2017 Winners of South's Greatest Chefs Contest

When we asked our readers to name the Greatest Chefs of 2017, we knew we were asking the impossible. In a region like ours, with so much talent in the kitchen, how could anyone pick just one? Well every chef knows that sometimes you have to improvise, so we decided to bend the rules a little and feature more of these culinary geniuses than ever before. Read on and you’ll see why we made room at the table for a few folks who rarely get the recognition they deserve for giving the South its flavor.

Dustin Hambrick - Lizzy’s Tequila Bar & Grill lizzysgrill.com

I have been a chef for › I became a sous chef at the age of 23, so 10 years now. Started in the industry as a bus boy at age 15 and worked my way up.

I wanted to pursue this career path because › I was raised in restaurants my entire life and always wanted to be the like the “Rock Stars” I would meet in the kitchen.

My favorite thing to make is › I love cooking pork. Whether its ribs, chops, or butts. Nothing beats a good slow smoke.

If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only eat one meal I’d choose › Lasagna. Garfield is my favorite cartoon.

My signature dish is › For me my signature dish changes with the type of cuisine my restaurant is known for. Right now it would have to be Lizzy’s Two-Handed burrito. A pound slow smoked pulled pork, sweet slaw, and fried onion straws wrapped in two twelve inch tortillas. It’s a monster of a burrito with tons of flavor.

Art Smith - Southern Art and Bourbon Bar southernart.com

My favorite thing about being a chef is  › I love the fellowship of the chef community. We are a small group that works closely together to finding the best foods. We spoil each other at our restaurants. For example, recently in Nashville, chef Sean Brock and his team prepared an amazing dinner after my taping of the Pickler and Ben Show, which is Faith Hill’s new show. The dinner guests were the former executives of Oprah Winfrey’s show (I was the personal chef for Oprah for 10 years), and they loved it and were impressed with the chef “hook-up.” We can get reservations faster at any great restaurant in the world because of the close chef family we have.

Some future career goals  › My future goals include: Building Reunion 501 C3, my rural educational sustainable food program; bringing my Common Threads 501 C3 to America’s foremost healthy kids cooking program in all 50 states; creating a restaurant in my rural  birthplace of Jasper, Florida that is themed around a favorite food past time – tailgating; bring Art Bird, my NYC fried chicken concept, across the United States; and teach my four newly adopted kids to run it all!

Jonathan Garrett ShoNuff Smokin’ Good BBQ  @shonuffsmokingoodbbq

If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only eat one meal I’d choose › Banana pudding! My all-time favorite food, I never get tired of some good homemade banana pudding!

My signature dish is › Pork Sammiches! I make a pulled pork sandwich served on a bun- it’s simple and perfect. My customers love it!

A tip I would give other aspiring chefs would be › Love what you do. Let your passion be your guide, if you don’t have passion then your work is just mechanical.

Letricia Blake The Shrimp Factory | theshrimpfactory.com

I have been a chef for › I started cooking a long time ago. I have been at the Shrimp Factory for 14 years.  I have been the chef for 4 years.

My favorite thing to make is › I like trying new things all the time. It’s fun coming up with new ideas and experimenting with our ingredients here at the restaurant to add a spin to an old recipe.  My favorite part of making things is the part of making people happy by them enjoying my cooking.

Gladys Young The River House Seafood | savannahriverhouse.com

My signature dish is › The River House Paella

My favorite thing about being a chef is › Endless passion and using my creativity every day.

Some future career goals › Keep The River House Seafood Restaurant as number 1 destination restaurant in the state of Georgia.

Joe Maley Sunbury Crab Company sunburycrabco.com

I wanted to pursue this career path because › I was a business major and never thought much about it. I had anticipated moving back and joining the restaurant full time. I helped start the company with my family but had only been part time up to that point. I always enjoyed cooking but this was a family and business decision. It was a natural move but it was the quintessential trial by fire scenario.

My favorite thing to make is › I wish I could say there was a favorite thing for me to prepare in the restaurant. I always try to eliminate the things that I hate to make. I love to cook at home. I like doing pasta at the house. I get to experiment more at the house. Sushi is always a fun one to me.

Johnny Baker Bar•Food savannahbarfood.com

I have been a chef for › Seems like forever! Yeah, forever

I wanted to pursue this career path because › I have always played with pots & pans.

My favorite thing to make is › I love to cook with old recipes & classic cuts of meats.

Patrick McNamara Noble Fare Savannah @noblefare

My favorite thing to make is › Love…but making soup is therapeutic.

If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only eat one meal I’d choose › Lobster, baby – all day every day.

My signature dish is… › Our duck – duck – duck – goose.  It’s duck confit, duck breast, foie gras and gooseberry reduction.

Travis “Shug” Phillips The Painted Chef thepaintedchef.com

My favorite thing about being a chef is › meeting different people with my food is very inspiring and makes me happy. I love hearing other people’s stories and experiences.

Some future career goals › I recently purchased a private residence that I plan to transform into a wedding and event venue. I hope to open in Fall 2017!

A tip I would give other aspiring chefs would be › don’t be scared to try new things. Always think outside of the box.

 

To read more Q+A's from these chefs, subscribe now or pick up the October/November issue of South magazine.  

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South's Greatest Photographers 2018

We're looking for the greatest, most creative photographers. If that is you, or you know of any, don't hesitate to nominate!

South's Greatest Kids Contest 2017

When it comes to cute, the kids of the South are all way above average! Share the cuteness and nominate your kids today.
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Events Calendar

  • Charleston Cars & Coffee

    Jun 17, 2017
    7:30 AM - 10:00 AM @ Mount Pleasant Towne Centre

    7:30am - 10:00am  FREE ADMISSION  Mount Pleasant Towne Centre,1712 Towne Centre Way,Mt Pleasant, SC 29464,USA A bunch of car and...

  • Charleston Farmers Market

    Jun 17, 2017
    8:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Marion Square

    8:00am - 2:00pm  FREE ADMISSION  Marion Square,329 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403,USA Join us every Saturday in beautiful Marion...

  • PRETTY IN PUNK: Images from the Punk Rock Era

    Sep 21, 2017
    10:00 AM - 6:00 PM @ PULP

    PULP time travels back to the 70s with The Ramones, Blondie, The Germs, The Sex Pistols, The Go-Go's, Patty Smith and more -- on stage and back...

  • FAAA Members Small Works Exhibition

    Oct 05, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums presents the first-ever exhibition at the Jepson Center by the artist members of the museum’s Friends of African American Arts...

  • Kirk Varnedoe: In the Middle at the Modern

    Sep 22, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Can you have an art exhibition without any artworks? Is a curator an artist? Who or what decides an object’s value? Through the lens of an art...

  • Pumpkin Festival @ Stone Mountain

    Sep 29, 2017
    10:30 AM - 5:00 PM

    1000 Robert E Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA 30083 10:30am - 5:00pm Adventure Pass Meal Deal - (adults/children) - $31.95 (online) Take in...

  • Gullah GeeChee Festival

    Oct 21, 2017
    11:00 AM - 10:00 PM @ Rousakis Riverfront Plaza

    Rousakis Riverfront Plaza, Savannah, GA 31401 11:00am - 10:00pm on Saturday, 11:00am- 6:00pm Sunday  The Gullah GeeChee Festival will take...

  • God on Broadway:Aladdin

    Oct 22, 2017
    11:15 AM - 12:00 PM @ Asbury Memorial UMC

    As part of the popular God on Broadway series, Asbury Memorial UMC will present a special worship service featuring excerpts from the Broadway...

  • Polo for Charity Event

    Oct 22, 2017
    12:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Rose Hill Equestrian Center

    Enjoy a Lowcountry afternoon of polo, tailgating, divot stomping and plenty of fun for the whole family at the 24th Polo for Charity event on...

  • Artists invited to submit to Southeast's biggest art competition

    Oct 02, 2017
    12:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Artists from 12 Southeastern states noted above

    All Southeastern artists are invited to submit their work to ArtFields®, which has emerged as the region’s largest art competition and...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents Constellations

    Oct 22, 2017
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Main Street Theatre

    Lean Ensemble Theater presents Nick Payne’s hit Broadway love story Constellations. Talkbacks with Lean Ensemble members following each...

  • Party at the Point!

    Jun 16, 2017
    5:30 PM - 9:00 PM @ Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina

    5:30pm-9:00pm  Charleston Harbor Resort,20 Patriots Point Road,Mount Pleasant, SC 29464,USA COST: $7 Join us every Friday at the Charleston...

  • ALJ Monday Night Ceramics

    Jun 12, 2017
    6:00 PM

    Students will learn how to build ceramic sculptures as well as hand crafting with various techniques in form and technique $60 for 4 sessions, $80...

  • Blues & BBQ Harbor Cruise on the Carolina Queen

    Jun 15, 2017
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Carolina Queen River Boat

    7:00pm-9:00pm Admission- $44.95 for adults/ $25 for children 4-11 Carolina Queen Riverboat,17 Lockwood Boulevard,Charleston, SC 29401,USA...

  • Reggae Nights Summer Concert: Mystic Vibrations

    Aug 04, 2017
    7:30 PM - 7:30 PM @ James Island County Park

  • "Rodin: The Human Experience"

    Sep 01, 2017
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    Rodin: The Human Experience presents a selection of 32 figures in bronze by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), the legendary French sculptor whose...

  • Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival

    Oct 14, 2017
    All Day

    Various Locations THIRTEENTH ANNUAL HISTORIC BLUFFTON ARTS & SEAFOOD FESTIVAL-Where Fine Art & the Bounty of the Sea Come...

  • Animal Instinct

    Jul 15, 2017
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    The diversity of animal imagery in Animal Instinct reveals the wide-ranging roles animals inhabit in an anthropocentric world. From wild...

  • "I'm Trying To Tell You" Artist Talk and Reception

    Jul 28, 2017
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    Maggie Mullin O’Hara (American, b. 1991) is a multimedia artist from Pittsburgh currently based in Columbia, SC, and Savannah. Her exhibition...

  • Jacob Lawrence, Lines of Influence at SCAD Museum of Art

    Sep 07, 2017
    All Day @ SCAD Museum of Art

    Jacob Lawrence Lines of Influence Sept. 7, 2017 - Feb. 4, 2018 The SCAD Museum of Art and the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence...


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Scenes of the South

Nine Line Apparel Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Nine Line Apparel hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of their new facility on Oct. 12. High-profile attendees included Governor Nathan Deal and mayor Eddie DeLoach. The ceremony began at 10 a.m. and a reception followed.

10th Annual DineSouth Celebration

The 10th annual DineSouth celebration presented by Virginia College in Savannah was one of the best events of the year. Guests gathered at Savannah Station on Oct. 12 to sample food, network, and listen to live music. String lights hung over the long, winding red carpet, which led to an area where visitors were greeted by a photo booth, drinks and live music. Cranford Hollow played all their hits on stage while patrons relaxed on bales of hay provided by Hunter Cattle Company.

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.

Johnathon Scott Barrett Book Signing

Locally renowned Savannah author, Johnathon Scott Barrett, signed books and stood for photo opportunities with many guests at the Gingerbread House on September 26. Food and drinks were served while guests wandered around and picked up copies of Cook and Tell: Recipes and Stories from Southern Kitchens edited by Johnathon Scott Barrett.

John Davis Florist Grand Re-Opening

John Davis Florist finally moved back into the new shop and everyone celebrated with food, drinks and live music on September 28 at the new location at 2430 Abercorn St. Guests also be celebrated the 30th anniversary of John Davis Florist! The day consisted of fun, sips, nibbles and flowers while the shop displayed Savannah's only Flower Bar.

Dancing with the Stars Benefitting CASA

The 10th Annual "Dancing with Savannah Stars" was held on September 28 at Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Many from all over the community turned up to watch the beautiful performances and support Savannah Chatham County CASA.

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride

Men, women, and pets alike gathered Sunday, September 24 for the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride. The DGR brings over 70,000 well-dressed gentlefolk in over 600 cities together on stunning motorcycles. The ride is to support men's health across 95 countries. The goal for 2017 was to raise awareness and $5 million for prostate cancer and men's mental health on behalf of charity partner the Movember Foundation.

Grand Unveiling of The DeSoto Hotel

Guests arrived at the 1540 Room grand opening at The Desoto in style. They were greeted with champagne at the door and listened to live music as they walked around greeting others and admired the art. The night was a huge success. Each guest had a wooden token that they could use to vote for their favorite food out of the several samples that were available.

Craft Brew Fest 2017

Craft Brew Fest was a day to remember...or not remember depending on how many drinks you sampled. There were several breweries from near and far showing off their crafts on Saturday, Sept. 2. Craft Brew Fest was held inside the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. Keystone Postcard performed live while the beer was flowing. People danced and sung as the night went on. Many lined up to get a photo at the South Magazine photo booth where a red carpet and backdrop made everyone feel like a celebrity.

Private Preview of 1540 Room at The Desoto

The Desoto debuted a private preview of their restaurant, 1540 Room, which will be officially open to the public on September 21. Many gathered on the last day of August to celebrate the accomplishment. The new chef, Kyle Jacovino, prepared samples of the food that will be served in the restaurant. The DeSoto reigns as “Savannah’s hotel,” a beloved landmark that has played gracious hostess to presidents, local personalities and visitors since 1890. Treasured period details, including original crystal chandeliers and terracotta tiles, mix seamlessly with contemporary art, creating a thoughtful juxtaposition between history and modern-day style. 1540 Room will open to the public on September 21.