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 former James Beard Best Chef Southeast winner Louis Osteenâ€™s restaurant, Louisâ€™s Charleston Grill.
After school, Grimes helped open the 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 Brock, who took over as executive chef after Kramerâ€™s departure in 2006.
â€‹Grimes and Brock share 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 who worked with Brock 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
â€‹As chef de cuisine, Grimes runs the kitchen and oversees the menu, working closely with Brock, who pulls double duty at both Husk and sister restaurant, McCradyâ€™s. Huskâ€™s menu focuses on Southern classics, using as many local, indigenous ingredients as possible, with Grimes researching antique cookbook recipes to ensure the menuâ€™s authenticity. In addition, Grimes oversees numerous other touches that keep the restaurant true to this goal, including making hot sauce, bitters for culinary-influenced cocktails, and even sarsaparilla in house.
â€‹In the rare moments when heâ€™s not in the kitchen, Grimes can be found at home in Charleston with his wife, dog, and two cats, simply enjoying some down time or tending to his own garden.