Travis Grimes has been cooking almost as long as he’s lived in the Lowcountry of South Carolina—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 2000—the same year he completed an internship at James Beard “Best Chef Southeast” winner Louis Osteen’s restaurant, Louis’s Charleston Grill.
After school, Grimes helped open Cypress Lowcountry Grill on East Bay Street in Charleston—not far from McCrady’s Restaurant. In 2003, he moved to McCrady’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 Kramer’s departure in 2006.
Grimes has a passion for creating authentic Southern cuisine from indigenous and local ingredients—so when Brock opened Husk in 2010 it was a natural progression for Grimes to move there with him as his Chef de Cuisine. “At Husk we very much celebrate the traditional South,” Grimes says. “We support local farmers and fishermen; if it’s a quality Southern product, we want it at the restaurant.” 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. “We 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,” he notes.
The curing of meats and the pickling and canning are of special interest to Grimes, who talks often of his “love for pork” and who worked with Brock to elevate both Husk and McCrady’s charcuterie programs. “They’ve been some of the most motivating experiences of my career: the curing of meats, pickling, canning—taking things like peppers, peaches, and more at their peak of quality and preserving them and making them incredible year round.”
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 Husk’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 2013, Grimes won the hotly contested Cochon Heritage BBQ competition in Memphis, TN, a snout-to-tail cook-off between local and regional chefs. In the rare moments when he’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.
Awards & Press
- James Beard Award