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.

912.232.78998 • 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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Events Calendar

  • Volunteers needed for The Salvation Army

    Nov 14, 2019
    9:00 AM - 12:00 PM @ Salvation Army

    The Salvation Army Savannah is kicking off their annual holiday season Red Kettle Campaign on November 14, 2019. They announced an ambitious...

  • “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...

  • Greenbriar Gift Wrap Center

    Dec 10, 2019
    12:00 AM - 9:00 AM @ Ogelthorpe Mall

     Once again, Greenbriar Children’s Center will celebrate the holiday season with the opening of the Gift Wrap Center and annual Celebrity wRap...

  • 2019 Holiday Artist Collective

    Nov 21, 2019
    4:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Deep South Photopoint

    An upscale, holiday art market featuring one-of-a-kind collectibles, original paintings, genuine photographs, fine art prints and gifts created...

  • A Carpenter's Christmas

    Dec 13, 2019
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    While The Carpenters are known for over a dozen chart-topping hits, they also won over their fans with their Christmas celebrations. And that’s...

  • 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,...

  • Historic Beaufort Candlelight Homes Tour

    Dec 14, 2019
    5:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Beaufort Historic Site

    Tour private homes in Beaufort and ride on the double-decker bus with carolers from local churches.  Homeowners will open their doors so that...

  • Cirque du Canines

    Dec 15, 2019
    3:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Step right up, ladies and gents! Cirque du Canines, the Dog Circus, comes to the Tybee Post Theater stage.  Featuring fantastic dog tricks,...

  • Salvation Army Red Kettle Community Concert

    Dec 19, 2019
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Georgia State Railroad Museum

    The Salvation Army Savannah is continuing the celebration of their annual holiday season Red Kettle Campaign with a community concert. At this...

  • App Ski’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza

    Dec 31, 2019
    9:00 PM - 12:00 AM @ Appalachian Ski Mountain

    Annual celebration with fireworks, torchlight skiing, moonlight ice skating, and festive restaurant specials. Ski/ride tickets required for slope...

  • First Fridays in Starland

    Jun 07, 2019
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Starland District

    First Fridays in Starland celebrates local business, art, and food in Savannah’s coolest neighborhood! Join us every First Friday of the...

  • 14th Annual MLK Youth Parade In Midtown Houston

    Jan 18, 2020
    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM @ Midtown

    The MLK Youth Parade In Midtown Houston Will Kick-off The 2020 MLK Holiday Weekend. Learn More @ www.mlkgrandeparade.org

  • 19th Annual MLK Battle Of The Bands Competition Houston

    Jan 19, 2020
    3:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ W.W. Thorne Stadium

    The MLK Battle Of The Bands Competition Houston Is One Of The Largest High School Marching Band Competitions In The U.S. Featuring Award Winning...

  • 26th Annual MLK Grande Parade In Midtown Houston

    Jan 20, 2020
    10:00 AM - 12:00 PM @ Midtown

    The MLK Grande Parade Is One Of The Largest Single Day Multicultural Events In The U.S. That is Held In Honor Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Blowing Rock WinterFest

    Jan 23, 2020
    10:00 AM - 9:00 PM @ Downtown Blowing Rock

    Don’t hibernate-celebrate! Join us for the fun side of winter with events like the Polar Bear Plunge, WinterFeast, WinterPaws Dog Show,...

  • Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah

    Jan 23, 2020
    7:00 PM - 10:30 PM @ Trustees Theater

    Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah returns for its 11th annual film festival on January 23-25, 2020.  Please plan to join us for a weekend of...

  • Carolina Chocolate Festival

    Feb 01, 2020
    9:00 AM - 6:00 PM @ Crystal Coast Civic Center

    Chocolate lovers indulge! The annual Carolina Chocolate Festival takes place at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City and is packed with...


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Scenes of the South

14th Annual Pearls to Pluff Mud Fundraiser

The 14th Annual Pearls to Pluff Mud Fundraiser was held on Friday, November 1st at the Swamp Fox Farms. Guests enjoyed listening to the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra while tasting New Orleans themed dishes. There was a silent and live auction held to raise money for the Focus Fund Campaign for the Cross Schools in Bluffton, SC.

Brews for a Cause November at Savannah Octane Bar

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle Distributing hosted the last Brews for a Cause of 2019 at the Savannah Octane Bar on Thursday, November 21 in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for Georgia Police K9 Foundation. The night featured tasty chicken appetizers catered by Himalayan Curry Kitchen, and special brews from Wicked Weed and Monday Night Brewing provided by Southern Eagle. These events provide good food, fun entertainment, refreshing drinks and most importantly – raise money for a great cause! Be sure to be on the lookout for our next Brews in January!

6th Annual First Responders Luncheon

Harris Lowry Manton LLC hosted its 6th Annual First Responder Appreciation Luncheon on Monday, Oct. 28 at Daffin Park. Free lunch was offered as a “thank you” to local paramedics, firefights, police officers and emergency medical responders.

DineSouth's VIP Icebox

DineSouth 2019 VIP room sponsored by IceBound was a hit at this year’s event! With a special performance by Ken Roy, guests enjoyed exclusive vendors such as sushi from Rue de Jean and popsicles from Savannah Square Pops. Made complete with a full-serve bar, the VIP room was chillingly spectacular!

Inside the Best of DineSouth 2019

DineSouth 2019 was a huge hit - by far one of our best ever! Thank you to all of our vendors, sponsors, entertainers and patrons. The Equinox All Stars rolled us into the night with fabulous tunes while Savannah for Morons and The Stardust Pixies treated guests with show-stopping amusement. Hunter Cattle came through with bells, livestock and a petting zoo. But of course, the event was topped off with some of the best flavors Savannah has to offer followed by mouthwatering cocktails. It was a night to remember, and we couldn’t have pulled it off without our amazing clients, supporters and staff. Thank you to Savannah Station and Events Work for helping us pull off anything great year. See y’all next time!

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.