Chef at Heart: Patrick Owens ’99
For Owens, it took leaving the food industry to discover how much he loved it.
Patrick Owens was raised in the kitchen. As a kid, he would watch his mother bake breads and pore over her many cookbooks. He would listen to his wine-collecting father talk about the art of pairing wines with dishes. He would learn from his father’s best friend, an Italian chef, how to braise and sear meats and game.
As a teenager, Owens had a job getting fresh fish off the dock in his hometown of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, breaking them down into filets for local restaurants and learning what to look for, feel for and smell for when it came to fresh seafood. And as a college student, he spent summers working in local favorites like The Wreck and Acme Lowcountry Kitchen.
It seemed only natural that Owens would have entered the food industry after school. But after graduating from Clemson with a degree in marketing, he took a sales job with a good salary and benefits.
“I absolutely loathed it,” he says. “After about a year, I left to get back in the kitchen. I took a significant pay cut, but I was much happier.”
This decision spurred another big one: opening his first restaurant.
Langdon’s was born in a shopping center in Mount Pleasant in August 2003. Offering a modern American white-tablecloth dining experience with prime beef, lamb and seafood on the menu, Langdon’s has received the AAA Four Diamond rating every year it’s been open.
But the restaurant’s early days brought one crisis after another: “I remember the first night when my sous chef didn’t show up, I had to do about 70 covers by myself. Then, a few nights later, the hoods went out, and the kitchen was 130 degrees. About two weeks in, the restaurant started flooding, so we had to cancel dinner service and kick all of our customers out. We realized that our plumber had failed to tie our lines into the sewer. That was fun.”
Owens dug his heels in, and after about a month of struggle, it paid off.
Langdon’s began to thrive. In 2011, he opened his second restaurant, Opal — a casual, California cuisine-meets- Mediterranean spot, and in 2017, he opened Wood and Grain — a wood-fired pizza place right next to Langdon’s.
A few years ago, Owens experienced a highlight of his career when he was invited to cook at the James Beard House, a restaurant in New York City featuring multicourse meals from visiting chefs. Owens and his team had a sold-out dinner.
“That was pretty cool,” he says. “I can check that off the list.”