Grilling with Boris


“What’s happenin’ party people?” Boris Davis says with a flashy smile as he flips a row of chicken onto the grill with ease. As the long line winds around the “Deluxe Grille” section of the caf, Boris makes it a point to ask each person what they’ll be having today.

“Six minutes, ya’ll,” he shouts before proceeding to hum a soulful tune aloud and ask how his co-workers if they’re doing alright. Given all of this, it’s no surprise that the line for Boris’ succulent chicken and steaks is nearly out the door on a daily basis. A combination of humor, charisma, and kindness makes Boris one of the cafeteria’s most compelling characters. Not to mention, his signature steak and chicken are staff favorites too.

Before Boris was bringing wide smiles and satisfied stomachs to UT, he had a successful career at Flanagan’s Restaurant in Thibodaux, Louisiana; training with renowned chef Brian Barry to sharpen his cooking skills. Though only a young 22-year-old, Boris was named Barry’s assistant and followed his head chef meticulously in order to carve out an identity of his own.

“That’s how I grew, just by paying attention to what he was telling me to do or how to do it. I never said ‘hey, that’s wrong.’ I followed the rules, followed the directions,” he said. “Like I tell everyone, your job will be easy if you just do like your told. If you complain about what you’re doing, it’s gonna be hard for you to do your job. If you stay positive and do as you’re told, everything will go as planned.”

After a while, Boris’ interests led his career path in a completely different direction: real estate. He moved to Florida in the early 2000s, buying and selling homes faster than he flipped burgers on the griddle. The business was booming, the weather was beautiful, and life was good.

Like many realtors, however, he took a devastating blow from the Florida housing crash in 2008, forcing him to pack up shop and reevaluate his trajectory. Before long, he found UT and has yet to look back. He cites the positive atmosphere and ability to interact with a myriad of interesting people on a daily basis as the main reasons he’s perpetually filled with joy. For him, he has a distinct mission here at school: to provide sustenance for the leaders of the future.

“I look at it like this: I’m here for the future, the people of the future. I’m giving them what I have. I have quality food, quality service, and I want them to have the same as I had,” he said. “This doesn’t feel like this is my job, it feels like my hobby, because I’m doing what I like to do–which is work around people as well as feed them and make them happy while I’m feeding them.”

That said, you wouldn’t even have to ask Boris to know how much he loves his job. His constant banter between students and faculty alike show how committed he is to making people’s days, or at least their lunches, a little bit brighter. And if you know him really well, you’ll likely be greeted with an enthused “Hakuna Matata, baby!,” and a casual fist bump.

For Boris, the best thing to ever happen at UT was the renovation of the Ultimate Dining facility in in 2011. Before that point, the Grille section of the Caf was sheathed with a wall and much less of an intimate setting. During the major redesign, the updated “Deluxe Grill” came without a wall, giving Boris a window to see his clientele.

“Now I get to cook in front of people and they can see the quality that’s being put into it, they can see the love that I’m putting in it as well,” Boris said.

When asked if he has a favorite dish to prepare, Boris instantly thought of his “Peruvian Griddle,” a South American wrap loaded with chicken that’s been marinating for three days, chimichurri sauce, and cheese, all compressed into a griddled burrito. He’s yet to make the dish at UT, but don’t be surprised if it surfaces one of these days. After all, Boris has no intentions of leaving anytime soon. In hearing that, we can all be thankful.

“I’m gonna stay here until I’m 66 years old, then I’m gonna retire, then I’m gonna still stay here until I expire,” he said with a chuckle. “I don’t have plans on going anywhere. I don’t have plans on leaving.”

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