Place Setting

What is the flavor of life in Savannah? 

We asked the Garden’s resident culinary muse to take our taste buds out on the town.

Produced and styled by Libbie Summers  ¦  Photography by Cedric Smith

Assistant to Libbie Summers:  Candace Brower

Production assistant:  Anthony Lunsmann

Savannah’s Libbie Summers chooses very carefully.  Like her ingredients and images, the words behind the culinary artist’s lifestyle brand, “A Food-Inspired Life,” sum up her vision with a marksman’s precision.

An award-winning producer of lifestyle content for the likes of Paramount Pictures, Bon Appetit, Vogue, the Food Network and “both of the ‘livings’—Southern and Country,” Libbie takes her taste buds to task daily. She produces videos, recipes and photo essays for her website, Libbiesummers.com, and Salted and Styled, the wildly popular food blog she makes with fellow Savannahian Chia Chong.  And then there are the bestselling cookbooks: Sweet and Vicious: Baking With Attitude [Rizzoli 2014], Brown Sugar [Shortstack Editions 2014] and The Whole Hog Cookbook [Rizzoli 2011].

But what’s truly remarkable about Libbie is her synesthesia: her ability to approach life itself through foodways.  Fashion, décor, travel—even dance moves—are experienced first on her palate … which makes her our muse for the May/June issue.  When we asked Libbie to help us paint a food portrait of Savannah, the ideas flew.

“This place is so much at once: artful, enchanted, eccentric and gritty,” she told us, and promptly set out to make us a moveable feast—four courses, shot on location in some of the city’s most beautiful places, and designed to help us taste and see the true flavor of home.

Feast your eyes.

An Artful Outlook

 

“We eat first with our eyes,” the saying goes, and Savannah is a famed art haven.  So Libbie took pops of seasonal color from summery berries, local shrimp and cool glasses of French rosé.  She placed each dish in a picture frame, set the table like a studio, and called in Savannah artist Katherine Sandoz (pictured) to base a painting on the scene. “I wanted a still, thoughtful, stark ‘gallery’ for contemplating the art,” muses Libbie, who channeled Holly Hunter in The Piano.  “That brought us to the beach for our first course.”

 

 

Location:  South River, Tybee Island

Painting:  Katherine Sandoz

Model:  Katherine Sandoz

Shirt:  Custard Boutique

Skirt:  compliments of Jenny Long

 

Enchanted Garden

 

For the salad course, Libbie took us to the heart of the Garden—verdant Forsyth Park—where she collaborated with the existing shrubbery to create a lush, overgrown fairyland. “The spring radishes were beautiful with bite—like little jewels against the bed of Walker Farms organic greens,” she recalls. Of course, no Savannah picnic is complete without a few six-legged visitors, which local artist Jamie Bourgeois crafted from masking tape—infusing the dreamy scene with charm and character.
For the salad course, Libbie took us to the heart of the Garden—verdant Forsyth Park—where she collaborated with the existing shrubbery to create a lush, overgrown fairyland.
Of course, no Savannah picnic is complete without a few six-legged visitors, which local artist Jamie Bourgeois crafted from masking tape—infusing the dreamy scene with charm and character.

 

Location:  the northwest corner of Forsyth Park

Handmade masking tape insects:  Jamie Bourgeois

Vintage chairs: Savannah Vintage Rentals

Vintage plates: collection of Elizabeth Demos

Salad greens: Walker Organic Farms

 

Eccentric Elegance
alex raskin libbie light
A tomahawk served as the main course—and summed up Libbie’s take on the city’s oddball flair. “These steaks are little hatchets, with the bone as the handle,” Libbie chuckles.  “It’s not an ordinary cut of meat, so it merited a nuclear green garnish—and a beautiful mess like Alex Raskin Antiques.”

Location:  Alex Raskin Antiques

Hot pink taper candles:  Creative Candles

Tomahawk Ribeye Steaks:  Smith Brothers Butcher Shop

 

The Gritty City

 

riverstreet vert car lights
It’s no secret that Savannah has a dark side.  That’s why earthy carrots, dark brown sugar and the swift, cruel kick of habanero inspired Libbie’s after-dark dessert course, adapted from her aptly named cookbook, Sweet and Vicious.  She paired the richly layered cake with strong bourbon and set up a noir crime scene splattered with orange instead of red.  The poor carrots never stood a chance.

 

Location:  Factor’s Walk

Zinc table top:  Bastille Metal Works

 

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