The South’s biggest and brightest stars in the food world meet the most distinguished vintners and artisans from the United States at picturesque Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina to offer a truly unique festival experience pairing live entertainment with a diverse array of southern cuisine and informative, energetic celebrity cooking demonstrations during the week of Monday, November 14-Sunday, November 20, 2011. Home to The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, which was named the “#1 Best Resort in the US” by the readers of Travel + Leisure, the gorgeous, lush Lowcountry destination known as Palmetto Bluff is the backdrop to this collaborative, charitable, event that takes guests on an unparalleled sensory experience and redefines the way southern cuisine is perceived.
Category: Dining, Entertainment, Events
Tags: Bluffton, Chefs, Food, Music to your mouth, Palmetto Bluff
The south is known for its soul food, and savannah’s dining scene sure doesn’t disappoint. However, as a city that’s brimming with all sorts of culinary talent and backgrounds, the possibilities are endless.
Orchid Paulmeier needed a winner, something that would stick out for the judges. Paulmeier, 39, of Bluffton, South Carolina, attended an open call audition last August for the seventh season of the popular cable reality series The Next Food Network Star—her third attempt in as many years.
“I just figured three times a charm, or three strikes, you’re out. It was going to be one or the other at this point,” recalls Paulmeier, a chef and partner at One Hot Mama’s, a popular eatery in Hilton Head Island. “This time I was really just like, ‘Let’s just go for it, and we’ll see what happens.’” And go for it she did.
On the second day of the Atlanta-based audition, she was asked to present judges with a dish that would be representative of her culinary approach. Staying at a nearby hotel, she ventured out to a local market and purchased her ingredients. She decided on a plate of poached salmon with a black bean couscous, a nice dish anytime of the year, to be sure, but what put it over the top was Paulmeier’s ingenuity.
She ran tap water through the hotel room coffeepot four times, to get the water up to temperature, and then seasoned it to make a modified poaching liquid. She then poured the seasoned broth over the fish and couscous separately to cook the dish.
The judges were impressed with her crafty use of everyday objects. Heck, even MacGyver would’ve been impressed with the impromptu display.
“The [judges] were like, ‘How’d you make this again?’
And I said, ‘In the hotel room.’
‘The coffee maker.’”
And just like that, as quick as you can say drip-drip-drip, she’d beaten out over 3,000 hopefuls for one of 15 spots for the upcoming season.
For the uninitiated, the show pits 13 contestants against each other in a series of unique culinary challenges. At the end of each show, one candidate is usually eliminated based on a judge’s decision. At the end of the season, a winner is crowned and is given their own show on The Food Network.
Taping started in January and ended seven weeks later in March. But since the show wouldn’t air until June, the normally outgoing and animated Paulmeier had to keep things under wraps.
“I had to have a cover story. That was the funny part,” says Paulmeier, a mother of three originally from Orland Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. “It was my own little secret. I had just had this wonderful experience and no one knew about it.”
So she kept her candidacy hush-hush, only telling her husband, Michael, and her business partner, Chris. As far as friends, family and restaurant colleagues knew, she was out of town doing some restaurant consulting work.
“On sabbatical,” she recalls wryly.
By the time the show aired the first Sunday in June, Paulmeier already began to feel the initial tinges of celebrity. She found herself spending most of her workday on the floor at One Hot Mama’s, signing autographs and telling stories to locals and vacationers. Business more than doubled, and she had to hire additional staff to handle the surge.
Her warm smile, lively personality and apparent on-camera comfort quickly endeared Paulmeier to the online masses, as she won the preshow fan vote in a landslide with 54% of the tally. Several online message boards, including some on the Food Network website itself, tapped Paulmeier as an early favorite for the show’s top prize. Even the judges picked her as a frontrunner, going as far as telling her on one of the early shows not to change anything.
The competition itself started auspiciously enough for Paulmeier, who won the two challenges on the season’s first episode, which featured an appearance by Dinner: Impossible host Robert Irvine, a Hilton Head resident. On the season’s fourth episode, Orchid won another challenge, as the finalists traveled to the set of the hit ABC television show Cougar Town to feed the crew. In a bit of Southern karma, that episode’s special guest ended up being none other than Food Network luminary (and fellow Lowcountry native) Paula Deen.
So, it was with shock that viewers saw Paulmeier eliminated in the season’s sixth episode, a substitution of canned oysters for abalone leading to her ultimate undoing. The show’s season finale tapped Jeff Mauro as its winner.
Like many talent-based reality television programs, the end of the show is not necessarily the end of the line. In fact, for many, it’s a new beginning. Orchid still thinks about a conversation the contestants had with celebrity chef Guy Fieri, a guest on the season’s fifth episode and winner of the show’s second season.
“I remember he pulled us all aside and said, ‘You know, this is your year to make something happen. If you want to get ahead in the world, this is the year to do it,’” recalls Paulmeier. She’s taken the advice to heart. Paulmeier is eyeing additional television opportunities, has partnered in a second Hilton Head restaurant (The Lodge), and is marketing her signature line of One Hot Mama’s sauces. “Whatever doors open up, I’m just going to go for it,” she says. “There’s obviously a reason I did this and had this great opportunity.”
Take Highway 80 West out of Savannah and drive until the strip malls and gas stations begin to fade. Keep going until the houses become fewer and the world becomes overwhelmingly green. After an hour, ease off of the highway and take a pasture-lined county road to the Hunter Cattle Company, home of some of the South’s finest beef, pork and poultry.
There’s a sign, of course, but you’ll know you are there when the hum of traffic gives way to the buzz of cicadas, a farmhouse and a small country store with an old pickup truck in front. “That was my granddaddy’s truck, a 1954 Ford,” says Hunter Cattle Company owner and operator Del Ferguson. Ferguson also mentions that the gravel road that runs between the store and some of his pastureland was once the main highway through the area. Though much has changed in the world since those days, Ferguson works hard to honor that tradition. “We wanted to be as natural as an old farm,” says Ferguson, who adds with a laugh that he does compromise when it comes to using a tractor over a horse drawn plow.
Paula Deen did something this summer she hadn’t done in a very long time: she took the summer off. “It was the longest span I’ve not worked in 22 years,” she says. “It was my time of getting back in touch with Paula.” Come fall, however, Paula got right back to work.
On October 11, Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible goes on sale. Paula calls this book “my proudest achievement so far.” With more than 300 recipes, it’s full of tips and illustrations “actually showing how to do things,” explains Paula. “Hopefully this book will fall in the category of classic cookbooks like the Joy of Cooking—something people will want in their kitchens for a long time.” This fall also continues with the third season of the Real Women of Philadelphia, the online cooking competition with Paula and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
As for Jamie and Bobby, Savannah’s favorite sons each have a Food Network show set to air in the spring. Jamie’s show will be shot in Savannah and will focus on “busy families trying to come up with family meals. … We’re going to break outside of the kitchen and show off the beauty of Savannah”—which is important to Jamie, who famously walked away from the Food Network’s 2006 hit show Road Tasted to spend more time with his family.
Chef and food stylist Libbie Summers has cooked for presidents and Paula Deen. A few times over, she’s sailed around the world scouring fresh food and culinary secrets from locals of all flavors. She’s got an insatiable passion for food, and it all started with a few hogs.
North Beach Bar and Grill
Sandwiched between the beach and the Tybee Lighthouse, lies the North Beach Bar and Grill, a weatherworn beach shack that has been serving up laid-back libations and fantastic fare for over 15 years. Whether you decide to down a quick bite before you head to the beach, or stop in after a long day in the sun, the Thai Tuna and Spinach Salad is sure to be a palate pleaser. Layered upon a mound of fresh, raw spinach leaves are four succulent slices of rare sesame-encrusted seared tuna, topped with slivers of red onions and whole cashews. It’s accompanied by the chef’s homemade Thai salad dressing. “It’s not a complex salad, but it’s an example of what can happen when you get all the right ingredients working in tandem together,” says co-owner George Spriggs. 33 Meddin Drive, Tybee Island, 912.786.4442
Category: Dining, Dishes
Tags: AJ’s Dockside Restaurant, Bona Bella, Dining, Dishes, North beach Bar and Grill
South magazine talked to some of the top names in Savannah dining to get the inside scoop on the restaurants that have shaped the city for decades. The variety of their cuisine runs the gamut from a casual golden fried basket of chicken, to an entree of fresh homegrown seafood. and while Their ingredients may vary, they all agreed, they’ve thrived through the years of changing times with their business savvy, their use of local flair and just plain, good ol’ Southern hospitality.
Category: Dining, Featured Restaurants
Tags: Elizabeth on 37th, Garibaldi Cafe, Live Oak Restaurant Group, Restaurateurs Who Have Stood the Test of Time, The Lady and Sons, The Olde Pink House
Kerry O’Connor firmly believes you can have your designer cake and eat it too. Hailing from Morristown, New Jersey (she assures us it’s nothing like Jersey Shore), O’Connor specializes in making unique works of delicious art.
Category: Chefs, Dining
Tags: Kate Stanford, Kerry O’Connor, Kerry O’Connor Cake Design
Looking for a breakfast that’s healthy, quick and delicious? Lucky for you, Jamie Eason, the World’s Fittest Model and South’s cover girl, let us in on her Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread recipe!
Category: Blogs, Dining, Eat blogs, Featured
Tags: Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread, healthy recipe, Jamie Eason
- Goose Feathers An Express Cafe & Bakery Goose Feathers Café is a warm and inviting Savannah original that can a...
- Belford’s Savannah Seafood and Steaks Belford's casual fine dining in a historic brick building has anchored ...
- Savannah’s Candy Kitchen Our Savannah Candy Shop makes everything right in our own kitchen. All o...
- Hampton Inn & Suites Savannah Historic District Historic Savannah’s newest Hampton Inn and Suites embraces all of the ...
- Savannah Oaks RV Resort Providing a relaxing environment for people who want to camp in the area...
- Comfort Suites Historic District Experience true Southern hospitality at the Comfort Suites® Historic Di...
- Coastal Allergy & Asthma, PC Coastal Allergy & Asthma’s practice philosophy is simple: treat each p...
- Progressive GYN Center Dr. Barry Schlafstein is a board-certified diplomate of The American Boa...
- Southern Allergy & Asthma Southern Allergy & Asthma seeks to provide state-of-the-art therapy to p...