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Executive Chef David Grillo directs all kitchen operations at Cantina 76 and Za’s on Devine, headquartered in Columbia, S.C. A Columbia native and father of two young children, Chef Grillo is also an instructor at the Culinary Institute at the University of South Carolina, teaching coursework in soups, stocks and sauces; knife skills; professionalism and kitchen etiquette. He is credentialed as a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation.
Grillo worked as a corporate trainer with Applebee’s in Austin, Texas, and in Columbia, S.C., opening the kitchens at the Harbison, Lexington, O’Neill Court, Florence and Sumter, S.C. locations. He served for five years as kitchen manager at Original Pancake House in Columbia, S.C. from 1997 to 2001, then served for five years as kitchen manager at T.G.I. Friday’s at Richland Mall from 2001 to 2006, leading them from $30,000 to $80,000 in weekly sales. Grillo was Executive Chef at Mark’s Steaks, Seafood and Spirits in Chapin, S.C. from 2007 to 2009. In 2009, he was brought on to launch the kitchen at Cantina 76 on Devine. He became credentialed as a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation in 2011.
Chef Grillo has spent eight seasons cooking at the Masters, in private dining and in the clubhouse for Augusta National members, Bill Gates, Eli Manning, Tiger Woods and more.
Chef Grillo’s first cooking gig was at the snack bar at the old State Farmer’s Market. From an Italian family, Chef Grillo has been cooking since he was seven. He has fond memories of preparing Italian food all night the Friday before each Gamecock football game at R. J. Moore’s automotive garage on Rosewood Drive. They would cover the hydraulic lift with a tablecloth to serve coaches and football stars like Todd Ellis and Sterling Sharpe, who would stop in immediately after games to refuel on whatever family recipes had been simmering overnight.