Charlotte food watchers have two big developments coming, announced this afternoon by Joe and Katy Kindred of Kindred in Davidson.
First, there’s finally an opening date for their long-awaited seafood restaurant on Lake Norman: After construction delays, Hello Sailor is scheduled to open the first week in December.
And there’s even bigger news in some food-watching circles: Craig Deihl, the two-time James Beard Award finalist from Charleston’s Cypress and Artisan Meat Share, is moving here to join the Kindreds as chef de cuisine for Hello Sailor.
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Deihl’s move to the Charlotte area is a shot across the bow in the Southern food world, signaling that the Kindreds’ ambitions for their second restaurant may be more than a simple lakeside spot. Joe Kindred will continue to oversee both restaurants, but Deihl will be in charge of the food at Hello Sailor.
“Chef Craig and I became fast friends years ago when he was in town for an event in Charlotte,” Kindred said in a statement. “I always have admired and been inspired by his passion and commitment to his craft. We were looking for like-minded, strong, creative leaders to join our team.”
First announced last November, the Kindreds had expected to open Hello Sailor, in the former location of the Rusty Rudder, early this year. The plan was to offer dockside dining and drinks, with some focus on smoking meats as well.
The choice of Deihl for a fish-focused spot is a little surprising. After training under legendary Charleston chef Donald Barickman at Magnolias, Deihl became executive chef at Cypress and got serious about charcuterie – curing specialty meat – about a decade ago. With chef-partner Bob Cook, Deihl opened Artisan Meat Share, acclaimed by Bon Appetit as “one of the best sandwich shops in the country,” revered for specialties like porchetta and lamb bacon. Deihl is training to be part of the U.S. team headed to the World Butchers’ Challenge next year in Ireland and still plans to take part.
Things took a turn this spring, however. First, Cypress closed when the building was sold. A week later, owners Hospitality Management Group, Inc. announced the closing of Artisan Meat Share as well, prompting howls in Charleston’s red-hot food world. Cook has since gone to Edmund’s Oast.
At the time, Deihl said in a statement that he was looking forward to time with his family (which includes two children), who had been “very forgiving of my schedule over the years.”
But also around that time, Charleston City Paper’s Kinsey Gidick wrote that Deihl had lamented his struggles with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control: Its regulations were making it hard to keep doing the meat curing he wanted to do. (His cured meats are expected to be part of his work for the Kindreds.)
For Charlotte restaurant watchers, Deihl’s hire may have another angle: Potential attention from the James Beard Foundation restaurant awards.
Joe Kindred has been a Beard semifinalist for regional Best Chef twice, in 2016 and 2017, though he hasn’t made the shorter finalist list. (The Kindred restaurant was named to Bon Appetit’s list of the 10 hottest new restaurants in the country in 2015.)
Deihl has made it to the finalist list twice: In 2011, when Andrea Reusing of the Lantern in Chapel Hill won (over other finalists Hugh Acheson, Linton Hopkins, Edward Lee and John Fleer and in 2012, when Acheson and Hopkins tied (over Lee, Deihl and Joseph Lenn).
Asked Tuesday why he chose to leave Charleston for Charlotte, Deihl said he had talked to a lot of chefs around the country, but wanted to partner with the Kindreds for both their goals and their family-first attitude.
“I am not a big city guy, and wanted to stay rooted in the South,” he said in an email to The Observer.
“The area is still fresh and up and coming. Another bonus was my alma mater Johnson and Wales University being located in Charlotte. I love to teach, so that could be a good opportunity, too.”