Southern Chef Salute: Aaron Deal, Tristan, Charleston, SC

Trade tradition for bold flavor at Tristan in Charleston, South Carolina.
Carolanne Griffith Roberts

Ready, YouTube? The look on my face--at the first bite of pancetta-crusted white tuna basking in Parmesan-vanilla broth--goes like this: delight, awe, aah. The blending that executive chef Aaron Deal achieves by marrying those unlikely flavors is striking. Other gotta-taste courses at Tristan include pan-seared duck with heirloom baked beans and orange-chile marmalade, as well as the totally unexpected pot de crème, silky sweet with an infusion of rich, salty foie gras.

Aaron admits that he loves to surprise. Example: He pairs lamb and dark chocolate barbecue sauce. Intriguing. I try to dissect his culinary style; it’s not strictly Lowcountry, despite his lighter-than-most she-crab soup. We settle on next-generation Southern, and his charming grin widens. Wait and see, it says. Ready, YouTube? I’ll be comin’ back.

Tristan: 55 South Market Street; www.tristandining.com or (843) 534-2155. Three-course tasting menus begin at $35.