Follow Friday: The Blue Root

One of my favorite aspects of doing local outdoor markets and festivals is getting to know the vendors around me. I meet some of the most talented and interesting people! And today's #FollowFriday is a perfect example.

A few weeks ago at the Cooper River Coffee Roasters local market, I met Melissa Bowman of The Blue Root. Melissa was showcasing her new locally-curated gift boxes. (These boxes are absolutely fabulous...you'll see below!) Upon talking to her, I also found out that she is a personal chef! She is obviously very talented, and yet she is so down to earth and lovely! Find out why you definitely need to be following @theblueroot and learn some local tips in Melissa's interview below.

THE BLUE ROOT
DESCRIPTION: Personal Chef and Gift Box company
OWNER: Melissa Bowman
LOCATION: Isle of Palms, SC

TDC: Tell us a little about your background and how you came to be a chef!
TBR: Deep down I think I always knew that I wanted to become a chef. I grew up in a family that celebrated food. We were always cooking or baking. If we weren’t preparing food or actually eating it we were planning our next meal. I even remember pretending to be sick so I could stay home from grade school to help my grandmother make homemade pasta or can tomatoes from her garden. That should have been my first clue that I wanted to cook professionally, but like many people, it took me a few years to figure it out. I went to Wilkes University after high school and received a BA in Communications. While there, I wrote the food column for our school paper so my love of food never left I just expressed it in a different way. After college I married my husband, Ty, and he encouraged me to follow my true passion. So off to culinary school I went. A year and a half later I graduated and immediately opened my first catering business. 

Photo Cred Hunter McRae Photography

TDC: The Blue Root offers personal chef services. Share with us what that looks like and how people can set that up. Can customers also purchase the services as a gift for someone?
TBR: Right now, our personal chef services are set up to conform to each individual customer. I love to work with people one on one to create a menu that is unique and special for them. For some it’s a health concern or dietary preference. For others it may be a meal that their whole family will enjoy. The first step is to set up a brief consultation so I can gather some information and then I will put a menu together. I shop for all of the ingredients and then prepare the meals in our customer’s kitchens. Meals are packed and labeled and ready to be enjoyed. 

For anyone who is interested in our personal chef services they can call or email me.  And yes! This service makes a great gift for new parents, new home owners or anyone who is just too busy to get a healthy meal on the table. 

TDC: What is one of your favorite meals that you’ve prepared recently?
TBR: Oh goodness! This is a hard question. If I had to pick it would be a low country boil. I love that I can use all local ingredients. Plus my favorite meals are the ones where we have a bunch of family and friends gathered around a table using our hands to eat and talking for hours. The tastiest food is often the messiest.

TDC: Do you have a local ingredient you love to cook with during the summer months?
TBR: Yes, I love boiled peanuts! I’m not a fan of the gas station variety but homemade boiled peanuts are one of my favorite snacks. My friend who grew up in Atlanta shared her recipe with me when we first moved here, and I have been hooked on them ever since. I love how the texture is less like a peanut and more like a baked potato. I think they are fun to serve chilled, shelled and tossed in a salad. They are also delicious made into hummus and I have even thought about making a pierogi filling out of them but I haven’t tried that yet. 

TDC: The Blue Root also offers high-end gift boxes. What gave you the idea for the locally sourced gift boxes?
TBR: I love to give gifts. It is something that truly brings me joy. I find the whole process of choosing the perfect present and wrapping it up in beautiful packaging to be so satisfying. There was even a time when I considered opening a business during the holidays where I just wrapped presents for people. But then I moved to Charleston and I discovered how much talent was in the area and I wanted to support that. There are so many people who craft some of the best products in the world right in our town and I was inspired to share it with everyone. Curating these gift boxes has been amazing! I love learning about what inspires people to make their products and now it’s a little easier for the rest of the world to get their hands on a piece of Charleston.

TDC: Describe some of the themes of the curated boxes. (I think my favorite is the “Lil’ Peanut” box!)
TBR: I knew I needed a few preset ideas to start off with. I chose six box themes that I feel could be the perfect gift for most of life’s special occasions.

  • The Jubilation Box is a great gift to give when someone is celebrating a promotion, retirement or anniversary. It’s filled with some sweet treats, bubbly (aka soda) and of course, some popcorn.
  • The Southern Hospitality Box is the perfect choice when you are going to a soiree and don’t want to show up with another bottle of wine. This set comes complete with olive oil, sea salt and a fresh rosemary plant that can all be combined together to make a delicious dip for bread.
  • The Gent Box has become one of my favorite boxes. It is filled with an impressive array of products that any man (think Father’s Day!) would love to indulge in.
  • I too love the Lil’Peanut Box. The most interesting and exciting aspect of this gift set is that every product featured is made by a woman. I have more ideas for boxes that I am currently in the process of curating and I adore working on custom box orders.
  • View All Gift Boxes Here.

TDC: You deliver the gift boxes locally as well! Is that correct? How long does it take to receive once you order?
TBR: Yes, all of the boxes are available for local delivery. The turnaround for a box delivery is very quick, usually 24-48 hours unless it is a custom order. 

TDC: Your family moved to the Lowcountry a few years ago. What have you come to love about the Charleston area?
TBR: There is so much I love about Charleston. The food, the sweet tea, the hospitality, the sunsets, the beaches, the history, the list goes on. I think it may be easier for me to choose what I don’t like about Charleston. Mosquitos…that’s about it. 

TDC: Last but definitely not least...what is your favorite local restaurant right now?
TBR: I’m glad you said “right now” because it changes all of the time. My favorite local restaurant right now would have to be Leon’s. The food, drinks and atmosphere are always on point.

Melissa, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions!
Be sure to follow along @theblueroot!

Best,
Emily Kirby