South's Greatest Chefs of 2016 Winners


With the food revolution starting in the South, it’s no wonder our chefs are so dang popular.

People from all over the country voted in our annual poll and we received the widest variety of winners in DineSouth history. Is this an indication of the growing popularity of Southern food culture? We think so. It’s also proof that the Chefs down South are kicking a** and taking names in the Southern food revolution.

 

Jesse Rice of Backwoods Crossing in Tallahassee, Florida placed first in our Greatest Chef’s Contest.

“Being raised in the true South, most of us are used to our parents having a garden of some size in the back yard. I’m bringing that super fresh taste back to the table with a garden growing at Backwoods Crossing fed by any organic material left over from my restaurants to create a super-rich compost. Momma’s proud!”

 

 

Ryan Goreau of Fifth & Thomas in Tallahassee, Florida;

“Southern food over the years has become much more desirable to the general public because the old classic “stick to your ribs” Southern food has become much more refined and delicate with the influence of fine dining that has taken over the world. I do whatever I can to contribute to this food revolution. I visit local farms and volunteer my time, supporting the local farms by using anything and everything available to me that is sourced locally. I feel as though I do a really good job transforming Southern classics into a more desirable cuisine by lightening up the dish, representing the ingredients from my region of the South, putting my more “high end” perspective or interpretation on the dish, and by letting these awesome Southern ingredients speak for themselves. All of these fresh ingredients are so delicious, so why would we compensate their integrity by over cooking them?”

 

Michael Wright of Natalia’s in Macon, GA;

“I think mainly Southern food has become more refined. When I moved to the South from Michigan in ’98 Southern food was always your typical meat and three. Now we are seeing chefs use typical Southern ingredients with new, more refined techniques or using your typical Southern techniques with new ingredients. After a five year stint in South Florida, which I do not consider part of the South, I moved back to Macon. As a chef you are always somewhat restricted in what you can do by the type of restaurant you work in. Since being back in Macon, I have done Southern fine dining, casual European bistro, Mongolian barbecue, gastropub and currently Italian food. I try to take the knowledge I’ve gained working in Atlanta, Boca Raton and other major markets and bring that to Macon. It’s very nice being in a smaller city that is experiencing great culinary growth right now.  I’ve been able to come in at the beginning and hopefully pave the way for the future chefs of Macon. Also making sure to source as much local quality ingredients as possible. By using local farmers we are able to provide fresher food and give back to the community.”

 

Crystal Hoang of Corner Cafe in Atlanta, GA;

“Growing up in Savannah played a large role in my decision to become a chef. Some of my earliest memories in a kitchen were at my great aunt’s house helping her cook. It was always hearty, filling meals; chicken fried steaks, gravies, mashed potatoes, casseroles, and a lot of cookies. She called it ‘stick to your ribs’ food. It was only when I moved to Atlanta that I noticed a shift in the mentality of cooking in the South. Nowadays people are more health conscious and there are wonderful substitutions for fatty or unhealthy fare at our fingertips. My part in this is to pay homage to inspirational Southern chefs in my life by taking what they taught me and applying it to today’s tech-advanced kitchens. Whether it’s sous vide chicken before it is fried or creating a chickpea foam, we have new toys and gadgets that weren’t around before; how exciting is that? Also, it’s important that we support our local farmers, growers, and markets. Keeping these places alive is key to pushing us forward with quality ingredients to be innovative with.”

 

Matthew Coburn of Cypress Restaurant in Tallahassee, FL;

“Southern food has grown in popularity over the years, with an emphasis on farm to table cooking and preservation. It has come full circle from people only cooking what they could grow on their own land to the more eclectic Southern fine dining scene we see today. Southern food isn’t just fried chicken, grits, greens, and gravy. It is a respect for the food that grows around us and the animals raised around us. Southern farmers show the land and animals respect by growing and raising food sustainably and I attempt to show that same respect by working with the farmers directly and serving their products at Cypress. I think more people across the country are becoming aware of this farm to table movement with well-respected chefs bringing it to light and making it more easily accessible to their restaurants. Most of the food I cook is grown or raised within a 50-mile radius. Knowing my farmers personally contributes to my passion for the food I am cooking and my awareness of the plates I am setting before guests in my restaurant. “

 

Greg Silver of a.Lure in Savannah, GA;

“I feel that the Southern food has recently became one of the most loved American cuisines. Chefs are recreating the flavors and dishes across the United States and guests are eating it up. I have been lucky enough to work with some great people in the Southern food scene such as the Brennan family from New Orleans and Louis Osteen from Charleston. I use my education through them to try keep pushing forward with my food. I was 16 when I picked up my first knife in a professional kitchen. I was actually a fast learner and enjoyed trying new things I had never tried before. I found out I was actually pretty good at it and could hang with the veterans. I loved to come in everyday and learn new things. But the best was how I felt when I would leave after a busy night; to know you did what seemed to be impossible at the time gave me sense of pride and made me feel unstoppable.”

 

Clayton Rollison of Lucky Rooster in Hilton Head, SC; 

“We get our Southern soul from serving the freshest ingredients sourced from local and regional farms, purveyors, and our local waters. Revolutionizing Southern food is about using what is in season and changing it up based on what’s available. I take inspiration from my surroundings, but also my staff. We’ve got a great array of people from every background that bring so much to the table.”

 

Kevin Nape of Savannah Riverboat Cruises in Savannah, GA;

“In the last couple of years Southern food has gone back to the true basics - with a twist. I’m contributing to this Southern food revolution by using true and local ingredients in timeless Southern recipes with flare. It’s comfort food; going back to your roots when you were a child and your family cooking your favorites will always make you feel better. Southern food is about remembering the good times.”

 

Bridgette Frazier of Gullah Fried Sweet in Bluffton, SC;

“Southern food has become more respected and revered. It has gone from the simplistic nature of good ole’ backyard barbecue and all things fried, to now a fusion of multiple cultures with the utilization of locally grown produce, seafood, you name it. I’m contributing to the Southern Food Revolution by expanding the palate of all things Gullah. Gullah cuisine is exotic to some but often omitted by others when they think of Southern food. I make traditional Gullah dishes, but I also spin some of them in a way that introduces them to this ever evolving culture.”

 

Zach Starr of Ordinary Pub in Savannah, GA;

“At Ordinary Pub we take  pride in the meticulously details that go into every dish. We’ve combined classic pub fare with Southern cuisine that will seriously blow people’s minds. That’s what the food revolution is about. Putting your spin on the classics so it is more accessible to everyone.”

Check out the slideshow below of this year's Greatest Chefs! For a complete list, subscribe now or pick up the October/November issue of South Magazine.

GREATEST CHEFS SLIDESHOW

 

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Greatest Chefs 2019

Chefs are invisible artists. They keep us salivating, our minds fixated on the last time we ate at our favorite restaurant, and when the next time we plan on going. Nominate your favorite chef now!

Greatest Pets 2019

Man's Best Friend can be South's Greatest Pet with the right amount of love. Enter your pet and get those votes! Limited to southeast Georgia and the Lowcountry. Voting begins June 10 and ends July 1.
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Events Calendar

  • FYZICAL® Savannah Celebrates Anniversary with Open House on June 26

    Jun 26, 2019
    5:00 AM - 6:30 PM @ FYZICAL Savannah

    FYZICAL® Savannah, a local center providing balance therapy and fall prevention treatment, will hold a community open house Wednesday, June 26,...

  • Camp Buddy Effingham

    Jun 24, 2019
    8:30 AM - 3:00 PM @ Blandford Elementary School

    Camp Buddy offers programs to prepare children for the upcoming school year with the goal of promoting information retention from the previous...

  • Summer Sea Camp

    May 27, 2019
    9:30 AM - 4:00 PM @ Tybee Island Marine Science Center

    Kids 6 to 11 years old * Morning and/or Afternoon Modules * After Care * Curbside Drop-off/Pick-up   Summer FUN for the kids…designed to fit...

  • SS Savannah (1819-2019)

    May 23, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Ships of the Sea Museum

    2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the SS Savannah's groundbreaking trans-Atlantic crossing.  In recognition of this monumental achievement,...

  • "The Prints of Dame Laura Knight" Exhibition at Telfair Museums

    Jan 19, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Telfair Museums' Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums exhibits nine prints by Dame Laura Knight (British, 1877-1970), together for the first time since they were acquired by the museum...

  • Ready. Set. Summer. at Bluemercury!

    May 13, 2019
    10:00 AM - 8:00 PM @ Bluemercury

    Summer is quickly approaching – stop into your local neighborhood beauty store Bluemercury for all the essentials you need to refresh your...

  • Summer Reading Program

    Jun 01, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:15 PM @ Live Oak Public Libraries

    Reach for the stars with Summer Reading Program at Live Oak Public Libraries! Explore "A Universe of Stories" from June 1 through July 31...

  • "Keita Takahashi: Zooming Out" Exhibition at Telfair Musuems

    Jan 24, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums hosts the first museum survey of the work of visionary videogame designer Keita Takahashi (Japanese, b. 1975). Takahashi is noted...

  • "Mary Poppins Returns"

    Jun 25, 2019
    3:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    This critically acclaimed reimagining of the timeless classic, Mary Poppins, features Emily Blunt In the lead role. The new storyline, set in...

  • cSpot @ Ghost Coast Distillery

    Jun 26, 2019
    5:30 PM - 7:30 PM @ Ghost Coast Distillery

    Come mix & mingle with locals over unique craft spirits and signature cocktails made in Savannah’s first distillery since just before...

  • French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850-1950

    Jun 15, 2019
    All Day @ Consumer Museum of Art and Garden

    The biggest names in French art such as, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir will be showcased...

  • Coastal Heritage Society Summer Camps

    Jun 03, 2019
    All Day @ Tricentennial Park

    Each week-long camp: “STEAM Studio Camp,” “Jr. Chef Camp” and “Jr. Engineer Train Camp” will take place in June...

  • Pet Adoption Happy Hours

    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Green Fire Pizza

    On Thursday, 6/27, between 5 & 7 PM, Green Fire Pizza will be hosting Coastal Pet Rescue's Pet Adoption Event.  A portion of all...

  • Yacht Hop 2019

    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Savannah Yacht Club

    Join us for the 2019 Leukemia Cup Regatta Yacht Hop! Help us kick off the 2019 Leukemia Cup Regatta Series of Events! While you tour beautiful...

  • MAGNUM OPUS - 2019 ARTS ON THE COAST ANNUAL EXHIBIT

    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Deep South Photopoint

    The Arts on the Coast (AOC) is proud to present its 2019 Annual Exhibit hosted by the Photopoint Gallery and Elmgren's Garden Center in...

  • Pelindaba Lavender Grand Opening

    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Pelindaba Lavender

    Join us to celebrate all things lavender in Savannah - ribbon cutting, product sampling, lavender refreshments and special prizes! During this...

  • Let's Talk Community Discussion Series: Mental Illness and the LGBT+ Community

    Jun 27, 2019
    6:30 PM - 8:30 PM @ Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church

    The fifth event in The ELLA Foundation’s Let’s Talk Community Discussion Series will feature a panel of local experts and will be...

  • "Rocketman"

    Jun 27, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    The epic musical story of Elton John, his breakthrough years and his transformation from shy piano prodigy to international superstar. Set to his...

  • Courtland & Co. Sample Sale

    Jun 28, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Courtland & Co

    Savannah's beloved gift shop, Courtland & Co, is making room for some exciting surprises in store and as such, are hosting their first ever...

  • Beatles Yoga with Maggie Cunningham

    Jun 28, 2019
    5:45 PM - 7:00 PM @ Savannah Power Yoga

    Here comes the sun salutations! In this heated, 75-minute workshop, we will flow through a power vinyasa sequence accompanied by the music of the...


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Scenes of the South

JCB MudRun 2019

Participants hit the ground running at this year's JCB Mud Fest, climbing through tough obstacles in either the 5k or the 5 mile run. At the end of the race was a long slide where, upon finishing, contestants found themselves in the Party Pit. Winners from various age groups were presented with trophies, and all the proceeds from the JCB Mud Fest benefited the Lady Bamford Center for Early Childhood Development.

Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum's 200th Anniversary!

This past Wednesday, May 22, we celebrated with Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum for for the 200th anniversary of the SS Savannah's historic trans-Atlantic crossing — the WORLD'S FIRST oceanic voyage under steam! On this year's Maritime Day, Ships of the Sea celebrated the Savannah's 200th anniversary with a commemorative ceremony provided by the PROPELLER CLUB, where Robert Morris unveiled two eight-foot paintings. The evening also included an amazing performance by the Parris Island MARINE BAND, complimentary hors d'oeuvres and celebratory beverages!

Brews For A Cause at Top Deck

This past Tuesday, May 21 we celebrated another successful Brews for a Cause at Top Deck Bar! We joined up with Southern Eagle and a great group of like minded people to benefit Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire in their efforts to provide financial assistance to the surviving families of local law enforcement officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty. It was another memorable night in the South filled with great people and even greater crafted beer! This month's Featured Craft Beer: Island Coastal Lager Sponsors: Island Coastal Lager, Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire, Southern Eagle, South Magazine

Brews for a Cause at Churchill's

This Thursday, Churchill's was pack as we celebrated another successful Brews for a Cause at Churchill's! We joined Southern Eagle and The Coastal Heritage Society. Southern Eagle provided great craft beer, Sista Rae Rae performed live, and the silent auction was a huge success. All the proceeds from the silent auction — including a diamond necklace from International Diamond — benefitted the Coastal Heritage Society.

Nine Line Foundation Dinner

On Friday, May 17, Nine Line hosted their Foundation Dinner that included special guests WWE Superstars Mark Calaway aka The Undertaker, Dustin Rhodes aka Goldust, John “Tig” Tiegen, hero of Benghazi portrayed in the movie “13 Hours,” Chad Prather, comedian and social media celebrity, and Graham Allen, social media celebrity. Guests mingled with the superstars and bid on auction items to raise money for the foundation. Matt Lyda put on a stellar performance as the MC of the event and kept the crowd entertained and bidding.

6th Annual Nine Line Run for the Wounded

The Nine Line Foundation and Nine Line Apparel celebrate Armed Forces Day for their 6th Annual 5K/10K Run for the Wounded in Savannah, Georgia. Proceeds from the race go directly towards their newest initiative: building a transitional community, a Veterans Village, for homeless veterans right here in Savannah, Georgia. With both 5K and 10K options available, this twilight run turned out to be another great success.

Nine Line Foundation Dinner

On Friday, May 17, Nine Line hosted their Foundation Dinner that included special guests WWE Superstars Mark Calaway Aka: the Undertaker, Dustin Rhodes aka: Goldust, John Tiegen "Tig" hero of Benghazi portrayed in the movie "13 Hours", Chad Prather, Comedian and Social Media Celebrity, and Graham Allen, Social Media Celebrity. Guests mingled with the superstars and bid on auction items to raise money for the foundation. Matt Lyda put on a stellar performance as the MC of the event and kept the crowd entertained and bidding.

SCAD40 Block Party

SCAD celebrated their 40th anniversary with a grand block party. Fellow alumni reconnected with university faculty and staff. ShopSCAD had live artist demonstrations, live music at the Gryphon, keepsakes and SCAD40 merchandise to purchase at the Art’s Café, SCAD food trucks with tasty treats and much more.

Kessler Collection’s Armstrong-Kessler Mansion Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Local hotelier Richard Kessler and his company The Kessler Collection officially cut the ribbon on his newly restored home in Savannah, the Armstrong-Kessler Mansion. This iconic home celebrates its 100th birthday this year, and his been meticulously restored to its former grandeur as one of the foremost examples of Italian Renaissance architecture and design in America. Congratulations to Richard Kessler and The Kessler Collection!

The Clyde

The Clyde Venue is Savannah’s newest, most modern, wedding venue located in the Historic Landmark District. The space has been completely renovated, and a work in progress for more than a year. The venue is 5,200 square feet and includes a grande room, large marble bar, catering prep area, and restrooms. It’s located at 223 Martin Luther King Boulevard.