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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South's Greatest Photographers of 2017 Winners

Check out this issue's South Greatest photography winners. South celebrates these creative photographers.

South's Greatest Dads 2017

Nominate your dad for the South's Greatest Dads contest! Winners will be featured in a photo spread for South's June/July issue!
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Events Calendar

  • Savannah Music Festival

    Mar 23, 2017
    8:00 AM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah

    The Savannah Music Festival (SMF) is dedicated to presenting world-class celebrations of the musical arts by creating timeless and adventurous...

  • “Rewind” at the Savannah Theatre

    Mar 15, 2017
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah Theatre

    The Savannah Theatre presents “Rewind!” March 1-26, Sept. 1-Nov. 17 and Dec. 27-30, 2017. Rewind back to the first time that...

  • Sandfly Women Business Owners Coalition Meeting

    Mar 30, 2017
    8:00 AM - 9:00 AM @ Sandfly Family Dental

    The Sandfly Women Business Owners Coalition will meet on Thursday, March 30 at Sandfly Family Dental, located at 7360 Skidaway Rd #2, Savannah, GA....

  • NLAWS Produce Opens Grocery Delivery Service, NLAWS Produce@Home

    Mar 30, 2017
    11:30 AM - 1:30 PM @ NLAWS

    Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Public Tasting Scheduled for March 30 to Benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities (SAVANNAH, GA) NLAWS Produce has...

  • Walk A Mile in Her Shoes

    Mar 30, 2017
    5:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Georgia Southern University

    This unique walk allows RCC to galvanize support from men and boys to join the effort to avert sexual violence and bring awareness to the struggles...

  • Cirque Italia

    Mar 30, 2017
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ Former Coastal Empire Fairgrounds

  • Veritas Academy Presents “A Taste of the Classics”

    Mar 31, 2017
    6:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ The Club at Savannah Harbor

    Participants may choose from one of these restaurants for dinner: The Olde Pink House, Boar’s Head Grill & Tavern, Cha Bella, Vic’s on the...

  • “Those Were the Days”

    Mar 31, 2017
    8:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    An upbeat, musical journey of America's greatest songs of the 60s, starring iconic folk music songwriter and performer, William Florian, a former...

  • Blowing Rock Trout Derby

    Apr 01, 2017
    7:30 AM - 4:30 PM @ Broyhill Park

    Celebrate the opening of Trout Season with a tournament for all ages! This long-running event is open to all with no pre-registration. Get out...

  • Beach Yoga

    Apr 01, 2017
    8:00 AM - 10:00 AM @ The Sea Pines Resort

    Beach Yoga takes place directly behind the Sea Pines Beach Club. Enjoy beautiful views of ocean beach towel to use as your yoga mat. Reservations...

  • Freshwater Fishing

    Apr 01, 2017
    10:00 AM - 11:30 AM @ The Sea Pines Resort

    Enjoy a relaxing morning by the beautiful lakes of the Sea Pines Forest Preserve while fishing. Supplies provided. Reservations required. Event...

  • A Spring Celebration and Sheep Shearing

    Apr 01, 2017
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM @ Oatland Island Wildlife Center

    Oatland Island Wildlife Center is having a Spring Celebration and Sheep Shearing on Saturday, April 1, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.  The...

  • A Spring Celebration and Sheep Shearing

    Apr 01, 2017
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM @ Oatland Island Wildlife Center

    Oatland Island Wildlife Center is having a Spring Celebration and Sheep Shearing on Saturday, April 1, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.  The...

  • Party in the Pines

    Apr 01, 2017
    4:30 PM - 7:30 PM @ The Sea Pines Resort

    Please join the Sea Pines Forest Preserve Foundation for a family-fun spring event. Proceeds benefit the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. 

  • Poolside Movie

    Apr 01, 2017
    7:30 PM - 10:00 PM @ The Sea Pines Resort

    Enjoy a fun night at the Harbour Town Pool while watching a movie and eating pizza with your family. The pool will be heated. Reservations...

  • Collin’s Barefoot Comedy Club

    Apr 01, 2017
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    It’s April Fool’s Day, so what could be better than a night foolishness with or own national headline comedian Collin Moulton. His monthly...

  • Hilton Head Choral Society Choral Festival

    Apr 02, 2017
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Holy Family Catholic Church

    The Hilton Head Choral Society will host the first ever Hilton Head Choral Society Choral Festival at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 2 at Holy Family...

  • Craft Activities

    Apr 01, 2017
    12:00 PM - 2:00 PM @ The Sea Pines Resort

    Children and adults can enjoy a variety of craft activities at the Sea Pines Beach Club every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from April 1st to April...

  • Gregg Russell Concert at Sea Pines Resort

    Apr 03, 2017
    7:30 PM - 9:00 PM @ Sea Pines Restort

    Over the years, Gregg has become a Sea Pines classic. Under the Liberty Oak in Harbour Town is where you'll find Gregg Russell entertaining...

  • The Art of Art Quilting Fiber Art on Exhibit from Art Quilters of the Lowcountry

    Apr 04, 2017
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM @ Art League of Hilton Head Gallery

    In the exhibit The Art of Art Quilting, Art Quilters of the Lowcountry members Ron Hodge, Shaaron Thomas, Peg Weschke and Jody Wigton showcase...


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Scenes of the South

A-Town Get Down Music Festival

March of Dimes Shamrock Run

The Savannah community laced up their shoes and kicked off St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Savannah by joining the 24th annual March of Dimes Shamrock Run 5K! Everyone was wearing a costume and even brought out four-legged friends! 100% of the proceeds from the run benefited the mission of the March of Dimes to improve the health of babies through programs of research, community services, education and advocacy.

Greening of the Fountain at Forsyth Park

Hundreds turned out to Forsyth Park on Friday, March 10 to witness the annual Greening of the Fountain event hosted by the Savannah St. Patrick's Day Committee. Conducted for more than thirty years, this popular celebration signals the official kick-off to the Saint Patrick's Day Festivities in Savannah, attracting locals and visitors from around the world to watch the green dye being poured into the historic fountain.

Telfair Modern Lights Ball

This past Saturday, February 25th, guests joined Telfair Museums for their 37th Annual Telfair Ball! The event highlighted Savannah’s social scene, the Telfair Ball was open to Director’s Circle members, and all proceeds benefited Telfair’s exceptional exhibitions, educational programs, and art acquisitions. Guests enjoyed lavish cocktails, live music, exciting auctions, and dazzling lightshows as this illustrious annual gala celebrated Telfair’s vibrant history and supported the future of art and creativity in Savannah.

100 Miles Grand Opening

One Hundred Miles is a nonprofit coastal advocacy organization focused on preserving, protecting and enhancing the 100-mile coast of Georgia. Founded in Brunswick, the group is now expanding to Savannah. This grand opening was free and open to the public, offering food, drinks and live music by Cory Chambers of City Hotel.

Savannah Riverboat 25th Anniversary Cruise

Savannah is a river town, so what better way to get an overview of her harbor and port than to cruise with Savannah Riverboat Cruises? Celebrating their 25th anniversary, the towering red, white and blue traditional riverboats; the Savannah River Queen and Georgia Queen, both dock near the place where General Oglethorpe himself is thought to have landed. With years of experience in the maritime and hospitality industry, owner Captain Jonathan Claughton and his team focus on providing guests with the most unique tours and dining experiences with first-class service!

Jalapeños Grand Opening

There are Jalapeños Mexican Grills all over the Savannah and Pooler area, but now we have our very own right in our backyard! On Wednesday, February 22 Jalapeños celebrated the Grand Opening of their seventh location here in Downtown Savannah on Broughton Street. The staff rang in their new restaurant along with its crowd by cranking out $1 tacos and pouring $1 beers all night. Jalapeños is known for its authentic Mexican cuisine and has been voted Best Mexican Restaurant. Make sure to drop in at any one of their seven locations to enjoy the true taste of Mexico!

Color Vibe 5k

I hope you didn't miss out on on your chance to participate in the happiest 5k on the planet, but, if you did, check out the scenes gallery from this colorful event that is taking the country by color storm! Hundreds of happy souls came out to the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center early in the morning on February 18 to upgrade their normal 5k to this technicolor 5k. Throughout the race runners were blasted with vibrant pigments at every color station along the course. You could feel the aura in the air; there was no question as to why this 5k claimed the name "The Happiest 5k on the Planet". Color Vibe is already selling tickets for their next race, so go to Color Vibe 5k Run to register today!

Soup It Up For Loop It Up Savannah

For almost a decade Loop It Up Savannah has been seamlessly weaving its way through the often hardened exterior of community driven public works projects, evolving into something more akin to a necessity than just a volunteer after school program. The Soup It Up for Loop It Up event on Friday February 17th, 2017 marks the first year of their signature fundraising event, in which local chefs competed for the title of the Golden Soup Bowl while generously raising funds to support Loop It Up Savannah’s programming for local youth and services to local families. “We have so many wonderful partnerships throughout the city that allow us to work with thousands of amazing children and families every year,” affirms Loop It Up's Molly Liberman. “Savannah has really embraced and supported us to grow into the organization we are proud to be --- through partnerships, volunteers and an amazingly generous base of donors.” Still, she persists, there is a lot of growing planned for Loop It Up in 2017. Liberman plans to extend programs into the City Of Savannah Community Centers as well as the Public Library. Adds Liberman, “We are also moving into a new space which will allow us to eventually offer onsite programming. Our goal is to deepen and widen our presence throughout the city. We believe that art and opportunity for bold self expression should be everywhere! Savannah is fortunate to have so many community centers and organizations, and we are proud to bring art into as many of them as we possibly can!”

Savannah Book Festival Opening Author's Party

The Savannah Book Festival Inc. (SBF) is an independent, nonprofit corporation led by a volunteer board of directors. SBF hosts best-selling and emerging authors in special events throughout the year, including a four-day Presidents Day weekend event that features talks by dozens of authors. The Savannah Book Festival is celebrating their 10th Anniversary with a record number of 40 authors scheduled to attend this year's festival starting on Saturday, February 18, which is free and open to the public. Taking place in seven venues around Telfair, Chippewa and Wright Squares, over 10,000 people are estimated to come to hear these well-regarded authors and fascinating new writers talk about their books this year. The opening Authors Party on Friday night at Jenn Library was a private shindig with some of the prominent authors of this year's festival in attendance.