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September 26, 2023

Photo recap: Meet the Chef with Lewis Donald

Fine dining meets barbecue at this very special dinner

by TM Petaccia

Lewis Donald carves quail at the firepit as part of the amuse course. TM Petaccia/UP

The well-traveled Lewis Donald honed his cooking chops starting in his native Cleveland, Ohio, and added stops in California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Georgia, and West Virginia before winding up in Charlotte. Along the way, he worked in a diverse series of restaurants, including a family-owned Italian restaurant, the iconic The Greenbrier, and Carmel Country Club. Now as the chef/owner of Sweet Lew’s Barbecue, his professional life has taken another turn, recognized as one of the Southeast’s leading pitmasters.

Last night, all those skills united at our Meet the Chef dinner. Fine dining and barbecue came together with ingredients as diverse as caviar and burnt ends. As attendees savored their plates, they were treated to personal stories about his family, his development as a chef, his growth as a community leader, and his goals for the future. Below is an excerpt of the food and fun guests enjoyed.

Thank you to our sponsor, Vulcan Equipment, for its continuing support of local chefs and farmers. Our next Meet the Chef dinner is with Sam Diminich at Restaurant Constance on October 16. As always, UP paid subscribers will get early-bird access to discounted tickets. Not yet a UP subscriber? Sign up today for exclusive early access to our events as well as our ongoing independent food journalism.

The evening’s menu, along with the opening bread service of smoked biscuits, spiced crackers, and cornbread with honey butter. TM Petaccia/UP


Lewis Donald starts guests off with a “caviar bump.” TM Petaccia/UP


Amuse course with smoked and grilled duck, quail, and pineapple with a collard green/green tomato chimichurri. TM Petaccia/UP


Salad of green beans, red potato chips, almonds, and caramelized onions with a poached egg dressing. TM Petaccia/UP


Bacon-crusted salmon, cauliflower textures, tomato jam, EVOO. TM Petaccia/UP


Butter-braised burnt ends, creamed collard greens, smoked carrots, Carolina Sweet Heat. TM Petaccia/UP


UP editor Kristen Wile asks chef Lewis Donald about his journey and what’s next. TM Petaccia/UP


In collaboration with pastry chef Laney Jahkel-Parrish, zucchini snack cake, brown butter buttercream, spiced apple butter, toasted oats, and pickled apples. TM Petaccia/UP


Laney Jahkel-Parrish makes a special dessert birthday presentation to attendee Daniel Austin of Austin Kidd Farm. TM Petaccia/UP


Closing the door on a great evening. TM Petaccia/UP

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