charleston, i love you | 009: jessica slaughter08/17/12
Jessica is the superwoman of FIG. She quietly knows everything about everything and handles every situation with grace. Jessica is one of those people you can talk to for hours without noticing the time passing. She’s savvy and fun, and it feels good to have her around.
Charleston, I love you | 009: Jessica Slaughter
What brought you to Charleston?
A scholarship to the College of Charleston. Growing up in Columbia, I visited Charleston as often as I could, even playing hooky from high school to hit the beach and shop on King Street. When trying to choose a college my Dad said, “Go to Charleston. I think it speaks to your soul.” The scholarship didn’t hurt either.
What do you love most about Charleston?
Aside from the food, the weather, the people? I love the energy level. I admire the bustling energy in bigger cities like New York, but I am more suited to the pace of Charleston. While there seems to be a near constant excitement in the air over one thing or another, Charlestonians know how to relish and luxuriate in a moment. We take our time and enjoy the smaller moments -- bike rides, porch swings, Sunday brunch, whathaveyou -- that really make life here special.
What's your favorite spot in Charleston?
My drive to work. Each morning the beauty of the city waking up takes my breath away as I come over the bridge from West Ashley -- sometimes the harbor is choppy and windblown, sometimes glassy as a mirror, reflecting blue skies or grey. The water dotted with sailboats and yachts and marsh grass is different every day.
What's your favorite restaurant in Charleston?
FIG, naturally. I’m probably a little biased since I’ve worked there for 8 years, but a meal at FIG consistently blows my mind, from food to service to drinks.
What's a typical day like for you?
Mornings at FIG are the best because I’m alone and it’s almost peaceful. I play The xx station on Pandora, sift through emails, Twitter, and EaterCharleston while planning out my day.
As the day progresses more people come by and it gets busier – fishermen and farmers needing checks, reps tasting new wines or liquors, our Chef de Cuisine wanting to write the night’s menu – until the staff shows up around 3:00 and we’re in full swing. Evenings are for meeting friends for a drink and snack at Larder, The Belmont, or Bin 152, or cooking at home with my husband.
How does Charleston influence your work?
FIG is so obviously influenced by Charleston, from the local products that comprise the menu to the awesome local clientele. Those local personalities make my job such a joy – getting to meet other people who are passionate about food, and watching the industry grow so much in Charleston over the past ten years. Charleston is no longer just a place for shrimp and grits and fried foods, it’s becoming a culinary mecca. It’s exciting to be a part of.
A standout Charleston memory?
In February 2011 there was an unusually warm Saturday, the first of the season, so I suggested a walk on Folly Beach to my boyfriend Ryan. He took me to the very north end, past the wall and overlooking Morris Island. I’d been there once almost eight years before and thought it was so beautiful and secluded; I told my friend at the time I thought it was the perfect spot for a proposal. I was remembering that very thought when Ryan dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. And no lie, a dolphin jumped completely out of the water just as I said yes.
Describe Charleston in three words.
Evocative. Visceral. Charmed.
*See the rest of the series here.