Gwen Fowler



In the Kitchen with Chef Tim Peters

Posted 4/27/2012 12:17:00 PM

Motor Supply Company in Columbia’s Vista offers diners a menu that changes daily in a historic setting. The restaurant, which opened in 1989, is in a building from the late 1800s, now on the National Register of Historic Places, that was once a Columbia engine supply building.

Chef Tim Peters calls the restaurant a farm-to-fork bistro.

“Our cuisine is a constantly-changing collage of primarily local and secondly South Carolina ingredients from sustainable farms, using contemporary French techniques mixed with regional and world customs.”

A New Jersey native, Peters attended culinary school at Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York and studied in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu. He previously worked for Charleston Chefs Frank Lee of Slightly North of Broad and Mike Lata of FIG

Q: What are you cooking these days that excites you the most?
What excites me the most is my relationship with my farmers and gardeners. I love the surprise visits and phone calls telling me that livestock is ready or I am about to get my hands on heirloom vegetables still warm from the sun.

Q: What five things are always in your refrigerator?
Wine, beer, BUTTER, mustard, cheese.

Q: What restaurants do you like to eat at when you’re not working?
I like restaurants that don't try too hard to be something that they are not. I tend to gravitate toward hole in the walls and food cultures that are not my own.

Q: What’s the best tip you can give a home cook?
Let the ingredients shine by keeping it simple. In restaurant jargon, "Buy the best you can, and try not to mess it up."

Q: What’s your prediction for the next big food or restaurant trend?
Trends, shmends. The classics are classics for a reason. They have stood the test of time.

Q: Who in your life has most influenced your cooking?
That is a tough one. I would probably say Anthony Spinella. He was the chef who gave me my first shot in a good kitchen. I still look back at the lessons that he taught me, even though I didn't understand much of what he was saying until years later.

Q: What was your favorite food as a kid? What was the dish or food you hated to eat the most?
Macaroni and cheese! Love the stuff! Who doesn't? As for the worst childhood food ever, I would say it was not the food but rather the smell: every summer my neighbor would pickle cucumbers, and the smell of boiling vinegar would permeate everything. Oddly enough, today, I love to pickle at Motor: asparagus, okra, cucumbers, whatever.

Q: What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done in a restaurant kitchen?
Fly off the handle for no reason. Every chef has done it, and every chef is remorseful about it later.