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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Souths's Greatest Chefs 2018

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

Souths's Greatest Kids 2018

Nominate your kid for the cutest contest of the year!
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Events Calendar

  • 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,...

  • LDSS Hosts Chatham Camp Buddy 2018

    Jul 09, 2018
    9:00 AM - 4:00 PM @ Coastal Middle School

    Hosted by the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS), Camp Buddy offers programs to prepare children for the upcoming school year with the goal of...

  • #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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • CLAY +

    Jul 14, 2018
    10:30 AM - 50:00 AM @ Toe River Arts Council Gallery

    This exciting exhibit will feature the works of Penland artist/potter Cynthia Bringle. Not to be confused with a retrospective look back,...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Monthly Satsang

    Feb 21, 2018
    7:15 PM - 8:30 AM @ Savannah Power Yoga

    Join us for a monthly gathering to discuss and reflect on the ethical principles of yoga.    We will use The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah...

  • 4th Annual Savannah Logistic Lunch

    Jul 20, 2018
    10:30 AM - 1:15 PM @ Savannah International Trade and Convention Center

    The annual Savannah Logistics Lunch offers an in-depth, regionally focused discussion about logistics. This year’s event will focus on managing...

  • Grateful Dead Presented by the Charlie Fog Band

    Jul 21, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    They're back! Let's sell out the house and clear out the beer cooler again! It's their third time taking over the Tybee Post Theater stage with...

  • To Catch a Thief

    Jul 21, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    Cary Grant and Grace Kelly star as John Robie, a reformed jewel thief, and Frances Stevens, a rich young tourist and the target of a new cat...

  • Sportbike Demo and Track Day

    Jul 21, 2018
    All Day

    Yamaha of Savannah, Podium Motorsports Pirelli, and Lowcountry Sport Riders present the Yamaha Champions Riding School and Yamaha Sportbike Demo...

  • The Little Mermaid

    Jul 22, 2018
    3:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    Explore the beautiful underwater home of Ariel, a mermaid princess who longs to be on land. Ariel takes great risks to get her wish, but is it...

  • Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show- Hunter-Jumper

    Jul 24, 2018
    8:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Broyhill Equestrian Preserve

    Watch competitors complete the course in various Classic events! Divisions for all ages in this outdoor show adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

  • Blowing Rock Tour of Homes

    Jul 27, 2018
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ St Mary of the Hill Episcopal Church

    This annual fundraiser opens the doors to 5 of Blowing Rock’s most special private homes to admire the special features and furnishings that have...

  • Symphony By The Lake

    Jul 27, 2018
    6:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Chetola Resort

    Experience a moving performance by the Symphony of the Mountains, surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge landscape on the grass by Chetola Lake,...

  • Sue Langford returns

    Jul 28, 2018
    1:30 PM - 4:00 PM @ Marriott Riverfront Savannah

    Sue Langford returns to Savannah to sign her bestselling novels. The Marriott Riverfront hotel in Savannah Georgia is having authors from all over...

  • A Tribute to Legendary Songwriters

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

    It all starts with a song, and four Savannah songwriters will honor the legends that gave us some of our favorites. This one-of-a-kind concert...


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Scenes of the South

The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra -Swingin' Savannah River

The beautiful Westin Harbor Lawn was the perfect setting to enjoy the ultimate July 4th experience on the Savannah River including a patriotic concert with The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra.

JCB Mudrun 2018

As feet hit the wet mud, eyes were set on the trophies and hearts beat with adrenaline at this year’s 7th annual JCB Mud Fest. Nearly 1,500 participants showed up from around the country, making this the most successful event to date. All proceeds benefited the Lady Bamford Center for Early Childhood Development. Participants endured a variety of new challenges, including fan favorites such as the JCB mud lake and the tire field.

Old Town Trolley's 25th Anniversary

Old Town Trolley celebrated 25 years of business!

Red, White & Blue Baseball Night

The Two Hundred Club, hosted by the Savannah Bananas, held a double header evening featuring an exhibition softball game between the local Firefighters & EMS versus Law Enforcement at Grayson Stadium.

2018 Savannah Mile

Hundreds of service members and their families joined with community neighbors and volunteers for this annual One-Mile Run yo support The 200 club of the Coastal Empire. Participants run North on Drayton Street for one mile to nd at the Finish Line on Broughton Street. The 200 club provides resources and financial support for families who have had a loved one killed or injured in the line of duty.

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.