Jill Mathias, Chez Nous (Charleston, SC)
There is a place where there are no TVs blaring, a place where it’s easy to exchange a word with people at the next table or scrape that last bit of dessert off the plate with a spoon. This restaurant glows softly in the twilight as you approach, and yet, open the door, and it’s a-bustle with activity. This magical spot? Chez Nous in Charleston, S.C., and it’s got way more chops that just its good looks. That’s because Chef Jill Mathias creates delicious European bistro fare from local ingredients, focuses on sustainability, the idea of hospitality, and what it means to come together over a meal. She doesn’t often give interviews -- she’s much more interested in cooking than promoting herself -- but we’ve gotten to know each other over the years, so she obliged. Very much a chef’s chef, you’ll want to hear her thoughts on menu building, being a people pleaser, and of course, her daily practice of handwriting that menu.