Mike Lata is the chef/partner of FIG restaurant and The Ordinary in Charleston, SC. In 2009 the James Beard Foundation named him Best Chef: Southeast.
1. One thing you don’t know about me is that I grew up wanting to be a disc jockey on the late-night shift. I went to bed as a kid listening to the radio, and I loved what the late-night Boston and East Coast DJs liked to talk about and listen to. They were super kooky and quirky, but also super soothing.
2. If I could trade places with one chef it would be Alain Chapel when he worked alongside Paul Bocuse and the brothers Troisgros at La Pyramide. I could then witness the birth of modern cuisine.
3. One of my most memorable meals was at La Merenda in Nice. Before we opened FIG, I went to live and work in France. I was trying to create the vision of what I wanted FIG to be. The chef there, Dominique Le Stanc, created the most elegant versions of traditional Niçoise dishes. His skillful and confident cooking elevated the most humble of dishes and forced me to contemplate my own vision of cuisine. I always go back to that feeling when I start to lose my way.
4. If there were no eggs, I’d have no reason to live.
5. My go-to drink is espresso. I could give up most anything else if I had to choose.
6. If I were on death row my last meal would not be applicable because I am a saint!
7. My worst culinary creation was a ruby red beet sabayon that could double as Pepto Bismol.
8. If I could change one thing about me I would have the stamina of my 20-year-old self in the kitchen.
9. My favorite junk food is Sausage & Egg McMuffins.
10. If I was not a restaurant operator, I’d love to be a professional golfer.