The Café @ Williams Hardware, a casual café with a small town feel but food that’s big on flavor, is truly the heart of Travelers Rest, South Carolina. Located on Main Street right off the “rails to trails pathway” called the Swamp Rabbit Trail, it’s a popular destination for bikers and runners in addition to the regulars from the area who come to enjoy an old-fashioned taste of comfort, community and conversation.
Christina Halstead has worked in the food service industry since high school, spending the majority of her time in the front of the house. Through the years, she had the privilege to learn from chefs of several culinary backgrounds, from Thai to Cajun to New South cuisine. She took every opportunity she was given to work in the kitchen, and spent hours pouring over cookbooks and the Culinary Institute's textbook.
After "living and breathing food" for the past several years, Christina is grateful to the owners of the Café—sisters Joyce and Nancy McCarrell—for giving her the chance she had been waiting for. Today, she manages the kitchen at the Café where popular menu standouts include a Reuben sandwich billed as “The Best Reuben” and the pecan-encrusted chicken salad, which entails a patty of chicken salad, coated in crushed pecans and flash grilled, served over mixed greens with fruit. Desserts, made from scratch, also take center stage.
Christina saw the Neighborhood to Nation Recipe contest as more than a chance to win a prize, but an opportunity to hone her culinary skills. “I wanted to get better at making biscuits,” says Christina, who is very passionate about food and, admittedly, a perfectionist. In fact, she spent months doing her research and ultimately chose Gold Medal™ ZT Buttermilk Biscuit Mix to get the results she was looking for. She says, “the mix provides a great base for adding unique flavors and allows me to add my own twist.”
For Christina’s award-winning recipe, she puts her new biscuit-making skills to use to cross a breakfast sandwich with a BLT. Named the BLT on Pimento Cheese Buttermilk Biscuit with Red Pepper Jelly, the recipe amps up a buttermilk biscuit with the perfect amount of pimento and cheese. Christina then adds arugula, thick-cut bacon and a homegrown tomato—all topped with a pizzazz of red pepper jelly.
Address: Travelers Rest, South Carolina (population: 4,843)
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