If you’re a Southerner who reads the national food publication Eater, get ready to feel a little Southern pride. This afternoon, the website named the recipients of its 2017 Eater Awards, and our region is righteously represented where it really counts.
Taking Best Chef honors for 2017 is Ashley Christensen, whose restaurant group includes six restaurants and bars in Raleigh, North Carolina -- most notably Poole’s Diner, her celebrated comfort food establishment in the Bull City’s downtown district.
Praised for her unique Southern-French approach to comfort classics (like Poole’s beloved macaroni au gratin and bearnaise-butter-topped short rib), Christensen is also revered for keeping things local and seasonal through relationships with local farmers, and she’s widely respected for her dedication to fundraising for local causes, and community activism.
“I think to be a chef is a huge responsibility, but it’s also a tremendous privilege to do something that you love that much. For that, I feel a very pleasant responsibility to give something back,” Christensen said in the Eater story.
Another major winner is JuneBaby, who we recently wrote about as a great Southern restaurant outside the South.
Eater says that Chef Eduardo Jordan, a native of Florida, “ascends as a titan of Southern cooking in America” at his recently opened second restaurant, which serves “plenty of familiar, exquisitely rendered Southern pleasures: pimento cheese with house-made crackers, buttermilk biscuits with cane syrup, fried catfish over grits, coconut cream pie, peach cobbler.”
Add in the fact that the publication recently named The Grey in Savannah, Georgia, as its 2017 Restaurant of the Year, and it’s clear that Eater believes the South has lots of culinary momentum as food heads into 2018 and the future.
Read more about the winners and see Eater’s full 2017 list