The Honeymooners Visit The Culinary Vegetable Institute
In the 1950s, if you heard the phrase “The Honeymooners,” you’d probably think of the Jackie Gleason sitcom. If you heard that same phrase at the Culinary Vegetable Institute and The Chef’s Garden in October 2021, though, you’d instantly think of the honeymooners. You know, Steven Manall and Jillian (Self) Manall from Charleston, South Carolina. Married on Sunday, October 10, they arrived at the CVI on Tuesday, October 12, eager to spend time in the fields of The Chef's Garden, the CVI gardens, and the chef’s suite.
For Steven, this was his fourth visit but, for Jillian, it was her first. “That was super cool for me,” Steven said, “to be able to share this place with someone I love and care about so much—to share a place I love. It was just a flood of emotion.”
Steven adds that, because he knew what kinds of events his new bride would adore, “I was excited to see her reaction in one of the few places in the world where, at every turn, you can say, ‘What’s next is gonna make you lose your mind.’”
As for Jillian, she says that she was “absolutely blown away. I knew it was going to be amazing,” she says, “but our ongoing joke is that this experience was, for me, like going to Disney World for the very first time. I feel like my face is still sore from smiling so much and it’s really hard to find the right words to say because I’m still processing most of it. It was like a fairy tale for me.”
When the couple decided to get married, they realized that they wanted to honeymoon in a place where they could learn about food, since they both work in the culinary industry and have a passion for . . . well, for food. “Because of the pandemic,” Jillian said, “we needed to go somewhere where we had more flexibility.” And, since Jillian’s and Steven’s “first conversation revolved around the farm,” they knew that going to the The Chef's Garden and staying in the Executive Chef's Suite at the Culinary Vegetable Institute for their honeymoon was absolutely the right thing to do.
(Note: Although Steven was thrilled to take Jillian to the farm and CVI, it was in fact Jillian who picked this as their honeymoon spot!)
Here’s how we’ve described the chef’s suite. “Picture a king-sized bed, a jacuzzi, an indoor fireplace, air conditioning, a balcony overlooking rural beauty, and much more—and, to top it off, you have access to our gardens and grounds. Need some fresh herbs? Go pick them. Ready to stroll through nature? You can enjoy solitude alongside the birds and butterflies and take in the lovely aromas.”
“The suite is beautiful,” Jillian says, “and I took so many pictures of it because the view is always perfect.” As for Steven, he says that, when he previously helped at a Roots conference, he didn’t stay in the suite, so that experience was new for him. “I’d put it up against any hotel I’ve ever stayed at, for sure.”
When Steven set up the couple’s itinerary for their week-long stay, he shared how they wanted to do “anything and everything.” And how did that work out? “It was,” Steven says, “absolutely amazing. Every day, we figured that things couldn’t get any cooler—and then they did. People were so accommodating and happy to see us, and it was really cool to see the farm’s processes from start to fruition.”
On Monday, October 18, the couple needed to head home where Steven is working as the executive chef of the Coosaw Creek Country Club and Jillian bakes delicious treats at LB Sweets and Treats.
When talking about what’s next for them, Jillian shares that one key item is to figure out how and when they can come back. In response, Steven tells her that won’t be a problem. After all, he says, “Once you become part of the farm and CVI family, you stay a part of that family.”
Jillian and Steven: All of us at the farm and CVI wish you a lifetime of happiness and love! And, yes. You’re welcome to come back, anytime. We can’t wait to see you again!