Magnolias, a staple in Charleston for 25 years, is has announced the promotion of Kelly Franz to executive chef. Franz joined Magnolias in November 2003, moving up the ranks in the kitchen for more than a decade and taking on more responsibility as the beloved Southern establishment continues to evolve. Most recently chef de cuisine, Franz now oversees kitchen stations, ordering, hiring, menu and recipe development, and more.

Owner TJ Parsell is enthusiastic about putting forth Franz as a fresh leader in the kitchen. “It’s an exciting year for Magnolias, with the 25th anniversary and a new cookbook on the market as well. In her new role, Franz will continue to celebrate the acclaimed Lowcountry-inspired dishes, serving modern interpretations of traditional local cuisine,” says Parsell. 

Franz’s strong work ethic and leadership abilities set her apart, skills which she attributes to her mentors at Magnolias, including chef Donald Drake. She strives daily to stay true to the menu staples that so many people travel to Charleston to revisit, while constantly evolving the menu to reflect trends and seasonality.

“With Magnolias celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, I couldn’t be more proud to lead an amazing team at such a celebrated destination in the South,” Franz says. “Magnolias holds a special place for diners and for the city of Charleston and I am truly honored to lead the way in one of the most regarded kitchens in the country.”

Growing up traveling and experiencing different cultures, food became a passion at an early age. Franz was always more interested in what was happening in the back of the house and she began helping with food preparation as part of her first restaurant job. While attending the Culinary Institute of Charleston, Trident Technical College, Franz spent time growing in beloved kitchens in Charleston including Locklears, Angelfish Restaurant, and of course, Magnolias. In 2015, Franz was invited to join the Charleston Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier and is honored to be apart of this distinguished group of ladies in the hospitality industry. Also in 2015, Franz was runner-up in season six of the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen.

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