Governor McMaster Announces 2018 Slate of South Carolina Chef Ambassadors

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster today named the 2018 South Carolina Chef Ambassadors. Each year, chefs from across South Carolina are nominated to serve as the state’s culinary ambassadors and the governor chooses four to participate. Below is a list of the four South Carolina chefs chosen to serve as the state’s chef ambassadors in 2018:

  • Sarah McClure, executive chef at Southside Smokehouse in Landrum
  • Kiki Cyrus, owner and executive chef of Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles in Columbia
  • Heidi Vukov, owner and executive chef of Croissants Bistro & Bakery and Hook & Barrel in Myrtle Beach
  • Michelle Weaver, executive chef of Charleston Grill in Charleston

“These four women are among the best and brightest culinary stars in our state,” said Governor McMaster. “Being named an S.C. Chef Ambassador allows these chefs to shine a unique spotlight on not only their exceptional talents, but also on the destinations in South Carolina where they live and work. We encourage visitors and locals to make the trip and dine in each of their restaurants to see all that South Carolina has to offer.”

These chefs embody the best of South Carolina’s food scene, both in the quality of their provisions, as well as their dedication to incorporating healthy, local grown ingredients into their menus

“The Chef Ambassadors program was created three years ago as an effort to promote South Carolina as a culinary destination by highlighting chefs who use locally grown and harvested items on their menus and who offer distinctive flavors and tastes in their restaurants,” said Duane Parrish, executive director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism.

In 2018, the chefs will participate in a number of culinary, agriculture and tourism specific events throughout the Southeast, hosting cooking demonstrations and discussing the numerous offerings found in the cities in which their establishments are based.

"The Chef Ambassadors program is a celebration of local talent and local food,” said South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers.  "These gifted chefs showcase the delicious produce and products of South Carolina’s hardworking farmers, which is wonderful to see and even better to taste."

The 2018 South Carolina Chef Ambassadors are: 

Kiki Cyrus 

Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles

Columbia, SC

Owned by Kitwanda “Kiki” and Tyrone Cyrus, Kiki’s opened its doors in 2012 and has been serving delicious, homemade soul food dishes to raving customers ever since. Best known for our signature dish — four crispy fried chicken wings seasoned to perfection on top of a warm, Belgian waffle — Kiki’s also serves a variety of home-cooked meals, from fried green beans and sweet cream corn nuggets to smothered pork chops and salmon patties. Moreover, for dessert, Kiki’s famous red velvet waffle with cream cheese frosting is unmatched.

Customers from all over Columbia and surrounding cities return — not just for the food but for the atmosphere. Kiki’s pride ourselves on prompt service, friendly staff, and a family-friendly atmosphere. With events like open mic’ night and live jazz, Kiki’s is more than just a place to dine; it is a place to entertain, where everyone is family.


Sarah McClure 

Southside Smokehouse

Landrum, SC

Chef Sarah McClure received a BA in art history before deciding to become a chef. In Athens, GA, she worked under Chef Peter Dale at The National before coming back to her hometown to take over the kitchen at Southside and reinvigorate the family business with her new and exciting cuisine.

Heidi Vukov 

Croissants Bistro & Bakery

Myrtle Beach, SC

Heidi Vukov moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina in the early 1990’s, and shortly thereafter opened Croissants Bistro and Bakery in Myrtle Beach. Since then, she has been named South Carolina Restaurateur of the Year and Croissants Bistro & Bakery has become a destination restaurant on the South Carolina coast. Heidi lives in Myrtle Beach with her husband, Gary, and has four children scattered across the United States in Utah, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and California.

Michelle Weaver 

Charleston Grille

Charleston, SC

An Alabama native, Chef Weaver was raised with a passion for cooking and learned at an early age the importance of farm-to-table. Her formal training at the New England Culinary Institute combined with her Southern roots and global palette have come together to create a unique and spectacular culinary experience. Sourcing from local farmers and anglers, her dishes also include some of the richest and highest quality ingredients from around the world. After 16 years at the restaurant, and five years as Executive Chef, she continues to carve out a lasting legacy while developing the reputation of culinary excellence at Charleston Grill.

About the SC Chef Ambassador Program:

Tourism and agriculture have a significant impact on South Carolina, contributing tens of billions of dollars to the state’s economy each year and accounting for hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide. The South Carolina Chef Ambassador (SCCA) program was established to create greater unity between these two major industries, while enhancing the overall promotion of South Carolina as a top culinary destination. By highlighting the state’s talented chefs, creative recipes, authentic cuisines, locally grown produce and unique products, visitors and locals alike will further see why South Carolina is, Just Right. For more information on the SC Chef Ambassador program, please visit