South Carolina Lowcountry is a lucky region. Not just because of its beaches … and peaches … but because it’s home to amazing culinary talent; most notably, Brandon Carter, the state’s newly minted Chef Ambassador.
Chef and partner of FARM in Bluffton, South Carolina, a restaurant “inspired by the seasonal bounty of Lowcountry produce,” Carter is dedicated to a locally focused, thoughtfully sourced menu, calling his culinary style “bold, playful and determined.”
A series of culinary experiences throughout his childhood and early teenage years laid the foundation for his future life calling. Family friends owned a Moroccan restaurant in Atlanta, which first exposed Carter to the restaurant business and international cuisine.
“We also took summer trips to see my bonus siblings in La Maddalena (Italy) where I became enamored with food and culture,” Carter recounted. “I saw the energy and passion of the kitchen in both places, and the Rockstar persona of the chefs there, and I fell in love with the industry. It comes down to the way that food brings people around a table.”
Fast forward to the start of his culinary career. Carter graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and began as a chef de partie for the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida. He worked his way up the ladder in the hospitality industry, eventually becoming executive chef at The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a coastal South Carolina luxury resort. Seeing an opportunity to create his own niche in the South Carolina Lowcountry dining scene, Carter struck out on his own and opened FARM in 2015.
Carter acknowledged his career path “started out like a yarn ball and has become more deliberate” as he aged, but was quick to add, “I wouldn’t change a thing about it.”
While he explored a broad range of cultures and food along the way, Carter now chooses to focus on local fare, paying homage and respect to the farmers and vendors—who have become close friends—that harvest and produce the elements that reach guests’ plates.
When asked to expand on his cooking style at FARM, Carter shared, “We play in a few different sandboxes. We like to explore different flavors and cuisines, but ground ourselves in seasonality and our connection to the Lowcountry.”
With items on the menu ranging from the Hashed Spaghetti Squash, Fried Okra and Carolina Gold Rice to Whole Roasted Fish, Jefferson Red Rice and Butterbeans and Brown Butter Corn Bread, it’s easy to see that there is something both comforting and complex about Carter’s culinary prowess.
That may be, in part, to the tools Carter uses to develop intricate flavors and textures (and passion) that go into his signature dishes. He expounded his use of Vitamix Commercial machines in his kitchens, and their ability to make a more efficient and precise dish.
“Honestly, I don’t know what people did before Vitamix,” said Carter. “It’s the most important piece of equipment in my kitchen. It’s the workhorse and allows us to cover so much more ground than we would be able to do without it.”
His blender of choice? A Vita-Prep. “It’s just the right size, and I love the multi-speed functionality,” said Carter. “I use mine all day, every day.”
Carter also boasts about the machine’s ability to perform unique tasks and techniques, explaining how he uses the friction from the blades to cook eggs for sabayon or set the color in herb purees.
He especially admires the blender’s work on purees like parsnip or soubise. “They come out so incredibly velvety and smooth,” he marveled.
With a rating of at least 4.5 (out of 5) on restaurant review sites including TripAdvisor, Yelp and OpenTable, it’s no surprise that FARM has become a favorite for locals and a destination for visitors. Given Carter’s passion for local fare and appreciation for the farmers and vendors that supply the ingredients he serves to guests, this labor of love in the Lowcountry is more than just farm-to-table, it’s heart-to-heart.