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15 Min with Emily Hahn

January 2016
15 Min with Emily Hahn
PHOTOGRAPHER: 
With a pair of restaurants—Warehouse and Parlor Deluxe—under her command, chef Emily Hahn doesn’t get a lot of down time. We spoke with her about juggling two kitchens and being named one of Charleston’s top five rising-star chefs by Food & Wine    

CM: What’s your daily routine?
EH:
I’m responsible for the kitchens at Warehouse and Parlor Deluxe. I get to Parlor early in the morning to set up—we’re open from noon to midnight. Then, after working out Parlor’s daily waffle and hot dog specials, I head over to Warehouse for the evening shift and stay to help close up. But I’m really lucky: I have a very loyal Warehouse back-of-house staff, many of whom have devoted time on days off to helping me at the other kitchen.

CM: Does that leave any time for you?
EH:
My spare time is few and far between. I spend every Monday doing something fun or lazy with my best friend, my three-year-old chocolate Lab, Triggerfish. We go to Sullivan’s Island as often as possible—Station 27 or 28, wherever is less crowded. I like to get about six hours of sleep at night, and I take some enjoyment from running. It helps keep me sane. Right now I’m married to my food—and I have a great work family.

CM: Do you think being a female chef in Charleston is any different than the male experience?
EH:
I try at all costs to avoid the “being a female chef” phrase. At the end of the day, gender in the kitchen doesn’t make a difference. And there are more and more strong women in the industry coming out on top.

CM:  However, you have been part of a few Bad Bitches pop-up dinners to help raise scholarship money for women in
the industry.
EH:
Yes, and if I had the time, I’d be 100 percent more involved. I’d love to travel with them. Sarah Adams, Randi Weinstein, and Kelly Kleisner are on an awesome path. Their events are also great ways for women to network and make friends in the field. But I don’t think they’re trying to pit men against women—it’s about good collaboration.

CM: You post regularly on Instagram. Do you think using social media can be beneficial for chefs?
EH:
When I first started at Warehouse, Instagram was a way to put myself out there and showcase my work. I see it as a way to share my life with people, especially since most of my time is spent in the kitchen. I post pictures of dishes I’m really proud of. And when a user like the chefs’ apparel company Hedley & Bennett likes a photo, I get an immediate sense of, “Holy shit! Someone global is seeing what little old me is doing! I’m out there!”  

CM: Your feed can be pretty funny, too.
EH:
I like to have fun. And my kitchen is a place where I want to be surrounded by people I can laugh with. Whether it’s dancing or telling a joke and having a good belly laugh—you need those moments. We take our job seriously, but the intensity has to be broken up every now and then.

CM: The website Eater also named you Charleston’s Best Chef of 2015. What’s being in the spotlight like?
EH:
It’s super cool to be recognized. But when I hear that someone in the press wants to speak with me, my gut reaction is, “I just want to cook the food!” The best compliment is when a person dining at one of my restaurants tries something I made and says that he or she can tell there’s a lot of heart behind it.

CM: Where do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years?
EH:
I can finally say that after a decade in and out of Charleston, this is a place I truly want to grow old with. I’d like to buy a house, settle down a little. I’ll still be cooking, of course, and I hope to have my own restaurant. I don’t ever want to not be in a kitchen. My stepfather once told me to pick a career that I’d still be happy doing at age 60. I want to be in a kitchen as long as I can stand.

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