Palmer hopeful community will help him take title as ‘Favorite Chef’

Published 9:15 am Thursday, July 27, 2023

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An area chef is competing against others across the nation and has already gained the support to make his way through five rounds of voting to earn a spot in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Focus your device camera on this QR code to vote for Palmer.

Dave Palmer, a resident of Paxton, a former restaurateur who owned and operated Dave’s Café and Gifts in Paxton, just across the state line from Florala.

Palmer is among those competing in “Favorite Chef presented by Carla Hall.” Chefs from across the country are competing for the title of Favorite Chef 2023, which comes with a $25,000 prize, a 2-page advertorial in Taste of Home magazine, and a one-on-one cooking session in New York with celebrity chef Carla Hall. The contest also serves as a fundraiser that will benefit the James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture.

To move forward in the competition, and possibly take the grand prize, Palmer seeks support from the community by voting for him online at The quarter-finals began Monday and will continue through August 3.

Palmer has already outlasted 92 other competitors through five rounds, but will need additional support to continue moving forward in the competition.

“When I operated Dave’s Café and Gifts, a lot of my customers came from the Florala and Lockhart area. I also delivered lunch to the staff at Florala High School weekly. Former customers who are also friends have really fueled my success in the competition and I’m still in it because of them,” Palmer said.

Palmer began his culinary journey while in college as a way to help save money by not eating out.

“I realized I could stretch my budget farther by cooking at home in my apartment instead of eating out all the time like my friends were doing,” he said. “They started coming over and tasting my cooking while I was experimenting and nicknamed me Chef BoyarDave. I realized that food was my love language at that point, because I get so much joy from cooking for others. They all encouraged me to open a restaurant, and a dozen years or so later, I did.”

Among his favorite dishes to prepare for others is pizza. “It’s a dish that is meant to be shared and can easily be varied to cater to personal preferences of anyone that will enjoy it.”

Palmer already has a good idea of how he will use the $25,000 grand prize if he finishes first.

“I have a goal of cooking in each state. I have already done Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and South Carolina. I will be shooting in Alabama later this year with my grandmother in Montgomery and then with Caleb and Jennifer Davidson for the Cancer Freeze in Florala. Hopefully, Florida will be the victory party!,” he said.

He hopes to complete the goal by his 50th birthday, followed by publishing a cookbook featuring his travels.

Palmer said if he wins he would celebrate with family and friends who supported him by throwing a party in Paxton featuring throwback dishes from his former restaurant.

“It’s truly touching how much local support I’ve had,” Palmer said. “Most of the local support is coming from customers of my former cafe and it means so much that they still support me four years after the cafe closed. That’s why I am organizing a party for them if I win. To be able to celebrate with the people that have shown me so much support would be the icing on the cake. I will be so happy to see everyone in one place again and of course cook for them again,” he said.

To support Palmer in the competition, visit or focus your device’s camera on the QR code accompanying this story.