Mike Davis, Terra (Columbia, SC)
At this stage in the game, Terra Restaurant in Columbia, SC, is an institution -- but that doesn’t mean that it’s staid. Go there any night and you’ll find that you’re walking into the best that a neighborhood bistro can be. Multiple members of the staff have been there for years, the menu rotates seasonally, and the seats are filled with people who know all of this, often greeting each other and the staff like old friends, ready to have a great meal composed of what is best and brightest from local purveyors. This environment is all because of Chef Mike Davis, who opened Terra in 2006, definitely ahead of the curve in Columbia. He simply did things the way he’d been taught, the way he felt was best, and through that, built a restaurant that focuses on flavor and treating his staff and guests like family. In this episode, Davis basically gives us a primer on how to build a farm-to-table restaurant. He touches on collaboration, menu building, sourcing, and his sources of inspiration of course, which include some of the South’s best chefs whom he cooked under before opening his own place. He’s one of those guys that makes all this look easy, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that keeps him ever focused on his craft.