THE PERSON: George Rogers, who turned 58 in December 2016, won the 1980 Heisman Trophy while leading the University of South Carolina to two bowl games, before going on to a pro football career with the NFL's New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. He lives in Columbia.
THE DISH: Southern fried chicken, one of the staple items on the buffet line at Doc’s BBQ Southern Buffet, 1601 Shop Road in Columbia, near Rogers’ old stomping grounds at Williams-Brice Stadium.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? “I’ve been eating fried chicken all my life, and I’ve been eating it at Doc’s since roughly 2004, a long time. When I first found out about Doc’s, I wanted to try the fried chicken because I grew up on that. I used to go to Church’s, and Doc’s tastes a lot like theirs – a little greasy, all that good stuff that you don’t need (laughs)."
“I like their chicken because it’s crispy and just really good. Theirs is the best I’ve come up with in Columbia, and this is my favorite place for fried chicken, no doubt about it. I don’t eat it as much as I used to (before suffering a mild heart attack in 2016) because I’m supposed to stay away from fried foods. But Doc’s also has good vegetables like green beans and collards, and I eat that, too."
“I try to stay away from fried foods, but it’s hard. You can always treat yourself, though, so I come here about twice a month, at least. Before, it was 3-4 times a week (laughs)."
FROM THE KITCHEN: Doc’s general manager John Jackson
“We take a lot of pride in our chicken because of Mr. (Jimmy) Stephens’ recipe (Stephens owns Doc’s, one of his 19 restaurants). There are a lot of spices and marinating it goes through before it’s fried; most people at just dip chicken in flour and go for it, but ours is a lot more complicated than that. We use a mixture of a couple of different flours to get the right texture and that crispiness that George talks about. The ingredients are basically chicken, flour, salt and pepper, and Mr. Stephens’ special spices. That’s as far as I can go. I could give (the recipe) to you, but then I’d have to shoot you – at least once."