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Southern chef Louis Osteen dies at age 77

The longtime Charleston chef popularized Southern foods with his fine-dining restaurants, where grits and pimento cheese were readily found in the kitchen.

Chef Louis Osteen, who dashed preconceptions of Southern cuisine with low country specialties that helped put Charleston, S.C., on the culinary map, has died at age 77.

The longtime resident of the Southern city had battled cancer through much of his life, most recently through surgery for liver cancer in 2016.

Osteen was part of a wave of Southern chefs who proved there were far more artful local specialties than hush puppies and meat-and-three platters. Along with his wife of more than 40 years, Marlene, the Atlanta transplant owned and operated a series of restaurants in Charleston, including Louis’s Charleston Grill and Louis’s. His most recent local venture was a pair of restaurants on nearby Pawleys Island, Louis’s and Fish Camp Bar, which closed about 10 years ago.

He chose a career in restaurants over staying in his family’s movie theater business. The decision came from cooking hot dogs and hamburgers at the grill of a drive-in theater.

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