Gwen Fowler



In the Kitchen with Chef Mike Davis

Posted 12/3/2010 10:54:00 AM

At Terra in West Columbia, Chef Mike Davis serves contemporary Southern cuisine and focuses on using local ingredients in seasonal dishes. Since attending Johnson & Wales in Charleston, he has worked at Magnolia’s in Charleston under chefs Donald Barrickman and Don Drake; in New Orleans under James Beard Award-winning Chef Susan Spicer at Bayona and as a sous chef at Cobalt; and as sous chef at Birmingham’s Chez Fon Fon under Chef Frank Stitt, another James Beard Award winner. He opened Terra in 2005.

Q: Which chefs inspire you?
: Chefs Daniel Boulud, Frank Stitt, Judy Rogers and Alice Waters.

Q: What’s your prediction for the next big food or restaurant trend?
It’s already happening – chef-driven mobile cuisine. Food trucks are all about bringing carefully prepared food to where the customer is.

Q: Which three cooking gadgets or tools are your favorites?
My boning knife, a powerful Vita Prep blender and the smoker.

Q: What was your first job in food? What did you learn?
I was a dishwasher. I learned that it’s important to have respect for everyone in the restaurant, from the servers and bartenders to dishwashers and line cooks. I think all good cooks should work dish and front of house at some point in their career.

Q: What would your dream meal be?
Anything at a breezy outdoor Provencal tavern with my wife and grand crus burgundy!

Q: What’s the best tip you can give a home cook?
Seasoning with salt and pepper correctly will make or break a dish. I can’t say enough about proper seasoning.

Q: Even chefs don’t eat gourmet every night. What is your ultimate comfort food or quick meal?
That would have to be a patty melt off of my mom's old skillet.