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

  • 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...

  • Sift 'n' Seine Program

    May 15, 2018
    1:00 PM - 2:00 PM @ Tybee Island Marine Science Center

    On our sift n seine program, you’ll discover the marine life of the intertidal zone by pulling a 10 foot seine net through waist-deep water....

  • 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

    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...

  • 37th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival

    Sep 23, 2018
    All Day @ Downtown Savannah

    Get ready for the sweet sounds of jazz to hit Savannah! The 2018 Savannah Jazz Festival celebrates jazz as a living art form—built on a...

  • Arthouse Cinema: Puzzle

    Sep 26, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    Premiering at Sundance, PUZZLE is the indie drama you need to see. Receiving rave reviews for her role, Kelly Macdonald plays Agnes, a taken for...

  • Let's Talk Mental Illness: Myths, Truths and Realities

    Sep 27, 2018
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Demere Center for Living

    The ELLA Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering education, support and advocacy to individuals and families affected by...

  • National Theatre Live: King Lear

    Sep 28, 2018
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    Broadcast live from London’s West End, see Ian McKellen’s ‘extraordinarily moving portrayal’ (Independent) of King Lear. King Lear sees two...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents Warehouse Theatre's Production of The Tempest

    Sep 28, 2018
    7:30 PM - 9:00 PM @ HHPS Main Street Theatre

    It starts with a shipwreck and ends with a reunion. In between, witness fantastic spells, murderous plots, and a love story. The Warehouse Theatre...

  • Tybee's Got Talent!!

    Sep 30, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    It's the event you've been waiting for! The 4th Annual Tybeee's Got Talent show at the Tybee Post Theater! That legendary island talent show was...

  • Chick-fil-a Stuffed Animal Sleepover

    Oct 05, 2018
    6:00 PM @ Chick-Fil-A

    Join us for our annual stuffed animal sleepover on October 5. Wear your pajamas and enjoy a dinner with the Chick-fil-a Cow! Once dinner is over,...

  • 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...

  • Run Forrest Run 5k

    Oct 06, 2018
    8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

    Run the course where the movie Forrest Gump was filmed. This Forrest Gump themed 5K will take you through historic downtown Beaufort,...

  • Art in the Park

    Oct 06, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Downtown Blowing Rock

    Outdoor arts & crafts show featuring 90+ juried artisans in a wide variety of mediums. Meet artists and buy art at series of 6 shows throughout...

  • Ken Ueno’s Ghost Vault Triptych Public Performance

    Oct 06, 2018
    8:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Ken Ueno will compose, direct, and inhabit a series of site-specific public performances entitled Ghost Vault Triptych at the Cluskey Embankment...

  • Erin Johnson and Ken Ueno Artist Talk and Performance

    Oct 07, 2018
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Join exhibiting artists Erin Johnson and Ken Ueno in an artist talk, performance, and walking conversation about their individual and collaborative...

  • Musical Matinees: Little Shop of Horrors

    Oct 07, 2018
    3:00 PM - 5:15 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    Getting into the Halloween mood, our Musical Matinée for this month is the 1986 cult-classic, Little Shop of Horrors. A nerdy florist, played by...


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Scenes of the South

Cure and Whiskey Wednesday

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!

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.