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Hitting it out of the park


Peden Rucker enjoyed a successful college baseball career at USC Aiken and had just finished his first season pitching for the Riverhawks, a minor league baseball team in Rockford, Ill when he decided to turn in his baseball cap for a chef's hat.

“I was talking to a friend who was moving to Charleston and I started thinking about how I always wanted to go to culinary school. So I flipped a coin and the rest is history,” he laughs.

He stopped playing baseball and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of Charleston (CIC).  He wanted to channel his energy and passion into cooking, which was nurtured from a young age by his grandmother.

He made the right choice. Peden is now the culinary director at Patrick Properties Hospitality Group, and he credits his instructors at CIC for inspiring him and making him want to get better.

“It was awesome. They are amazing chefs and I learned so much from every one of them,” he says.

While still in college, his very first food and beverage job was at Hooters as a dishwasher. Hardworking and ambitious, Peden moved up to kitchen prep, to line cook and then to fry cook - all in a month's time.

“I’m not ashamed of it,” he jokes. “I learned how to get food out quickly at a very high volume.”

After graduating from CIC, Peden gained experience with Charleston’s top catering and events professionals. He started working for Chef Kevin McCarthy at Embassy Suites in North Charleston, where he gained valuable on-the-job experience. By working on both the convention side and the hotel restaurant, he got the best of both worlds.

He says, “Chef McCarthy taught me how to be on point with the numbers: counting, ordering and prepping for the week. He made me the chef I am today.”

Peden continued his career in catering at Newtown Farms and then Cru Catering. At Cru, he found another mentor in Chef John Zucker. He also met the woman he would later marry, Reilly Mariotti, who is the senior catering director.

Peden has been at Patrick Properties for almost three years and loves every minute of it. His warm, winning team spirit has stuck with him since his baseball days and he is well-respected in his field.

“Baseball gave me the work ethic to pursue the culinary field and they are very similar. In both, you are on a team. Everyone has a job to do and you help others when things get tough,” 

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