A chef in historic downtown Savannah has been named 2022 Excellent Chef by the James Beard Basis. Mashama Bailey describes cooking at The Gray as her tackle Port Metropolis Southern meals: Southern elements with European influences.
In her acceptance speech, Bailey mentioned, “And immediately slightly black lady or slightly black boy can see themselves as a future excellent chef. They will see themselves in an area that they’ve by no means seen earlier than and do what they cannot suppose is feasible. And till only a few minutes in the past, that was me.”
Bailey was born within the Bronx and raised in Queens, however she lived in Savannah for six years between the ages of 5 and 11. She was influenced by meals at that younger age. In an interview for The Gray, she mentioned a few of her childhood meals recollections embody squash casserole, Virginia ham, cornbread, baked beans, and her grandmother’s “nation pasta,” which she says is simply spaghetti with cheddar cheese — oily and greasy however scrumptious. The nation pasta on The Gray menu got here from that recipe.
“That was one of many vivid recollections after we got here down to go to. She would make that for us and it could simply be an enormous pot on the range and whoever was hungry would simply go in and repair a bowl.”
The ladies of her household taught her to cook dinner earlier than she had any formal coaching. She attended the Institute of Culinary Schooling and has studied in France. She spent a number of years cooking all through New York Metropolis.
This isn’t Bailey’s first James Beard recognition. As govt chef of The Gray, she was named Finest Chef Southeast in 2019. She additionally serves as Vice Chairman on the board of the Edna Lewis Basis, working to protect and have a good time Edna’s legacy, which closely influences her present menu.
The Grey’s menu adjustments usually because it’s constructed across the seasons. So you possibly can count on variation not simply night to night, however typically throughout the course of a night’s service! Native produce contains beets, smoked carrots, and butternut squash. You have got scrumptious seafood selections like tuna crudo and middlins (rock shrimp with inexperienced garlic and Carolina Gold — a kind of rice) or beef carpaccio and lamb coronary heart from the pasture. The brunch menu contains classics from biscuits and gravy and omelets to crab beignets and pork pastrami.
The Diner Bar at The Gray is open Wednesdays by means of Saturdays at 5 p.m. On Sundays, it’s open at 11 a.m. for brunch. The Diner Bar provides an informal menu with lighter fare, whereas the principle eating room has 4 totally different prix fixe menus. Reservations can be found.
When requested how she hopes individuals stroll away from The Gray, Bailey mentioned, “with a full stomach.”