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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Events Calendar

  • Free Screenings for Oral Cancer Awareness Month

    Apr 12, 2018
    8:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Sandfly Family Dental

    Every 60 minutes, a person dies from oral cancer. Early symptoms are rare, but if you can catch it, early detection makes a dramatic difference,...

  • Savannah Mile

    Apr 26, 2018
    8:00 AM @ Drayton and Park

    The 13th Annual Savannah Mile, presented by the Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire, honors our fallen first responders, their families, and our...

  • #art912, Grounded

    Mar 30, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums will feature a commissioned work titled Grounded by Adolfo Alvarado, a Savannah-based artist whose work incorporates cal­ligraphic...

  • Carrie Mae Weems: Sea Islands Series, 1991-1992

    Jan 26, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Considered one of the most influential contemporary artists, Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) has continued to explore the African American...

  • ArtFields Returning to Lake City April 20-28, Featuring Georgia Artists; Inspiring New Exhibition Venues, Events

    Apr 20, 2018
    10:00 AM - 8:00 PM @ Lake City, SC

    INSPIRING NEW EXHIBITION VENUES, EVENTS Southeastern Artists Compete for $120,000 in Cash    The sixth annual ArtFields® competition will...

  • Paul Stephen Benjamin: Reinterpreting the Sound of Blackness

    Jan 26, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Paul Stephen Benjamin (American, b. 1966) is a conceptual artist whose work is a meditation on the color black, specifically as an entry point into...

  • Yoga Me Fit Challenge

    Mar 29, 2018
    5:30 PM - 6:30 PM @ Savannah Yoga Barre

    This class is designed for the younger and older practitioner who are seeking growth. Alignment and movement education are essential key components...

  • Tybee Wine Festival 2018: Wine and Dine at the Shrine

    Apr 26, 2018
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ The Tybee Shrine

    A gourmet dining experience celebrating Tybee Wine Festival’s 10th Anniversary.  The evening starts with appetizers and cocktails overlooking...

  • Anything Flows Yoga Class

    Jun 15, 2017
    7:00 PM @ Dragon Dance Yoga

    7 pm Anything Flows Yoga Class Walk in rate: $14 Dragon Dance Yoga This class will take you beyond your comfort zone while still...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater Presents Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest

    Apr 26, 2018
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ HHP Main Street Theatre

    This classic farcical comedy casts an amused eye on the British upper class and their mannerisms, social obligations, and their oh so human...

  • Tybee Island Wine Festival

    Apr 26, 2018
    All Day @ Tybee Island

    Now in its ninth year, the Tybee Island Wine Festival, hosted by the Tybee Post Theatre, is any wine lover's dream! You are certainly in...

  • Laughing Skull

    Apr 26, 2018
    All Day @ Laughing Skull Lounge

    This comedy festival focuses on pure talent by bringing in only the best unsigned comedians from all over the country. This year’s venues...

  • "Once Upon a Time" Joy Prom

    Apr 27, 2018
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Alee Temple

    For the past nine years, Xcel Strategies, a mentoring network in Savannahserving at-risk young men, has been hosting the Joy Prom for over 500...

  • Tybee Wine Festival 2018: Tybee Post Pickin & Shuckin with Bubbles & Beer

    Apr 27, 2018
    6:30 PM - 8:30 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    A toast to the Tybee Post Theater and the 10th Annual Tybee Wine Festival at an evening with roasted oysters and pig picking with bubblies and beer...

  • Coastal Pet Rescue 15th Anniversary Celebration

    Apr 28, 2018
    10:00 AM - 2:00 AM @ Grayson Stadium

    It’s a party that’s been 15 years in the making for one area rescue agency. Coastal Pet Rescue will hold its 15th anniversary bash Saturday,...

  • Georgia Historical Society's Annual Book Sale

    Apr 28, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Georgia Historical Society

    Please join us for the annual GHS Book Sale on Saturday, April 28! The tables of the GHS Research Center will be filled with thousands of used...

  • 15th Coastal Pet Rescue

    Apr 28, 2018
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Grayson Stadium at Daffin Park

    Get ready to party with Coastal Pet Rescue as they celebrate their 15th anniversary! There will be live music by The Mandrakes, fun activities for...

  • Collin's Barefoot Comedy Club w/ Nicholas Anthony

    Apr 28, 2018
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    After you wind down from the Tybee Wine Festival’s Grand Wine Tasting, hustle over to the Theater for our monthly stand-up comedy show! National...

  • 14th Annual Tybee Turtle Trot 5K Beach Run

    Apr 28, 2018
    All Day @ Tybee Island

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Scenes of the South

Georgia Land & Cattle Co. Grand Opening

Whiskey Wednesdays

Dozens of locals showed up at 39 Rue de Jean for Whiskey Wednesday. They enjoyed mingling, appetizers and drinks from Savannah's Ghost Coast Distillery and proceeds supported The Nine Line Foundation, who is dedicated to meeting financial and specialized need of severely injured soldiers and their families.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

The Rape Crisis Center will hosed the 5th Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Event at Forsyth Park to galvanize the support of men and boys in our community.

Gingerbread House Open House

The Gingerbread House opened its doors for an open house, inviting the public in to see all the beautiful historic home has to offer for those looking to plan a wedding or corporate event.

PGA Hyatt Pro-AM Pairings Party

Golf enthusiasts gathered at the Hyatt Regency for the PGA Hyatt Pro-Am Pairings Party. This highly anticipated event kicked off the Pro-Am experience of the Savannah Golf Championship.

Burst in Bloom at Telfair Academy

Telfair Academy was buzzing with art and beautiful floral arrangements by local floral artists for the opening night reception of Burst Into Bloom.

Budweiser Clydesdales

The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales spent a few days at historic Grayson Stadium before their highly anticipated appearance at the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

St. Patrick's Day Fire Ball 2018

The Savannah Professional Firefighters Association held their annual Fire Ball at Savannah Station. The money raised during this event went towards the Fallen Firefighter's Fund.

Celtic Cross Ceremony

The St. Patrick's Day celebrations began early with the annual Celtic Cross Ceremony. The Celtic Cross Mass, Procession and Ceremony are all symbolic of the original celebrations of St. Patrick's Day in Savannah, dating all the back to the early 1800's.

An Evening of Brilliance for St. Andrews

St. Andrews partnered up with the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce to bring this year's edition of the Chamber Ball.