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 Professional Photographers 2020

Calling South’s Greatest Photographers! Are you a professional photographer with beautiful work? Enter South’s Greatest Photographers 2020!

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Events Calendar

  • “Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick” Exhibition

    Oct 11, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick examines the work of six contemporary artists—Corey Arnold, Guy Ben-Ner, Patty Chang, Tristin...

  • Savannah Philharmonic Chorus Auditions

    Sep 07, 2019
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle

    The Savannah Philharmonic is holding auditions throughout the year for singers to have the opportunity to join the Chorus for the exciting...

  • 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,...

  • Savannah Philharmonic Chorus Auditions

    Sep 07, 2019
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle

    The Savannah Philharmonic is holding auditions throughout the year for singers to have the opportunity to join the Chorus for the exciting...

  • "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....

  • 17 South Haunted Forest

    Oct 04, 2019
    7:00 PM - 11:00 PM @ 17 South

    Do you dare to enter the 17 South Haunted Forest after the sun goes down and night begins to fall? Shadows take on a life of their own in this...

  • Alee Temple Haunted Terror Plantation

    Oct 04, 2019
    7:30 PM - 11:00 PM @ Alee Shrine Temple

    Our Haunted House is primarily an indoor event, our Haunted House is one of the scariest in Georgia! We are located in the scariest city in...

  • Wicked South Haunted Corn Maze

    Oct 04, 2019
    All Day @ Madrac Farms

    WICKED SOUTH PRODUCTIONS, LLLP IS BRINGING THE HAUNT INDUSTRY TO SAVANNAH WITH THEIR INAUGURAL HAUNTED ATTRACTION. OWNERS TOM MCCORMICK AND EMEKA...

  • Tanger Outlets Pink Campaign

    Oct 01, 2019
    All Day @ Tanger Outlets Pooler

    Tanger Outlets is offering shoppers special savings in return for supporting the ongoing efforts to end breast cancer during the month of October....

  • 2019 Halloween Event

    Oct 19, 2019
    All Day @ Bass Pro Shops

    Free Halloween Event!  *October 19 & 20 and October 25-31  * Weekends: Noon-5pm * Weekdays: 5pm-7pm *October 31: 4pm-8pm Free...

  • Savannah Moose Lodge Haunted Forest

    Oct 04, 2019
    All Day @ Savannah Moose Lodge

    Official 2019 Haunted Forest Dates: October 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 18th, 19th, 25th, 26th, 31st, Noveber 1st & 2nd.

  • Pumpkin Patch Storytime!

    Oct 22, 2019
    10:30 AM - 11:15 AM @ Wilmington Island United Methodist Church

    Join us at the Wilmington Island Methodist Church Pumpkin Patch for a "not so spooky" story and snack! Children will be able to make a...

  • 2019 Savannah Speed Classic

    Oct 24, 2019
    8:00 AM - 3:30 PM @ Hutchinson Island

    Savannah is known for its century old buildings, antique shops, boutiques, and fabulous River Street restaurants. What is not so well-known is that...

  • Halloween at Coligny

    Oct 24, 2019
    4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

  • Pace Lap Party

    Oct 24, 2019
    5:00 PM - 7:30 PM @ Ellis Square at City Market

    Celebrate the official kick-off to the Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival with a party in the city. A small group...

  • DineSouth 2019

    Oct 24, 2019
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Savannah Station

    The 12th annual DineSouth is the premier dining event in Savannah — and this year's event is going to be the best yet! In conjunction...

  • Bras & Bubbly

    Oct 24, 2019
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Thibault Gallery

    The Fifth Annual Bra Project will conclude its tour of the Lowcountry with the Bras & Bubbly evening event on Thursday, Oct. 24, when the winner of...

  • Girls'' Night Out: "Rosemary''s Baby"

    Oct 24, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    It’s been 51 years since this psychological supernatural horror film scared us to death and launched a new occult genre in filmmaking. So, it...

  • 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...

  • Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    Oct 18, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    The Tybee Arts Association presents a new and shocking version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of depravity, lust, love and horror in...


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Scenes of the South

Anne Pappas Grand Opening

Anne Pappas Interiors celebrated the Grand Opening of their new full-service design studio and showroom at 101 W. Liberty St. in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District, on Thursday, Oct. 10. “This inspiring space will allow our talented team of designers to provide exceptional creative services to clientele who appreciate the art of design,” said Pappas. A member of Coastal Living and Southern Living’s exclusive Designer Network, Pappas offers a fresh, inspired approach to interior design, incorporating a variety of textures and design elements inspired by nature, travel and global style. Pappas and her team welcomed guests with light hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at the event.

Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala

Glitz and glamour were galore at the Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala celebrating the Savannah Entertainment Industry as Charles (Bo) Bowen and his team orchestrated the event of the year. The night was unforgettable for all, but even more so for many hard-working and deserving individuals who were recognized for their contributions to the local film and television industry

Bitty and Beau's at Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott gives back with Bitty & Beau’s Saturday, Sept. 28. Kendra Scott gave 20% the proceeds of their sales from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to Bitty & Beau’s Coffee. Bitty & Beau’s, which aims to provide jobs and change the way people see those with special needs and disabilities, provided muffins and coffee.

Brews for a Cause September at Mansion on Forsyth

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle hosted Brews for a Cause at Casimir’s Lounge at the Mansion on Forsyth Park on Thursday, Sept. 26 in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for CURE Childhood Cancer.

Savannah Hospice Gala

Hospice Savannah celebrated 40 years of the “Art of Living” at the Landings Plantation Ballroom on Thursday, Sept. 25.

Latin Dance Party Featuring Gino Castillo & The Cuban Cowboys

The 38th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival hosted a Latin Dance Party, which featured Gino Castillo & the Cuban Cowboys on Thursday, Sept. 25 at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum. Castillo - the Afro-Cuban jazz singer and percussionist – led the Charleston-based Cuban Cowboys as they brought patrons to their feet, dancing the night away to his funky–jazz, high-energy tunes.

Grand Opening Studio 60 | Body Brite

Studio60BodyBrite owner and girl boss Bobbie Ciaccio unveiled Savannah’s newest salon to the public by hosting a grand opening, “Pink Party,” on Friday, Sept. 13.

The Laughter After: George Montero's Visual Art Show

Savannah's art world gathered at the Cork House, Thursday to experience the award winning SCAD graphic design professor, Jorge Montero's opening exhibition of paintings, drawings, prints and more!

Buy Local's Big Barn Business Bash

Brews for a Cause at Husk, August 22, was truly an unforgettable night, featuring live music by Thomas Claxton and some fantastic craft beer by Southern Eagle — along with the top-notch cuisine of Chris Hathcock. A variety of incredible auction items benefited the Royce Learning Center and the Chatham Academy, including a pearl necklace from International Diamond and several rounds on the Bacon Park Golf Course!

Ruth's Chris National Taste Maker's Veuve Clicquot Wine Dinner

Ruth's Chris held their Veuve Clicquot Tastemaker Dinner on Friday, August 23, pairing their signature steaks with renowned Veuve champagne — which was founded in 1772 and is one of the largest champagne houses in the world. The Tastemaker Dinners are held at Ruth's Chris locations across the country, featuring a five-course meal inspired by the French heritage of Veuve Clicquot, including dishes such as filet mignon and lobster agnolotti.