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 Kids 2019

Nominate your kid this year and tell us why he or she has to be the winner of our South's Greatest Kids contest. Don't be shy — this could be your year!

Greatest Chefs 2019

Behind every good meal is a great chef; they are the invisible artists, working behind the scenes. Nominate your favorite chef for South magazine’s Greatest Chefs contest!
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Events Calendar

  • 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,...

  • "Portrait of the Artist" Exhibition at Telfair Museums

    Aug 03, 2019
    12:00 PM - 12:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    This exhibition brings together several photographic portraits of recognizable creative individuals from Telfair’s permanent collection....

  • Yappy Hour Event

    Aug 22, 2019
    5:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Peacock Subaru

    WHO: Peacock Subaru and Renegade Paws Rescue WHAT: Yappy Hour Event WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 22, from 5-7 p.m. WHERE: Peacock Subaru at...

  • 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...

  • Brews for a Cause

    Aug 22, 2019
    5:30 PM - 7:00 PM @ Husk Savannah

    Don't miss this month's Brews for a Cause at Husk, August 22nd! South magazine and Southern Eagle team up to raise money for the Royce...

  • Forgotten Victims Support Group

    Aug 22, 2019
    6:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Demere Center for the Living

    A joint project of The ELLA Foundation and Hospice Savannah's Full Circle Grief and Loss Center, the Forgotten Victims Support Group is a new...

  • Girls' Night Out: "Poms"

    Aug 22, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Ok, ladies, this is the feel-good movie of the summer! You’ll walk out of the Theater exhilarated and ready to take on the world. And it is...

  • 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...

  • Savannah VOICE Festival's Come Together Master Class

    Aug 23, 2019
    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM @ Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus

    Great music is made when great musicians come together. This unique master class, featuring Georgia Southern Voice Students, explores the...

  • Chuck Courtenay at Coach's Corner

    Aug 23, 2019
    6:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ Coach's Corner

    A regional star with a top-notch Nashville backing band, singer and guitarist Chuck Courtenay finds inspriation in the work of iconic honky-tonk...

  • Friday Concert Series

    May 03, 2019
    7:00 PM - 12:00 AM @ Historic Courthouse, Downtown Blairsville on the S

    Come enjoy live music every Friday Night from the first Friday of May through the end of October. The Historic Union County Court House will host...

  • Eastman Gun Show

    Aug 24, 2019
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Savann Civic Center

    A large selection and competitive prices on all the firearms and accessories with the best dealers from all over Georgia gathered in one location...

  • Forsyth Farmer's Market

    Jun 29, 2019
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ South end of Forsyth Park

    The Forsyth Farmers’ Market vendors offer a variety of local goods including seasonal produce, eggs, honey, pastured meat, bread, cheese,...

  • Southern Roots Fest

    Aug 24, 2019
    2:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Garden City Town Center

    A festival that celebrates Southern foods, music and traditions, located in the heart of beautiful Garden City, Georgia. The festival takes place...

  • "Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable"

    Aug 25, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 AM @ Tybee Post Theater

    For Surf Movie Day, we bring you the untold story of the heart of a champion and her resilience against all odds to become one of the leading...

  • Oak Island Farmers and Artisans' Market

    Jul 15, 2019
    8:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ Middleton Park, Oak Island

    At the Oak Island Farmers and Artisans’ Market,  discover fresh local produce, homemade jams, cakes and diverse homemade goods ranging...

  • Encourage Health Series

    Aug 27, 2019
    11:30 AM - 1:30 PM @ Charles H. Morris Center

    Enmarket Encourage Health Lecture Focuses on Facts and Fictions of CBD Oil The facts and fictions of CBD oil will be the topic when Savannah...

  • Author Visit: R.J. Lee

    Aug 28, 2019
    11:00 AM - 12:00 PM @ Islands Library

    R.J. Lee tells the tale of an exclusive Mississippi bridge club whose members are being killed off one by one. With its southern setting, plot...

  • Refinery29’s 29Rooms: Expand Your Reality Experience

    Aug 29, 2019
    10:30 AM - 10:00 PM @ The Works

    Refinery29 is bringing the iconic, immersive art installation 29Rooms: Expand Your Reality to Atlanta for an 11-day pop-up event from Thursday,...

  • Our Salute to Southern Rock

    Aug 30, 2019
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    It’s a Southern Rock tribute to our military vets with the music of the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker and Molly Hatchett,...


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Scenes of the South

Leopold's Ice Cream's 100 Year Birthday Block Party

Leopold’s celebrated its 100th anniversary on Saturday, August 17, throwing a birthday block party to commemorate the event.

Savannah Downtown Business Association Luncheon

The Savannah Downtown Business Association held its monthly luncheon on Aug. 14

Brews for a Cause in July at Churchill's

This Thursday, Churchill's was packed as we celebrated another successful Brews for a Cause ! We joined Southern Eagle and The Ronald McDonald House of The Coastal Empire. Southern Eagle provided great craft beer and the silent auction was a huge success. All the proceeds from the silent auction benefited The Ronald McDonald House of The Coastal Empire.

Bohemian Hotel 10th Anniversary

The Bohemian Hotel celebrated their 10th year in business with an incredible night of cocktails and appetizers. Guests ventured up to the stunning rooftop deck overlooking the Savannah River to celebrate the hotel's decennial anniversary — reveling in the scenery with a glass of champagne.

Stonewall50 - A Legendary Block Party

The Stonewall 50 block party, held on June 28th outside the LGBTQ Center on Bull Street, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Protest — one of the most important moments in LGBTQ history and the catalyst for the gay rights movement.

Pelindaba Lavender Savannah Grand Opening

Pelindaba Lavender Grand Opening was this past Thursday, June 28th! This fun night included ribbon cutting, product sampling, lavender refreshments and special prizes! During this festive evening 10% of sales benefitted the good work of Coastal Pet Rescue. Stop by the store at 112 E Broughton St, Savannah, Ga to see the many products they offer!

Sonja Griffin Evans Gullah Art Exhibit

The Sonja Griffin Evans Gullah Art Event in Hilton Head displayed several paintings featuring the culture and heritage of the African-American Lowcountry. Sonja Griffin Evans paints with bright vibrant colors — while also incorporating materials such as tin and wood — to emphasize the traditional Gullah style, evoking an emotional response by bringing to life historical and cultural events.

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