Chef Q&A: A New Kind of Late-Night Bite

Photography by MICHAEL SCHALK

TODD HARRIS // Executive Chef, General Manager & Operating Partner, The Garage at Victory North

Photography by MICHAEL SCHALK

IN 2020, CHEFF TODD HARRIS stumbled upon an opportunity from The Fitzroy. He left Chicago, where he had worked in Michelin-starred kitchens GreenRiver and Acadia. He fell in love, by the same happy happenstance, with The Fitzroy’s then-bar consultant, Sarah Ray. After his stint helping to develop dishes for the opening of Fleeting, the fine dining restaurant at Thompson Savannah, the couple migrated to the southern tip of Starland, where Harris now prepares Southern cooking with French flare and Ray alchemizes unexpected ingredients like SPAM into cocktails at Harris’ new concept: The Garage at Victory North. Connected to live music and event venue, Victory North, The Garage brings big-city standards to Savannah. 

Here, he shares where he finds off-the-cuff inspiration and the joys of running a compact team of close friends. 


ON THE GARAGE AS A CONCEPT 

The idea for The Garage is a super-small venue that’s really community oriented. The small restaurant footprint and model — having a personal experience — is something that I’m really interested in, and [I think] that large restaurants are going to become a thing of the past.


ON HIS DECISION TO OFFER ELEVATED LATE-NIGHT FARE

Because I’m hungry, man. I get off work, and I’m hungry, and I want to eat food. I know I’m not the only one who wants to eat a strip steak after 10 o’clock, and before The Garage, Fancy Parker’s was all that was going for [elevated] late-night food. 


ON RUNNING A SMALL TEAM OF CLOSE FRIENDS

The best part is that we all have fun at work. Anytime we miscommunicate, we’re friends first, so there’s never any weird work drama, which is pretty fantastic. It’s also really easy to control the product. There are only six of us in the building. So if something’s happening wrong, I can be like, ‘Hey, who’s doing this?’ And there’s not much of an investigation.


“We’re going to do more digging and more diving into the history of how the African diaspora influenced Southern food in lesser-known ways.”


ON HIS NEW TASTING MENU 

What’s fresh and available really dictates the specials because I try to source from either the Forsyth Farmers’ Market or Vertu Farm. We are working on a few new dishes now as we move toward winter. We also just started doing a chef’s tasting menu. That’s been super cool — it’s all dishes on the menu, but pieced and put together in a different way. 


ON HIS DINNER SERIES FROM AFRICA TO AFROS 

Southern food was created in kitchens ran by enslaved Africans who, in some cases, were learning techniques from France and then coming back to America. There are also many different Southern traditions that link directly to Africa. The first From Africa to Afros experience [covered] a lot of things that [I] and Bernard [Chef Bernard Bennett of Okàn] are familiar with — goat griot, oyster pie. As the series progresses, we’re going to do more digging and more diving into the history of how the African diaspora influenced Southern food in lesser-known ways.


ON WHAT HE’S MOST PROUD OF SO FAR
A point of pride for the whole team is that we have so many regulars. We have a dozen or so people who we see all the time, who bring their friends and send their friends. That always speaks to me, more than being packed every night. When people return and they bring their friends and family, it’s nice. 

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