As a standard-bearer for local, seasonal ingredients, Chef Mike Davis grew up close to the ground in a farming family in Dothan, Alabama. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in business administration, he moved to Charleston, South Carolina to attend Johnson & Wales. While in school, he worked at Magnolia’s under Chefs Donald Barrickman and Don Drake.
To further hone his palate-expanding Southern style, Davis then moved to New Orleans where he worked under James Beard Award-winning Chef Susan Spicer at Bayona and as a sous chef at Cobalt. Davis then stepped up to an extremely rewarding position working as sous chef at Birmingham’s Chez Fon Fon under Chef Frank Stitt, another James Beard Award winner. Under these chefs, Chef Davis refined his passion for using fresh ingredients from local producers whenever possible and learned to let the ingredients speak for themselves while simply prepared.
In 2006, Davis opened the doors of Terra in Columbia, South Carolina where he’s successfully making a mark on the regional and national map for his seasonal preparation of the area’s most loved dishes – but always with his own update. The menu changes nightly, and Chef Davis is actively involved with Slow Food Columbia and has appeared on SCETV public television explaining the importance of using sustainable, local ingredients. He leads a full staff, which also includes a Certified Specialist of Wine. Terra has earned a Wine Spectator award each year since opening, and in 2010 Terra earned a DiRoNA distinction.
Chef Davis was asked to cook for Taste of the South, the annual Southern Foodways Alliance benefit at Blackberry Farm, in January of 2009. He was also featured as Restaurant Hospitality’s September 2009 Rising Star and has recently been interviewed twice on NPR’s A Chef’s Table. In February 2010, Chef Davis was invited to cook his Southern Roots dinner at the esteemed James Beard House in New York City for a sold-out crowd of diners. Most recently, Davis was featured in the April 2011 issue of Garden & Gun.