When it comes to learning about French Caribbean culture and cuisine, there’s perhaps no better way to drive home a lesson than with an authentic meal prepared right before your eyes by a renowned, French-trained chef.

Award-winning Charleston chef Bob Waggoner, who was the first American chef to own his own restaurant in France and who was later Knighted by the French government, recently cooked for a class from the College of Charleston.

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Students in the First Year Experience course “Latin America and the French Caribbean” were treated to a specially prepared meal at Waggoner’s demonstration kitchen in downtown Charleston.

Spanish Professor Sarah Owens, who co-teaches the class with French instructor Kathy Kaufman, arranged the special excursion to Waggoner’s kitchen.

As the students looked on, “Chef Bob” prepared seared shrimp in a pineapple cilantro salsa for a starter and braised chicken with ratatouille for the main dish. He regaled students with stories, amazed them with his adeptness around the kitchen and impressed upon them the importance of cooking with fresh local ingredients.

“To me it was extremely rewarding to see the students engage with Chef Bob,” said Owens. “It is obvious that he is passionate about French cuisine and high-quality ingredients. His twist on French Caribbean cooking, especially the mouthwatering pineapple salsa and fresh local shrimp, brought the culture alive for all of us.”

Freshman Hannah Bell said the experience was about much more than food. “Chef Bob was very informational, not only about the importance of food preparation, but about the significance of culture in a dish.”

Bon appétit.