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 Pets 2018

Nominate your pet for the cuddliest contest of the year!

Souths's Greatest Chefs 2018

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

  • Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire, 2018 Savannah Mile

    May 26, 2018
    8:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ Drayton St. and Park St.

    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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • The Crawl of the South

    May 26, 2018
    4:00 PM - 11:00 PM @ Congress Street Social Club

    Crawl through Memorial Day with Bar Crawl Savannah’s annual “Crawl of the South.” Everyone who registers for this crawl will get...

  • Tybee Marsh Treks

    May 16, 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...

  • Bin Feng 2013-2018 presented by HAZA

    May 25, 2018
    6:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ HAZA at The Stables

    HAZA, a contemporary art gallery, presents their second exhibition with artist Bin Feng at The Stables from Friday, May 25 through Saturday, June...

  • The Great American Trailer Park Musical

    May 25, 2018
    7:30 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    There's a new tenant at Armadillo Acres—and she's wreaking havoc all over Florida's most exclusive trailer park! When Pippi comes...

  • Jacksonville Jazz Festival

    May 24, 2018
    All Day @ Jacksonville Downtown

    The streets of Downtown Jacksonville will come alive with the sounds of the jazz greats and some modern favorites during the 2018 Jacksonville Jazz...

  • Franklin Pond Chamber Music Awards Concert

    May 27, 2018
    4:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Spivey Hall

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

  • RDS Memorial 5k

    May 28, 2018
    9:15 AM - 9:15 AM @ Kensington Park

    Challenge yourself with a fun 5k located in beautiful Kensington Park!  Grab the kids and enjoy a run/walk with your family, friends and...

  • Camp Moon River at Savannah Country Day School

    May 29, 2018
    8:30 AM - 4:30 PM @ Savannah Country Day School

    An Overnight Experience in A Day Camp Package  Camp Moon River is a new full-day, traditional-style day camp at Savannah Country Day School,...

  • 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...

  • Girls' Night Out: "The Long, Hot Summer

    May 31, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Baby, it’s hot out there! So, we thought we’d keep it steamy here inside the Post! Our Girls’ Night Out film is a 60th anniversary revival of...

  • Girls' Night Out: "The Long, Hot Summer

    May 31, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Baby, it’s hot out there! So, we thought we’d keep it steamy here inside the Post! Our Girls’ Night Out film is a 60th anniversary revival of...

  • Atlanta Food and Wine Festival

    May 31, 2018
    All Day @ Midtown Atlanta

    Every year, food and wine lovers gather to sip, sample, and savor the flavors of the South. With award-winning chefs, sommeliers, and beverage...

  • Summer Reading Program

    Jun 01, 2018
    10:00 AM - 6:00 PM @ Live Oak Public Libraries

    Be a reading rockstar! Enjoy great books, participate in exciting activities and earn prizes. Have fun reading and learning all summer long! Check...

  • Summer Waves Movie Night #1

    Jun 02, 2018
    8:30 PM @ Frantic Atlantic Wave Pool

    June 2nd: Despicable Me Grab your inner tubes and join Summer Waves over the summer as they show two awesome films in the wave pool! The...

  • Little Free Library Dedication Ceremony at Park Place Outreach

    Jun 03, 2018
    4:00 PM - 5:30 PM @ Park Place Outreach

    The new Little Free Library, painted by local artist Kimberly Dawn Crowder, will be part of the Flannery O’Connor Book Trail, which runs from...


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Scenes of the South

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.

Savannah Salutes Empower Health After Party

More than four hundred service members representing every branch of the military from all over the country congregated in Savannah to Savannah to provide no cost Health Care to thousands of Savannah residents as a part of the Empower Health Innovative Readiness Training program initiated by the Department of Defense. The Savannah Salute event was hosted on May 20 at the Savannah Civic Center to celebrate the success of the program and thank all involved.

5th Annual Nine Line Run for the Wounded 5k/10k

More than 1400 runners gathered at Grayson Stadium to participate in the 5th Annual Nine Line Run for the Wounded 5k/10k. The race raises money for the Nine Line Foundation to support veterans and their families.

Taste of Downtown Savannah

More than two thousand Savannah Chamber of Commerce members and community neighbors gathered in Johnson Square on May 17 for the highly anticipated, Taste of Downtown Savannah event. Guests enjoyed small bites and sips of favorite menu items served up by more than forty Chamber member restaurants along with live music by The Cicada Brothers and Wassaw Sound.

Empower Health Distinguished Visitor Event

A group of distinguished visitors from the Pentagon and White House joined several military members who were a part of the Empower Health Readiness Training Initiative to provide no cost healthcare to the Savannah community from May 10 -18. The event was hosted by Edgar's Proof and Provision at the DeSoto and guests enjoyed a casual evening of fellowship and fun.

2018 SCAD Sand Arts Festival

Event-goers soaked up some sun on while watching elaborate, artistic creations rise from the sand at the SCAD Sand Arts Festival on Tybee Island that took place on May 11th.

2018 Savannah Doggie Carnival

The 18th Annual Doggie Carnival welcomed hundreds of pet lovers and owner on Sunday, May 6, 2018 in Forsyth Park. This family-friendly festival featured fun for humans and canines alike with all proceeds benefit the Humane Society for Greater Savannah

Jalapenos Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Cinco de Mayo was a huge success for Jalapenos multiple locations as guests enjoyed food and drink specials along with a LOT of Tequila and fun for the whole family.

Savannah Scottish Games 2018

A grand celebration of Scottish Culture for the entire family!

Kentucky Derby Party for Alzheimers Association

The Homewood Suites’ Rooftop Bar on Riverstreet was overcome by a blur of Big Hats and Seer Sucker suits on Friday, May 4th to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association’s Dancing with the Savannah Stars Fundraiser. The event was sponsored by PruittHealth Hospice to benefit candidate, Michelle Thompson, of Spectrum printing