In the Kitchen with Chef Mike Davis

By:Gwen Fowler


Chef Mike Davis of Terra in West Columbia
South Carolina Chef Mike Davis of Terra in West Columbia

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.

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