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Chef Benjamin “BJ” Dennis was our chef for the evening at the home of Jamee and Jim Haley. Born and raised in Charleston, Chef BJ infuses the flavors and culture of the Lowcountry into his Gullah Geechee cuisine. He infuses the cooking techniques of his ancestors, learned from years of study in St. Thomas, as well as the lessons of his grandparents about eating from the land to create fresh interpretations of local dishes focusing on in-season, locally sourced vegetables and seafood.

What I remember most about this dinner was all the laughter. Lots of it.

We discussed all things Charleston – how segregated Charleston can be socially, the state of education in Charleston, the need for truth-telling when discussing history in Charleston, the process of creating an African American museum in Charleston. Of particular interest to me was hearing how African American’s in Charleston feel about the plantations here, and slave history. It is well known that many of the plantations are a tourist draw and it is important that the history of these plantations is truthfully told. We do have to remember that native Charlestonians have a very different experience and relationship to these plantations. I appreciated the different perspective I heard about this.

Incredible meal, deep, meaningful, interesting conversation. Chef BJ killed it. Grateful for the wonderful people who gathered around the table and for their willingness to openly and honestly discuss difficult topics. After dinner, Kathy and Jamee, who met at dinner, met for coffee to discuss job hunting in Charleston. Connection on many different levels.

Our Hosts:

“When Tina first told me about what she was doing with Transformation Table I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of so my husband Jim and I offered up our home as hosts. Tina was wonderful to work with and provided everything needed for the evening, arrived early to make sure that the evening went smoothly and to set a beautiful table. The dinner was delicious and prepared by local Gullah chef BJ Dennis who took the time to educate us on the dishes that he prepared and the history behind them as well as local ingredients used.  But, by far the best part was the conversation. I can’t remember the last time I had dinner with such an interesting group of people bringing perspectives and conversation around a broad scope of topics that shed a bit of light on each of our backgrounds and our own personal history. 

We would do it again in a heartbeat!”

Our Chef: BJ Dennis

“Transformation table was truly an inspiring event. From the food to the conversations at the table, it is an event that should not be missed. Conversations that are needed, sometimes deep, but always smoothed out by great food that makes things comfortable.  Great vibes and great food at the transformation table.”


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