Today the southern U.S. is home to a host of culinary talent, including The Lee Brothers, Nathalie Dupree, Virginia Willis, and more. And if you want to taste the real thing and pick up tips from some very accomplished Southern Chefs join us in the Cooking School as this amazing roster of chefs offer up their favorite seasonal dinners and a slew of instructional classes. Now let us introduce you to the biggest lineup of James Beard Award winning chefs ever assembled for one of the events.
Siblings Matt and Ted Lee grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. When they left to attend colleges in the Northeast, they so missed the foods of their hometown that they founded The Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue, a mail-order catalogue for southern pantry staples like stone-ground grits, fig preserves, and, of course, boiled peanuts. When an editor of a travel magazine asked them to write a story about road-tripping their home state in search of great food, they embarked on a second career as food and travel journalists. They have a cable TV show, “Southern Uncovered with The Lee Bros” on Ovation network, and were commentators on all 7 seasons of “Unique Eats” on Cooking Channel. They contribute to publications like Travel + Leisure, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, The New York Times, and Southern Living, among others.
From South Carolina, Nathalie Dupree is best-selling author, chef and cooking show host whose work focuses on the food of the American South. You may have seen her on some of the more than 300 television shows that she has hosted on The Food Network, PBS and The Learning Channel. Ms. Dupree received a James Beard Award for both Southern Memories and Comfortable Entertaining as well as her most recent book Nathalie Dupree’s Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking. Awarded Grande Dame status from Les Dames d’Escoffier, a professional organization of women in culinary fields, Ms. Dupree is the Founding Chair of the Charleston Food & Wine Festival and a founder of Southern Foodways.
Georgia native Virginia Willis, a protégé of Ms. Dupree’s, is the author of five cookbooks. Lighten Up, Y’all received the 2016 James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health category and was named a finalist for the Best American Cookbook by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She is currently developing a series, “Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South”, for WGBH which will be aired nationally on PBS. Ms. Willis is an Editor at Large for Southern Living magazine and author of the popular column “Cooking with Virginia.” Her blog, which was tagged as a favorite by Saveur magazine, includes recipes and stories that celebrate her Southern heritage.
Rebecca Lang is a food writer, cooking instructor, television personality, and a ninth-generation Southerner. Born and raised in South Georgia, she has been featured in more than 50 nationally televised Southern Living food segments and in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle, Wine Enthusiast, and Fitness magazines. She serves as a contributing editor for Southern Living, teaches cooking classes across America, and writes a blog that has been featured on the James Beard Foundation Blog and noted in Food News Journal’s Best of the Blogs. Rebecca earned a journalism degree from the University of Georgia, a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University, and apprenticed with Southern cooking legend Nathalie Dupree. Rebecca was named one of Georgia Trend’s 40 Under 40 for 2015.
Chef Bill Smith is as well known for his sumptuous take on Southern comfort food as he is for his exceptional food writing—including the New York Times Notable and Food & Wine Best-of-the-Best cookbook Seasoned in the South and the bestselling Crabs & Oysters. He stands out as the only James Beard Foundation “America’s Classic Restaurant” chef ever to have been named a final-five finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast—and twice. Continually interpreting found heirloom recipes, Bill Smith’s recipes have their way of becoming iconic dishes. With a focus of incorporating local foods into their menus, Smith has long worked with farmers and also homestead gardeners and foraged himself for ingredients on the Crook’s Corner menu. A foremost chef-expert in Southern foodways, he has served now for years on the board for the Southern Foodways Alliance.
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of fourteen cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native, and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteers. Nancie has written on food and travel for numerous publications including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Fine Cooking, Cooks Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times. She also has national television credits include playing the role of Cake Historian on Alton Brown’s Peabody Award-winning Food Network program “Good Eats”.
Linton Hopkins studied Anthropology at Emory University and planned to follow his father into the medical profession, but fate found him working in a bookstore, where he spent his spare time reading cookbooks. Inspired by his grandfather’s passion for all things flavorful & Southern, he enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York graduating in 1993. In 2004 Hopkins, along with wife, and sommelier, Gina Hopkins, opened Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, which features a menu that is a manifestation of his early influences, as well as his recent culinary experiments. It’s this dedication to both the old and the new techniques and traditions that makes Restaurant Eugene one of the city’s centers for exciting new Southern cuisine. Hopkins won a James Beard Award as “Best Chefs in America,” in 2012.
Raised in Asheville, North Carolina, Annie Pettry’s childhood was steeped with influential food experiences, including growing vegetables, foraging for mushrooms, fishing for trout and spending countless hours in the kitchen learning from her parents’ global cooking style. Pettry was named one of Restaurant Hospitality’s 15 to Watch in 2015, a 2014 and 2015 Food & Wine nominee for People’s Best New Chef and a 2014 StarChefs Rising Star. She was the winner of the 2013 Louisville Cochon 555 Heritage BBQ competition. You may recognize her as a competitor on Season 14 of Top Chef.
Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Martha Foose attended the famed pastry school Ecole Lenotre in France. She returned to Mississippi and opened Bottletree Bakery – a Southern institution in Oxford – and later, with her husband, Mockingbird Bakery in Greenwood. She is the former Executive Chef of the Viking Cooking School; a 2009 Winner of the James Beard Award for American Cooking; 2009 Winner of the Southern Independent Booksellers Award; and a Food Stylist for the movie, “The Help”. Her most recent collaboration with Asha Gomez, My Two Souths, was a finalist for this year’s James Beard Media Awards.
Sandra Gutierrez is a nationally recognized food personality, cookbook author, freelance food writer, and cooking instructor. Her articles and recipes have been published in newspapers and magazines around the world. She won a 2016 Gourmand Award for her third cookbook Empanadas: The Hand-held Pies of Latin America. Based in North Carolina, Ms. Gutierrez has become known for her Southern food with Latino influences and was featured in an exhibit that recognized her contribution to the changing foodways of the South at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum. She teaches classes nationwide and hosts her own blog.