In the Field

6 Chefs Bring Talent to Whiskey After Dark

By: Isabelle Adler

Spend a star-filled night in York County, South Carolina, tasting world-class whiskey paired with chef-driven plates. On May 17, the Local Palate, in partnership with Breakthru Beverage and D’Artagnan, will bring the much-loved Charleston-based Whiskey After Dark to the Charlotte suburb. Hosted at the Dairy Barn in Fort Mill, the event allows guest to take part in the opportunity to sample more than 100 labels of whiskey, all accompanied by dishes prepared by six chefs from around the East Coast. From Food Network stars to Michelin-trained chefs, get to know the culinary talent behind the newest iteration of Whiskey After Dark.

Chris Coleman | Goodyear House in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Old Town in Rock Hill, South Carolina

 Tyler Lee smiling while he tastes his food

A native of Charlotte, chef Chris Coleman has a long-standing passion for fresh ingredients and hard work. At 21 years old, Coleman was promoted to head chef of the historic fine-dining restaurant McNinch House. Now, as the executive chef at Goodyear House in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood, he maintained the restaurant’s innovative cuisine while keeping true to his home state’s love for the classics. When his two children and wife can’t find him in the kitchen, it’s possible to find him on the Food Network, claiming wins on programs such as Chopped, Beating Bobby Flay, and Alex vs. America. Wherever he’s found, Coleman is cooking with love. 

Tyler Lee | Leroy Springs & Co. in Fort Mill, South Carolina

 Tyler Lee smiling in a blue shirt.

The event’s host chef brings rustic Southern charm and hospitality to the Dairy Barn. Beginning his foray in the kitchen as a dishwasher at Swing 1000, the nationally recognized swing dancing supper club, Lee worked his way up from washing to serving to plating dishes. Throughout Lee’s traveled in the upcoming years, he continued working in many restaurants, filling both front- and back-of-house positions. Service in the US Army from 2000 to 2008 put Lee’s restaurant career on hold. Upon returning to civilian life, however, Lee found his way back to his first love, restaurants. He is currently the food and beverage director for Leroy Springs and Co., which caters to many venues around the Midlands.

Eric Burleson | Eldr in Asheville, North Carolina

Eric Burleson, chef of Eldr in Asheville

Born in a small mountain town in western North Carolina, Eric Burleson is the executive chef and co-owner of the restaurant Eldr in Asheville, North Carolina. Burleson works alongside his restauranteur partner Carson Lucci in the magical, almost fairytale-like cottage restaurant. His passion for ingredients that reflect the history of Appalachian foodways is evidenced on the menu. Farm fresh, seasonal vegetables from nearby farmers are menu highlights. With strong tethers to his roots and inspiration from abroad, Burleson combines flavors from his Southern home with refined tastes from around the world. Burleson’s philosophy on food is that of a whimsical artist, always looking to create something new and exciting.

Jordan Keen | Beach Shop & Grille in Topsail Beach, North Carolina

Jordan Keen plating food

Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, chef Jordan Keen has more than 20 years of experience in a professional kitchen. His love for cooking has its roots in family: At a young age, Keen began cooking as a way of taking care of his siblings. From these humble beginnings, Keen worked hard through the years to climb the ranks in kitchens. He trained under several chefs, mastering styles ranging from French to Italian and Asian. This versatility and experience with a number of flavors and approaches to cooking awarded him the Wright Chef title in 2020. Keen now lives in Topsail Beach, North Carolina, as the executive chef of the Beach Shop & Grill. His approach to food pulls on his decades of classical training as he pairs the freshest of ingredients with an innovative spin.

Chris Reynolds | The Imperial in Washington, DC

Chris Reynolds in a chef's coat and an apron

Working his way through the kitchen from line cook to sous to executive chef, Chris Reynolds now helms The Imperial in Washington, DC. This refined restaurant serves elegant preparations of whole fish with smoked puttanesca and crispy capers, venison tartare, raw towers, and more. Reynolds crafted a menu that highlights comfortable flavors in a sophisticated atmosphere. Dishes put inspired spins on 1900s-inspired surf and turf fare, ranging from the likes of Atlantic halibut with Carolina Gold rice midlins, shiitakes, and miso fumet to beef wellington with buttered leeks, fingerling potatoes, and black truffle jus. When asked to characterize The Imperial’s food in an interview with The Washington Post, Reynolds described it as “Southern fat boy French food.”



tasting whiskey at Whiskey After Dark

Ready for a taste? Click here to get your tickets to Whiskey After Dark – York Co.

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