restaurant -Rooftop Bar & Grill Room 

Stars Restaurant -Rooftop Bar & Grill Room 

 

 Stars Restaurant -Rooftop Bar & Grill Room 

WWS: When did you first know that you wanted to be a chef? you starting cooking at a young age (5) was this always your passion ?

Chef J.D: In high school It started to become apparent that I definitely wouldn’t  be going to a nice college  and having a typical career and i was dead set on moving out of my hometown of Shallotte nc. Community college was not an option, and playing golf on the PGA wasn’t happening either. Cooking just clicked for me. 

WWS: With So many high-end restaurants around Stars, What do you bring thats different? 

Chef J.D: its really hard to compete with the restaurants around me but each one of these great restaurants brings something a little different to the table. i think the public gets confused with us that we are just another fancy place when we really just wanna straddle the fence of fancy and casual  be your easy go to place for a great burger or  for a special occasion and get a great lobster dish. Me and my team have been working really hard with the rotisserie, cooking everything we can on it from pork racks to carrots. Im trying to take the concept that the best bbq places around the southeast are doing and only serving those item the day that they are cooked and not reheating, like my chicken for example is cooked in small batches every night and when its gone its gone, i think its our best dish. 

 

WWS: Give me an example of how you thought outside of the box (menu items) 

Chef J.D: thinking outside of the box kinda goes into my last answer. we cook things on our rotisserie everyday and sell them only that day. that has forced us to become a lot more creative with our dishes. 

 

WWS: You have an extensive background in cooking + Many awards , what are your favorite 3 dishes to cook?

Chef J.D: I love simple rustic cuisine. making gnocchi with a simple ragu always gives guests instant pleasure, a pan seared skin on snapper with farro and white beans with an oregano salsa verde, made to order beef tar tar has always been one of my strong dishes i like serving them with potato chips. 

 

WWS: What do you like to cook at home? what ingredients can we find in your kitchen? 

Chef J.D:mostly comfort food, perfectly roasted chicken. a great triple creme cheese with a warm crostini. asian noodle bowls with fresh veggies. Im italian so pasta with a simple pesto makes me happier then anything. you’ll find a lot of asian ingredients like fish sauce, kewpie mayo, hoisin sauce, togarashi. lots of nuts and seeds. honey bunches of oats.. haha. in the freezer youll find venison, bacon and lots of frozen fish from my stepdad. 

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WWS: you have been in many publications for your age, (24)  do you feel pressure to out do your yourself?

Chef J.D:I personally feel like im lightyears away from some young chefs in this world. I have a lot to learn still. Im really learning a lot about the administrative duties of a chef right now. 

WWS: you have been credited with starting the Carolina Cuisine movement, what are some “core ingredients used when choosing your ingredients ?

Chef J.D: Theres always talk about low country cuisine down here I wanted to look beyond that. 

there is so many amazing ingredients/cooking techniques  in the carolinas so its not just ingredient driven its technique driven, wood fire grilling, hearth roasting, plancha searing. Its easy to find ingredients appropriate for Carolina cuisine just look out the back door. 

WWS: Who/what are some of your favorite fishermen/ranchers/farmers you work with?

Chef J.D: I really appreciate all the farmers i work with but some core people are Greg johnsman of geechie boy mill, ambrose farms and carolina heritage farms where i get my pigs. 

WWS: your Black Garlic BBQ Glazed Baby Back Ribs  House-Cut, Kennebec Fries, Crisp Vegetable Slaw

describe this dish  for our readers?

Chef J.D: this dish is a good example of how we are trying to be somewhat casual. The dish itself is really simple we are just lucky to have great equipment to make it better. I like saucy ribs so this BBQ recipe is really important. It has some unique ingredients like black garlic, cheerwine and basil in it. We use a potato for our fries native to canada called a kennnebec potato similar to a yukon gold. the slaw is there simply to bring some acidity to the table you’ll find a mix of different seasonal vegetables like carrots or black radishes.

Stars Restaurant - Rooftop Bar & Grill Room

WWS: What in store for the fall season ? can we have an inside peek into what ingredients you will be using? 

Chef J.D: Fall is my favorite time of year. I think you will see a truffle chicken pot pie. braised short-ribs.

grilled quail with corn bread. roasted rabbits.

WWS; . Give me an example of a Springtime menu you would prepare for me? 

Chef J.D: Warm Brussel leave salad with panchetta and boiled egg. 

Hearth cooked naan with field pea hummus and a stinging nettle pesto.\

Pan seared triggerfish ramps peas, whole grilled favas, cured onion cream. 

lamb leg on the rotisserie with a poppy seed riata and grilled cucumber. 

 

WWS; . What do you do to stay educated about new trends?

Chef J.D:I read all the time, I love surfing twitter and finding new chefs all around the world that are doing really cool things. I am constantly buying new cookbooks, Im always going out to eat. I’ve never really been into the whole cooking channel chefs, i’m much more interested in the guy that nobody knows yet. I think chefs all over Denmark are doing really amazing food right now, chefs in Canada are changing the way we interpret food quite a bit bringing a type of simplicity to the table. I just recently got back from a trip in San Francisco that changed the way i approach food entirely.

Stars Restaurant - Rooftop Bar & Grill Room

WWS: What do you do to insure the quality of the food going out to customers?

Chef J.D:I work the line most nights so Im the one cooking the food. I work inside and outside expo as well so i see a lot of the food that goes out. I have a very efficient front and back of the house that have been working very hard the past 2 years at very high standards.

Stars Restaurant - Rooftop Bar & Grill Room

WWS: How involved are you with the menu development and overall-design ?

Chef J.D:With the menu I am mostly in charge of the dishes themselves the design is left up to our owner keith jones and manager team. 

WWS: How involved do you get with Purchasing and Receiving?

Chef J.D: I am 100 percent involved with all purchasing and my more morning prep team is involved with checking all the quality of products that we receive.

Stars Restaurant - Rooftop Bar & Grill Room

WWS: How do you know if a dish will be received well?

Chef J.D:I have a couple of core servers that i like to talk with about how they interpret new dishes, sometimes its hard to just take a chefs opinion on a dish because they are more likely to enjoy something a little more unique my servers help me see from a layman’s point of view.

Stars Restaurant - Rooftop Bar & Grill Room

WWS: Do you have any advice for  young chefs that are aspiring to be were you are? 

Chef J.D: The best advice I can give a young chef is; 1. look beyond your city and restaurant and understand that there is so much more out there in concepts and theories of food. 2. work with the best chef you can. 3. eat out at good restaurants, places you’ve heard some things about. 4. always work harder then the person next to you.

 

WWS: Where do you see yourself in 5 Years? 

Chef J.D: I hope that i will have made Stars into a destination restaurant and maybe be apart of any other projects my owners have planned. Being nominated for a james beard would be a dream come true.

WWS:Thank you for your time Joe! We can’t wait to try the Fall Menu

DINNER MENU

495 King Street,
Charleston, SC, 29403

(843) 577-0100

Sunday-Thursday
5:00pm-10:00pm
Friday and Saturday 
5:00pm-11:00pm
Saturday & Sunday Brunch:
10:30am-2:00pm

info@starsrestaurant.com