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

  • Free Screenings for Oral Cancer Awareness Month

    Apr 12, 2018
    8:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Sandfly Family Dental

    Every 60 minutes, a person dies from oral cancer. Early symptoms are rare, but if you can catch it, early detection makes a dramatic difference,...

  • Savannah Mile

    Apr 26, 2018
    8:00 AM @ Drayton and Park

    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...

  • Carrie Mae Weems: Sea Islands Series, 1991-1992

    Jan 26, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Considered one of the most influential contemporary artists, Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) has continued to explore the African American...

  • ArtFields Returning to Lake City April 20-28, Featuring Georgia Artists; Inspiring New Exhibition Venues, Events

    Apr 20, 2018
    10:00 AM - 8:00 PM @ Lake City, SC

    INSPIRING NEW EXHIBITION VENUES, EVENTS Southeastern Artists Compete for $120,000 in Cash    The sixth annual ArtFields® competition will...

  • Paul Stephen Benjamin: Reinterpreting the Sound of Blackness

    Jan 26, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Paul Stephen Benjamin (American, b. 1966) is a conceptual artist whose work is a meditation on the color black, specifically as an entry point into...

  • 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...

  • Tybee Wine Festival 2018: Wine and Dine at the Shrine

    Apr 26, 2018
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ The Tybee Shrine

    A gourmet dining experience celebrating Tybee Wine Festival’s 10th Anniversary.  The evening starts with appetizers and cocktails overlooking...

  • Anything Flows Yoga Class

    Jun 15, 2017
    7:00 PM @ Dragon Dance Yoga

    7 pm Anything Flows Yoga Class Walk in rate: $14 Dragon Dance Yoga This class will take you beyond your comfort zone while still...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater Presents Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest

    Apr 26, 2018
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ HHP Main Street Theatre

    This classic farcical comedy casts an amused eye on the British upper class and their mannerisms, social obligations, and their oh so human...

  • Tybee Island Wine Festival

    Apr 26, 2018
    All Day @ Tybee Island

    Now in its ninth year, the Tybee Island Wine Festival, hosted by the Tybee Post Theatre, is any wine lover's dream! You are certainly in...

  • Laughing Skull

    Apr 26, 2018
    All Day @ Laughing Skull Lounge

    This comedy festival focuses on pure talent by bringing in only the best unsigned comedians from all over the country. This year’s venues...

  • "Once Upon a Time" Joy Prom

    Apr 27, 2018
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Alee Temple

    For the past nine years, Xcel Strategies, a mentoring network in Savannahserving at-risk young men, has been hosting the Joy Prom for over 500...

  • Tybee Wine Festival 2018: Tybee Post Pickin & Shuckin with Bubbles & Beer

    Apr 27, 2018
    6:30 PM - 8:30 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    A toast to the Tybee Post Theater and the 10th Annual Tybee Wine Festival at an evening with roasted oysters and pig picking with bubblies and beer...

  • Coastal Pet Rescue 15th Anniversary Celebration

    Apr 28, 2018
    10:00 AM - 2:00 AM @ Grayson Stadium

    It’s a party that’s been 15 years in the making for one area rescue agency. Coastal Pet Rescue will hold its 15th anniversary bash Saturday,...

  • Georgia Historical Society's Annual Book Sale

    Apr 28, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Georgia Historical Society

    Please join us for the annual GHS Book Sale on Saturday, April 28! The tables of the GHS Research Center will be filled with thousands of used...

  • 15th Coastal Pet Rescue

    Apr 28, 2018
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Grayson Stadium at Daffin Park

    Get ready to party with Coastal Pet Rescue as they celebrate their 15th anniversary! There will be live music by The Mandrakes, fun activities for...

  • Collin's Barefoot Comedy Club w/ Nicholas Anthony

    Apr 28, 2018
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    After you wind down from the Tybee Wine Festival’s Grand Wine Tasting, hustle over to the Theater for our monthly stand-up comedy show! National...

  • 14th Annual Tybee Turtle Trot 5K Beach Run

    Apr 28, 2018
    All Day @ Tybee Island

    Kick off Coastal Georgia’s sea turtle nesting season with this race benefiting Tybee Island Marine Center’s Sea Turtle Conversion Fund....


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Scenes of the South

Georgia Land & Cattle Co. Grand Opening

Whiskey Wednesdays

Dozens of locals showed up at 39 Rue de Jean for Whiskey Wednesday. They enjoyed mingling, appetizers and drinks from Savannah's Ghost Coast Distillery and proceeds supported The Nine Line Foundation, who is dedicated to meeting financial and specialized need of severely injured soldiers and their families.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

The Rape Crisis Center will hosed the 5th Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Event at Forsyth Park to galvanize the support of men and boys in our community.

Gingerbread House Open House

The Gingerbread House opened its doors for an open house, inviting the public in to see all the beautiful historic home has to offer for those looking to plan a wedding or corporate event.

PGA Hyatt Pro-AM Pairings Party

Golf enthusiasts gathered at the Hyatt Regency for the PGA Hyatt Pro-Am Pairings Party. This highly anticipated event kicked off the Pro-Am experience of the Savannah Golf Championship.

Burst in Bloom at Telfair Academy

Telfair Academy was buzzing with art and beautiful floral arrangements by local floral artists for the opening night reception of Burst Into Bloom.

Budweiser Clydesdales

The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales spent a few days at historic Grayson Stadium before their highly anticipated appearance at the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

St. Patrick's Day Fire Ball 2018

The Savannah Professional Firefighters Association held their annual Fire Ball at Savannah Station. The money raised during this event went towards the Fallen Firefighter's Fund.

Celtic Cross Ceremony

The St. Patrick's Day celebrations began early with the annual Celtic Cross Ceremony. The Celtic Cross Mass, Procession and Ceremony are all symbolic of the original celebrations of St. Patrick's Day in Savannah, dating all the back to the early 1800's.

An Evening of Brilliance for St. Andrews

St. Andrews partnered up with the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce to bring this year's edition of the Chamber Ball.