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 Pets 2017

Nominate your pet for the South's Greatest Pets contest! Winners will be featured in a photo spread for South's August/September issue!

South's Greatest Bosses 2017

We're looking for the greatest, most enthusiastic southern bosses. If your boss is the greatest, enter them into this contest!
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Events Calendar

  • Art League of Hilton Head presents the 25th Biennale, National Juried Art Exhibition 2017

    May 02, 2017
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM @ Art League of Hilton Head Gallery

    May 2 - May 31, 2017, Monday- Saturday from 10am-4pm and 90 minutes before every Arts Center performance.   Artists from all over the country...

  • Deen Family Book Signing

    May 26, 2017
    10:00 AM - 12:00 PM @ The Lady & Sons

    On Friday, April 21 and May 26, 2017, get out for Deen Family Book Signing at The Lady and Sons Restaurant from 10 a.m.-noon. Featuring Paula Deen,...

  • Cone Art Exhibit Reception to Benefit Anderson Cancer Institute in Savannah

    May 18, 2017
    5:30 PM - 7:30 PM @ 24e

    CONE ART EXHIBIT RECEPTION TO BENEFIT ANDERSON CANCER INSTITUTE The Savannah artist Jim Cone announces a fine art exhibition with the opening...

  • Home Herbalism Workshop: Oils, Salves and Creams

    May 26, 2017
    6:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Starlandia Supply

    In this workshop students will learn how to use herb-infused oils, salves and creams for body care and for healing. They will also explore the wide...

  • Gregg Russell Concerts

    May 26, 2017
    8:00 PM - 9:30 PM @ The Sea Pines Resort

    Over the years, Gregg has become a Sea Pines classic. You’ll find him under the famed Liberty Oak, entertaining adults and children alike,...

  • “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...

  • The Savannah Portrait Society

    May 01, 2017
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    The Savannah Portrait Society is dedicated to providing professional artists the opportunity to engage in the discipline of portrait painting from...

  • William Wegman: Improved Photographs

    May 12, 2017
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    William Wegman (American, b. 1943) is an internationally-renowned artist with a prolific career spanning five decades. He is well known for...

  • Spoleto Festival

    May 26, 2017
    All Day

    Internationally recognized as America’s premier performing arts festival, the 17-day Spoleto Festival fills Charleston’s historic...

  • Masters Water Ski Tournament

    May 26, 2017
    All Day

    Kick off Summer at this Memorial Day Weekend Festival featuring the 58th Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament along with a host of other...

  • Atlanta Jazz Festival

    May 26, 2017
    All Day @ Piedmont Park

    This event is regarded as one of the country’s largest free jazz festivals. The celebration features jazz legends and up-and-coming jazz...

  • Generation Exhibition Opens

    May 26, 2017
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    Generation is an exhibition that brings together two generations of Iraqi-Canadian women artists—mother Sawsan AlSaraf and her daughters...

  • Her + Him Film

    May 26, 2017
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    Akram Zaatari (Lebanese, b. 1966) is a filmmaker, photographer, archival artist, and curator who lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon. Her + Him...

  • Jacksonville Jazz Festival

    May 25, 2017
    All Day

    Nationally recognized as one of the largest free jazz festivals in the country, this Memorial Day weekend event boasts an all-star lineup of jazz...

  • 12th Annual Savannah Mile

    May 27, 2017
    8:00 AM

    Join the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire and Fleet Feet Sports for this annual Memorial Day run to support first responders, military and their...

  • Wilmington Island Farmers' Market

    May 27, 2017
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ Islands High School

    Every Saturday, the Wilmington Island Farmers' Market brings together some of the best local farmers and artisans for your shopping pleasure....

  • 9th Annual Hilton Head Art Festival

    May 27, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

    More than 150 of America’s finest artists will descend on Shelter Cove Harbour Memorial Day Weekend for the 9th annual Art Festival featuring...

  • The Crawl of the South

    May 27, 2017
    4:00 PM - 11:00 PM @ Congress Street Social Club

    Are you ready for "The South's Largest Bar Crawl?" This event has drawn more than 5,000 participants each year and we are planning...

  • Memorial Day Weekend Awards Concert at Spivey Hall

    May 28, 2017
    4:00 PM - 6:00 PM @ Spivey Hall

      Presented by Franklin Pond Chamber Music, the First Annual Memorial Day Weekend Awards Concert invites music lovers statewide to enjoy an...

  • Hilton Head Choral Society's America Sings! Americana Celebration

    May 28, 2017
    7:00 PM - 8:30 PM @ First Presbyterian Church

    An all-American tribute to our veterans and members of our Armed Forces concludes the Choral Society’s 41st season. This Island favorite event...


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Scenes of the South

Chicago Bears After Party at Britania Pub

Members of the 2006 Chicago Bears NFC North Championship team came to the coastal empire on Saturday, May 20th for a fundraiser and promotional event through the The Adrian Peterson Foundation and Wilmington Island Wishes. Players competed in a charity golf tournament at Bacon Park Golf Course during the day, followed by a visit with fans at Britania Pub from 2:30-5:00pm, a gathering open to the public. Former football stars scheduled to attend include recent College Football Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, the all-time leading rusher in NCAA Division I-A history from Georgia Southern University, former Pro Bowlers Mike Brown and Charles Tillman, former All-Pro Alex Brown and Anthony Adams. Tillman was the 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. The Adrian Peterson Foundation is a non-profit organization which spotlights speech impediments and stuttering problems. In 2012, Peterson published the book “Don’t Dis My Abilities”. He is an accomplished inspirational and motivational speaker.

SCAD FASHWKND Runway Show 2017

Guests of this past weekends SCAD FASHWKND experienced wonders like the SCAD Savannah Runway Show, a juried celebration of fashion featuring premier SCAD School of Fashion senior and graduate student collections. Attire for this outdoor event was casual chic, and guests were invited to wear springtime ensembles that showcase their own personal style. Following the show, guests had the opportunity to purchase select garments and accessories created by SCAD alumni. This event was presented as part of the inaugural SCAD FASHWKND, the university’s most anticipated sartorial event of the year, held in Atlanta and Savannah.

Jim Cone Opening Reception at 24e

The opening reception of Jim Cone's fine art display at 24e in downtown Savannah was held Thursday night. The local artist unveiled more than 100 drawings, paintings, sculptures and mixed media pieces. Cone has been creating art for over 40 years. After a recent bout with cancer, he decided to use his talent to help others. "As you can see, his artistry is amazing. Jim's story is nothing short of miraculous,” 24e owner Ruel Joyner said. You can check out the exhibit until June 25. Proceeds from pieces sold will go to the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial Health.

Lawyers, Guns & Money 2017

The 5th Annual Lawyers, Guns & Money Sporting Clays Tournament 2017 was presented by Honda, Yamaha, Triumph, Kawasaki, KTM of Savannah. This year's event was be held on Friday, May 12, 2017 at Forest City Gun Club. The 100 target shoot started at 2pm and was followed by an After Party at 6pm featuring live music by Connellis and the Train Wrecks, a BBQ dinner, local craft beer from Southbound Brewery, wine, a silent auction, a gun raffle and a YETI raffle. This year the proceeds will benefit Abilities Unlimited, a local 501(c)(3) charity that provides progressive exercise programs for individuals in Chatham County with varying disabilities (Birth Defects, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord Injuries and Neurological Injuries, etc.).

Crime Stoppers Race Against Crime 2017

On Saturday May 6th, community members came out to help CrimeStoppers fight crime in the community with the Race Against Crime (formerly the Azalea Run)! Runners could choose between the 5K, 10K, and 15K, with all the races starting and ending at Forsyth Park. Proceeds from the event will help fund the rewards that Crime Stoppers uses to pay out for tips that lead to arrests! All the races were dog friendly, and even the pups could get a free matching race bib as part of their "Pooch Patrol".

Big Nasty Mud Run 2017

This year's event marks the 10th Running of the Big Nasty Mud Run, a race with 4.5 miles and 33 obstacles with lots of mud! Runners test their limits on the Ranger Bars, The Wall of Terror, tunnels, tires, mini hills, cargo nets and the Big Nasty Water Slide! Proceeds from the event go to benefit local charities who support veterans and other causes.

Pearls of Power Annual Gala & Art Auction

The Pearls of Power Annual Gala & Art Auction is an annual event sponsored by the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire. This year's event was especially powerful as the Rape Crisis Center is celebrating over 40 years of service to the community this year. With guest speaker Rep. Scott Holcomb, entertainment by Trae Gurley & Friends, and this year's Gala Honorees, Dr. Ann Levette & Cookie Espinoza, the night was filled with fun and great memories.

Optim TJR Golf Tournament 2017

The annual TLC Golf Tournament returned to the Club at the Savannah Harbor on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. It’s a great way to connect with leaders and peers in the tourism community while supporting a great cause – to raise money for scholarships for students studying for careers in tourism and hospitality. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres reception followed the tournament. Prizes awarded to first and second place gross and net for each flight. Beverages provided throughout the course. Compete in Putt for Eagle and Putting Contest.

Wine, Women and Shoes

Wine, Women & Shoes events are community events that bring women together around fine wine, great style, and causes that matter. WW&S has exploded across North America in the last decade, producing more than 300 fabulous events that have helped net an impressive $44 million for their nonprofit partners. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire puts on the only Wine, Women & Shoes event in the area. The RMHC of the Coastal Empire is a non-profit organization that provides a restful, comfortable place for children and their families to find refuge and support as they receive medical treatment at our nearby hospitals. This year's event was a sold-out affair that's sure to be remembered!

Courtyard Celebration at the Gingerbread House

Among the most elaborate architecture in Savannah is The Gingerbread House - always a "must see" highlight of a guided tour of the Historic District Savannah. The Courtyard Celebration event at the Gingerbread House, that took place on April 25th from 5:30-7pm, was presented by the SavannahHELPS series of monthly charity events that happen every 4th Tuesday at 5:30pm. Guests of the event were asked to bring a $5 donation or pet supplies and food to benefit local charities.