Brian is a big wine enthusiast with an extensive collection. He and his wife travel to the California wine country often.
Avid LSU football and Atlanta Braves baseball fan. he has five nieces and two nephews. Among his other loves are the TV Food Network and cooking. Brian collects famous musicians' memorabilia and is an avid reader, especially Clive Cussler novels.
As a Nashville native, with deep-seated roots in the West Tennessee BBQ culture, I developed an appreciation for Que at a young age. My family settled in Covington, TN in 1827. To say that my family had a passion for BBQ is an understatement. My Grandfather, Dr. Carey Bringle Sr., grew up in Covington, TN cooking hogs and as an adult, delivered the children of many of the BBQ families in West Tennessee. I grew up going to Bozo’s, Lewis’s Store and Leonard’s, all West Tennessee icons. There was no getting around it. Smoke was in my veins.
I was groomed for competitive barbecuing by my uncle, Bruce, who competed in the very first Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. I have now been cooking in the Super bowl of Swine for over 25 years and with my former team Hog Wild, took 2nd place on three separate occasions.
If you’re wondering about the name of my company, well that’s a funny story…depending on how you look at it. At age 17 my life changed. I was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma an aggressive bone cancer. I went through 8 months of intensive Chemo Therapy and lost my right leg. After winning a hard-fought battle with the overwhelming support of my friends and family, I emerged with a new perspective and renewed outlook on life, realizing that every day brought a new adventure, opportunity for new experiences, and most importantly, a chance to eat more great food. It is this zest for life, positive attitude and sense of humor that I share with you in my signature “Peg Leg Porker” brand of sauces and rubs. I hope that you find the label as funny as I do and the taste something that will keep you coming back for more.
In 2013, my restaurant, Peg Leg Porker, was named one of the 16 hottest BBQ Joints in the country by Eater National. The restaurant was also on the Nashville Hot List for 8 months in a row. In 2014, Cooking with Paula Dean Magazine named the Peg Leg Porker one of the top 10 BBQ joints in the US.
David Carrier is a New York city native who grow up in his parents’ Queens restaurant. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute he moved to California to work with Thomas Keller at the French Laundry. From there it was off to his first stint in Chicago under Grant Achatz. at Trio.
A move to the south with his wife helped kick-start the Panhandle scene at Avenue Sea, their restaurant in Apalachicola, Florida. In 2009 David helped launch a Southern comfort-food movement at Kith & Kin in Chicago.
After a five year tenure at The Cloister and The Beach Club in Sea Island David has moved on and is now working on Certified Burgers and Beverage, his own casual dining concept on St. Simons Island.
Ted Dennard is an authentic beekeeper and his passion for the gifts of the bees has created Savannah Bee Company as a distinctive brand with a national presence. Ted and his company stand out as being authentic- built with Ted’s personal passion and vision! Ted is the owner, the definer of the brand, the one who defines the aesthetic of the product design, and the passionate educator. Ted personally samples each container of honey from beekeepers whom he knows personally. For Ted, tasting honey is like a sommelier tasting wine; his palate can discern the quality, origin, and the varietal of the blossom.
Ted grew up on St. Simons Island, Georgia, and was first introduced to honey at a 12 year old boy. In 1980 Ted learned from Old Roy Hightower and half-heartedly kept them through high school. By 1984 Ted left those beehives to go to college at Sewanee where he worked with a retired minister, his landlord Archie, in his hives. For two years in 1990 Ted went to Jamaica with the Peace Corps, where he worked with 100+ beekeepers and taught beekeeping in schools. Three years later Ted started to keep some more bees on the same land where he had learned from Old Roy. Ted kept up with them periodically while he lived out West operating a wilderness adventure company. As years went by Ted eventually made his way up to Savannah. In 1999 Ted made his first crop of Tupelo and Gallberry Honey and began selling it to stores.
With his passion blossoming into a business, Ted decided to quit his job and put all his efforts
into Savannah Bee Company. 2016 finds Ted in a 40,000 square foot warehouse on Wilmington Island, operating seven retail stores, wholesaling to over 6,000 store fronts in 8 different countries, bottling distinct world-class honeys, and operating a luxury health and beauty line made with beehive-based products. With over 100 employees, today’s operation is stark contrast to the days in Ted’s kitchen, but his passion has never wavered and it is that passion that is foundational to Savannah Bee’s success.
Rather than appearing as an entrepreneur or being called a “businessman”, Ted’s tousled blonde hair, whimsically printed cotton shirt, and deeply worn cowboy boots reveals an adventurer, surfer, eco-warrior. Ted’s a blend of all of those, plus a devoted husband and adoring father of four.
“It took root as a boy, unbeknownst to me. I was just following a joy- a love of bees”
Education / Training: Columbus Culinary Institute, earning his associates in the Culinary Arts and his ACF (American Culinary Federation) Sous Chef certification; 3-month externship at his alma mater, The Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
Inspiration for becoming a chef: In the 1980’s and 1990’s, James Flack’s mother and sister were servers at the famed Jekyll Island Club Hotel. As a child, James spent his afternoons in the hallways and lawns of the Victorian ‘manse’ and the old wooden booths of Zachry’s Seafood Restaurant. His first grownup culinary opportunity was trying his hand at Garde Manger prep at the Jekyll Island Club, preparing simple dressings, salads and performing numerous kitchen tasks.
His passion wasn’t ignited at this early time, but he spent seven years learning the ropes at Bob Evans washing dishes and Raven's Glenn Winery in Ohio as dishwasher, prep cook, wine bottler, grape handler, and delivery driver. In 2008, James helped open Machiavelli’s, a family-owned Italian eatery in Bristol, Tennessee. Here, he finally discovered his true love for the art of cooking.
Career Highlights: Following his externship, James was hired at the highly esteemed Cloister at Sea Island. The highest level of service came easily, learning from Chef de Cuisine Danny Zeal at the 5-star Georgian Room, French Master Chef Jonathan Jerusalamy, Executive Chef David Carrier, and Executive Chef Jason Russell.
Early in 2013, James came to The King and Prince to help open ECHO and assist with revamping the King and Prince Food and Beverage.
In 2014, with the help of Executive Chef Dale Ford of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, James was able to play a big role in the rebirth of the local ACF chapter. They exploded from 5 to 41 members (an 820% increase). And he is currently the Secretary of the local ACF chapter.
James says the biggest challenge at ECHO has been rebuilding the culture of those around him to want better: “We wanted to get the locals back in, and we’ve done that.” Local support is up by about 75%.
“I’ve spent most of my life on these islands looking over the coastal waters. I can’t imagine a more glorious way to take this step in my career, digging my feet into the sand and calling this island my home for years to come. My love for local food, tradition, hard work and integrity has brought me here and I’m excited to be able to give this passion back to our guests, co-workers and friends with my unconditional love for food."
Head BBQ Pitmaster, Bryan Furman, is livin’ the dream having left his day job as a welder to pursue cooking his signature-style pit smoked barbeque, chicken and ribs.
What began as a fun idea to celebrate his daughter’s first birthday in 2010 by roasting a hog for family and friends, turned into catering and filling order requests from his co-workers.
One night around their family’s kitchen table in North Carolina, Bryan remembers seeking his dad’s opinion on the idea of opening up his own place. His dad liked his enthusiasm but challenged Bryan to think of what might make his ‘barbeque joint’ stand out. Bryan’s reply was to raise local Heritage hogs and to make his own side dishes using locally-sourced, fresh produce with a blend of unique ingredients.
B’s Cracklin’ BBQ’s first building on Coffee Bluff Villa Road opened in 2014 but tragically burned in June of 2015. The timing could not have been worse as they had just been named to a Top 50 list of The South’s Best BBQ by Southern Living magazine. B’s had also been featured in the June/July 2015 issue of Garden & Gun magazine’s story on ‘Five Barbecue Joints You Can’t Miss’.
Now back in business and humbled by their experience, Bryan and his wife, Nikki, extend heartfelt thanks to some amazingly generous people that have helped to make their return possible.
Chef de Cuisine, The Oak Room and The Men’s Locker Room Chef Jackson is passionate about putting his considerable artistic skills to good use—making delicious food—and gets a lot of satisfaction and joy from witnessing big smiles after a great meal.
He began his career at Sea Island in 2006, helped open the new Beach Club. He then to moved Houston, Texas, in 2008 to become the Chef de Partie at the Renaissance Hotel.
Jackson returned to Sea Island in 2010 to join The Lodge team. Chef Jackson was recently awarded the 2015 Stevan Porter Emerging Hospitality Leader of the Year Award, presented by the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association.
Whitney Otawka grew up in the high desert of Southern California and studied anthropology at The University of California, Berkeley. Living in the Bay Area as a young adult introduced her to an unfamiliar way of eating and an endless supply of fresh produce, seafood, grass-fed beef, organic grocery stores, and more.
At the age of 19, Whitney steered her sights towards the culinary world and began working at a French creperie in Oakland, California (she had always been a bit of a Francophile). Here, she met her first mentor, Eric Leroy, who made everything from scratch, kept a clean and organized kitchen, and loved engaging in lengthy discussions about French wine, food, and ciders. Whitney quickly discovered her innate discipline and rigor for cooking – a passion that allowed her to thrive in the demanding environment of a restaurant kitchen. She continued her culinary education in restaurants from San Francisco to San Diego, but in 2002 took a brief break to follow her other passion – historic preservation. It didn’t take long for Whitney to realize that her heart was in the kitchen.
In 2005, Whitney moved to Athens, Georgia, where she walked into 5&10, Hugh Acheson’s acclaimed restaurant, and asked to be a prep cook. Impressing Chef Acheson with her tenacity, Whitney got the job and quickly worked her way up to Sous Chef. For part of her tenure, she worked simultaneously as Chef de Partie of Linton Hopkins’ Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta and attended culinary school at Le Cordon Blue Atlanta. During her stint at 5&10, Whitney also staged in some of New York’s finest restaurants including Per Se, Le Bernardin, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
In 2010, Whitney pursued a unique opportunity to serve as Executive Chef at the prestigious Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island, Georgia, but in 2012 moved back to Athens to become executive chef at two restaurants – Farm 255 (where she was awarded a Rising Star Chef award for Atlanta) and Cinco y Diez. She briefly left Georgia to film Top Chef Season 9 in Texas, and in 2015, accepted an offer to return to Greyfield Inn and become Culinary Director.
On Cumberland Island, Whitney oversees the inn’s food and beverage program, kitchen operations, and menu creation. She strives to create a seasonally-driven menu using the best available products. Whitney loves bringing rustic-style dishes to the modern table with roots in beloved Southern traditions.
Whitney’s recipes have been published in The New York Times, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, and The Local Palate. You can follow her adventures and at www.whitneyotawka.com.
Melissa Ross is the Emmy award-winning host and producer of WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program.
The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI).
First Coast Connect was honored in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized multiple times as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality.
Melissa also hosts and produces WJCT Television’s interactive TV town hall program, Community Thread.
She has worked as a fill-in columnist for the Florida Times-Union and the website Florida Politics.
As executive producer of the film The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital.
During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.
Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in television broadcasting, including stints as an anchor, reporter and host in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville.
Prior to joining WJCT, Melissa spent three years in the corporate communications field at Jacksonville’s Dalton Agency. During her stint at Dalton, she was cast in the HBO film Recount, playing- what else- a reporter!
Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications.
Tybee Island Fish Camp
In 2010 at the age of 29, Chef Kurtis and his now, wife, Sarah opened The Tybee Island Social Club. This Southern surfer safari setting has become a beloved favorite of locals and garnered national press for it's "upscale tacos" as quoted in The Wall Street Journal, and "a romantic do-not-miss spot" in USA Today. Together, they opened Tybee Island Fish Camp, in 2014. A quaint 1950's cottage nestled under live oaks with a mere 30 seats inside, and a menu that changes nightly where conversation amongst his servers and his patrons educate the inquisitive regarding his selections of often unpredictable ingredient pairings which underline his comfortable approach to fine dining.
For Dave Snyder, the past three decades have been filled with culinary pursuits from New England to his beloved South. Born and raised in Michigan, his unabashed passion for cooking began in high school and college at the University of Georgia when he quickly discovered a preference for the kitchen over the classroom.
Following graduation from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, he moved to New York City, gaining experience and sharpening his skills at The Essex House, Zoe, Union Square Café, and The Mark while serving under top chefs who prided themselves on training the next generation of chefs. Heading south, Dave became executive chef at Azalea in Atlanta before moving to St Simons Island, Georgia as chef at J Mac’s. In 2000, he opened Halyards on St. Simons and, in 2006, opened Tramici. These two sister operations, along with Halyards Catering, comprise Halyard Restaurant Group.
His two restaurants, perennially ranked the Island’s and region’s most popular, enable Dave to share his love of hospitality, food, and how the two intertwine to create memorable culinary experiences, including his monthly cooking classes focusing on how great food enhances life. Drawing on his relationships with local fishermen and farmers, Dave demonstrates to eager guests how the best ingredients make a tremendous difference in the quality of the food, the sustainability of the environment and the financial strength of the local economy. He serves on the Advisory Panel for Snapper/Grouper Species for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and has worked with the South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association to improve the sustainability and health of the South Atlantic, the availability of local fish and the financial future and heritage of the fishing industry.
The Georgia Restaurant Association named Dave a finalist for Restaurateur of the Year in 2012 and selected him as one of four chefs to represent the GRA’s Georgia Grown program in 2013. Halyards and Tramici were named 2014 Businesses of the Year by the Brunswick and Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce.
Dave self-published a cookbook and produces and sells a housemade Marinara sauce from the recipe he created for Tramici. His other projects include plans to grow olives for producing extra virgin olive oil to serve at his restaurants. Deeply devoted to community service, Dave serves on the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce, Coastal Symphony of Georgia, The Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Georgia and Hospice of the Golden Isles. Dave is a founding board member of the St. Simons Food & Spirits Festival, benefitting Hospice of the Golden Isles. He also serves on the Culinary Board for College of Coastal Georgia and is an active supporter of local numerous area organizations including The St. Simons Land Trust, Cystic Fibrosis and The Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia. He is also involved in events and fundraisers at local schools where he hopes to inspire the next generation of chefs and restaurant leaders.
Dave’s most recent venture, Hook & Knife Charters, combines his skills and passion for fishing with those of preparing and serving catches to delighted charter guests at his restaurants. To learn more about these unique experiences, visit HookandKnifeCharters.com. Dave also loves to venture to Islamorada in the Florida Keys–his home away from home.
Foundations Development Coordinator, Southeast Georgia Health System
Bryan Thompson has been a Brunswick resident since 1996 when he accepted the position as Executive Director of Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association, the coordinating arts council for Brunswick and Glynn County, and managers of The Historic Ritz Theatre and Mary Ross Waterfront Park.
As Executive Director of the Brunswick Downtown Development Authority from 1999-2003, he helped form the Downtown Business Association and project managed all phases of the city’s master plan for economic growth, development and historic preservation.
From 2003-2008, he served as President/CEO of Blueprint Brunswick Inc., a private not-for-profit development corporation formed specifically to implement the City of Brunswick’s master plan study.
He was elected Mayor in November 2005, was re-elected with no opposition in November 2009, and left office December 31, 2013 after serving the maximum two terms. His initiatives centered on issues of housing, public safety, and focused, directed growth that will increase benefits and opportunities equitably for everyone in the community.
Since 2008, he has worked for the Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation. As the Foundations Development Coordinator, he also manages Nunnally House, the health system’s 40 room residential facility for cancer patients, families of critical care patients and medical students with Medical College of Georgia.
He is the husband of Heather Heath, director of Golden Isles Arts & Humanities Association. They live in Old Town Brunswick with their two dogs and three cats.
Taken by the culinary field for thirty years. Chef John Belechak has worked in country clubs to independent restaurants to high profile resorts. Studied under Bob Kinkead and Ris La Coste at 21 Federal in Washington DC. Then on to Restaurant Associates at The Roof Top Terrace in the Kennedy Center. He took a sous chef position at the Cavalier Country Club in VA Beach, VA. Worked under Jamie Adams and John Carver for the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group at Veni Vidi Vici and Pricci’s. The resort properties include The Inn at Blackberry Farm, TN., The Lodge at Sea Island, GA. and Sea Island Resort. At Blackberry Farm, under Chef John Fleer, started as sous chef and earned the position of chef de cuisine. During his tenure at Blackberry Farm, five-star/five diamond accolades, consistently ranking as one of the country’s top small hotels with three invitations to be featured in the James Beard House Foundation.
In Georgia, Chef John was part of the opening staff of The Lodge at Sea Island as a Sous Chef. We earned and received five-star/five-diamond recognition. Eventually, he was recognized for a position as garde manger chef for The Cloister and Sea Island Resorts and opened up the satellite kitchen in Brunswick while new Cloister was being built. Along with the garde manger chef position came the supervision of the butcher shop department and saucier department for the resort plus logistics of daily deliveries. Chef John Belechak was part of the culinary team for the G-8 International Summit in 2004. In 2011, Chef Belechak was given the opportunity to open Palmer’s Village Café as Chef and General Manager, on St. Simons Island, GA., where he offers seasonal menus while walking the line of comfort food and haute cuisine.
Angus Brown has worked and studied in kitchens across the country. After attending the College of Charleston, he cooked in restaurants throughout Oregon, Florida, and Maine before returning to his hometown of Atlanta. Angus has extensively researched Asian cuisine during months traveling and cooking in Japan and Vietnam. After meeting in Atlanta and collaborating on a supper series, Angus and his chef partner Nhan Le opened Octopus Bar in 2011. Open nightly from 10:30pm to 2:30am, the local eatery is a celebrated spot among many of the city’s chefs who visit for post-shift dinner and drinks. It was featured on Anthony Bourdain's "The Layover."Angus and Nhan opened their second concept, Lusca, in May 2014. The restaurant was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best New Restaurant category in 2015. It was named to GQ's list of America's 25 Outstanding Restaurants in 2015 and to bon appetit's list of America's 50 Best New Restaurants in 2014. In 2014, Angus was named one of Cooking Light's Trailblazing Chefs, and he was nominated for Food & Wine's People's Best New Chef in 2015. This year, Angus and Nhan are opening two new Atlanta restaurants – Ama on the Beltline Trail, and 8Arm, a coffee shop across from Ponce City Market in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood.
Harris English is a professional golfer who currently plays on the PGA Tour. As an amateur, English played in two Nationwide Tour events 2011: the Stadion Athens Classic at UGA in May and the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational in July, which he won. He was only the third amateur to win on the Tour, following Daniel Summerhays in 2007 and Russell Henley in 2011. The tournament was played at the Ohio State University Golf Club, Scarlet Course in Columbus.
As a PGA Tour rookie in 2012, English made 22 of 27 cuts with three top ten finishes, and earned over $1.18 million to keep his tour card. He secured his first victory in 2013, at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis in June. Later in the year, English won for the second time at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. A final round 65 taking him to a four stroke win over Brian Stuard.
Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q is an award-winning barbecue restaurant located just south of Little Five Points in Atlanta. Opened in 2007, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q is known for their unique Southern-style barbecue with a Texas flair, serving up whole hog, smoked brisket, and wings with original side dishes to the hungry masses. To complement their que, the Fox brothers developed a sauce that mixes the flavors of Texas with the heat of the South. Their “Sweet with Heat” sauce is tomato-based with a hefty splash of vinegar and southern sweetness, with a subtle blast of Texas heat. Today Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q has become a staple for Atlanta natives and visitors alike, and has earned top spots on barbecue rankings from top publications like Eater, USA Today Travel, Southern Living, and Maxim Magazine.
The restaurant has been featured on national news channels including The Weather Channel, TLC, Fox News, and The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. Co-pitmasters Jonathan and Justin Fox have been invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City in both 2014 and 2015. Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q is the Official BBQ of the Atlanta Falcons and, beginning in 2015, serve up their famous que inside the Georgia Dome to hungry fans. For more information and reservations please call (404) 577-4030 or visit foxbrosbbq.com . Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q is located at 1238 Dekalb Ave. Atlanta, Ga. 30307. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
After a stint at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Taylor Garrigan wanted to change career paths. In 1998, he began cooking with his brother chef Todd Garrigan and executive chef and owner Harold Marmelstein at Dick & Harry’s in Atlanta. He moved to Colorado to work a ski season in Crested Butte before deciding to take his cooking skills to the next level. He moved to Charleston, and enrolled at Johnson & Wales University. During this time, he worked as a line cook at Magnolias and then worked at Middleton Plantation.
After graduating with a degree in hotel and restaurant management, he was hired at The Beach Club at Kiawah Island as a cook and worked with chefs including Paul Tensly and Tom Colicchio. In 2005, he was hired as a cook at FIG to work under renowned chef, Mike Lata. Taylor and Aaron met, became great friends, and together worked on the concept for Home Team BBQ. Once open, Taylor served as the sous chef at West Ashley and then moved to Sullivan’s Island as Executive Chef when first opened. He has worked his way up quickly to Executive Chef/Partner over all Home Team BBQ restaurants. In June 2015, Taylor won Episode 13 of Season 23 of Food Network’s Chopped.
The son of a chiropractor, Johnson was born in Iowa City, Iowa and raised in Cedar Rapids, the oldest of Dave & Julie Johnson's three children. Playing many sports as a youth (baseball, basketball, football, and soccer), Johnson took up golf at age 10 and developed his skills at Elmcrest Country Club. He played #2 on the Regis High School golf team and led them to an Iowa 3A state championship in 1992, his sophomore year.
Following graduation from high school in 1994, Johnson enrolled at Drake University in Des Moines. As the #2 player on the Drake golf team, he led the Bulldogs to three NCAA regional meets and two Missouri Valley championships. Johnson has admitted to not being the best player on his high school or college team, but was quoted in his Masters speech saying, "I just kept getting better every year." Johnson turned professional in 1998 and played on the developmental tour circuit, including the now-defunct Prairie Golf Tour, the Buy.com Tour (now called the Nationwide Tour), and the NGA Hooters Tour, where he won the final three regular-season events in 2001. In 2003, he topped the money list on the Nationwide Tour with then record earnings of $494,882, earning an automatic promotion to the PGA TOUR. He won his first PGA TOUR event at the 2004 BellSouth Classic outside of Atlanta. Johnson qualified for the 2006 U.S. Ryder Cup team, finishing 9th on the U.S. points list.
On April 8, 2007, Johnson won the Masters Tournament in Augusta by a margin of 2 strokes over Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen, and Rory Sabbatini. It was his first major title. His score of 289 (+1) tied Sam Snead (1954) and Jack Burke Jr. (1956) for the highest winning score at the Masters.
His victory took him from #56 to #15 in the world rankings; he was the first outside the top 50 in the world rankings to win the Masters in the history of the ranking. After winning, he mentioned his Christian faith and thanked God, saying "This being Easter, I cannot help but believe my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ was walking with me. I owe this to Him."
Six weeks after winning the Masters, Johnson won the 2007 AT&T Classic in a playoff over Ryuji Imada. Following the win, Johnson moved to a career-best 13th in the world rankings. His next PGA TOUR victory, and first outside the state of Georgia, came at the 2008 Valero Texas Open. Johnson won the Sony Open in Hawaii in January 2009, and successfully defended his title at the Valero Texas Open in May with a playoff victory over James Driscoll. With a third-round 60, Johnson became the first player to shoot 60 twice on the PGA TOUR, having done so previously at the 2007 Tour Championship. The win was Johnson's sixth on tour. Other highlights in 2009 include a tie for 2nd place at the John Deere Classic and a solo 3rd place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He finished the season ranked a career best fourth on the money list.
His 2010 season on the PGA TOUR got off to a slow start, but his luck turned with a victory at the 2010 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, his seventh PGA Tour win. In 2011, Zach had four top 10 finishes, with his highest being a tie for third at the John Deere Classic. In 2012, he finished second at both THE PLAYERS Championship and the RBC Heritage tournament and won both the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and the John Deere Classic, giving him a total of nine career wins on the PGA TOUR. Zach also qualified for the 2012 Ryder Cup team, which was played at Medinah Country Club in September.
On July 20, 2015, Johnson beat Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a 4-hole playoff to win the Open Championship at St Andrews for his 12th PGA Tour win and second major. He became only the sixth golfer to win majors at Augusta and St. Andrews, the others being Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, and Woods.
Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Ülfet at an early age found her love for cooking. She was introduced to the culinary world by her grandmother and mother, and the fire they gave her led to her pursuing a career in culinary arts. Istanbul is a diverse city that offers many cuisines including Mediterranean which continues to be her food inspiration.
Ülfet graduated from Istanbul University with a degree in public relations. She then enrolled in the Culinary Institute of Charleston. In her first semester, she was given the assignment of working with Chef Robert Carter at the Food & Wine Festival of Charleston. This assignment quickly turned into a full time position working at Peninsula Grill in Charleston. She then went on to the Culinary Vegetable Institute at Chef’s Garden, where she was the Chef de Cuisine under Executive Chef Jamie Simpson. In 2014, she was named the Best Chef at the Asheville Wine and Food festival and was the first female to win this award.
Chef Ülfet is now creating delicious farm-to-table cuisine for guests at the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island using the freshest local ingredients including fruits, vegetables and herbs from the island’s organic garden.
Madison grew up in the panhandle of Florida and graduated from Johnson and Wales in 2000. At Home Team’s inception in 2006, he started working as sous chef under Taylor Garrigan and eventually advanced to Chef and Partner of the West Ashley location in 2009. Madison has been honing his “live fire” skills for years, experimenting with different methods on several types of cookers: Southern Prides, Langs, Oylers, BQ Grills, etc.
He, alongside Aaron and Taylor, has been invited as feature chef/pitmaster to several of the country’s best events, as well as some international ones, such as Meatopia 2014 in London, Churrascada 2015 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and The Rib Festival at The Blues Kitchen in London in 2016.
David S. Shields
David S. Shields
University of South Carolina
David S. Shields, Carolina Distinguished Professor at the University of South Carolina, is one of America’s important food historians, with a special focus on the agriculture and culinary development of the South.
His research assisted in recovering Carolina Gold Rice, Sea Island White Flint Corn, the Carolina African Peanut, benne, the rice pea, purple ribbon sugar cane, purple straw wheat, Seashore Blackseed Rye, and the Bradford Watermelon. He chairs Slow Food’s Ark of Taste for the South, also the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, whose mission is preserving historic cultivars.
His book, Southern Provisions: on the Creation and revival of Cuisine appeared in 2015. 2017 will see the publication of his 175 chef biographies, Culinarians: American Chefs, Caterers, and Restaurateurs 1793-1919.
Robert Stehling is the Chef/Owner of Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC which he opened in 1996.
A native North Carolinian, Stehling was an art student when he began working as a dishwasher at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, NC. He worked under Bill Neal, the legendary southern chef largely credited with spurring the renaissance of interest in regional foodways. Under Neal’s tutelage, Stehling rose from washing dishes to head chef of Crook’s.
Stehling then spent several years in New York City cooking in a wide variety of kitchens before moving to Charleston in 1996. His experience in NY combined with his foundation at Crook’s helped him forge a style of cooking that is entirely his own – historically based yet timeless.
Since the opening of Hominy Grill, both the restaurant and Stehling have gained a national reputation for simple unfussy food based upon classic southern recipes. Stehling and Hominy Grill have been profiled in any number of national food publications including The New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine, Bon Appetit, Esquire, Travel & Leisure and The Times of London to name a few. The restaurant has also been seen on a wide variety of national tv programs including Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Rachel Ray’s $40/day, Alton Brown’s Best Thing I Ever Ate and many others.
Stehling was awarded Best Chef Southeast in 2008 by the James Beard Foundation. He is an active supporter of sustainability issues and a member of such organizations as Southern Foodways Alliance and Chefs Collaborative.
Chef Jernard Wells aka “The Chef of Love” believes food and love go hand in hand and wants everyone to know how easy cooking can be — and how much excitement it can add to your life. As an executive chef, Jernard has traveled all over the world, including cooking on tour for Tyler Perry, and has even published three cookbooks.
He has won Food Networks' "Cutthroat Kitchen" twice in the last couple of seasons and he was runner-up for this season of "Food Network Star". Chef Jernard loves to infuse any dish with his Southern flavors and a Cajun twist and has his own line of sauces called Haute Cuisine which are sold in Whole Foods.
He stays busy traveling around the country catering corporate events and doing high profile cooking demos at various festivals. Chef Jernard his lovely a wife of 16 years have 9 wonderful children and they live in Atlanta.
Celebrity Touring Chef & TV Personality
October 5 - 9, 2016
Following a 23-year career in television news, Jesse Blanco remains one of Savannah/Hilton Head Island’s most recognizable television personalities. The last four years, Jesse has been Host and Executive Producer of Eat It and Like It with Jesse Blanco, a TV show about The South and Southern Cuisine.
A native of Miami, Jesse has had the opportunity to live all over the country. Miami to New York City, Nashville to El Paso, Texas. Those travels have exposed him to not all only tons of different cultures, but also the foods of those regions. You pair that with a journalistic curiosity to constantly meet new people and try new things and you get TV anchor turned “foodie.”
Jesse holds the unique distinction being able to say he was Savannah’s 1st Hispanic Sports Anchor when he originally moved to the region in 1999 and later became the city’s 1st Hispanic News Anchor in July 2008 when he anchored Savannah’s 10:00pm newscast on WTGS. Like so many people he moved to Savannah and immediately fell in love with the area. Jesse is also a food columnist for the Savannah Morning News. You’ll find his work every Thursday in the paper’s “Do Savannah” section.
When he isn’t tinkering with recipes or frequenting one of the area’s restaurants or producing his TV show, you’ll find Jesse screaming at his television rooting on his hometown Miami Dolphins, Hurricanes, Heat or Marlins.
Griffin Bufkin and Harrison Sapp, owners of Southern Soul Barbeque unarguably make the best barbecue to be had in the Golden Isles and they also make sure the whole experience is fun at their gas station turned restaurant on St. Simons. Nationally acclaimed for good reason, Southern Soul Barbeque has been featured on the Food Network, The Travel Channel, The Wall Street Journal, Southern Living Magazine, Garden & Gun Magazine and too many other accolades to mention! This is low-key barbecue at its best; know that you will leave reeking of smoke (especially if you sit at a picnic table outside), and that you may have trouble picking a favorite from the four sauces they make!
Tom Delaney is, admittedly, a man of few words. He prefers to let his dishes speak for him. A man of acclaimed kitchen prowess, Tom Delaney has been active in chef quarters for more than four decades. Since he was a teenager, he has had his hands on pots, pans and grills, ready to whip up dishes both classic and creative.
As the owner and executive chef of Delaney’s Bistro and Bar on St. Simons Island, Tom Delaney has a strong culinary background. His family is dotted with cooks, chefs and bakers, and spending time mastering a recipe was simply a back of his childhood. As a teenager, when the family would plan meals for later in the evening, he took to mastering his own dishes, and when it came time for him to pick a route in the world, the kitchen simply kept calling.
After attending and graduating from Johnson and Wales with a Culinary Arts degree, the Connecticut-native then obtained a degree in business management from Providence College. It was there he met his wife Leslie, who brought Tom down to her Golden Isles home.
More than 20 years later, Tom and his family remain on St. Simons, with the family restaurant being as busy as ever. His son, Matthew, runs the front of the house, while Tom mans the kitchen along with his active and loyal staff. His wife, sister-in-law as well as son-in-law are active employees at Delaney’s, adding an intimate element of familiarity to the restaurant’s already charming atmosphere.
Several years ago, Tom added on to his restaurant resume, buying Café Frederica, a breakfast and lunch spot located next door to Delaney’s. That is also a family business, with his daughter Hannah running operations. Hannah, too, has brought a new role to the Delaney line: the family’s first grandchild. In July, Hannah gave birth to a baby girl, aptly naming her Delaney after her grandfather.
At both Delaney’s and Café Frederica, Tom’s business philosophy is simple: work hard, and provide great service, craft excellent food, and be good to your team. This motto has paid off, as most of his employees have worked for him for five or more years, and the majority of his clients are regulars.
Bethany Fahey is a Georgia native raised working from a young age in the hospitality industry. Her culinary career started at the Macon Marriott City Center while also attending culinary school. After graduating top of her class from Le Cordon Blue she went abroad to sharpen her skills while working in Ireland at the Luxury 5 star Shelbourne Dublin Hotel
After returning she took over as pastry chef and banquet lead at the Marriott City Center. During Fahey’s tenure at The Marriott City Center she worked on events ranging from 300-3,000 attendees for both social and corporate events. As cofounder of Sugar Sisters Bakery, a thriving small business servicing Macon and Folkston with specialty cookies, cakes and pastries, she developed all of the recipes and executed all of the bakery needs for 3 years and still part time as needed. Fahey known in the Golden Isles as “Chefany” was part of the opening team for The Westin Jekyll Island.
Playing an iatrical role she develops and creates the homemade desserts served daily in the Reserve restaurant and oversees and executes all banquets for the property. Chefany brings a great sense of humor and professionalism to the kitchen and pushes herself harder than any chef could push her. “I believe what makes a great chef is developing a great team and constantly learning and teaching new things.”
Born on January 19, 1987 in Savannah, Georgia, Brian Harman has proven to be a premier golfer at every level. Prior to his entry into the professional golf world, Brian was a three-time, 2nd Team All-American on the University of Georgia golf team. He saw success as a collegiate golfer, winning the 2005 NCAA Preview and the 2006 Isleworth Invitational. He also won the US Junior Amateur in 2003, as well as the Players Amateur in 2005, and the Porter Cup in 2007. In that tournament, he shot a tournament record 22-under-par 258. His impressive collegiate and amateur resume earned him a spot on the victorious 2005 and 2009 Walker Cup Teams.
Spending most of his time on the eGolfTour at the beginning of his career, Harman placed in the Top-10 in 11 out of 14 starts. His season peaked when he won the eGolf Tour’s Manor Classic by three shots. Brian also Monday qualified twice on the Nationwide Tour and placed T-18th in the Stadion Athens Classic.
Now in his fourth full season on the PGA Tour, Harman has cemented himself as one of the great young players in the game today. His 2013-14 campaign was the best of his career to date, highlighted by his first career PGA Tour victory at the John Deere Classic. He also carded five (5) more Top 10 finishes and ended the year in 36th position in the FedEx Cup.
The game of golf has been central to Davis’ life. He literally grew up around the game and later honed his skills as an All-American golfer at the University of North Carolina. Davis’ amateur career culminated with his selection to the 1985 Walker Cup team. He has racked up 21 career PGA Tour victories, including multiple wins at prestigious events like The Players Championship, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and the Verizon Heritage, now the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island. He also won the 1997 PGA Championship, and is firmly established as one of the all-time money leaders on the PGA Tour.
Consistently hailed as one of the most popular and recognizable players in professional golf, Davis will captain the 2016 USA Ryder Cup team. As a true gentleman of the sport, Davis’ reputation for integrity and his respect for the game have earned him trust among colleagues and fans alike.
Davis has a special talent for golf, but he also has a deep respect and passion for the game. A protector and promoter for the game’s rules and etiquette, his study of golf’s history and traditions have led him to long-term interests outside of tournament golf, including course design and management.
Chef Matthew Raiford was most recently the Program Coordinator and Associate Professor of Culinary Arts at the College of Coastal Georgia. He has a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies degree in Culinary Arts from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz and The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS). Chef Raiford is trained in classic French cuisine and has an affinity for Mediterranean flavors, yet is capable of preparing dishes from around the world. With over 19!years of formal experience in the food and hospitality industry, he has worked and traveled extensively and taught culinary arts in community and technical colleges in Georgia, Maryland and Texas.
Chef’s last three chef positions where as the Executive Chef of Little St. Simons Island a private resort located off the coast of Georgia and accessed only by boat. The Executive Chef of Haute Catering in Washington, D.C. at the House of Representatives where he was responsible for a total of five properties National Defense University, National Archives, Pentagon Conference Center and Library, and the Canadian Embassy. The Executive Chef of Galaxy Diner the employee dining facility at Gaylord National Hotel in Maryland where on average there were 2000 meals served a day breakfast, lunch, dinner and overnight.
CheFarmer Raiford returned home to Brunswick, Georgia in 2011 to become the sixth generation farmer on his families’ land that they have owned since 1874. Gilliard Farms is a sibling-run certified organic farm. Within this varied degree Chef Raiford sees himself as a ‘Chefarmer’. Currently, he is launching The Farmer and The Larder, a family-owned culinary retail space specializing in educational adventures in taste through culinary classes, kitchen retail and a weekly supper club. CheFarmer serves on the Slow Food USA Board of Directors and Slow Meat Steering Committee (2014, 2015). He enjoys collecting menus, planting roses, traveling, dining and teaching. His passion lies in creating a memorable dining experience by preparing local, sustainable organic and flavorful foods.
A graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Mary Andrea Schowe is the chef/HBIC at Ember and MAS on Saint Simons Island. Following her graduation, Mary raised heritage poultry and grew organic vegetables on a 60-acre farm in Maine. From field to table, Mary’s culinary career has covered every aspect of food production and preparation.
Chef Mary is known for her sense of humor, mentoring style and true commitment to sustainable cooking and farming.
An Atlanta native and a graduate of the University of Georgia, Aaron “Fiery Ron” Siegel moved to NYC after college to follow his passion for cooking and attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. After completing an internship at Atlanta’s Nava under acclaimed Chef Kevin Rathbun, he graduated with his culinary degree and moved to Aspen, Colorado. There, Aaron worked as a sous chef at two of the most popular high-end restaurants — Pinion’s and Cache Cache — and became intrigued with the idea of combining traditional processes and techniques of classical cuisine with the simplicity of comfort food, BBQ, and Southern fare.
He returned to the South and was hired by the Hospitality Management Group Inc. (HMGI) as the Executive Chef at Blossom Café in downtown Charleston where he worked for several years. Aaron worked closely with Executive Chef Craig Diehl at sister restaurant Cypress where he learned more about smoking meats and developing a charcuterie program. During this time, he began to scout locations for his barbeque concept and in 2006, together with partners Taylor Garrigan, Tony McKie, and Madison Ruckel, opened Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ in West Ashley. An instant success, Home Team BBQ and its partners were able to expand with a location on Sullivan’s Island in 2009, and a location in downtown Charleston in 2016.
Hudson Swafford is a professional golfer who currently plays on the PGA Tour. Swafford was born in Lakeland, Florida. He played his college golf at the University of Georgia and turned professional after graduating in 2011.
He joined the Nationwide Tour in 2012 and picked up his first victory at the Stadion Classic at UGA on May 6, shooting a course record 62 in the final round. Swafford trailed Luke List by a stroke heading to the final hole of the tournament, but he holed out his bunker shot for a birdie while List bogeyed to give him the victory. Swafford was familiar with the course as it is his former college course.
Sea Island Events
After graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Hospitality Management from The Culinary Institute of America, Chef Bill began his professional career as Sous Chef at the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Chatham, MA. In 2009, he joined the Sea Island team in the Forbes Five-Star restaurant, the Georgian Room. In 2011, Welch was promoted to Sous Chef and was instrumental in the opening of Tavola. In 2013, he then moved to Sea Island Events as Events Sous Chef and then into his current role of Executive Chef of Sea Island Events in 2015.
St. Simons Food & Spirits Festival
60 Cinema Lane, Suite 230
St. Simons Island, GA 31522
The St. Simons Food & Spirits Festival is a 501-(c)3 non-profit organization. The festival engages and promotes annual events with the mission to increase awareness of the Golden Isles region as a tourism destination and to raise funds for the benefit of local charities. The primary beneficiary for the festival is the Hospice of the Golden Isles.
© 2016 St. Simons Food & Spirit Festival, LLC & The AdFish Group, LLC