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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Greatest Professional Photographers 2020

Calling South’s Greatest Photographers! Are you a professional photographer with beautiful work? Enter South’s Greatest Photographers 2020!

Greatest Amateur Photographers 2020

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Events Calendar

  • “Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick” Exhibition

    Oct 11, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick examines the work of six contemporary artists—Corey Arnold, Guy Ben-Ner, Patty Chang, Tristin...

  • Savannah Philharmonic Chorus Auditions

    Sep 07, 2019
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle

    The Savannah Philharmonic is holding auditions throughout the year for singers to have the opportunity to join the Chorus for the exciting...

  • SS Savannah (1819-2019)

    May 23, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Ships of the Sea Museum

    2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the SS Savannah's groundbreaking trans-Atlantic crossing.  In recognition of this monumental achievement,...

  • Savannah Philharmonic Chorus Auditions

    Sep 07, 2019
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle

    The Savannah Philharmonic is holding auditions throughout the year for singers to have the opportunity to join the Chorus for the exciting...

  • "Portrait of the Artist" Exhibition at Telfair Museums

    Aug 03, 2019
    12:00 PM - 12:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    This exhibition brings together several photographic portraits of recognizable creative individuals from Telfair’s permanent collection....

  • 17 South Haunted Forest

    Oct 04, 2019
    7:00 PM - 11:00 PM @ 17 South

    Do you dare to enter the 17 South Haunted Forest after the sun goes down and night begins to fall? Shadows take on a life of their own in this...

  • Alee Temple Haunted Terror Plantation

    Oct 04, 2019
    7:30 PM - 11:00 PM @ Alee Shrine Temple

    Our Haunted House is primarily an indoor event, our Haunted House is one of the scariest in Georgia! We are located in the scariest city in...

  • Wicked South Haunted Corn Maze

    Oct 04, 2019
    All Day @ Madrac Farms

    WICKED SOUTH PRODUCTIONS, LLLP IS BRINGING THE HAUNT INDUSTRY TO SAVANNAH WITH THEIR INAUGURAL HAUNTED ATTRACTION. OWNERS TOM MCCORMICK AND EMEKA...

  • Tanger Outlets Pink Campaign

    Oct 01, 2019
    All Day @ Tanger Outlets Pooler

    Tanger Outlets is offering shoppers special savings in return for supporting the ongoing efforts to end breast cancer during the month of October....

  • 2019 Halloween Event

    Oct 19, 2019
    All Day @ Bass Pro Shops

    Free Halloween Event!  *October 19 & 20 and October 25-31  * Weekends: Noon-5pm * Weekdays: 5pm-7pm *October 31: 4pm-8pm Free...

  • Savannah Moose Lodge Haunted Forest

    Oct 04, 2019
    All Day @ Savannah Moose Lodge

    Official 2019 Haunted Forest Dates: October 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 18th, 19th, 25th, 26th, 31st, Noveber 1st & 2nd.

  • 2019 Savannah Speed Classic

    Oct 24, 2019
    8:00 AM - 3:30 PM @ Hutchinson Island

    Savannah is known for its century old buildings, antique shops, boutiques, and fabulous River Street restaurants. What is not so well-known is that...

  • Halloween at Coligny

    Oct 24, 2019
    4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

  • Pace Lap Party

    Oct 24, 2019
    5:00 PM - 7:30 PM @ Ellis Square at City Market

    Celebrate the official kick-off to the Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival with a party in the city. A small group...

  • Bras & Bubbly

    Oct 24, 2019
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Thibault Gallery

    The Fifth Annual Bra Project will conclude its tour of the Lowcountry with the Bras & Bubbly evening event on Thursday, Oct. 24, when the winner of...

  • DineSouth 2019

    Oct 24, 2019
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Savannah Station

    The 12th annual DineSouth is the premier dining event in Savannah — and this year's event is going to be the best yet! In conjunction...

  • Girls'' Night Out: "Rosemary''s Baby"

    Oct 24, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    It’s been 51 years since this psychological supernatural horror film scared us to death and launched a new occult genre in filmmaking. So, it...

  • Grab a Bag for Kids

    Oct 25, 2019
    11:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ Plantation Cclub at the Landings

    Horizons Savannah announces its seventh annual charity luncheon and purse auction, Grab a Bag for Kids, will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct....

  • Friday Concert Series

    May 03, 2019
    7:00 PM - 12:00 AM @ Historic Courthouse, Downtown Blairsville on the S

    Come enjoy live music every Friday Night from the first Friday of May through the end of October. The Historic Union County Court House will host...

  • Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    Oct 18, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    The Tybee Arts Association presents a new and shocking version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of depravity, lust, love and horror in...


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Scenes of the South

Georgia Historial Gala Pre-Party

After one and a half years of renovations, Mr. Richard C. Kessler has restored the Armstrong Mansion, a National Historic Landmark, to its original 1919 grandeur and which was unveiled earlier this year. On Saturday, Oct. 19, Mr. Kessler hosted a private cocktail reception at his residence, Armstrong Kessler Mansion, prior to the Historic Savannah Foundation gala, where he received the Historic Savannah Spirit Award, recognizing his restoration efforts.

Anne Pappas Grand Opening

Anne Pappas Interiors celebrated the Grand Opening of their new full-service design studio and showroom at 101 W. Liberty St. in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District, on Thursday, Oct. 10. “This inspiring space will allow our talented team of designers to provide exceptional creative services to clientele who appreciate the art of design,” said Pappas. A member of Coastal Living and Southern Living’s exclusive Designer Network, Pappas offers a fresh, inspired approach to interior design, incorporating a variety of textures and design elements inspired by nature, travel and global style. Pappas and her team welcomed guests with light hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at the event.

Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala

Glitz and glamour were galore at the Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala celebrating the Savannah Entertainment Industry as Charles (Bo) Bowen and his team orchestrated the event of the year. The night was unforgettable for all, but even more so for many hard-working and deserving individuals who were recognized for their contributions to the local film and television industry

Bitty and Beau's at Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott gives back with Bitty & Beau’s Saturday, Sept. 28. Kendra Scott gave 20% the proceeds of their sales from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to Bitty & Beau’s Coffee. Bitty & Beau’s, which aims to provide jobs and change the way people see those with special needs and disabilities, provided muffins and coffee.

Brews for a Cause September at Mansion on Forsyth

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle hosted Brews for a Cause at Casimir’s Lounge at the Mansion on Forsyth Park on Thursday, Sept. 26 in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for CURE Childhood Cancer.

Savannah Hospice Gala

Hospice Savannah celebrated 40 years of the “Art of Living” at the Landings Plantation Ballroom on Thursday, Sept. 25.

Latin Dance Party Featuring Gino Castillo & The Cuban Cowboys

The 38th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival hosted a Latin Dance Party, which featured Gino Castillo & the Cuban Cowboys on Thursday, Sept. 25 at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum. Castillo - the Afro-Cuban jazz singer and percussionist – led the Charleston-based Cuban Cowboys as they brought patrons to their feet, dancing the night away to his funky–jazz, high-energy tunes.

Grand Opening Studio 60 | Body Brite

Studio60BodyBrite owner and girl boss Bobbie Ciaccio unveiled Savannah’s newest salon to the public by hosting a grand opening, “Pink Party,” on Friday, Sept. 13.

The Laughter After: George Montero's Visual Art Show

Savannah's art world gathered at the Cork House, Thursday to experience the award winning SCAD graphic design professor, Jorge Montero's opening exhibition of paintings, drawings, prints and more!

Buy Local's Big Barn Business Bash

Brews for a Cause at Husk, August 22, was truly an unforgettable night, featuring live music by Thomas Claxton and some fantastic craft beer by Southern Eagle — along with the top-notch cuisine of Chris Hathcock. A variety of incredible auction items benefited the Royce Learning Center and the Chatham Academy, including a pearl necklace from International Diamond and several rounds on the Bacon Park Golf Course!