Platelist: Chef Mike Lata


It was a matter of being at the right place at the right time. The newly-formed Georgia Organic Growers Association, GOGA, consisted of 30 organic farms throughout the state. The leader took Lata under her wing and he quickly came to know the growers and their produce.

"I'd be spending the night drinking mead with the growers on their farms outside Atlanta and fishing for bass in their ponds. Every day off, I was out there with those people. It was a great network."

It was also a great lesson that he carried with him to Charleston, where he has developed a deep knowledge of local food sources and a strong relationship with suppliers.

"You start selecting the best ones from the best growers and developing relationships where they remember from last year where to pick your kale," said Lata. "You realize that what you're putting on the table is a true expression of your work and where you live."

Which brings it all back to Mother Nature and the seasonal food that dictates the menus that have made Fig famous.

"Although my food is straightforward and described as being simple, we go through so much to make sure that we pick the vegetables when they're ready, not before, not after," Lata said. Later, he added, "If you gave me a box of Roma tomatoes in December, I don't think I can do anything with it. How can I make a meal out of this garbage food? This is not good. (It's) from a hot house, picked green. It doesn't inspire me. It has no flavor. It has no texture. Why would I even approach this?"

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