The Beaufort Grocery Company has become an integral part of the Beaufort community, but you haven’t always lived there. What brought you to eastern North Carolina in the beginning?

My aunt and uncle had a second home in Beaufort and my dad had a couple of fraternity brothers from NC State that owned businesses in Beaufort. I had been out of culinary school for several years and at that  time was the Executive Chef at Guest Quarters Hotel in Charlotte.  One of those fraternity brother called about a chefs position at The Cedar’s Inn in Beaufort and wanted to know if I would be interested in an interview with the owners.  Upon our arrival, as we turned onto Turner St, my wife Wendy and I  both looked at each other and said, ” We are definately moving here! What a great place to raise a family.”  Our daughter, Mary Margaret, was two years old at the time.  And the rest is history!

You’ve been in the business now for over 20 years. What keeps you inspired in the kitchen?

Our customers, our community and our love of food. We are very fortunate to live in such a great community where everyone knows everything about everybody.  We have neighbors, friends and customers bring us all sorts of locally grown vegetables, fruits and seafood.  And not to mention, Wendy and I love to cook all the time and love having fresh ingredients to experiment with.

Your patrons appreciate your dedication to serving fresh, local cuisine. Are there any upcoming seasonal summer food items you’re looking forward to incorporating into your menu?

Squash blossoms, local figs, heirloom tomatoes, collard sprouts, okra and whatever comes from the ocean.

If someone had one day to experience the culinary side of Beaufort, where should they go and what should they eat?

Our favorite thing to do is to take Steve Bishop’s Catamaran to Cape Lookout for the day cruise. Catered by Beaufort Grocery Company, of course.  When you return to land and have gotten all cleaned up there are several great restaurants and bars to go to.  For such a small town, Beaufort has some of the best restaurants in North Carolina.  Our favorites are Blue Moon Bistro, Aqua, The Cedar’s Inn, Black Beard’s Grill and Grog, The Rhum Bar at Stillwater, Back Street Pub and Royal James.

Do you have any future plans or endeavors you’re looking forward to?

None as of now; however, we have in the past. You never know what’s around the corner. Maybe travel and bring back what we can to Beaufort.

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Erin Reitz is a former digital content specialist at Our State.