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

  • Nominations for Legends, Leaders, and a Life Well Lived Award

    Feb 14, 2018
    8:30 AM - 5:00 PM @ Senior Citizens Inc.

      Nominations needed for the SCI "Legends, Leaders, and Life Well Lived Award"   Senior Citizens, Inc. (SCI) needs your help in identifying...

  • Scenic Impressions: Southern Interpretations from the Johnson Collection

    Oct 13, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Telfair Academy

    When the world gets urban, the South gets Southern. That’s one way to sum up Scenic Impressions: Southern Paintings from the Johnson Collection,...

  • #art912, Avanguardia

    Nov 17, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Avanguardia, an exhibition by Savannah-based artist Lisa D. Watson (American, b. 1967), explores the encroachment of the constructed environment on...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Quarterfinals (Round 3 and 4)

    Feb 21, 2018
    4:00 PM - 9:15 PM @ Skidaway Island United Methodist Church

    The second half of Quarterfinalists face off with their starting programs of three eclectic and varied American songs in Round 3. The second group...

  • Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival 2018

    Feb 19, 2018
    All Day @ Hilton Head Island Various Locations

    Join us for the quintessential, Lowcountry family-style culinary celebration on Hilton Head Island. Explore artisan made art, gifts and specialty...

  • Semifinals (Round 1 and 2)

    Feb 22, 2018
    4:00 PM - 9:30 PM @ Skidaway Island United Methodist Church

    The first group of Semifinalists compete with their second programs of three eclectic and varied American songs in Round 1. The second group of...

  • 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...

  • Masterclass

    Feb 23, 2018
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ The Historic Savannah Theatre

    This Masterclass provides ATC fans and supporters with an opportunity to watch the three ATC judges in action as they each work with contestants to...

  • Finals

    Feb 23, 2018
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ The Historic Savannah Theatre

    The American Traditions Vocal Competition will conclude as the five finalists compete for their chance to be the Gold Medalist. Top honors and...

  • Free Lecture: Diane Cantor – “A Writer's Take: How Flannery O'Connor Chose Words”

    Feb 25, 2018
    4:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Flannery O'Connor Childhood HOme

    Drawing on Flannery O'Connor's letters concerning a writer's ear as well as selections from her short stories, Diane Cantor will provide examples...

  • Opening Lecture Panel: The Art and History of Bonaventure

    Mar 01, 2018
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Learn more about the fascinating history and art of Bonaventure with a panel of short presentations. Local historian Dr. Christopher Hendricks will...

  • Matthew Reardon Center’s 2018 Autism Conference

    Mar 02, 2018
    8:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ The Coastal Georgia Center

    The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism’s third annual autism conference will be held on Friday, March 2, 2018, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the...

  • Savannah Antiques & Architecture Weekend

    Mar 02, 2018
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Green-Meldrim House

    The Second Annual Savannah Antiques & Architecture Weekend will be held on March 2, 3, 2018. Sonny Seals, author of Historic Rural Churches in...

  • Bonaventure: A Historic Cemetery in Art

    Mar 02, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Steeped in art and history, Bonaventure Cemetery is one of Savannah’s most scenic locales, attracting visitors since the early 19th century....

  • Folk to Fine Arts Festival

    Mar 02, 2018
    10:00 AM - 9:00 PM @ Commerce Civic Center

    Join us for the seventh annual gathering of regional artists displaying and selling works ranging from folk to fine art during an exciting...

  • GnomeCon 7

    Mar 02, 2018
    11:00 AM - 11:00 AM @ Cottonwood Suites Savannah/Pooler

    We are a group of gamers, sci/fi and fantasy fans who decided we needed a convention closer to home. Now in it's 7th year our convention features...

  • Public Opening: Shine A Light When It’s Gray Out

    Mar 02, 2018
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ New Gallery of Modern Art

    The public opening for fine artist Stephen Wilson's newest series Shine A Light When It’s Gray Out will be held at Charlotte’s New Gallery of...

  • Coffee and Conversation: Shine A Light When It’s Gray Out

    Mar 03, 2018
    11:00 AM - 12:30 PM @ New Gallery of Modern Art

    Fine artist Stephen Wilson's newest series Shine A Light When It’s Gray Out is being shown at Charlotte’s New Gallery of Modern Art with Coffee...


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Scenes of the South

Savannah Book Festival

Gullah Market and Celebration

Hearts for Heroes Gala

Lyn Avenue EP Release

Hearts for Healing Gala

Savannah Classic Cars Grand Opening

Pin Point's Art and Oysters

Two of our favorite things: art and fresh seafood!

Geek-End Weekend

Where will you find th creators, money makers, and artsy-tartsy types of the low-country all hanging out in one space? Only at Geek-End Weekend.

Southern Coast Heart Ball

Are we all making sure our Valentine's Day hearts are anatomically correct?! This past weekend was the 21st annual Southern Coast Heart Ball and we got that healthy blood flow going!

Savannah Lip Sync Battle

Presented by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the 2nd Annual Savannah Lip Sync Battle Championship!