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Under the toque

Laura HeryadiIndo Thai Sushi & Hibachi

Laura Heryadi has been synonymous with spectacular sushi handi-work along her journey as a sushi chef with husband Heri at several Grand Strand restaurants: Filet’s, Islamorada Fish Company, Ichiro’s Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi (where Heri still focuses his time) and now her own domain, Indo Thai Sushi & Hibachi, which just opened on 82nd Parkway in Myrtle Beach. It’s almost become like a treasure hunt for her local, loyal fans, Heryadi says.

She’s happy to remain at Indo, where she works at the sushi bar and with her line in the kitchen seven days a week. “It’s always about presentation,” she says. “And I like things the way I like them.”

It’s also at Indo that Laura has the opportunity to independently express her culinary creativity through her Thai and Japanese dishes – something she smiles about and says Heri cannot do as well. (An especially popular Thai entree is Laura’s sea bass.) She learned how to cook hands-on from her parents in her native Indonesia at age 13 and honed her skills in Coral Springs, Fla. “I worked part-time in a restaurant and spent the other half of my time finishing school,” she recalls.

One of the most important cooking tips she ticked off a list of those she particularly practices is keeping food fresh. “Fresh means a good ordering practice daily – especially for fish and vegetables,” she says. “Only pull out what you need and buy what you need.”

After a restaurant stint in Florida with Heri in 2004, she says work brought the couple to Myrtle Beach. “I like learning something new. Creativity is great for the mind,” she says. “And it’s such a motivation to come here, to meet new people.”

Heryadi’s infectious smile and warm personality make that an easy job duty. But when she’s not on the job, she somehow finds the time to juggle her duty as a devoted mom of three children – ages 3, 5 and 16. “I try to make a point to play with them every day between lunch and happy hour – take them to play at McDonald’s or something,” says Heryadi, who lives in Little River. “And if I don’t see them all day, I’ll bring them here for a couple hours.”

Kurt D’AurizioDiving Dining Group

Long before Kurt D’Aurizio wore his many chef’s hats as director of cuisine for Divine Dining Group (DDG), which entails overseeing the kitchens of the culinary company’s six fine dining restaurants, the native of Rochester, N.Y., began cooking for his busy parents and siblings at age 10. “I started with cakes and desserts,” says D’Aurizio. “I had a sweet tooth that is with me to this day. Gradually, I started taking over cooking the family dinner and for holidays and special occasions.”

He soon graduated to working restaurants and seeking out top chefs while studying as a food management major at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Food, Hotel and Tourism Management. D’Aurizio then hopped from the restaurant chef circuit to opening his own catering and special events business for a few years with his wife and then to relocate to Atlanta in 1998 to work with a restaurant group after the birth of his son.

The D’Aurizios, however, were bitten by the beach bug and moved to Myrtle Beach in 2003, when he began a stint as executive chef at Kingston Plantation. He began working with DDG about four years ago. “I enjoy being able to push the envelope, introduce our customers to new things, grow, create new concepts, work with such extraordinary and talented people, and to cook all of the wonderful food from this area,” he says.

With most of his time focused lately on the newest DDG restaurants at The Market Common, Roy & Sid’s and Divine Prime, he says he can’t get enough of Divine Prime’s wild salmon, seared and served with Brussels sprout chiffonade, Caw Caw country prosciutto, leek and sherry butter, and smoked sea salt. “An explosion of flavors and colors,” says D’Aurizio. “It’s my kind of food, which tends to be based on traditional cooking methods and high-quality ingredients with a creative influence. I don’t worry about giving away recipes or people copying me because I’ll be on to something else next week and the creativity doesn’t turn off or stop – it just keeps bringing new dishes year after year.”

When D’Aurizio is not cooking on the job, he enjoys, well, cooking, as well as spending time with his wife and two children at church or on the beach, sailing his beach Hobie, hunting, gardening and taking short daytrips.