Queens of the Kitchen: Queen Kim Hardee

By Leslie Moore

Queens of the Kitchen: Queen Kim Hardee

Living in a log cabin on a pond in rural Loris, with her three dogs and five goats, suits Kim Hardee just fine. The vivacious and fun owner/chef of Dilly Beans Café and Catering on Laurel Street in Conway told me she’d really like to win the lottery so she could go live in St. John and spear lobster every day! A true native, Kim’s entire family is from Horry County, and she grew up in Myrtle Beach, where her parents still live.

Would anyone call you a Queen of the Kitchen?

I’m the Butter Queen of Conway! Everything I cook has butter or cream in it. And, I make flavored butters every day for the café, my customers look forward to trying the different flavors. I never run out of butter – if I start to get low, less than 10 pounds – I panic! Even at home, where there’s not much in my refrigerator, I have butter.

How long have you been a restaurant owner/caterer? Why did you choose the restaurant business?

I started a catering business in Myrtle Beach fifteen years ago, but I always wanted a small café as well. Ten months ago, a place came open in Conway, and I jumped on it. I love Conway. The people are wonderful, and the downtown area is thriving. It reminds me of Mayberry…really! Business has been so good that I was able to remodel and increase the café size – now I have three dining rooms.

I’ve always been in the restaurant business. At 21, I moved to St. Thomas, lied and said I could cook to get a job working on a yacht. I worked on an 80 ft. wooden ketch built in 1920 – I had to learn to cook. After I left the boat, I worked at Chestnut Hill and watched the chef there who taught me a lot. I do not use recipes – I’d have to put my glasses on!

What is your favorite tool/appliance in the kitchen?

A case of butter – I make everything from scratch.

Favorite celebrity chef?

I enjoy watching “Restaurant Impossible” with Gordon Ramsey.

Do you like to entertain?

All of my friends and family are in Myrtle Beach, so I never entertain at my cabin in Loris – when we get together, I go to them.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

I’ll be at Dilly Beans serving party platters and dinners to go. We’ll also be open for dining in from 11 am-6 pm. We’ll have all the traditional foods – my macaroni and cheese is delicious!

What were your Thanksgiving celebrations like growing up?

My mother is an excellent cook and would always cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Some of my favorite dishes as a child were chicken bog, greasy rice and butterbeans or gravy, potato salad, chicken and dumplings…the list goes on and on. When I was growing up, eating out was a luxury. We had dinner at home every night, and my mother worked full time.

Besides cooking, of course, what are your other favorite activities?

I love the water – camping, canoeing, kayaking, most anything that involves sun and surf. I also love to fish. I have a house in the Smokey Mountains where I go to fish for trout.

Last year, I had a triple fusion surgery in my cervical spine, but I’m doing great now. I’ve been hanging out with some of my old high school friends, but business is my main focus. It’s on fire now. I cater a lot of weddings and have seen an increase in the size of receptions. My clients like me because I give them a quality, delicious product for a reasonable price. No one leaves hungry. I tell my clients that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a fabulous wedding.

Current passion?

Work…[laughing]

Volunteer activities?

I am involved with dog rescue.

What are you most grateful for during this season of thanksgiving?

My good health and the butter churn.

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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