I have always been a die-hard foodie, but working with the James Beard Foundation has raised my awareness of great chefs doing extraordinary things all across the country. Thus, I couldn’t wait to make a visit to JBF Award-winning Chef Mike Lata’s Fig in Charleston, SC, and it did not disappoint.

From the moment you approach this unpretentious yet celebrated restaurant, you feel good. The exterior is unassuming and cool. The hosts are polite and welcoming. The atmosphere is easy. Then, there is Chef Lata’s delectable cuisine, highlighting South Carolina’s Lowcountry region from which it is all locally sourced with great care.

Besides the Crispy Caw Caw Pork Trotters for starters, I had two other extraordinary food experiences centered on the freshest, local ingredients. Our passionate server, Becca , spoke almost lovingly about the freshly molted soft-shell blue crabs of Kimberly Morales from the nearby Raul’s Seafood at Shem Creek, who selected Fig as one of the few recipients of these BEYOND fresh crabs. (Sidenote: they were the best I have ever tasted. Not one crunch!) I paired it with a side of beets that took my breath away. Roasted, and lightly salted but clearly gathered at the peak of their freshness. Like candy.

It is because of the obvious “great care” taken in the decision-making for the restaurant down to the smallest details—from the ambience to the branding to the menu—that the FIG experience feels so right. Kudos to Chef Lata and his partner Adam Nemirow. Everyone working in the restaurant seems passionate and invested in their comfortable yet elegant vision.

With commitment comes confidence. And with confidence one soars