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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Events Calendar

  • Savannah Music Festival

    Mar 26, 2020
    12:30 PM - 10:00 PM @ Various Locations

    From March 26 through April 11, the Savannah Music Festival hosts musical visionaries and creative artists from across the United States, as well...

  • Newport Pig Cookin' Contest

    Apr 03, 2020
    6:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Newport Community Park

    The USA's largest whole hog BBQ pig cookin' contest invites you to join us for two days of food, fun and springtime celebrations. Crafts, variety...

  • Blowing Rock Trout Derby

    Apr 04, 2020
    7:30 AM - 4:00 PM @ Broyhill Park

    Celebrate the first day of trout season with a friendly competition! Prizes awarded in several categories- no pre-registration required. Free fun...

  • Cooper River Bridge Run

    Apr 04, 2020
    8:00 AM

    2020 ROUTE 10K is point to point, from Mt. Pleasant to downtown Charleston. You must wear your race (bib) number to be allowed on the course...

  • Forsyth Farmer's Market

    Jun 29, 2019
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ South end of Forsyth Park

    The Forsyth Farmers’ Market vendors offer a variety of local goods including seasonal produce, eggs, honey, pastured meat, bread, cheese,...

  • Power Yoga Principles

    Mar 07, 2020
    10:30 AM - 11:45 AM @ Savannah Power Yoga

    This class is intended for students who are new to Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga, as well as those hoping to learn more about finding their best...

  • Beaufort Water Festival 5K/10K

    Apr 04, 2020
    All Day

    The 65th Annual Beaufort Water Festival welcomes you to the Festival's first event of the year, the 5k/10k on Saturday, April 4,...

  • "Emperor"

    Apr 10, 2020
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Filmed in Savannah, “Emperor” is inspired by the legend of Shields “Emperor” Green, a descendant of African kings turned outlaw slave in...

  • 2020 Red Shoes Run

    Apr 11, 2020
    8:00 AM

    Our annual Red Shoes Run is a morning full of fun for the whole family.  There will be food, drinks, games, music and more for...

  • Publick Day

    Apr 18, 2020
    9:00 AM - 4:00 PM @ Beaufort Historic Site

    An old-fashioned flea market on the Beaufort Historic Site with vendors selling antiques and collectibles, art, crafts, handmade jewelry, books,...

  • Cars & 'Q for the Cause

    Apr 18, 2020
    4:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Choate Construction

    Join Choate Construction for the 11th annual Cars & ‘Q for the Cause, featuring 120-plus stellar cars; tasty BBQ, craft brews and wine; silent...

  • "Diving Deep"

    Apr 19, 2020
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    “Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy” is a captivating behind-the-scenes look at charismatic ocean-explorer and filmmaker Mike...

  • Trail to Ale 5K

    Apr 23, 2020
    6:00 PM @ Buckwalter Place Commerce Park

    One-of-a-kind 5K happy hour event for runners, walkers, young professionals, all professionals, companies, community and more! Run through the...

  • Relationship Therapy

    Apr 24, 2020
    4:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Savannah African Art Museum

    ​Marriages can be very complicated, especially when having to deal with your husband’s wives. Multipurpose Room, Carriage House (2nd floor),...

  • House of Blues: Willie Jackson’s Tybee Blues Band and Eric Culberson’s Band

    Apr 24, 2020
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    The Tybee Post Theater is going to be transformed into a House of Blues with two headliners on one stage for three hours of high-octane boogie...

  • Ignite the Senses Autism Awareness 5K Race

    Apr 25, 2020
    7:00 AM @ Lowcountry Community Church

    The Autism Awareness 5K Bubble Run is a Obstacle & Mud Runs race in Bluffton, South Carolina consisting of a 5K Novelty Run/Walk. 5K Bubble...

  • Tybee Turtle Trot

    Apr 25, 2020
    7:00 AM - 12:00 PM

    Join us on Tybee Island and run to support our nesting sea turtle monitoring program. Starting and finishing at the Tybee pier and pavilion, the...

  • Girls Night Out, The Show! 2020 Get Wild Tour!

    Apr 25, 2020
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Ladies, it’s your turn to have some Fun! Mark your calendar and bring all of your friends for an epic night of fun and excitement with GIRLS...

  • PRC Earth Day 5K Race at Palmetto Bluff

    Apr 26, 2020
    9:00 AM

    The PRC Eco Initiative presents the 2020 Earth Day 5K at Palmetto Bluff on April, 26th. This will be our first Sustainable running event of the...

  • 2020 Tybee Wine Festival

    Apr 29, 2020
    3:00 PM - 6:00 PM

    Sip international wines and sample fresh coastal seafood and other culinary delights at the Tybee Wine Festival. Now in its 12th year, the Tybee...


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Scenes of the South

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 5

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 4

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 2

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 3

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 1

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

February Brews for a Cause

February's Brews for a Cause was held at the Drayton Hotel on Thursday, February 27th. South Magazine and Southern Eagle teamed up to raise money through a large silent auction for the Savannah Ambucs organization. Craft Beer samplings from Wild Leap Brewing, alongside appetizers from the Drayton Hotel were offered to guests.

2020 Southern Coast Heart Ball

The American Heart Association held its annual Southern Coast Heart Ball on Saturday, February 8th at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa. Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception with a silent auction, dinner and program, and dancing to end the evening. All proceeds went to the Open Your Heart campaign.

4th Annual Hearts for Healing Gala

Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center held its Fourth Annual Hearts for Healing Gala on Friday, February 7th at the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel. Guests enjoyed gourmet dining, dancing, and a silent auction. All proceeds from the auction benefitted the Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center's program for individuals with disabilities.

IDC Benefits the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire

The LeClerc Family owners of IDC (International Diamond Center) in Savannah 349 Mall Blvd held a benefit to support the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire on Thursday, February 6th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Guests enjoyed light food and drinks, while bidding on several silent auction items, including autographed footballs and helmets donated by Anthony Lanier II.

Royce Learning Center Annual Low Country Boil & Oyster Roast

The Royce Learning Center held their annual low country boil and oyster roast on Saturday, February 1st. Guests enjoyed mingling over the seafood selection. Royce Learning Center meets the needs of children and adults with learning differences and literacy needs through its unique programs.