Restaurateur Carl Sobocinski's secret to Southern hospitality

The Dish: Restaurateur Carl Sobocinski

Born and raised in New Hampshire, Carl Sobocinski first headed south to attend college at Clemson University to study architecture. But he soon realized his true passion was hospitality. In the mid-90s, he took a leap of faith and opened his first restaurant, The 858 in Greenville, South Carolina.

That one venue launched his Table 301 Restaurant Group, now with 10 signature restaurants covering a wide range of cuisines from Soby's New South to Passarelle French Bistro to Jianna's Modern Italian. They've even opened a juice bar and a food truck. 

Here are some of Sobocinski's signature recipes: 

Lowcountry shrimp

Ingredients

½ lb Country Ham,* sliced 1⁄8 inch thick
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 lbs Shrimp (21-25 ct),* peeled and deveined
1½ cups Chardonnay
6 Kiwifruit, peeled and diced
1 pint Heavy Cream
1 tsp Cornstarch
1 Tbs Water
Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
*For sources of ham and shrimp, see the New South Pantry

Directions

• Dice the ham. Heat the olive oil in a large  skillet. Add the ham and red pepper flakes. Sauté until the ham becomes slightly crisp and has given its flavor to the oil. Add the shrimp and sauté until the shrimp are half cooked, about  2 minutes. Remove the shrimp and reserve. Add the wine to the pan and simmer to reduce by half. Add the kiwifruit  and the heavy cream and simmer until the liquid is reduced  by half again. Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are completely cooked, about 2 more minutes. Mix together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. With the sauce boiling, drizzle in the slurry until the sauce becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
•Serve with crusty French bread or jalapeño cornbread and garnish with fresh diced kiwifruit. 

Fried green tomatoes with pimiento cheese

Ingredients

3-4 Green Beefsteak Tomatoes
3 Eggs
1 cup Milk
2 cups Flour
4 cups Golden Dipt® Breader
Vegetable Oil
Salt

For the pimiento cheese fondue: 

4 cups Heavy Cream
¼ cup Diced Pimientos, drained
1 lb Sharp Yellow Cheddar Cheese, shredded
¼ cup Soby's Creole seasoning , see page 200
¼ cup Cornstarch
2 Tbs Water
Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Directions

•Slice off and discard the top and bottom of each tomato. Slice the tomatoes into 18 ¼-inch thick slices. Whisk together the eggs and milk to make an egg wash. Dust the tomato slices with flour and tap off the excess. Place the slices, a few at a time, into the egg wash. Then coat the slices with Golden Dipt. Pour vegetable oil into a skillet to about 1 inch deep. Heat oil on medium-high heat until it sizzles when a small amount of flour is dropped in. Fry the tomato slices in small batches, until they turn golden brown and crisp. Flip and fry on the other side the same way. Remove the cooked tomatoes to a plate lined with paper towels. Season the tomatoes with salt and place in a warm oven until all tomatoes are cooked.
• Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the pimientos,
cheddar cheese, and spice mix. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a separate container, whisk together the cornstarch and water to form a slurry. When the cheese mixture is simmering, whisk in the slurry until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
• Stack three tomatoes and ladle the steaming pimiento cheese fondue over the stack. Serve hot. As a variation, add a small dollop of Spicy Pimiento Cheese (see page 63) between the layers for even more cheesy goodness!

Garlic and cheddar biscuits

Ingredients

2 cups Flour
1 Tbs Baking Powder
1 tsp Table Salt
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 Tbs Granulated Garlic
½ cup Shortening
½ cup Sharp Yellow Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 cup Buttermilk
2 Tbs Paprika
1 Tbs Kosher Salt
1 Tbs Granulated Garlic
4 Tbs Butter, melted

Directions

• Preheat the oven to 400ºF and grease a baking pan. Place the flour, baking powder, table salt, nutmeg, and garlic into a food processor. Add the shortening, and using the pulse button, work the shortening into the dry ingredients until they become crumbly. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and mix in the buttermilk with your hands. Do not overwork the dough. Drop the dough from an ice cream scoop onto the greased baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Mix the paprika, kosher salt, and garlic together and reserve. When the biscuits come out of the oven, brush them with the melted butter and sprinkle lightly with the spice mixture. 

Crab cakes with rémoulade

Ingredients

2 lbs lump crabmeat
1 Tbs Italian Parsley, chopped
½ tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves, chopped
Pinch Ground White Pepper
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
Pinch Ground Mustard Seed
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
½ cup Panko*
¾ cup Mayonnaise
1 Egg, whole
2 Egg Whites
Olive Oil

For the rémoulade: 

2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Shallot, minced
2 Tbs Capers, drained, chopped
6 Anchovy Filets, chopped
1 Lemon, juiced
½ cup White Wine
¼ cup Italian Parsley, minced
1 ⁄3 cup Creole Mustard
2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups Mayonnaise

Directions

• Gently pick through the crab and remove any shells. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined, taking care not to break up the crab any more than necessary. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Scoop about 1⁄3 cup of the mix into the hot pan for each crab cake. Do not overcrowd the pan. Flatten with a spatula to approximately ¾ inch thick. Cook the cakes until they are brown on one side. Gently flip and cook on the other side until the cakes are heated through. Prepare two to three crab cakes per person.
• Cook the shallots, capers, and anchovy filets in the olive oil on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Do not let the shallots brown. Add the lemon juice and white wine. Simmer until almost all the liquid is gone. Cool the shallot mixture. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and whisk in the parsley, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise. Keep the rémoulade covered in the refrigerator
until ready to serve.

White chocolate banana cream pie 

Ingredients

Tart Shell:
1¾ cups Flour
2 ⁄3 cup Sugar
½ lb Butter, cut into 1-inch
pieces, chilled
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

For the white chocolate pastry cream: 

1 Vanilla Bean, whole
1 cup Milk
¼ cup White Chocolate Chips
3 Tbs Cornstarch
¼ cup Sugar
¼ tsp Salt
2 Eggs

For the pie filling: 

2¼ cups Heavy Cream
½ cup Confectioners Sugar
¼ cup Crème de Banana
1 cup White Chocolate Pastry
Cream, chilled
6 Ripe Bananas
1 11-Inch Tart Shell,
baked and cooled
White Chocolate, thick
piece for garnish
Cocoa Powder

Directions

• Place the flour and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On low speed, add half the cold butter and mix for 30 seconds, then add the remaining butter. Continue to mix until all the butter is cut into the flour and the mix resembles sand. Lightly beat together the egg and the vanilla in a small bowl and add it to the flour and butter. Continue to mix until a dough ball is formed. If the dough does not form a ball after 1 minute, add a few drops of water. Remove the dough from the mixer. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Have ready an 11-inch removable-bottom tart mold. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 1⁄8-inch thick circle large enough to fit the mold. Press the dough into the tart mold. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Bake the crust for 16 to18 minutes or until it is golden brown and crisp.
• Pour the milk into a heavy bottom 2-qt saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back of a small knife. Add the seeds and pod halves to the milk. Heat the milk until it is about to boil. While the milk is heating, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, salt, and eggs until smooth. Temper  the egg mixture with one-quarter of the hot milk and then add it back to the pan. Whisk to combine. Continue to cook on medium heat stirring constantly. When the custard thickens, remove it from the heat and whisk in the white chocolate. Pour the pastry cream into a container and place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the cream so no skin forms. Refrigerate until completely cool.
• Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and crème de banana and whip to very stiff peaks. Place the cold pastry cream into another bowl and soften by mixing it with a rubber spatula. Slice the bananas into the pastry cream and stir to combine. Fold in the whipped cream. Mound the filling in the middle of the tart shell and smooth it down to the edge. Carefully cut the pie into 8 or 10 slices before garnishing. Using a vegetable peeler, shave enough white chocolate curls to cover the pastry cream. Dust the top with cocoa powder. Serve immediately or refrigerate.