HIDDEN F&B: Will Milton, FIG Garde Manger
By Helen Mitternight
(Editors Note: Charleston is such a foodie town that food and beverage superstars are hiding in plain sight, out of the James Beard limelight, but still very much creating and serving amazing food and drinks. This series profiles Charleston’s “hidden F&Bs.”)
Wando High School graduate William J. Milton III, known as Will, is pursuing a Business Administration degree from the College of Charleston, but he’d rather read cookbooks instead of textbooks. The first thing he did when he showed up for the interview was stroll over to my shelves of cookbooks to check them out. For the uninitiated, he is the Garde Manger at FIG, a culinary position in charge of cold food preparation and commonly referred to as pantry chef. We talk cooking there, Asian food and Pop-Tarts®.
Favorite Kitchen Tool or Gadget: A blow torch. I’ll find any excuse to use a blow torch.
In My Refrigerator (3 Things): Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise, banana ketchup Texas Pete hot sauce. My grandad used to keep it in his satchel.
In My Pantry (3 Things): Rice noodles for Pad Thai; broken Jasmine rice — it’s rice middlins, but it’s Jasmine rice; and strawberry Pop-Tarts®.
Favorite After-work Hangout: The Palace Hotel. Nice people.
Favorite Charleston Restaurant Other Than Yours: Waffle House. That’s not really just a Charleston restaurant, but I’m going to stick with that.
Comfort Food: Shrimp and grits or fried fish and grits. My grandmother from Savannah was over recently and she was hanging out on the porch and frying fish. It was so good!
Favorite Smell: The smell of an old home. We have a house on Martha’s Vineyard and when you walk in there after it’s been closed up, it’s a nice musty smell. Very nostalgic.
Favorite Drink: Miller High Life, although I hate to be “that guy.”
Number of Hours You Work a Week: 30 to 35.
Customer Pet Peeve: Coming in right before close. Like, if we close at 11 pm and you show up at 10:50 and want a three-course meal.
Most Under-rated Ingredient: Salt.
Favorite Meal to Cook at Home: I make a lot of rice bowls with that broken Jasmine. A lot of egg-fried rice.
Best Advice a Mentor Gave You: It was my dad, and he said, “Keep your head up, meditate, take your time and everything will fall into place. Breathe.”
Want more Will? Listen to Episode 14 of Hidden F&B with Host Helen Mitternight only on Charleston Grit and tune in each month to meet more folks like him. FIG, at 232 Meeting Street, is open 5 pm – 10:30 pm Monday to Thursday, and 5 pm – 11 pm Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.