Anative of Columbus, Ohio, Ken Vedrinski is living large in Low Country now as executive/chef owner of Sienna, a contemporary Italian restaurant located on Daniel Island near Charleston, South Carolina. Awards? When he was sous chef at the Four Seasons in Chicago and at Atlanta's Swissôtel, both his restaurants made Esquire's "Best New Restaurants" list. Conde Nast Traveler gave South Carolina's The Woodlands Resort and Inn North America's only perfect food score when he was executive chef. Sienna was a 2004 Esquire pick, with John Mariani declaring "Vedrinski is one of the best chefs in America."
Looks like rawhide bones are a staple in your household.
This is Abby. She's a fiveyearold Lab who loves to nose around in my fridge.
Do you ever take her to work?
Sure. I tie her out back. People have to walk past her as they come into the restaurant from the parking lot.
We know about downtown Charleston, with its historic homes and cool restaurants. Tell us about Daniel Island.
It's an upscale island community that sits five miles from downtown as the crow flies. It's 15 minutes by car.
Is Sienna close to your house?
It's five minutes away
So you could walk to your restaurant?
I drive, but I work out most mornings before I go in.
What's your routine?
I get up, eat some yogurt, and hit the gym. Then it's home, a quick snack, and then I head off to work.
And you'll have "family meal" there?
Not us. We get takeout Chinese or Mexican food from a street vendor.
You look like you're in great shape.
I'd better be. I'm doing the Cooper River Bridge 10-K soon.
That's a famous race. No wonder you work out so much.
It's important for the restaurant, too. Customers want to eat healthy, and they want to see a chef who looks healthy.
So is your day off a workout-fest?
No. Sundays—we're closed on Sundays—are all about wine and conversation. We start at my house sampling cool unknown wines.
And move on to where?
We usually go ethnic—Kim Long's, a hardcore Vietnamese place with terrific pho. I hit it with a bunch of chefs and we eat like kings for $60.
We recall warm summers in Charleston.
Warm? It's an inferno!
How do you and Abby handle it?
I take her on my boat—a 22-foot deck boat. She loves going to the beach.
Who else goes along?
Friends and...I'm a product of my environment. You date who you work with, although it's tougher when you're no longer 20 years old.
So you host a floating party.
It is if you show up by 11 a.m. That's when we depart.
A nearby barrier island. We bring along the coolers, the hibachi, usually there's some yakitori we've prepped out earlier.
Now this is a chef's day off!
Hey, the quality of life here is high: Low cost of living, not much traffic, a beautiful island...
And now a fine restaurant, too. Chef, the Daniel Island lifestyle sounds plenty good to us.
Photography by: Wilson Baker/Black Star