Chef Craig Deihl is the executive chef at Cypress in Charleston, South Carolina. This two-time James Beard award nominee and one-time semi-finalist is often applauded for his rich interpretation of southern cuisine, all stemming from his relationship with food and the influence it has had on his life. Deihl grew up in a quintessential American household on a family farm in Pennsylvania, eating dinner at the table every night and gathering and preparing food together. This family table-time ritual remains one of the biggest influences he has had as a chef.
Chef Deihl started in the food industry as a busboy at the leading "white table cloth" restaurant in his hometown. That Christmas he received a KitchenAid mixer as a gift…the one he still uses today. He moved to the kitchen as soon as he could when he turned 16 and started learning the trade. Throughout high school he competed in culinary competitions, earning a scholarship to Johnson & Wales University. It was this culinary school (in Charleston at that time) and Magnolia's Restaurant that brought him to South Carolina. After five years, he collaborated on the opening of Cypress with the same restaurant group. He was able to oversee the kitchen design and opening process.
Cypress opened in 2001 with a vision to provide the entire quality package, from experience and atmosphere, to the food. The edgy up-scale décor in the transformed warehouse features exposed brick and soaring ceilings making the open kitchen and 21-foot wine wall a perfect match with the progressive/traditional fare from Chef Deihl's menu.
In 2007, Deihl completed the Cypress cookbook filled with tips, techniques and great recipes in his American and global food-style. The book shares some of the restaurant's favorite dishes as well as tips on cooking "Cypress-style" with his favorite ingredients and techniques. Three years later (in 2010) he was named Chef of the Year by the Charleston chapter of the American Culinary Federation.
Chef Deihl's philosophies:
- How people relate to food is what matters most.
- His style is southern food with a Pennsylvania accent, following his mother's lead.
- His favorite flavor profile that showcases his simple, eclectic style is a combination of hot, sour, salty, sweet and bitter.