Chef Brandon Carter has built a career highlighting the culinary contributions of others, namely the growers, fishers, harvesters and other local food purveyors who supply the larder at FARM in Bluffton. With a menu built solidly on the farm-to-table philosophy, he now finds himself in the spotlight.
Named a 2019 South Carolina Chef Ambassador, Carter is more than qualified to represent the state as a culinarian and supporter of local farming communities. The program, an initiative begun by former Gov. Nikki Haley, promotes South Carolina's culinary heritage and local food culture through the selection of chefs, who spend the year making guest appearances and presenting cooking demonstrations and educational programs.
Carter’s experience as a chef was gleaned in such notable kitchens as Inn at Palmetto Bluff, where he was named chef de cuisine in 2011, and the Ritz-Carlton Naples in South Florida, where he was chef de partie and chef de cuisine from 2004 to 2008. He worked his way up from sous chef to chef de cuisine at Mumbo Jumbo Bar and Grill in Atlanta, a stint that provided firm footing for his culinary path.
In this Q&A, Carter shares the roots of his food passion and describes life as a South Carolina chef:
What first sparked your interest in a culinary career?
“I have a stepbrother and stepsister who live on an island off the island of Sardinia called La Maddalena. We would go visit during the summers, and it was there that I fell in love with the idea of community through food.”
What makes being a chef in South Carolina so appealing?
“Long growing seasons and pristine seafood—having a connection to the hard-working people who grow and harvest the food we serve tells a better story and, I believe, holds us to a higher standard.”
Which South Carolina products are "musts" in your kitchen?
“Oysters, crab and shrimp, for sure. I don’t think that there’s anything that speaks to the place better than what comes out of the water. From the time you set foot in the Lowcountry, the smell of pluff mud and the taste of salt air hit you. The taste of the fresh seafood brings it all full circle.”
What dish best represents your creativity and culinary style?
“We do a May River blue crab rice dish with Charleston Gold rice from Anson Mills that is one of my favorites. It’s hard to choose, though, as there are so many that have defined us.”
As a Chef Ambassador for South Carolina, what ideals do you hope to share with the dining public and why?
“I want to share the ideals that define us as a restaurant: community, seasonality and sustainability.”