According to the Glynn County School System Website, Brunswick is home to a local Chef that has been nationally recognized in an extraordinary way.
CheFarmer Matthew Raiford has accomplished a lot in the past couple of years. Not only does he have two brick-and-mortar businesses – The Farmer & The Larder and Strong Roots Provisions – in downtown Brunswick, he also co-owns his longtime family farm, Gilliard Farms, with his sister, Althea.
If that isn’t enough, when he’s not maintaining his business ventures, he’s serving as a culinary instructor for the Golden Isles College and Career Academy. While his career has set the proverbial culinary stage on fire in Brunswick, it seems Raiford is making waves elsewhere, garnering a nomination for the highest culinary honor in the country, the James Beard Award.
Dubbed the Oscars for restaurants, the James Beard Foundation highlights some of the country’s top chefs, restaurants and restaurateurs across the country in 21 national and regional categories and, according to its mission as stated on jamesbeard.org, “celebrates, preserves and nurtures America’s culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of culinary excellence.”
Raiford was named a semifinalist in the “Best Chef: Southeast” category for his restaurant, The Farmer & The Larder.
“Just getting a nod and being in Brunswick on a list with all of these big-city restaurants and chefs in New York City, Atlanta and Los Angeles is an amazing honor and I am humbled by it,” Raiford said. “This isn’t something you throw your name in the hat for and hope to be picked; you have to be selected by someone else to be nominated. That alone makes me feel like the work that I’ve done yesterday is being recognized today, so to speak,” he said.
Out of more than 20,000 entrants, Raiford is among 495 chefs and restaurateurs awaiting word on whether he will be named a finalist on March 14. Even more impressive, he is one of only nine entrants from Georgia who made the list. Raiford said it serves as a teachable moment for his students at GICCA.
“I’m trying to give back to kids here and show them the possibilities of what cooking can do. One of the biggest things I like to teach them is that you can go off and change the world, but you can also come back home and change the culture,” he said. “Being a semifinalist helps me solidify why I came back to Brunswick: … To be an educator and mentor like James Beard, and to bring delicious, diverse and sustainable food back to the forefront.”
Finalists for Restaurant and Chef Awards will be announced live on James Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed on Wednesday, March 14. The 2018 James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 7, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. For more information about the James Beard Foundation or the awards, visit here.