May 4, 2010

Congrats to Chef Sean Brock of McCrady's - James Beard "Best Chef Southeast"

As with everyone we work with, we define a campaign, then everything we do from press releases to email blasts to graphic design to events to even websites carry forward that overall campaign theme.

Example: our campaign, internally, for Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene back in 2006 - 2008 was "Linton Loves You More than Your Grandmother" -- (okay, so we don't say that outside the four walls of our office, but when you think back about the stories that came out about Linton, you kind of get the point. It was the beginning of the media focus on canning, preserving and pickling...

Similar story -- A few years ago we received a call from Sean Brock...he had left Nashville's Capitol Grille at The Hermitage Hotel for the then 224-year-old McCrady's in Charleston. We are often asked what our relationship is with folks - I guess you would call it a "case study" of sorts. The deal with Sean is that when he arrived in Charleston he was really young, and really enthusiastic about using science to make food realize its fullest potential. Deal is, a lot of the hype focused on his use of science...not on the whys but on the hows, if you will. Our job was to use public relations and graphic design to tell a different story. The story we told was about "The Dirt Farmer Chef" (I personally had a lot of other names for the campaign but co-worker Kempten made me keep this one squeaky clean).

First up, we wrote the story via the media kit -- this media kit was so fun to write and produce - it included stints hanging out with Sean and his pigs on Wadmalaw Island, eating pickled eggs and beef jerky. Here is the old kit - we wrote it, handled all the photos (Jeff / Garnish Photography), pitched the stories, developed events and designed some pretty compelling visuals to go along with all promotions.

We handled the redevelopment of the restaurant's website which launched in November of 2008. We won the Bronze Medal Horizon Interactive Award in 2009 for the McCrady's site. (The Green Olive Media Design Team won four awards for sites that year from Horizon -- including a gold medal for the Richard Blais site.)

We worked with Sean on telling the campaign story of "The Dirt Farmer Chef" and this is a snapshot of placements:

Filmed the Food Network's "The Next Great Chef" in 2008 and then "Iron Chef America" in 2009.

(This was a time in which Sean was nominated for James Beard "Rising Star Chef" award along with a couple other GOM clients.)

We traveled a lot with Sean (the owners of McCrady's didn't exactly love how much he was out of the kitchen, but I think it paid off). We pitched for placement in events all over the south from the Viking Range Headquarters in Greenwood, MS to the Chelsea Market in NYC so that Sean could tell people about Jimmy Red corn and go on about seed saving. We booked media desk side know...the general PR stuff.

We worked with Sean to place him in articles which focused less on molecular gastronomy and more on the farm-to-table work of which he was most proud:
Placement of a story in the Wall Street Journal on his creamed kimchee (with lovely supporting photos from Jeff). This highlighted Sean's love of mixing southern ingredients (mustard greens, collards) with Korean flavors and technique (the result of too much time spent boozing with Chef David Chang).

I remember when Sean called to tell me that it was D-Day for his first pigs -- he was like a little kid. Here is the blog post with pics of his babies. Of course we spread the heck out of this sentiment via social media.

We worked with our great friend, writer John Kessler and Beverly Stephen for several months to tell the story of the first farm Sean ran, which, thanks to Beverly, was featured in Food Arts (also shot by Jeff) in June 2009.

We pitched the heck out of the State of South Carolina g-men to help get the message out about this chef who cared so much about the history of the food to eventually yield the "Discover South Carolina" campaign.

We planned crazy fun events pairing Sean with our other clients at the time -- pairing great chefs together sometimes really strengthens the message....we hooked him up with Richard Blais on the heels of his 'Top Chef' run...with John B. Shields and Karen Urie of Town House in Virginia, Anne Quatrano in Atlanta, etc...

We drove our pals at Southern Living, Martha Stewart, and JJ Goode crazy until we could get them to give nods....

Of course we always tried to keep the stories on brand - and on the campaign we were focused on - i.e., "Southern Comfort." Details Magazine...great to spread the message beyond the foodie mags.

The "Dirt Farmer Chef" campaign ended in 2009 - we no longer handle PR for McCrady's...the owners wanted to go with someone living in Charleston.

We are still close friends with Sean (and still occasionally fall victim to his ever-present pocket stash of whiskey).

We are very proud of Sean. The campaign message has changed with the new guard, but to us, he is still the chain wallet-wearing, southwest Virginia country redneck who we love with all of our hearts (only now he has the money to buy Billy Reid.