Chef Michael Toscano had firmly established himself in the New York culinary scene, most notably when opening Perla in Greenwich Village with restaurateur Gabriel Stulman. But last year, he and his family moved to Charleston, SC, in pursuit of a different life. We talked with Toscano about the Charleston restaurant scene, the challenge of relocating as a chef, and the opening of his Italian restaurant Le Farfalle.
What prompted you to leave New York? A combination of things; first and foremost Caitlin (my wife and business partner) and I wanted a better quality of life for us and our kids. We also saw a lot of opportunity moving to Charleston to create the business and lifestyle we had dreamed about for so long.
In the year you spent scoping out the Charleston restaurant scene, what were you looking to discover? I spent a great deal of time there in advance, traveling to and from the area for consulting jobs. On those trips, I would stop in Charleston and check out available restaurant spaces. It took eight months to find the right one. I also did my best to connect with local farmers, fishermen, and shrimpers, with the goal of forming relationships with local food vendors, so that when Le Farfalle opened, we’d be able to tap into the bounty of Charleston, despite not cooking Lowcountry cuisine.
How does Le Farfalle fit into the Charleston dining landscape? We fit into the Charleston dining landscape because we work endlessly to support our local farmers and vendors and also to provide an authentic Charleston experience for our neighborhood and anyone visiting. To accomplish true Italian cuisine, the cooking must work hand in hand with the local ingredients. Le Farfalle merges the traditions of Italian cuisine with the bounty of the Lowcountry.
How has the opening gone? The opening has been fantastic. We feel it has been well received by the community. No surprises in the opening other than normal restaurant unknowns during construction — and the fact that Charlestonians love white truffles just as much as New Yorkers!