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

  • “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...


Show More...

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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!