Sheina Hammerman grew up in a family of foodies, but wasn’t sold on the idea of following in the footsteps of Mr. Fish after graduating from high school in Myrtle Beach. Actually, at that time, she wasn’t sold on any particular career path.
“I lived in Europe and worked with a student visa at a café, making sandwiches and cappuccinos for about six months,” says Hammerman. “And, quite irresponsibly, the last two months I was there, I quit, gave my things away and backpacked throughout Europe. I was riding on the fact that I was 19, didn’t know what I wanted to do and that was only time in my life I could get away with something like that.”
As the culinary story goes, Hammerman eventually did “fall into the world of food,” as she puts it. Upon her return to Myrtle Beach, she worked at New Life Natural Foods, where she started taking an interest in food’s holistic, healing aspects. Hammerman graduated from The College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston in 2005. While a student, she was able to work at a natural foods store on James Island, learn the classic cooking techniques at school and intern at the Charleston Place Hotel.
Hammerman, 27, soon discovered that catering was her real passion, after she had free reign of the catering menus at art shows held by Palmetto Studios in downtown Myrtle Beach. “With catering, I love that you’re doing a good service for someone,” she says. “You’re able to be part of someone’s special day for a certain amount of time, just like you’re part of someone’s happy experience at the restaurant.”
When she started Life of the Party Catering and searched for a kitchen space with her dad, Ted Hammerman, “We opened the Mr. Fish restaurant by default,” she explains. “I needed a kitchen for the catering business and the restaurant just fell into place.”
Hammerman says working as a team with her dad, too, is a natural fit. “He’s like my best friend: we fight, laugh, cook and dance. We both live vicariously through each other. … He knows everything about seafood, even ties it into Shakespeare and makes you want to learn more about it.”
The Mr. Fish She-Crab Soup and Crabcake recipes are what Hammerman is especially proud of. When cooking at home for herself, she likes to concoct stews, soups and one-pot meals. “They come out differently every time you put something together and the longer they simmer, plus you can eat it all week and any time of year,” she says.