South's Greatest Chefs 2019


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#1. William Deane of Alligator Soul

What was your first restaurant job? I started washing dishes in high school at a restaurant in Lehigh Acres, Florida. That’s what got me into the industry — watching all the line cooks and seeing how hectic it would get, but somehow, they kept it all organized.

What do you love about cooking? I like making people happy, but what I really love is the team at Alligator Soul. From the front of the house to the back of the house, everyone tries to do better every day when they come into work.

What advice do you have for diners who make Savannah a food travel destination? Go to the places where you’re going to try something you’ve never had before. Stay open minded.

912.232.7899 • alligatorsoul.com

 

#2 Kyle Brown of Churchill's

What was your first restaurant job? My first real restaurant job was at a place called Oliva. I worked the grill.

Did you know, then, that cooking was going to be your life’s work? I was already going to school at Savannah Technical College for cooking at the time. Before that I was in the Coast Guard, and we would take turns cooking meals for each other. That’s what got me into it.

What advice do you have for diners who make Savannah a food travel destination? Try something you’ve never had before. The dishes on the menu have gone through a lot of work, so be open to the dishes and trust the chef.

912.232.8501 • thebritishpub.com

 

#3 Tyler Slade of 10 Market, A Chef's Kitchen

What was your first restaurant job? My first job was working at Perry’s Fish House in Burlington, Vermont, but I wasn’t cooking fish. I was the omelet guy at the buffet. I had no experience cooking, and, man, I smoked that dining room out a couple of times.

Is there an omelet on the menu at 10 Market? I did put an omelet a la garconne on one of the menus for our weekend prix fixe dinners. They are all themed, and we were doing a series of movie-themed dinners – Great Gatsby, Titanic. That one was Pulp Fiction.

When did you realize cooking was going to be your life’s work? I always tell people it was the first job where I woke up excited to go to work. That’s how I knew. I decided to go to the New England Culinary Institute. Culinary school gave me the technique and basics, but the head chef at Posana in Asheville taught me how to be a chef. A lot of who you are and who you become as a chef depends on the mentors you learn from along the way.

843.644.1090 • 10market.com

 

#4 Christian Santiago of Òrale Tacos

What was your first restaurant job? I’ve been cooking since I was a child, but I had my first restaurant job at age 25 at the Disney Resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

When did you realize cooking was going to be your life’s work? When I realized it wasn’t just a job, it was my passion.

What advice do you have for diners who make Savannah a food travel destination? Try as many places as possible. Explore the emerging generations of culinary artists. I think people visiting here will be truly delighted to find some non-traditional tastes.

912.349.6012 • oraletacoplus.com

 

#5 Roberto Leoci of Green Fire Pizza

What was your first restaurant job? I worked at an Italian hall as a food runner in Montreal, Canada a long time ago.

When did you realize cooking was going to be your life’s work? I always loved cooking, but my dad kept trying to persuade me otherwise. My only other outlet was in creative arts — watercolor, film, painting. I went on to work as a color matcher for a big printing industry where I had an expense account, so I would eat out a lot. Finally, I said I wanted to do it every day. I was 28 at that point. In the kitchen world, that’s old.

What do you love most about cooking? I love seeing smiles on people’s faces when they have good food, how it changes the mood and brings people together.

912.298.0880 • greenfirepizza.com

 

#6 Joe Randall of Good Times Jazz Bar and Restaurant

What was your first restaurant job? I worked in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania in the kitchen at The Chalet Restaurant in 1964.

When did you realize cooking was going to be your life’s work? I started in the kitchen, and I never left. My uncle, Richard Ross, was a caterer and restauranteur in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He gave me a real taste of the hospitality industry. It wasn’t exactly a decision, but I liked to eat.

What is the best dish you’ve eaten recently? I’m a true lover of gumbo. I’ve been making it for 50 years all over the country. Gumbo makes people do strange things. I invited a friend over for gumbo once. He couldn’t come, but later I got a knock on the door. This woman said, “You don’t know me, but I heard you’re fixing a pot of gumbo.” I said, “If you’re crazy enough to knock on my door, I’m crazy enough to serve you a pot of gumbo.”

912.236.2226 • goodtimesjazzbar.com

 

#7 Bryce Knott of a.Lure

What was your first restaurant job? I was a dishwasher at a barbecue restaurant. From there, I worked my way up to cook and eventually I was pulling the pits. This was still in high school.

Did you know then that you wanted to be a chef? It was probably at my first fine dining job. A friend took a chance on me and I got seasonal work at a fine dining restaurant in Nantucket, Massachusetts. I was 23 and fortunate enough to work with some great chefs who saw something in me and pushed me. At the end of my first season, my executive chef bought me a nice chef’s knife. That’s when I knew.

What is the best dish you’ve eaten recently? Definitely our local seafood. I grew up fishing here. I’ve always been a marsh rat, and I’ve been cleaning fish since I was five or six.

912.233.2111 • aluresavannah.com

 

#8 Chaz Ortiz of Chazito's

What was your first restaurant job? My first job was actually at Panera Bread. I was 14, and I worked in prep, slicing tomatoes.

Did you realize, then, that cooking was going to be your life’s work? No, I got the cooking bug from my grandmother. We have a huge family, and we would have a cookout every Sunday.

Is that what inspired Chazito’s monthly pig roast? The monthly pig roast is inspired by my grandfather. He would roast a pig to celebrate big days – birthdays, anniversaries. Every month it’s a celebration that Chazito’s lasted another month. We have more than 40 pig roasts under our belt now.

912.348.3373 • Chazitos.com

 

#9 Jason Starnes of Rhett at the Alida Hotel

When did you realize cooking was going to be your life’s work? The industry chose me. Both of my grandmothers were in the food industry. I always enjoyed cooking and had the opportunity to cook with my family. It was the best decision I ever made.

What do you love about cooking? It’s multifaceted. I get to be artistic and creative. I get to help people enjoy an experience. As my career evolves, the biggest thing for me is teaching. We have a few international internship programs at The Alida, so I get the opportunity to take the knowledge I’ve gained and pass it on.

What is the best dish you’ve eaten recently? I’m pretty new to Savannah. I’ve been here three months now. I had a late summer cold a few weeks ago. My wife swung by a little dive in midtown and got me a bowl of pho. It blew my mind. The broth was rich, and the vegetables were fresh. It was outstanding.

912.715.7000 • diningwithrhett.com

 

#10 Blake Young of 700 Drayton 

What was your first restaurant job? I was a line cook at the Lunchbox Café in Cairo, Georgia.

Did you know then that you wanted to be a chef? After being there for a little while, yes. My whole family is in restaurants. My grandparents owned a steakhouse. It was in my heart. I started competing in cooking competitions and won a scholarship to attend culinary school. I chose one in Orange County, California. I was there eight years then spent two years in Southeast Asia. After that, my family told me I had to come back to Georgia.

What is the best dish you’ve eaten recently? I’m going to go with our salmon crudo. That, right there, is me on a plate. It has a peach and chili vinaigrette. The peaches speak to my childhood in Georgia. The crudo speaks to my raw side and the time I spent in Asia. It has peas three ways — you see the whole life of the pea. It’s a life journey — the pea’s and mine as well.

912.238.5158 • kesslercollection.com

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South's Greatest Chefs 2020

Our 14th annual contest is back! Nominate your favorite chef (or yourself) for South magazine’s Greatest Chefs contest!

South's Greatest Pets 2020

South magazine is seeking the greatest pets of the South! Nominate your pet NOW through June 17th at midnight!
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Events Calendar

  • A Savannah Scavenger Hunt: Historic Savannah Adventure

    Feb 19, 2020
    8:00 AM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah

    Explore beautiful Savannah. Steeped in Civil War history, you will be sure to find some new-to-you spots. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a...

  • #iSPYtogether Summer Challenge

    Jun 01, 2020
    12:00 AM - 11:45 PM @ Savannah Power Yoga

    We’re in this together! We’re experiencing a shift in the world together, and together we can keep each other healthy and connected in the...

  • I Pledge for Ice Cream

    Jul 06, 2020
    4:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Leopold's Ice Cream

    As a sweet way to say, “Thank You for Your Patriotism,” Leopold’s Ice Cream will give any child at or below the age of 12 (accompanied by an...

  • Prohibition Cocktail Classes

    Jun 22, 2020
    6:00 PM @ American Prohibition Museum

    Monday & Tuesday evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Prohibition Cocktail Classes at Congress Street Up inside the American Prohibition Museum....

  • The Society of Bluffton Artists(SOBA) 2020 Summer Art Camp

    Jun 22, 2020
    All Day @ Society of Bluffton Artists

    The Society of Bluffton Artists (SOBA)’s 2020 Summer Art Camp for kids is now taking registrations. The art camp runs from 9-11 a.m....

  • Free Fort Pulaski Days

    Jan 20, 2020
    All Day @ Fort Pulaski National Monhument

    Fort Pulaski National Monument will have six entrance fee-free days in 2020. The dates for 2020 are: ● Monday, January 20 – Martin...

  • Libertea High Tea

    Jun 24, 2020
    10:00 AM - 3:00 PM @ Savannah Coffee Roasters

    Wednesdays and Saturdays: Sit back and relax around the open fire and enjoy delicious pastries, cakes, chocolates and savory delights from our...

  • Savannah African Art Museum to Reopen

    Jul 08, 2020
    11:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Savannah African Art Museum

    The Savannah African Art Museum (SAAM) is excited to begin welcoming back visitors on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. The museum will open for its normal...

  • Afternoons at the Aquarium

    Jun 25, 2020
    All Day @ UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium

    Every Thursday in June and July, marine educators at the UGA Aquarium will host virtual programs designed to inspire wonder and curiosity about the...

  • On the Spot Murder Mystery Show

    Jun 26, 2020
    6:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ Savannah Coffee Roasters

    On The Spot Murder Mystery Dinner Show hosted by The Odd Lot Improv Team at Savannah Coffee Roasters, 6:30 p.m. An entirely improvised...

  • Girl Scout QuestFest

    Jul 18, 2020
    All Day @ Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia

    This year's QuestFest will be a virtual scavenger hunt! Both competitive and noncompetitive teams are searching for experiences, not items....

  • Puppy Yoga Time

    Jul 18, 2020
    All Day @ Ghost Coast Distillery

    Join Coastal Pet Rescue and Christine Graeber at Ghost Coast Distillery for another round of fun! Seriously though, cute...

  • Walk with the Turtles: Ossabaw Island

    Jul 20, 2020
    8:00 AM - 2:00 AM @ Delegal Creek Marina Skidaway Island

    Depart 8:00 am from Delegal Creek Marina on Skidaway Island, just outside of Savannah. After a 30-minute boat ride across Ossabaw Sound, arrive on...

  • Meet Our Fleet: Virtual Tour of UGA Aquarium

    Jul 21, 2020
    All Day

    All aboard! Join us for a virtual tour of the UGA aquarium’s fleet of educational and research vessels with boat captains Todd Recicar...

  • Savannah Carnaval

    Jul 25, 2020
    All Day @ Savannah Carnaval

      Our Savannah Carnaval event is back for its second annual Brazil-inspired event! Jaw-dropping aerial acrobatics, dance beats from,...

  • Savannah Chamber Business on the Move

    Jul 28, 2020
    5:30 PM - 7:30 PM @ The Broughton Hotel

    Join the Chamber for Business on the Move this month at The Drayton Hotel! Bring your business cards to this after-work networking gathering...

  • Georgia Mountain Moonshine Cruiz-In

    Jul 30, 2020
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

    Enjoy three fun-filled days of good ole mountain hillbilly fun. See a Pioneer village, real moonshine still in the works, mountain crafts, and...

  • First Fridays in Starland

    Jun 26, 2020
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Starland District

     Monthly arts event in Savannah’s Starland District, with street fair, art market or gallery shows. Starland doesn’t like to...

  • Umphrey's McGee Summer Tour 2020

    Aug 07, 2020
    All Day @ Johnny Mercer Theatre

    Umphrey’s McGee Summer Tour will be making at stop at the Johnny Mercer Theatre on Friday, August 7th at 8:00pm. The music of...

  • Meet the Author: In the Cauldron

    Aug 08, 2020
    All Day @ Museum of the Might Eighth Air Force

    This is not just another book about Pearl Harbor. It is the story of Joseph Grew, America’s ambassador to Japan, and his frantic effort in...


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Scenes of the South

Danny Merritt 2020 Election Watch Party

Danny Merritt held his election watch party at Coach's Corner in Savannah, Georgia on Tuesday, June 9th. Merritt ran for Congress for District 1 against incumbent Buddy Carter.

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.