Born and raised in Brooklyn and Long Island, New York, Chef McKee’s upbringing inspired the eclectic creativity that has formed his legendary culinary career. Growing up, Chef Brett McKee was influenced by his own Irish-Norwegian background, as well as the abundantly diverse cultures found in the melting pot of New York. In 1983, he officially began his career in Manhattan and the Hamptons after graduating first in his class from the New York Restaurant School. In 1989, he ventured south to Charleston, South Carolina where he introduced his culinary creations to the what is now awarded as The #1 Tourist City in the World. In 1991, Chef McKee opened Hugo’s on the Isle of Palms prior to showcasing his flair for upscale Italian cuisine at Union Hall. He then opened two namesake restaurants, Brett’s and Brett’s at the Wickliffe House.
Chef McKee thrived on his culinary success while Charleston raved about his personality as much as his restaurants. He left his first, and most significant, footprint on the Charleston restaurant community with the opening of Oak Steakhouse in 2005. Housed in a historic 1850’s building, the classically elegant steakhouse offered exceptional food, service and an atmosphere that created and sustained memorable dining experiences for Charlestonians and visitors from around the world. Named “Best New Restaurant” by the Charleston City Paper, Brett’s work at Oak Steakhouse was recognized in the New York Times; Bon Appétit; National Geographic Adventure; Esquire Magazine, Southern Living, Women’s Health, Charleston Magazine and Restaurant News. In 2007, Chef McKee was one of five finalists for Chef Magazine’s “Chef of the Year” and in 2008, the Culinary Legend Award at the Charleston Food & Wine Festival.
As a founding member of the Culinary Institute of Charleston, Chef McKee has served his culinary creations to guests at the prestigious James Beard House, the De Gustibus Cooking School at Macy’s and the Charleston Food & Wine Festival. Chef McKee has hosted numerous charitable and fundraising dinner events which include New York’s Statue of Liberty, the home of legendary actor/director Dennis Hopper, the elegant caves of Napa Valley winery Miner Estates and the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Chef McKee’s culinary skills and commitment to philanthropy positively impacted the Charleston community and the world beyond. He was awarded Charleston Magazine’s “Giving Back: Reader’s Choice Award” in the fall of 2007 and the “Paul Hulsey Philanthropy Award” from the YES Carolina Foundation in 2008.
To add to his growing list of restaurants, McKee also launched O-Ku, a high-end Japanese and sushi restaurant on King Street in Charleston which was named one of Esquire’s Top New Restaurants in 2010 by John Mariani.
Today, Chef Brett has taken a step away from the restaurant industry to bring his culinary flare and talents to create memories for individuals, businesses, and a wide array of private events. With a culinary passion fueled by the memories a meal can create, Brett McKee is now transforming events, kitchens, and individuals by focusing on his personal chef services. From corporate catering to Fortune 500 companies to personally selecting every detail of a fairy tale wedding, Brett McKee believes his greatest impact is made in the intimate settings and personal selection that only his culinary expertise can provide.