5 Southern Chefs That are So Hot Right Now

Ted and Matt Lee

We love food, to be more specific we love food and drinks from the South. So when it came to putting together of the South’s hottest chefs we turned to the experts. Ted and Matt Lee are accomplished contributing editors for Travel + Leisure and frequently write food stories for Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Fine Cooking, and Food & Wine, in addition to winning multiple James Beard Awards for their own best-selling collection of cookbooks. So, when we caught up with them recently to chat about their new series, Southern Uncovered with The Lee Bros. we had to ask: “Which Southern chefs are on your radar right now?”

On Southern Uncovered, Matt and Ted are constantly on the hunt for those hidden, local, undiscovered restaurants, bars, and cultural establishments, but for this list we focused on the hottest names coming out of Southern kitchens. Write these names down, you’ll likely be seeing a lot more from these all-stars in the years to come.

Scroll below to see Ted and Matt’s current top 5, and leave your recommendations for favorite up-and-coming chefs in the comments.

Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, GA

5 Chefs in the South You're About to Hear A Lot More From!
Photo Credit: Business Savannah

Chef Mashama Bailey returned to her hometown, Savannah, GA, after working at NYC’s uber-successful Prune restaurant to open her own establishment,  The Grey. Her cooking combines traditional flavors of the Deep South with a contemporary flair for unique, and incredibly delicious, results. The new restaurant only opened at the end of last December, but has already received critical acclaim — being named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Top 5 Restaurants in America. Check out The Grey on Instagram to see some of Chef Bailey’s delicious creations.

Lisa Donovan, Buttermilk Road Sunday Suppers, Nashville, TN

5 Chefs in the South You're About to Hear A Lot More From!
Photo Credit: Eric England/Nashville Scene

Lisa Donovan is the former pastry chef at Nashville, TN favorite dining establishments, Husk. Now she’s calling her own shots in the kitchen at Buttermilk Road, a pop-up restaurant meant to celebrate the Southern tradition of communal Sunday feasts. Every Sunday, Buttermilk Road serves up a specially prepared menu of fresh, local dishes at different locations around Nashville and the South at large. They’ve even taken the Buttermilk Road Sunday dinners show on the road, visiting New Orleans and Birmingham with their signature flavors. Keep up with Lisa Donovan’s culinary adventures, wherever they may take her, by following her on Instagram.

Savannah Haseler, Twain’s Brewpub and Billiards, Decatur, GA

5 Chefs in the South You're About to Hear A Lot More From!
Photo Credit: Twain’s Billiards and Tap/Facebook

If you’re looking for great food and beer, you can’t go wrong with Twain’s Brewpub & Billiards in Decataur, GA. And that’s due in no small part to Executive Chef Savannah Haseler. While she might be a Pittsburgh native, Haseler’s traveled all around the country developing a strong understand, and taste, for local cuisines. Her commitment to buying local and supporting the Georgia food community is part of what elevates Twain’s menu from typical pub fare to something truly special.

Jill Mathias, Chez Nous, Charleston, SC

5 Chefs in the South You're About to Hear A Lot More From!
Photo Credit: Chez Nous

Chef Jill Mathias got her start in the food industry in North Dakota, but really broke-out on her own upon heading to Charleston. She served as the executive chef of famed Charleston restaurant Carolina’s, and currently runs the kitchen at Chez Nous. Located in Downtown Charleston, Ches Nous features food & wine from Southern France, Northern Italy & Northern Spain — offering diners a change from the typical Southern eats they might expect. Get a taste for Chez Nous’ amazing eats via their Instagram.

Annie Pettry, Decca Restaurant, Louisville, KY

5 Chefs in the South You're About to Hear A Lot More From!
Photo Credit: William DeShazer

Chef Annie Pettry grew up in  Asheville, NC and had a childhood filled with influential food experiences — from growing her own vegetables to trout fishing, she developed an early passion for the culinary arts. She even spent countless hours in the kitchen learning from her parents’ global cooking style. That love can be seen in her cooking at Louisville favorite Decca, where her Southern-inspired menu has won over many diners and food critics alike. The restaurant even features local art and music performances alongside its killer food, making this a place you’ll definitely want to check out. One look at Decca’s Instagram and you’ll be running to the restaurant to down some of their delicious plates as soon as possible.




To follow along with Ted and Matt’s adventures in dining throughout the South, be sure to tune-in Sunday nights at 8 PM ET/5 PT for the latest episode of Southern Uncovered with The Lee Bros. Or follow Ted and Matt on Twitter to keep up with their favorite local spots, restaurants, pubs, and more!