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Restaurants: Nosh finds all the right ingredients

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Listening to Keplyn Cerasaro talk about how the team came together at Nosh, Pawleys Island’s newest restaurant, the word that comes to mind is “serendipity.”

Cerasaro and her husband, Tommy, a doctor at Waccamaw Urology Associates, opened the upscale eatery at the Hammock Shops this summer. There have been some hurdles and major changes in the months since. For example, Chef David Bardari, who helped conceptualize the restaurant, is no longer involved.

But in the end, everything came together as perfectly as Nosh’s fried lobster ravioli or a slice of its heavenly red velvet cake. Cerasaro couldn’t be happier with her staff.

“We’re all just like family here,” she said. And they’re all working hard to try to turn the restaurant’s Pavilion back into a nighttime hot spot, with live bands such as Deas Guys and Ten Toes Up playing on the weekends.

Everybody pitches in, does whatever needs to be done and they all have a good time while they’re doing it.

“There’s no ego here. We just work,” said Rob Doerr, director of food and beverage. “You’d be amazed how we get along.”

More than 700 meals came out of the kitchen on a recent Friday night and “everybody was laughing the whole time,” he added. On a night like that in most kitchens, “everybody would be at each other’s throats.”

Instead they work with the kind of familiarity and coordination it usually takes years to create. Of course most of the team have worked together before at some point in their careers.

“I like to call this the dream team,” said Doerr, who worked at The Mayor’s House and The Reserve Club. “I can do the paperwork and know the food is always going to be the same. Normally I’m watching every single plate go out the door.”

Nosh’s menu is a fusion of Southern and Italian dishes, and “nonlinear dining” is encouraged. The menu is made up of small plate items and sharing is encouraged.

Jermaine Taliaferro, 34, executive chef, cooked at Frank’s for more than a decade. He has been in the restaurant business more than half his life, having started out as a dishwasher at age 14, trained with Bardari at the Community House Restaurant and worked his way up the ranks.

Helping Taliaferro run the kitchen is Leonard “Lenny” Edwards. The two grew up together and Edwards also worked at the Community House and Frank’s, starting out as a dishwasher when he was a boy. They’ve been competing with each other for years, first over girls, now over who makes the best food. But it’s clear they love it and the food is proof that customers benefit from their private contest.

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Cerasaro suspects fate brought Edwards to her. She’s at the restaurant most every day now and is learning to do every job there, but initially she wasn’t much involved with the running of the place.

Then one day she was waiting to meet someone at the restaurant and found herself short a chef. At a loss for what to do, she offered to help Taliaferro cook. She cooks all the time at home and didn’t realize how different working in a restaurant kitchen was.

But one look at Taliaferro’s face was enough to tell her he was skeptical of her plan. So she asked if he knew anyone and he mentioned Edwards, who happened to be on vacation from his job at a Georgetown restaurant. His contract was up and he was thinking about a change.

“Cooking is my passion,” he said. But he was burned out and on the verge of giving it up as a profession. “I just didn’t want to do it anymore.”

He had applied for mill work. Then Cerasaro called and in an hour he was in the kitchen at Nosh and he stayed. It’s the best job he’s ever had, he said, largely because of Cerasaro’s management style.

She believes in empowering her employees, allowing them to let their creativity flow and make decisions for themselves. But she also expects accountability. It’s a system that seems to work for all involved.

“I love to see people’s faces light up because they’re being allowed to do what they’re there to do, what they’re trained for,” she said. And given some freedom, she has found they work harder and exceed all expectations.

Rounding out Nosh’s management team are Dalton Todd in charge of operations; John Marshall Williams, who is responsible for the decor, menus, wine lists and “restaurant etiquette;” and John Hubbard, who books and promotes the bands that perform.

Nosh has had several successful weekends of performances so far and “everybody is happy to have that type of atmosphere and the live entertainment again,” Hubbard said. Louis’s, which occupied the building several years back “was famous for that and the fun deck. We’re trying to bring that back to Pawleys Island.”

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