Russell Kerman and the crew of Primal Gourmet, was named the 2019 Top Chef by a panel of judges at the South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Palmetto Palate. The event took place July 18 at the South Carolina State Museum. Kerman was among ten local chefs and restaurants participating in the event.

This year’s Top Chef was chosen by local celebrity judges: Leland Pinder, WIS TV news anchor; April Blake, Columbia food writer; and Ron McHugh, founding member of Edible Columbia and Edible Charleston.

Kerman led the team to the honors with a menu of coffee-rubbed short rib with Clemson blue cheese grits. Kerman earned his first executive chef position at Main Course Restaurant and Caterers in the Hudson Valley region of New York before becoming a specialty chef-to-chef marketing associate for Sysco Foodservice Corporation in Boston, Charleston and then Columbia, where he became a Corporate Executive Chef. The restaurant boasts high-quality, fresh, local ingredients.

“The Palmetto Palate celebrates local food grown by South Carolina farmers, which midlands chefs incorporate into tasty dishes,” said Harry Ott, SCFB President. “These are some of the best chefs in the country, and the event and excitement continues to grow each year because of that.”

Palmetto Palate pairs SC farms with leading chefs from around the state and the result is tapas-sized portions of food that are perfect for sampling. Members from county Farm Bureaus across the state also make donations to a silent auction that features items unique to South Carolina, the outdoors, cooking and local artwork.

In addition to Primal Gourmet, other chefs participated from 1801 Grille, Blue Marlin, Bone-In Barbeque, Crave Artisan Market, Dupre Classic Catering, The Grand, Hall’s Chophouse, Pearlz Oyster Bar and Spotted Salamander.

Palmetto Palate has become a celebration of locally grown food, the area’s culinary artistry, and fellowship. The money raised will go toward SCFB’s Educational Foundation to provide scholarships to deserving students across the state who are involved in agriculture.

SCFB is a non-profit organization that celebrates and supports family farmers, locally grown food and rural lands through legislative advocacy, education and community outreach. The organization, founded in 1944, serves more than 100,000 member families in 47 chapters. For more information visit

Feature photo: SCFB Harry Ott (L) presents the Top Chef Award to Primal Gourmet head chef Russell Kerman and team at the 12th annual Palmetto Palate hosted by the South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation at the State Museum Thursday.

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