The executive chef at Carolina's in Charleston since late 2010, Jill Mathias grew up on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota. She takes advantage of the bounty of South Carolina's coast and buys as much as possible from local farms and fisherman.
Carolina's has one of the richest heritages of any Charleston restaurant. The building at 10 Exchange St. formerly was the home of Perdita's, opened in 1953 and considered one of the most elegant restaurants on the East Coast. One of the dining rooms at Carolina's is named Perdita's Room.
Q: What are you cooking these days that excites you the most?
A: I have been playing around with different types of broths for fish. When I can get my hands on it, I really love rudderfish.
Q: What are your favorite spring ingredients?
A: I love spring time in Charleston. All the new ingredients that start sprouting up is really exciting. Lowland Farms and Ambrose Farm always have great products. Strawberries, green garlic, spring onions and soon asparagus!
Q: What or who inspired you to become a chef?
A: Having dinner parties while in school. I realized I was better at cooking than art. Much more exciting for me.
Q: Who did you learn the most about cooking from, and what was the most useful thing they taught you?
A: The first chef I worked for in Fargo (N.D.) He always led by example. Come in early, stay late, help out the dishwasher. Don't ask somebody to do a task you are not willing to do.
Q: What was your first job in food? What did you learn?
A: I worked as the hors d'oeuvre girl at the Oak Manor in Fargo. I learned that the kitchen is a very forgiving place.
Q: What would your dream meal be?
A: Anything with radishes.
Q: What are your guilty (food) pleasures?
A: Krispy Kreme doughnuts and chocolate malts.
Q: What tools would you suggest every home cook invest in?
A: A good paring knife and a chef's knife.
Q: What music plays in your (restaurant) kitchen?
A: Anything from classic rock, to hip-hop, to summertime oldies.
Q: Is there a food you simply refuse to eat?
A: It's not a food; it's a condiment. Ketchup I really do not love.