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 Chefs 2018

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

South's Greatest Kids 2018

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

  • Party In The Pines

    Oct 19, 2018
    12:00 PM - 11:45 PM @ Bienville Plantation

    Presented by Bienville Entertainment, Party In The Pines announces that Zac Brown Band and Little Big Town will headline second annual festival on...

  • Firefighters 5k and 10k

    Oct 13, 2018
    1:00 PM

    Did you know that every October, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation sponsors the official national tribute to all firefighters who died in...

  • Tybee Marsh Treks

    Sep 01, 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...

  • Girls Night Out - Make Your Own Skin Care Products!

    Sep 28, 2018
    5:00 PM @ Salacia Salts

    Grab a group of girlfriends for a private skin care making workshop. Design and hand mix your own body scrub while unwinding in our relaxing space...

  • Yellow Fever in Savannah 1820

    Oct 05, 2018
    7:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Davenport House Museum

      This October see a historical recreation of Savannah’s dreadful Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1820 with particular emphasis on daily life in...

  • Alee Haunted House-Terror Plantation

    Oct 05, 2018
    7:30 PM - 11:00 PM @ Alee Temple

    Voted as Georgia's third scariest haunted house, the Alee Haunted House is ready to scare! Starting in October, it will be open every Friday...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents Who Am I This Time (& Other Conundrums of Love) by Aaron Posner from Kurt Vonnegut

    Oct 18, 2018
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ HHPS Main Street Theatre

    The subject of this play—as we are told at the outset—is love, pure and complicated. Set on the stage of The North Crawford Mask & Wig Club...

  • Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival

    Oct 19, 2018
    All Day @ Richmond Hill Bryan County Chamber of Commerce

    The Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival is an annual event held at J. F. Gregory Park, located at 521 Cedar St., the third weekend in October. People...

  • Run for the Homeless 5k

    Oct 20, 2018
    8:00 AM - 10:00 AM @ SEDA Building on Hutchinson Island

    This is a fundraiser for the Savannah Inner City Night Shelter to help men, women, and children in our community who may find themselves homeless...

  • Old Town Oyster Run 5k/10k

    Oct 20, 2018
    8:00 AM - 10:00 AM @ Bluffton Oyster Factory Park

    The race starts at the Bluffton Oyster Factory and winds through beautiful downtown and along the May River. Compete in a fast-paced 10K or...

  • NAMI Mental Health 5k

    Oct 20, 2018
    8:30 AM @ Coligny Beach

    Join us for the 2018 NAMI Lowcountry 5K Mental Health Walk! This is an event for the ENTIRE FAMILY, including your four legged, furry family...

  • Wag-O-Ween Savannah 2018

    Oct 20, 2018
    12:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Historic Downtown Businesses

    https://www.facebook.com/wagoween.savannah.ga/ Join us Saturday October 20, 2018 from Noon-5:00 for the fun annual WAG-O-WEEN! This annual...

  • Free Family Day: "Monet to Matisse: Masterworks of French Impressionism from the Dixon Gallery and Gardens"

    Oct 20, 2018
    1:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Enjoy a day celebrating Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Children and families can try out pointillist painting techniques, make miniature...

  • Southern Songbirds: Jill Knight, Danielle Howle & Caroline Aiken

    Oct 20, 2018
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Three beautiful singer-songwriters from opposite coasts come together on the Tybee Post Theater stage for an incredible night of music.Jill Knight,...

  • Mindful Triathalon

    Oct 21, 2018
    9:00 AM - 11:00 AM @ Coligny Beach

    Jiva Yoga Center and Go Tri Sports are teaming up to produce the Mindful Triathlon - Hilton Head Island. What is the Mindful...

  • Lean Ensemble Theatre presents Who Am I This Time? (& Other Conundrums of Love) by Aaron Posner from Kurt Vonnegut

    Oct 21, 2018
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ HHPS Main Street Theatre

    The subject of this play—as we are told at the outset—is love, pure and complicated. Set on the stage of The North Crawford Mask & Wig Club...

  • Fall 2018 Lecture Series - "Poetry: Why Read It? Why Write It? Who Cares?" by Olivia Stiffler

    Oct 21, 2018
    4:00 PM - 5:30 PM @ Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home

    The Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home is proud to present the second installment of the Fall 2018 Lecture Series in the parlor of the Flannery...

  • Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk & Fitness Program

    Oct 24, 2018
    3:30 PM - 9:00 PM @ Georgia World Congress Center

    Now in its’ 36th consecutive year in Atlanta, the Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk & Fitness Program is a unique workplace-organized fitness...

  • Girls' Night Out: "Ghost"

    Oct 25, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Could there be a better movie to show the week before Halloween than “Ghost,” arguably one of the finest and weepiest love stories to ever hit...

  • Ghosts of Grayson Stadium Haunted Ballpark

    Oct 25, 2018
    All Day @ Grayson Stadium

     Wicked South Productions presents Ghosts of Grayson Haunted Ballpark. Built almost 100 years ago by General William Grayson, the...


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Scenes of the South

Grand Opening of 201 Seafood

Mixing the traditional tastes of the south with the local flair of the city, 201 Seafood and Tapas Lounge showcases Savannah's culinary community and their grand opening now gives us full access to some of the best seafood in the Coastal Empire.

Closet Raiders

Described as the “superbowl of fashion”, Closet Raiders was taped at the Lucas Theatre in front of a live audience. Contestants showed off their personal style fashion knowledge. Hosted by Savannah locals Reneé LaSalle and Kevin Cartee, offered the chance to win a closet full of designer clothes.

Cure and Whiskey Wednesday

Local celebrities competed on stage to help support the mission to provide training and supervision to volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children of Savannah and Chatham County.

Cure and Whiskey Wednesday

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Each day, 43 families in the United States will hear the words “your child has cancer.” Meaningful supporters came came out to help spread awareness, learn more on how to stop childhood cancer, to recognize the children and families affected by childhood cancers and to emphasize the importance of supporting research on these devastating conditions.

7th Annual Savannah Ambucs/ Celebrity Bowlapalooza Auction

Plenty of supporters came came out to the 7th Annual Savannah Ambucs/Vaden Chevrolet Pooler Celebrity Bowlapalooza Kickoff and Auction for a night of fun and fundraising. There was an Amtryke, specially adapted 3 wheel bike giveaway, and a silent and live auction. The auction was to help make a difference in the Savannah community and to inspire mobility and independence for people with different abilities.

Ronald McDonald House Super Summer Shindig

Children came dressed as their favorite superheroes as they enjoyed face painting, games, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and their favorite favorite superheroes and McDonald’s characters. There was delicious appetizers by Chef Cynthia Creighton-Jones of Cape Creations Catering, Ghost Coast cocktails, door prizes, and the great networking opportunities in Savannah.

Whiskey Wednesday

First City Network, Ghost Coast Distillery and South Magazine came together for this event at 39 Rue De Jean on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. The mission of First City Network (FCN) is to enhance and sustain the well-being of LGBT individuals and their allies .

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!