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Dennis Hammond is a chef who values farm to table freshness, noting that freshness provides unparalleled flavor, nutrition and freshness.
Dennis Hammond is passionate about creating art from the food in the field to the food on the table. He is adamant about sharing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, placing a high emphasis on the value of a nutritious, fresh diet. He does not believe healthy food should compromise taste, and he aims to share his passion for the local food movement that supports small farmers and engages communities with the preparers of their food.
Creativity in flavor
As a zealous chef, Dennis Hammond is fascinated by combining unlikely ingredients to create a culinary masterpiece. He enjoys dazzling his dinner guests, impressing friends and family by the way he creates delicious flavors.
The Chicken Coop
Hammond opened his own small farmhouse restaurant on James Island called The Chicken Coop, an eatery that offers local ingredients prepared in unique ways The Chicken Coop provides guests with seasonal, fresh food that ensures quality in every bite.
Running and food
As an avid runner, Hammond is passionate about learning and experimenting with foods to create a well-balanced, nutritious diet to fuel his athletic hobbies. When training for his first marathon, he focused on what his body needed to maximize his performance, an interest that has intrigued him and motivated him in his culinary pursuits. He enjoys providing tips for other runners on healthy meals and snacks to keep them in shape. Apart from his athletic interests, Hammond is also interested in sustainable agriculture and informing others of why it is important to communities, animals and the environment.
Dennis Hammond was born in the historical city of Charleston, South Carolina, where he was exposed to a variety of cultural and culinary influences. Located in a great city on the Atlantic coast, as a child he grew up helping his mother in the kitchen and learning her techniques. His mother raised him in the Christian church, and she taught him the value of how to benefit the congregation and the community. His involvement in the church led him to cook meals for the homeless and occasionally volunteer entrees and baked goods for many church-wide events.
Dennis Hammond was the son of an attorney and a public school teacher. He was invested in a plethora of after school activities, including swimming at the beach, fishing off the docks near his home and running routes around his neighborhood. He especially loved to run, a hobby that continued on into adulthood.
On breaks from school and during the summer, his family would travel to the mountains of North Carolina. It was on these frequent trips that he learned the joys of hiking. In every part of the state, Hammond discovered the benefits of the great outdoors, taking advantage of the picturesque world around him. In the Piedmont, Hammond enjoys riding his bicycle, hiking in the mountains and fishing and kayaking.
During high school, he decided he wanted to become a chef, a passion that harvested after many years of cooking under his mother’s influence. Having dined in Charleston’s fine-dining restaurants and meeting several chefs through his father, he was ambitious enough to work toward opening his own restaurant. He enjoyed cooking multi-course dinners for his father’s office parities and his mother’s bible studies. His parents encouraged him toward his career path, but they also urged him to pursue a formal four-year college degree should he decide the life of a chef was not for him.
He graduated from Clemson University and studied Horticulture. During his time in college, Hammond learned the art of harvesting crops and how to effectively create a sustainable working farm. He was enthusiastic about this knowledge and hoped it would serve him well as he launched his own small farm. When he opened his restaurant, he wanted to use his own crops and give guests the taste of something different.
He also continued to run during his college years, participating in multiple 5k races and 10k races. During his senior year, Hammond completed his first marathon ever, a life event that motivated him to investigate how to properly use foods to fuel his running hobby. Hammond worked on local lowcountry farms and volunteered at farmer’s markets during his summer vacations – all in order to learn more about how to successfully operate his own small farm in the future.
Empowering disadvantaged youth
Hammond wanted to harness the skills he learned in his formal education along with what he learned through his volunteering experiences. He launched a program that busses disadvantaged youth to work on farms for two weeks in the summer and six weekends during the school year. He enjoyed empowering disadvantaged youth, giving them the education and tools they needed to better understand food production in hopes of curbing obesity and aiding local farmers.
He eventually earned his culinary degree at Johnson and Wales in Charlotte, North Carolina. He honed his skills during his time in culinary school, learning how to efficiently run a kitchen and refine his pallet for various flavors and ingredients. Hammond learned the art of blending cultural cuisine with local ingredients to create authentic dishes he could then use to serve his community.
After his education, Dennis Hammond worked as a sous chef at multiple small restaurants. Each job pointed him in the direction of local, healthy food. After 12 years of working in other people’s kitchens as a sous chef and executive chef throughout Charleston, he opened his own small farmhouse restaurant, The Chicken Coop, on James Island.
Sustainable agriculture is a large part of Dennis Hammond’s restaurant, so he strives to educate others on how sustainable farming helps communities thrive, protecting health, animals and the environment. He is adamant about sharing current trends in the food industry, ensuring others that sustainable agriculture is much more than a passing food trend. It is a method of food production that cultivates healthy, seasonal food in a way that preserves healthier farming habits for future generations.
According to Dennis Hammond, smaller farms that use sustainable practices should become the future of farming in this country. He believes they help generate jobs, promote healthier lifestyles and preserve the environment and much more.
Hammond enjoys sharing with others how sustainable agriculture programs:
Protect public health
Create vibrant communities
Protect animal welfare
Preserve the environment
The Chicken Coop exists to educate guests on how farms protect biodiversity, promote seasonal eating and maintain healthier ecosystems. Compared with industrial farms, sustainable operations produce smaller crop yields, but often do so at a higher quality. Dennis Hammond believes eating foods from sustainable farms benefits both the consumer and the farmer.
Consumer and farmer relationship
Because sustainable farms tend to grow local or regional foods and supply them to local sellers, they are harvested closer to peak ripeness and are abounding in richer flavor, retaining more of their nutritional value. Animal products raised on sustainable pastures are often lower in fat and have higher levels of good nutrients. Hammond is confident that anyone could tell the difference between industrial farmed fruited when compared to with the same product from a local farm.
Dennis Hammond believes eating seasonally is a crucial factor in maintain a healthy lifestyle. Because food is easier to grow in its season, the lower costs on farmers are transferred to consumers. During peak harvest time, the foods are more likely to go on sale as there is typically a surplus of product. Using fresh, seasonal ingredients makes all the difference in creating exceptional dishes. Dennis Hammond believes using fresher foods results in a more flavorful, nutritious meal.
Dennis Hammond is extremely invested in growing the future of the South Carolina local food movement. He knows the value of teaching younger generations to produce sustainable food, as the average age of farmers is increasing. Most of them are approaching retirement, reducing the opportunity to pass on the knowledge of sustainable agriculture. With this threat to the local food movement, states and localities across the nation are funding programs to teach people the craft of farming, inspiring them to grow food for their communities.
Rather than letting older farmers retire or pass away without passing on the valuable skills learned through years of working the land, numerous community leaders in South Carolina are stepping up to equip a new cohort of farmers to break into the business. Lowcountry Local First, a nonprofit committed to enhancing local businesses in the Charleston region are creating a farm apprenticeship program that pairs experienced farmers with younger apprentices. These apprentices work the land of the farm in exchange for learning the best practices that are used in sustainable operations.
After their apprenticeship, young learners are prepared to start their own farms, flourishing the local food movement and preserving local farming for generations to come. The program also supplies young farmers with the “know-how” to build a market for their goods so that when they launch their independent farms, they have a ready source for consumers ready to pay them for their crops.
While Hammond is not affiliated with Lowcountry Local First’s program, he volunteers his time with kids in the community and has built a cabin on his property as a house for a cohort of kids interested in learning the business. He offers camp at a very low cost and enjoys cultivating relationships with growers and younger students. Dennis Hammond believes this effort will save the future of sustainable agriculture.
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