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Chef Brannon Florie, The Heart of the Kitchen

on Monday, 27 February 2012. Posted in Magazine, Chefs, Eat This! February 2012

Brannon-Florie-IMG 2640The kitchen is a place of dual personality. It is the heart of a home and the heart of a business. In both kitchens, hopes rise and fall with the execution of a dish. Special occasions are marked by the efforts of the kitchen. Young palates are inspired there. Novice cooks become chefs sweating blood and tears in the heat of the kitchen. Earning the title of Chef is not simply the acquisition of a culinary degree. It is a baptism by fire at the grills, burners and ovens in restaurants all over the world. A Chef is the heart of his kitchen.

Subject : Brannon Florie General Manger/Executive Chef 17 North Roadside Kitchen

Origins: Native Son - Hanahan, SC

Culinary Roots : Grandmother was the personal chef of the mayor of North Charleston. Grandparents on the other side of the family were working farmers. As a child he understood the connection of farm to table.

Evolution: First job at 14 was in the dish pit. Quickly understanding that there was money to be made in the front of the house, he moved to a position as busser and then on to serving. It wasn't a good fit. He realized that what he was searching for was in the kitchen. He stopped following the money and followed his heart.

Career Path: His passion took him to Orlando, Disney and the high volume restaurants of International Drive. His talents in the kitchen and his strong business sense brought him to the attention of entrepreneurs who took him to Texas where he opened five restaurants in major markets. At 27, it was his back that brought him home. After surgery and a self-driven speedy recovery, he returned to his passion of cooking in the kitchen at the Boat House at Breech Inlet. Three years later, he set out on his own with Twisted Fish. This ill-fated venture led him to a place he had had his eye on since his return to the Lowcountry. That place is 17 North Roadside Kitchen. As for James Island, he says without flinching, "it was an unfortunate misjudgment."

Memorable Moment:Alton Brown's unexpected appearance in his kitchen. While Alton Brown was in Charleston, he decided to make a reservation with the Boathouse. The young hostess at the time, clueless to the Food Network, kindly dismissed Alton due to a packed night. After a further discussion, involving Alton's mother, the family enjoyed an evening under Florie's helm. A special request was sent back to the chef-hushpuppies to be exact. Brannon himself took to the corner and prepared them with precision. He was later interrupted in the midst of "embarrassingly shouting at an employee" by Alton himself to thank him. Pass ionate Distract ions: He rarely disconnects from the business. Occasionally he fishes, dines out or travels, but those occasions are rare. His work is his distraction.

Chef Idol/Mentor /Inspiration: Kim of Kim's Steakhouse in West Ashley. Brannon and his family have known Kim since his days as Hibachi Chef at Kyoto's. He has marked most of his birthdays with Kim and this year will not be an exception. It is only recently that Brannon came to the realization that Kim's skills and showmanship have been inspiring him since he was a child. Charleston foodies thank Chef Kim!

Greatest Future Challenge: Raising a child. Brannon and his fiancĂ© had a beautiful baby girl.  Congratulations from Eat This! 

by Antonia M. Krenza and Laney Roberts

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