BROOKS REITZ BRINGS CULINARY EXPERTISE TO PALMETTO BLUFF
By his own definition Brooks Reitz is an entrepreneur, but that general term lacks the true scope of his successful career.
In the competitive and highly regarded culinary scene of Charleston, S.C., he co-owns three restaurants with partners Tim Mink and Kelly Dougherty, his own cocktail mixer brand, the Jack Rudy Cocktail Company and has a massive following on Instagram for his short, fun cooking videos.
He’s also coming to Palmetto Bluff as the October Artist of the Month, visiting Oct. 4-8. Ticket holders will be able to learn from Reitz as he hosts classes Oct. 7-8 aimed at making the home cook’s life easier with weeknight meal solutions and effortless entertaining.
Growing up in Western Kentucky, Reitz started in restaurants early as a bus boy, and continued serving and bartending in college. Hooked on the restaurant business, he moved to Louisville to become a part of the team at 21C Museum Hotel and rose through the ranks to general manager.
He transitioned to Charleston, branching out to other restaurants in the area and working as the general manager of the Ordinary, a James Beard Award Winner for Best New Restaurant. At the same time, he began to thoughtfully develop Jack Rudy Cocktail Company, selling non-alcoholic artisan drink mixers and bar accessories around the world.
Reitz had always desired his own restaurant and realized this dream with Charleston institution Leon’s Oyster Shop.
“My long-term goal was to own my own restaurant,” he said. “I didn’t want to just work with someone else. We went to New Orleans and did research to get inspiration and had a sort of zany idea. We thought, ‘Why don’t we serve oysters and fried chicken together?’ ”
It was a concept that hadn’t been done, and in fact, the business partners had noticed a surprising lack of fried chicken joints in Charleston. They opened to accolades, voted one of Eater’s Best New Restaurants in America and Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants in America. Their chef was a semifinalist for James Beard’s Rising Star Chef.
The next business venture was Little Jack’s Tavern, famous for its “Best Burger in America,” a title earned from Bon Appetit recognition and a win at the South Beach Food & Wine Burger Bash. The partners also opened Melfi’s, an Italian hot spot for fresh pasta and wood-fired pizza.
All these accolades won the restaurants great press, but the important part for Reitz was pleasing his clientele.
“The awards are great and good for one’s ego, but it doesn’t mean anything if there aren’t customers,” he said.
Palmetto Bluff is hosting Reitz for two classes: Family Style Meals Made Easy and Southern Pantry and Freezer Meals. He started developing videos during the COVID pandemic on his Instagram that were approachable and quick.
Reitz says: “There’s a lot of cooking content out there, but some of it’s just too complicated. I’m the cook in the house, so I use my wife as the barometer. She wants to cook more and if she can replicate the recipes, they work.”
He expanded this simple approach into the development of these two classes.
“The majority of people want to cook but are too busy,” he said. “They need simple, healthy recipes that they can cook for their family.”
Family Style Meals Made Easy will teach guests to prepare party food before the event to allow everyone to participate.
“I hate cooking when people are over. I want to be finished with that and the kitchen clean,” says Reitz.
The concept of preparing food ahead of time and serving it room temperature was inspired by a friend of his parents that plated her dishes well ahead of guest’s arrival.
“Even if it was a steak, you ate it two hours after it was cooked,” he said. “It seemed a very European way of eating and it just struck me as a young kid.”
Southern Pantry and Freezer Meals will teach guests strategies to conquer weeknight cooking and introduce them to some of Reitz’ favorite southern pantry staples.
For both events, he’ll be highlighting his famous Jack Rudy Bloody Mary Mix and hand-crafted margaritas. There will be a pop-up shop celebrating 10 years of the brand, with options to stock the bar well ahead of the holidays.
For more information, visit palmettobluff.com.