SAVANNAH FLAVORS: New newsletter delivers food stories, delicious recipes and more straight to your inbox

Neil Gabbey at Casa Guava
Neil Gabbey at Casa Guava
Connect Savannah will be launching Savannah Flavors, a food newsletter, starting on Thursday, Jan. 25, to share more of the crunchy, tangy, rich stories that shape our city's food landscape. 

Neil Gabbey, a local foodie with a knack for exploring and celebrating Savannah's food scene, will dive into the latest restaurant openings and culinary happenings through a 'main dish' feature story. Gabbey will also give readers an inside look at the places local chefs frequent when they are looking for a meal out. These 'chef's cravings' may surprise you! He will also open his own recipe vault through 'tried, tasted and true' where Gabbey will share a variety of recipes to inspire your own culinary creations.   

Connect Savannah recently sat down with Gabbey to find out more about his love of food and writing. (The Q&A has been condensed for brevity and clarity).

Connect Savannah: How did you get into becoming this 'foodie' of Savannah?

Neil Gabbey: I have to give my mom credit because as a kid, I was the third of three. My sister baked, my brother was not really into food then, although he's a really good cook now. So as the little kid of the family, I hung out with my mom in the kitchen, and hung out with my dad in the garden. And so, from a really early age, I remember going out into our garden and picking corn my dad and I had grown and harvesting potatoes. And in the kitchen, I have memories, very visual, tactile memories of being in the kitchen with my mom and her handing me a plastic cup measure and showing me how to measure a cup of flour and helping her make cookies around the holidays. We would always make spritz cookies. So when I think about why I love cooking and where I started to love cooking, it's a lot of those family memories.

Connect Savannah: Why do you enjoy the writing component of exploring Savannah's food scene?

Neil Gabbey: Thankfully, I've never had to be a critic. I think, and I could be wrong, since I've only been at this a brief amount of time, but in this day and age with social media, everybody is an instant food critic. If somebody gets on Yelp, or somebody 'Insta' posts about something, they're immediately a food critic. [Saying] 'this was terrible, this was great or service was great. This drink was terrible.' You know, everybody's doing that and I've never had to be or was told to be a food critic in the writing that I've done. Instead, what I really like about it is being able to be a food columnist or just a food writer, not a critic, which I really like.

I like meeting the chefs and the restauranteurs and the owners and the general managers and the people who have the guts to be in this industry and to tell their stories. I think that's been the really interesting part about it. I've gotten to go into restaurant kitchens and become friends with restauranteurs and chefs and GMs that in another life, that never would have happened.

And the other part of this is since by day I'm a classroom teacher, this is a completely other world. You know, people ask 'how do you have the energy after you go home after a full day of teaching to cook a meal?' And I tell them, it's therapeutic. For other people, it's running five miles when they get home, or it's painting or it's photography or something like that. For me, going into a kitchen at the end of the day, that's totally different than what I've been doing for eight to nine hours. And this writing about food and being in restaurants around town and meeting these folks—it’s totally different than what I do every single day so it's never felt like a job. It's just felt like something fun.

Connect Savannah: What do you want people to know about Savannah's food scene? What are you hoping they take away from your stories?

Neil Gabbey: We moved here from Baltimore, Maryland nine years ago.  Baltimore is a big city. Baltimore has a great food scene as a lot of these big cities do. We scouted Savannah before we moved here and part of our choosing to move here was the food. Ten, twelve years ago when we started visiting here, Savannah already had a notable food landscape. That being said, I would say that the best places in town, the most reliable places in town, have all opened up since we've moved here. So even though we moved here because it had a good food scene, I think the folks who have either moved to town or who had doubled up and opened up new places or who have renovated and retooled their places, the places that are six to seven years old, and younger, are by and large the best places in town, which sort of shows you the arc of where food is going.

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