Cheyenne Bond is a Lowcountry native, raised in Ladson north of the city, the home of a lot of the region’s manufacturing power and a growing suburban sprawl. It was there that she began her culinary career 22 years ago, dropping cheese sticks in hot oil in a bowling alley snack bar.
But despite the less-than-designer digs and routinely having to tackle a well-used grease trap, Bond fell in love with the culinary world, a place where she could begin to be herself and express her creativity — that is, if she kept her work ethic strong and her commitment to team steady. That was a heady thing for a teen who was not only growing into the culinary world, but growing into it as a member of the LBGTQ+ community.
Bond was recently named executive chef of Minero on Johns Island, her first executive chef position after previously working in some other illustrious Charleston kitchen, including Malika Cantina and Cannon Green (the catering sibling to Wild Common). Not only is she a leader in the kitchen, but she describes herself as “out, loud, and proud,” so Resy sat down with her to get a read on LBGTQ Pride in Charleston.
What are you doing to celebrate Pride month?
Cheyenne Bond: Well, I’m probably working! I’d totally participate in some Pride activities around town, but each year, I’m usually busy in the kitchen so I don’t get out to the parades and such.
Ok, well, June isn’t the only month to celebrate, right? So when was a recent time you felt was a “Pride moment” for you in Charleston?
One of the most magical experiences I’ve had here was this year’s Charleston Wine + Food, on Sunday at the main stage drag concert and show in the Culinary Village. The massive outpouring of love and just … joy. Especially with everything going on in states like Kentucky and Tennessee, it was very important to me. It’s not officially the city, sure, but it felt somewhat like an official stamp, an influential organization, like the festival saying, “We support you.”
Do you think that that kind of support exists in the city elsewhere?
Yes, in our present, I really think a lot of Charleston has come around. It used to be that you could really only go to Deja Vu 2, or Connections, or a few other places since it used to be that these were the only places you could say, “you’re safe.”
But I think now Charleston as a whole has really come to love the gay community, which is huge. The amount of restaurants that not only support Pride but also host drag brunches and other events all year long is fantastic.
How was it growing up?
Well, it was definitely more of a shy situation. I’ve always been a “no f—s” human, but I did get picked on sometimes. I’ve always dressed more masculine, and like I said, there were times before where I didn’t feel safe at all the nightlife places. But in general, I’d say it was just more quiet than it is now.
Does this differ within Charleston’s culinary community?
Succeeding in a kitchen is all about backbone, so that helps you excel, and you meet in that space. My experience is that it’s not really about your gender or sexuality but about performance, consistency, and teamwork.
Now, no kitchen is ever run the same, and every chef was different, but not only is Charleston my home, it continually gives me the “want” to stay here. I feel in love because of its growing diversity, and here [at Neighborhood Dining Group], the company is very proactive about good attitudes in the kitchen.
Charleston’s really gone through hell in the last few years, with the COVID shutdowns, the riots on King Street, and it was really detrimental to the culinary community of the city. It’s wonderful to see us coming together now, and I look forward to being more of a leader not only as a chef, but as someone who has pride in who she is.