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 Chefs 2018

This is the tastiest contest of the year! Nominate now!

South's Greatest Kids 2018

Nominate your kid for the cutest contest of the year!
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Events Calendar

  • Turtle Talks

    May 16, 2018
    10:15 AM - 10:15 AM @ Tybee Island Marine Science Center

    During Turtle Talks, you’ll learn about anatomy and natural adaptations of sea turtles, discuss Tybee’s Sea Turtle Project conservation...

  • Sift 'n' Seine Program

    May 15, 2018
    1:00 PM - 2:00 PM @ Tybee Island Marine Science Center

    On our sift n seine program, you’ll discover the marine life of the intertidal zone by pulling a 10 foot seine net through waist-deep water....

  • Tybee South Beach Walks

    May 16, 2018
    2:00 PM - 3:00 PM @ Tybee Island Marine Science Center

    South beach walks depart from the science center where you’ll join a knowledgeable marine science educator on a guided walk of Tybee’s south...

  • Tybee Marsh Treks

    Sep 01, 2018
    4:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Tybee Island Marine Science Center

    On a marsh trek, you’ll enjoy a hands-on exploration of Georgia’s salt marsh, searching the mud for fiddler crabs, snails, and more. Learn...

  • 37th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival

    Sep 23, 2018
    All Day @ Downtown Savannah

    Get ready for the sweet sounds of jazz to hit Savannah! The 2018 Savannah Jazz Festival celebrates jazz as a living art form—built on a...

  • Arthouse Cinema: Puzzle

    Sep 26, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    Premiering at Sundance, PUZZLE is the indie drama you need to see. Receiving rave reviews for her role, Kelly Macdonald plays Agnes, a taken for...

  • Let's Talk Mental Illness: Myths, Truths and Realities

    Sep 27, 2018
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Demere Center for Living

    The ELLA Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering education, support and advocacy to individuals and families affected by...

  • National Theatre Live: King Lear

    Sep 28, 2018
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    Broadcast live from London’s West End, see Ian McKellen’s ‘extraordinarily moving portrayal’ (Independent) of King Lear. King Lear sees two...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents Warehouse Theatre's Production of The Tempest

    Sep 28, 2018
    7:30 PM - 9:00 PM @ HHPS Main Street Theatre

    It starts with a shipwreck and ends with a reunion. In between, witness fantastic spells, murderous plots, and a love story. The Warehouse Theatre...

  • Tybee's Got Talent!!

    Sep 30, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    It's the event you've been waiting for! The 4th Annual Tybeee's Got Talent show at the Tybee Post Theater! That legendary island talent show was...

  • Chick-fil-a Stuffed Animal Sleepover

    Oct 05, 2018
    6:00 PM @ Chick-Fil-A

    Join us for our annual stuffed animal sleepover on October 5. Wear your pajamas and enjoy a dinner with the Chick-fil-a Cow! Once dinner is over,...

  • Yellow Fever in Savannah 1820

    Oct 05, 2018
    7:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Davenport House Museum

      This October see a historical recreation of Savannah’s dreadful Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1820 with particular emphasis on daily life in...

  • Alee Haunted House-Terror Plantation

    Oct 05, 2018
    7:30 PM - 11:00 PM @ Alee Temple

    Voted as Georgia's third scariest haunted house, the Alee Haunted House is ready to scare! Starting in October, it will be open every Friday...

  • Run Forrest Run 5k

    Oct 06, 2018
    8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

    Run the course where the movie Forrest Gump was filmed. This Forrest Gump themed 5K will take you through historic downtown Beaufort,...

  • Art in the Park

    Oct 06, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Downtown Blowing Rock

    Outdoor arts & crafts show featuring 90+ juried artisans in a wide variety of mediums. Meet artists and buy art at series of 6 shows throughout...

  • Ken Ueno’s Ghost Vault Triptych Public Performance

    Oct 06, 2018
    8:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Ken Ueno will compose, direct, and inhabit a series of site-specific public performances entitled Ghost Vault Triptych at the Cluskey Embankment...

  • Erin Johnson and Ken Ueno Artist Talk and Performance

    Oct 07, 2018
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Join exhibiting artists Erin Johnson and Ken Ueno in an artist talk, performance, and walking conversation about their individual and collaborative...

  • Musical Matinees: Little Shop of Horrors

    Oct 07, 2018
    3:00 PM - 5:15 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    Getting into the Halloween mood, our Musical Matinée for this month is the 1986 cult-classic, Little Shop of Horrors. A nerdy florist, played by...


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Scenes of the South

Cure and Whiskey Wednesday

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Each day, 43 families in the United States will hear the words “your child has cancer.” Meaningful supporters came came out to help spread awareness, learn more on how to stop childhood cancer, to recognize the children and families affected by childhood cancers and to emphasize the importance of supporting research on these devastating conditions.

7th Annual Savannah Ambucs/ Celebrity Bowlapalooza Auction

Plenty of supporters came came out to the 7th Annual Savannah Ambucs/Vaden Chevrolet Pooler Celebrity Bowlapalooza Kickoff and Auction for a night of fun and fundraising. There was an Amtryke, specially adapted 3 wheel bike giveaway, and a silent and live auction. The auction was to help make a difference in the Savannah community and to inspire mobility and independence for people with different abilities.

Ronald McDonald House Super Summer Shindig

Children came dressed as their favorite superheroes as they enjoyed face painting, games, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and their favorite favorite superheroes and McDonald’s characters. There was delicious appetizers by Chef Cynthia Creighton-Jones of Cape Creations Catering, Ghost Coast cocktails, door prizes, and the great networking opportunities in Savannah.

Whiskey Wednesday

First City Network, Ghost Coast Distillery and South Magazine came together for this event at 39 Rue De Jean on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. The mission of First City Network (FCN) is to enhance and sustain the well-being of LGBT individuals and their allies .

The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra -Swingin' Savannah River

The beautiful Westin Harbor Lawn was the perfect setting to enjoy the ultimate July 4th experience on the Savannah River including a patriotic concert with The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra.

JCB Mudrun 2018

As feet hit the wet mud, eyes were set on the trophies and hearts beat with adrenaline at this year’s 7th annual JCB Mud Fest. Nearly 1,500 participants showed up from around the country, making this the most successful event to date. All proceeds benefited the Lady Bamford Center for Early Childhood Development. Participants endured a variety of new challenges, including fan favorites such as the JCB mud lake and the tire field.

Old Town Trolley's 25th Anniversary

Old Town Trolley celebrated 25 years of business!

Red, White & Blue Baseball Night

The Two Hundred Club, hosted by the Savannah Bananas, held a double header evening featuring an exhibition softball game between the local Firefighters & EMS versus Law Enforcement at Grayson Stadium.

2018 Savannah Mile

Hundreds of service members and their families joined with community neighbors and volunteers for this annual One-Mile Run yo support The 200 club of the Coastal Empire. Participants run North on Drayton Street for one mile to nd at the Finish Line on Broughton Street. The 200 club provides resources and financial support for families who have had a loved one killed or injured in the line of duty.

Lowcountry Annie Oakleys Charity Clay Tournament

The third annual Annie Oakley's Charity Clay Tournament and After Party took place on September 29. The event benefited the Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children's Hospital in Savannah. The day began at 11:30 a.m. with the driven bird flurry contest. Later that afternoon, the shotgun start kicked off the 100-shot tournament. The after party that evening was open to non-shooters alike, where cocktails, drinks and hors d'oeuvres from Cotton & Rye were served.