used to be a downtown chef, making his name at places like Union Hall, Cintra, and — most famously — Mercato, where restaurateur Hank Holliday set him up in a big way when Larson returned from New York and Italy and tried to dazzle us with his rustic Italian fare in 2006. Unfortunately, he was reined in by business demands (ie. tourist market tastes) and prevented from really doing his own thing.
For evidence, we dug up Jeff Allen's review from 2006
: "If one looks to fault the place it could only be to question the menu itself. For all the resounding elegance and formality, the current menu seems strangely blasé. Larson shows glints of distinctiveness, originality, and innovation, but for all the fanfare surrounding the opening, cooking with Mario Batali in New York, and the journey through numerous Italian kitchens, it is rather clear that he has yet to be unleashed. They just aren't pushing the envelope. Too many dishes smack of Italian-American dishes, rather than the authentic cuisine of the boot itself."
Larson abruptly left Mercato in 2009 and landed at Wild Olive on Johns Island. The rustic setting close to farms and the laid-back vibe of the islands seems to have been the perfect fit for Larson's sensibilities. He was finally unleashed to do the Italian-influenced local food he wanted and has garnered a loyal fanbase in the process.
The WIld Olive Restaurant Group recently announced their expansion with a second restaurant slated for Sullivan's Island. Larson will head up the Obstinate Daughter's kitchen, creating a menu of wood-fired Italian-esque fare that reflects the Lowcountry too, with a raw bar and other coastal influences.
And this is where we must stop to discuss that name. According to the press release, the Obstinate Daughter is a nod to Col. Moultrie's staunch defense of the island during the Revolutionary War in this political cartoon from the time:
Interesting bit of obscure historical artifact.
The restaurant is slated to open in January 2014 in the former Atlanticville space. If you want to get in on the ground floor, they are currently hiring
(and using PeopleMatter's software to do so).