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Travis Grimes has been cooking almost as long as heâ€™s lived in the Lowcountry of South Carolinaâ€”which is to say, most of his life. He was taught the basics at home and worked as a cook at different restaurants in and around Charleston throughout high school, where he learned how to make bona fide Southern food from some of his older co-workers. Grimes enrolled in Johnson & Wales University in Charleston after high school, from which he graduated in 2000â€”the same year he completed an internship at James Beard â€śBest Chef Southeastâ€ť winner Louis Osteenâ€™s restaurant, Louisâ€™s Charleston Grill.
After school, Grimes helped open Cypress Lowcountry Grill on East Bay Street in Charlestonâ€”not far from McCradyâ€™s Restaurant. In 2003, he moved to McCradyâ€™s working his way up to sous chef under Chef Michael Kramer, and then working alongside Sean Brock, who took over as executive chef after Kramerâ€™s departure in 2006.
Grimes has a passion for creating authentic Southern cuisine from indigenous and local ingredientsâ€”so when Brock opened Husk in 2010 it was a natural progression for Grimes to move there with him as his Chef de Cuisine. â€śAt Husk we very much celebrate the traditional South,â€ť Grimes says. â€śWe support local farmers and fishermen; if itâ€™s a quality Southern product, we want it at the restaurant.â€ť Among those products are sustainable seafood from the nearby Atlantic; pork products from pigs raised on a farm in Virginia; as well as fresh, pickled, and canned produce. â€śWe are also bringing back heirloom varieties of grains that are native to the area, as well as growing an entire crop just for seed saving,â€ť he notes.
The curing of meats and the pickling and canning are of special interest to Grimes, who talks often of his â€ślove for porkâ€ť and his work to elevate both Husk and McCradyâ€™s charcuterie programs. â€śTheyâ€™ve been some of the most motivating experiences of my career: the curing of meats, pickling, canningâ€”taking things like peppers, peaches, and more at their peak of quality and preserving them and making them incredible year round.â€ť
In 2015, Grimes was promoted to Executive Chef at Husk, in recognition of his talent, loyalty and leadership. Grimes oversees the Husk kitchen and develops the menu, drawing from authentic recipes in antique cookbooks, and focusing on Southern classics, while emphasizing local, indigenous ingredients. Grimes is instrumental in reinforcing Huskâ€™s commitment to authenticity, overseeing projects like researching recipes, and making special ingredients in-house, like hot sauce, bitters for culinary-influenced cocktails, and even sarsaparilla.
In the rare moments when heâ€™s not in the kitchen, Grimes can be found at home in Charleston with his wife, two kids, dog, and two cats, enjoying some down time or tending to his own garden.