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.  

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Greatest Bosses 2019

Featuring the greatest bosses with enthusiastic nominations from their own employees, those fine working folks who make the dreams possible.

Greatest Dads 2019

Show your dad some love and enter him in the South's Greatest Dads contest and get him some votes!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • "Keita Takahashi: Zooming Out" Exhibition at Telfair Musuems

    Jan 24, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums hosts the first museum survey of the work of visionary videogame designer Keita Takahashi (Japanese, b. 1975). Takahashi is noted...

  • "The Prints of Dame Laura Knight" Exhibition at Telfair Museums

    Jan 19, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Telfair Museums' Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums exhibits nine prints by Dame Laura Knight (British, 1877-1970), together for the first time since they were acquired by the museum...

  • “Jaume Plensa Talking Continents” Exhibition at Telfair Museums

    Mar 01, 2019
    12:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Jaume Plensa (Spanish, b. 1955) is one of the world’s foremost living sculptors. He is widely known for large-scale public artworks and more...

  • "Rembrandt and the Jewish Experience" at Telfair Museums

    Mar 15, 2019
    12:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    This exhibition contains 21 etchings by Rembrandt and one drawing by Rembrandt’s teacher Pieter Lastman (Dutch, 1583-1633). These works highlight...

  • SCAD40 CELEBRATION AND THE PREMIERE OF SCADSTORY

    Apr 26, 2019
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Poetter Hall

    Enjoy a private gathering of SCAD friends and VIPs for dinner, live music and the first look at 360-degree immersive exprience, SCADstory, created...

  • SCAD40 Block Party

    Apr 26, 2019
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Bull Street at Madison Square

    Fête this milestone anniversary with entertainment and art installations where is all began.

  • BBQ Cook Off on BBQ Road

    Apr 26, 2019
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Silver Coast Winery

    Think you have what it takes to be the King of the grill? Come to the 3rd annual BBQ Cookoff on BBQ Road. There will be a free wing competition on...

  • 2019 Tybee Wine Festival

    Apr 26, 2019
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Sip international wines and sample fresh coastal seafood and other culinary delights at the Tybee Wine Festival. Now in its 11th year, the Tybee...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon

    Apr 25, 2019
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ HHPS Main Street Theatre

    Paul and Corie Bratter are newlyweds in every sense of the word. After a six-day honeymoon, they get a surprise visit from Corie's loopy mother and...

  • Rembrandt Exhibit

    Mar 15, 2019
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    Rembrandt lived and worked in Amsterdam during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. Although most residents of Amsterdam during...

  • NOGS Tour of Hidden Gardens

    Apr 26, 2019
    All Day @ Savannah

    The 44rd Anniversary of NOGS (North of Gwinnett Street) is the perfect time to visit Savannah, Georgia, the largest urban landmark Historic...

  • 10th Annual Bid for PAL Online Auction

    Apr 25, 2019
    All Day @ www.PALauction.org

    Shop the Lowcountry and beyond from the comfort of your couch! With the "Bid for PAL" Online Auction you can splurge on a golf package, a spa...

  • 2019 Komen Savannah Race for the Cure

    Apr 27, 2019
    6:00 AM @ Ellis Square

    6:00 a.m. Packet Pickup and Registration 7:15 a.m. Welcoming Remarks 7:45 a.m. Survivor Processional 8:30 a.m. 5K Start

  • 2019 Sand Gnat Challenge

    Apr 27, 2019
    7:30 AM @ 17 South Rod and Gun Club

    Our 3rd year with the Sand Gnat Challenge IDPA match! Back Up Gun Compact Carry Pistol

  • Days at the Dock Festival

    Apr 27, 2019
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Holden Beach

    Appreciate the finest arts and crafts vendors, eat delicious food around the festival or go listen to awesome entertainers. Don’t forget to watch...

  • Make Savannah Spring Festival

    Apr 27, 2019
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Maven Makers

    Make Savannah and Maven Makers have teamed up to host a Spring festival pop-up featuring Makers and artists! Join us on Saturday, April 27 from 10...

  • Make Savannah Spring Festival

    Apr 27, 2019
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Maven Makers

    Make Savannah and Maven Makers have teamed up to host a Spring festival pop-up featuring Makers and artists! Join us on Saturday, April 27 from...

  • Let's Makeup for the Cure

    Apr 27, 2019
    11:00 AM - 4:00 PM @ Belk

    At Belk in Oglethorpe Mall Benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Saturday, April 27th from 11 AM to 4 PM. Make your donations to the...

  • A Taste of Calabash

    Apr 27, 2019
    11:00 AM - 6:00 PM @ Calabash Community Park

    Join the “Seafood Capital of the World” in celebrating their 4th Annual Taste of Calabash Festival. There will be great seafood, arts and...

  • Savannah Philharmonic Chorus' "Frost on Leaves of Grass" Concert

    Apr 27, 2019
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    This captivating chorus-only concert features poetic pieces centered on uplifting themes written by two legendary American poets, Walt Whitman,...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

The Clyde

The Clyde Venue is Savannah’s newest, most modern, wedding venue located in the Historic Landmark District. The space has been completely renovated, and a work in progress for more than a year. The venue is 5,200 square feet and includes a grande room, large marble bar, catering prep area, and restrooms. It’s located at 223 Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The Fire Ball

IAFF Savannah Firefighters gathered together at Savannah Station March 15th to celebrate with friends and family. They welcomed their newest members, honored those that recently retired and acknowledged departments joining from around the world! The event was a blast. From 6pm-10pm guests danced to live music, sampled premium foods and even played with local puppies up for adoption.

Savannah's Newest Hot Spot Opens

SEED Eco Lounge, Barrelhouse South and Rogue Water welcomes a new addition to the family. Vice is located on Broughton at Saya's former location. Few pursuits tap into the pleasures of nightlife more than music. Giving yourself over to the rhythms, the lights, and the energy is a total release. Amazing DJs get the crowds moving, and other patrons ensure that there's plenty to see and socialize with. This sleek and sexy underground spot is sure to be one of the best spots for Savannah's night life.

The Royal Flush Casino Night Presented by Roto-Rooter Plumbers of Savannah

Roto-Rooter Plumbers of Savannah hosted “The Royal Flush Casino Night” on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Savannah Station, with all of the proceeds going to benefit families at the Ronald McDonald House of the Coastal Empire. The casino-themed party will feature heavy hors-d’oeuvres, an open bar, live music, dancing and complimentary casino.

The Telfair Ball

The 39th annual Telfair Ball celebrated the 200th anniversary of the remarkable architecture of Telfair Museums historic buildings and the pioneering legacy of Mary Telfair. This year the Ball was held in Forsyth Park among a myriad of carnival performers and fanciful nymphs. Hundreds of Savannah locals and many visitors came together to celebrate a love of art and South Eastern heritage. The ball supports the future of the Telfair Academy, the Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters, and the Jepson Center. Proceeds directly fund the museum's educational outreach, exhibitions, and release activities, bring the benefits of art to over 190,000 people each year.

Hearts for Healing Gala

The Faith Equestrian's Annual Hearts for Healing Gala at Tybee Wedding Chapel on Friday evening started out with a bang as the Free Spirit Orchestra' violin twins played their rendition of some of the greatest musical hits. The attendees were reminded what the event was all about as the founder Bonnie Rachael was recognized after story after story was shared to a room of teary eyed party-goers. Congrats to event director Bonnie Karr and her amazing team for a job well done!

Southern Coast Heart Ball

The American Heart Association's 22nd Annual Southern Heart Ball took place on February 2, 2019 and celebrated all the life-saving advances made so far while raising funds to continue to further AHA's mission. The black-tie gala brought together more than 400 guests to enjoy a night of dining, dancing, live entertainment and both live and silent auctions. Those in attendance got to hear the story of Lily Cochran, who was born with several congenital heart defects. Her father, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, also had a heart disease and was honored at the event.

PUTTING Away Crime

On Saturday, January 12, 2019 Savannah helped McGruff the Crime Dog take a bite out of crime at the Crimestoppers Savannah's 3rd Annual Putt Putt Mini Golf Tournament held at Island Miniature Golf and Game on Wilmington Island. Proceeds went to helping fund rewards for the Crimestopper's anonymous crime tip line.

Dining in the Dark

On Saturday, January 12, 2019, the 3rd Annual Dining in the Dark event presented by The Charles C. Taylor and Samir Nikocevic Charitable Foundation benefitting the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision, was held at the Embassy Suites/Downtown Savannah.

Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2018

Savannah's 39 Rue De Jean celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the official end of this year’s growing season. Harvest is complete and vintners—especially in France—are ready to celebrate the completion of the harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine that is annually released on the third Thursday in November. Nouveau wine undergoes a very short fermentation process, and yields an extremely fresh and fruity wine.