When South magazine announced it was taking nominations for its annual list of Greatest Chefs in the South, Emanuel May didn’t pay much attention.
As Bon Appétit’s executive chef at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA, he was too busy overseeing 10,000 meals a day. But when his wife, Aaron, submitted his name and the votes started to pour in, he was pretty tickled. Chef E, as everyone calls him, ended up making the list along with several local fine-dining chefs “who give the South its flavor,” according to the magazine.
South did a photo shoot with and interviewed Emanuel, who has been with Bon Appétit for 13 years, for the October-November issue.
“Now we’re at SCAD, the best art and design school in the nation, and we have to make the best food possible to represent that,” Emanuel told South. “They expect the best, and I give them the best.”
On his Southern culinary roots, Emanuel is particularly proud of his shrimp and grits and his barbecue sauce, both of which he serves to the SCAD community.
Asked his advice for aspiring chefs, he responded: “It’s not all about just cooking. It’s learning how to manage people the correct way and mentor them…. You have to have the skill set to manage your staff and maximize their production. Regardless of how long they stay with me, if I’m teaching them, they’re going to be able to take these tools to the next level. I like to say that I paid for culinary school so they don’t have to.”