CHRISTOPHER NASON // Executive Chef of Daniel Reed Hospitality
AFTER MORE THAN two decades at the helm of one of Savannah’s most celebrated restaurants, Sapphire Grill, Christopher Nason now serves as executive chef of Daniel Reed Hospitality, the restaurant group behind Local 11ten, Soho South, Public Kitchen & Bar, Artillery and Franklin’s. In addition to merging his aircraft catering business with DRH to rebrand as SKYFARE, Nason recently launched Daniel Reed Catering and Events, a new offsite catering arm offering both passed and plated cuisine. Here, the chef tells us about the city’s evolving restaurant scene, trends we may see in the new year, and his favorite holiday food tradition.
ON WEARING MANY (CHEF’S) HATS
I’ll always have a chef mentality, and I’ll never stop getting my hands dirty in kitchens. I’ve already had the opportunity to bring new talent — someone I worked with at Sapphire — to Soho South. But there has been a mind shift with the new catering roles. It’s definitely a lot of conceptual work, and we spent most of the pandemic launching two new arms of our business and getting them staffed.
ON WHAT’S TRENDING
Food trends are ever changing, but we’ve seen that even more so during the pandemic. We are constantly researching different options not only to make sure the quality remains impeccable, but also to ensure that we have a guaranteed purchase and delivery stream that remains uninterrupted. That’s been a big challenge for restaurants during COVID. Generally, I think you’re going to see restaurants paring down their menus, offering a concentration of core dishes and plates. You already see [executive chef] Brett Cavanna doing that at Local 11ten — he offers about seven entrees, compared to the 10-12 that you’re used to seeing.
ON LOCAL FAVORITES
I know it might not make much sense, but I really don’t have a lot of time to eat out. The in-flight catering keeps me on the other side of the clock. When most people are sleeping, SKYFARE is cooking and delivering. I did go to Sushi Hana on Broughton Street the other night, and I think that’s the best sushi in town. The last time I had dinner with Brett at Local 11ten, I had the swordfish. His fish and chips starter is also really special — it’s done with a white fish pâté.
“I’ll always have a chef mentality, and I’ll never stop getting my hands dirty in kitchens.” — Christopher Nason
ON HOLIDAY TRADITIONS
Since I can remember, my dad has made steamed littleneck clams and lobster on Christmas Eve. In fact, he would make it every time there was a special occasion when I was growing up, and for a few years when I would go to hockey camp, he would also make it on my first night back. But it has been a Christmas Eve tradition for longer than I can remember.
ON SAVANNAH’S EVOLVING CULINARY SCENE
The nice thing about Savannah is, you don’t need to look far to find a good meal. In my opinion, the new push has been south of Oglethorpe Avenue, and of course the Bull Street corridor remains very strong both north and south of Forsyth Park. When Brett Cavanna and Jake Rogers joined Local 11ten — and recently with Ryan Connors joining Soho South — it completed a truly professional and dedicated team for DRH. Brian Gonet and his team at Public Kitchen & Bar continue to put out extraordinary fare, and they’ll celebrate 10 years next year. Restaurants like Common Thread also show that Savannah is willing to expand its culinary repertoire. I saw much of the same thing around 2000; it was a culinary revolution of sorts.