When James Beard Award-winner Morgan Calcote first walks into the room, you’re met with an infectious smile and vibrant energy that immediately endears the young general manager from Charleston darling, FIG. However, once she begins to talk, there is an obvious wisdom that comes from someone who is both deeply passionate and invested in their craft.
Morgan’s journey in food and beverage began at an early age. She grew up visiting her grandparents’ farm where they produced food for both her family and those in the community. Inspired by what she had experienced on the farm, food continued to be a thread throughout Morgan’s life.
During her college years and post-grad explorations, Morgan gained her first exposure to wine in the countrysides of Europe and New Zealand. Even more than wine, though, she learned about the importance of connecting with people. The spirit of hospitality followed her back to Charleston where she set her sights on the quickly-growing culinary community.
When Charleston-based Japanese restaurant O-ku opened in 2010, Morgan was on the front lines, managing the dining room while having her first interaction with a master sommelier. After making the switch from O-ku to FIG, her curiosity about the inner workings of wine only deepened as she moved up the restaurant’s ranks.
Fast forward to 2018 and Morgan is now the manager of FIG and has served as the head of the restaurant’s wine program for two and a half years.
Managing the wine program for one of Charleston’s most-celebrated restaurants is no easy feat. While many restaurants are able to stock a lengthy roster of wines in large cellars, FIG curates a much shorter list. Each bottle is hand picked based on where it’s produced and how well it compliments one of the delicious dishes on the FIG menu. Morgan carves out time each year to travel and learn about the continuously evolving world of wine to ensure FIG’s wine list never dulls. However, for Morgan, the guests in her dining room serve as one of the biggest inspirations for curating a wine program that is both impressive and approachable.
The team at FIG’s dedication to providing a memorable experience for every guest has established the southern eatery as one of the Lowcountry’s most-beloved spots for both locals and visitors. It came as a surprise to no one who has dined at the restaurant, then, when FIG won the 2018 James Beard Award for Best Wine Program. The award was a direct reflection of Morgan’s commitment to providing the best wines possible for her guests while building a connection between the restaurant and the surrounding community.
Despite the international attention that accompanies such a prestigious award, Morgan’s focus remains on making FIG approachable for any and everyone. Because, for her, the most important aspect of the culinary community is the ability for anyone to take a seat at the table.
Blend that with one of the impeccable wines from FIG and you’ve got yourself a perfect pairing.