Cow by Bear

Similar to locating Waldo in a sea of masterful doodles, Chef ’Po Bear is as elusive as he is popular. After traveling from country to country, he settled in Savannah, bringing all of his globe-trotting taste buds to the Lowcountry in the form of exclusive parties.

Dressed in all black from his shoes (wait, do bears wear shoes?) to his beret, Chef Aleppo Bear twists his dyed red mustache as he ponders the question…or so we would like to imagine.

We’ll never know for sure, because ’Po Bear, as his friends know him, prefers to conduct interviews by email. It’s easier for him to gather his thoughts in front of the computer, and he’s awfully busy these days planning and hosting the coolest dinner parties in Savannah.

’Po is one of a growing number of bears who have become classically trained chefs operating under the umbrella of the Cow By Bear franchise—the brainchild of an Alaskan brown bear named, well…Chef Bear, who escaped from the circus and learned to cook. ’Po’s story is equally fanciful—he was raised by a family of sheepherders in the foothills of the French Pyrenees but fled for Paris at the age of 17 to chase his culinary dreams.

Guide Culinaire he found stuffed in a trunk in the attic of his home, ’Po began experimenting with new ways to extract the best flavor from the root vegetables, berries, and foraged leaves his family kept around the kitchen, but his love of food flourished in Paris. He apprenticed with bakers, cheese makers, sauciers, pastry chefs, fishermen, and butchers, and even learned how to tend to a garden and grow his own ingredients.

’Po is well traveled—would you believe he once owned a bakery in the French Quarter where he created the ’Po Bear sandwich (that’s right, you’ve been saying it wrong all along) that became a culinary staple in New Orleans? In fact, it was on a trip to Cuba that he again encountered his old pal Chef Bear, who set him up with the newest Cow By Bear restaurant in Savannah.

At ’Po’s dinner parties, there’s always one table, 14 seats, five courses, three paired wines, and, of course, one furry 875-pound chef. ’Po likes to keep the menu updated with dishes that showcase fresh, seasonal ingredients, but some of his favorite things to cook are fresh-baked bread, pasta, and ramps (wild leeks), which he pickles and enjoys with cheese and crackers.

If that all seems too wild to be true, check out cowbybearsavannah.com and see for yourself. And if you pull up a chair at Chef ’Po’s table, check to see if he wears shoes. That’s really been bothering us.

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