Chef Patrick White Impresses at Emma’s Restaurant and Lounge

Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.

Tucked away inside Holiday Inn Statesboro, located just off the Highway 301 Bypass, sits an unassuming and pleasant surprise, a dining experience most travel outside of town to achieve. This secluded piece of Statesboro paradise known as Emma’s Restaurant and Lounge boasts understated elegance, a local head chef with humble beginnings whose food packs a flavorful punch and a skilled bartender unafraid to experiment.

A beautiful cheese board (left) and cajun fried oysters (right).
A beautiful cheese board (left) and Cajun fried oysters (right).

Not long ago, I was invited to sample the new dinner menu developed by 23-year-old Executive Chef Patrick White and his team. Our meal began with a well thought out cheese board, or “Fromage Plate” featuring Grand Cru Reserve, Finley Blue Cheese and Fontina paired with dried apricots, fresh fruit, walnuts and large water crackers. Accouterments also included house made three berry jam and local truffle honey. My fiance, Kurt, joined me for the meal, and we ordered the Cajun fried oysters served with spicy aioli and a roasted garlic and herb creme fraiche too, because I was intrigued. Crispy on the outside with a subtle kick, one bite expanded my palate and left me wanting more.

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As we waited to taste the next course, I sipped on a signature cocktail from the bar…this electric Pink Lemonade. It was bright and refreshing made with freshly squeezed lemon and Van Gogh pomegranate vodka.

The Pink Lemonade Signature Cocktail
The Pink Lemonade Signature Cocktail

Before White wore the coveted and hard-earned white chef’s coat he sports proudly today, he gained appreciation for the industry by working as a Waffle House line cook while attending the Culinary Arts Program at Ogeechee Technical College. Born and raised in Statesboro, he graduated from Southeast Bulloch High School. He later got a job at Emma’s as a dishwasher, and in less than two years, climbed his way up the ladder all the while training under former Emma’s Chef Jason Scarboro. Ain’t that America? I have mad respect for his ambition, dedication and will to succeed. Amazing what working hard and dreaming big will do for you!

Executive Chef Patrick White
Executive Chef Patrick White

The soup and salad course didn’t disappoint. Emma’s sources many of their ingredients locally and prides themselves on good relationships with area farmers and purveyors.

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Kurt ordered the Local Shrimp & Grits. This $17 entree is made with andouille sausage, red onion, red bell pepper, madeira wine cream sauce and spicy onion tangles. The edible orchid was a fun touch! Beautiful presentation.

Local Shrimp & Grits
Local Shrimp & Grits

I ordered the $23 Grilled Angus Ribeye served with an Idaho and sweet potato hash with exotic mushrooms, topped with a cherry tomato and herb reduction. That was one really big steak, and I was extremely thankful for to-go boxes.

Grilled Angus Ribeye
Grilled Angus Ribeye

At Emma’s you can order sides for sharing. We opted for the garlic and herb sautéed Bacon Braised Brussel Sprouts and the Herb Encrusted Bleu Cheese Mac & Cheese.

Throughout the evening, White checked in frequently to see how we were doing and if we were enjoying the meal. He circulated around the restaurant taking care of his guests and thanking them for coming. I overheard a couple in the booth behind us say they’d driven from Richmond Hill, a community near Savannah, Georgia about 57 miles away, to try out the new menu. What a testament to the quality of service, food and reputation of Emma’s!

White checking up on his guests.
White checking up on his guests.

Because we couldn’t hold another thing, we ordered one dessert to-go and split it the next day. The chocolate cake was moist and decadent, served with fresh whipped cream and strawberries.

Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake with raspberry sauce and fresh whipped cream

Thank you Chef White for an exquisite meal and for your undeniable attention to detail and eye-catching presentation with each plate you served. But mostly, thank you for serving us a meal with passion from your heart. You made a lasting impression, and your food was only the beginning.

Our feast at Emma's Restaurant and Lounge.
Our feast at Emma’s Restaurant and Lounge.
Happy diners.
Happy diners.

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Making it Happen – My Dream in Action

It was 1:37 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon when the email came. The subject line read: ABC’s The Taste. I had pre-registered for the show the week before, after a friend shared on my Facebook wall that they were casting for Season 2 of the cooking competition reality show.

TheTaste
A casting producer was interested in me! I stared at my computer screen in amazement for about 10 minutes before I pulled myself together. I emailed her back and got the details. She’d invited me to come to Nashville that weekend for a private on-camera interview, and to skip the Open Call auditions and long lines. Mind. Blown. I had already committed to traveling to Atlanta to write a restaurant review for Hottie Hawg’s Smokin’ BBQ, but had previously planned to submit an audition video. She completely understood and encouraged me to do so. In the 10-minute video, I had to cook a dish that represented me and really showed my personality, including any other talents.

I chose shrimp and grits with a white wine sauce, of course.


Today marks over one week since I’ve heard back and I’m eagerly awaiting the outcome. It would be amazing if I made it any further in the process, but the truth is, I’ve already won. During the midst of the week, I’d shared the news with a few folks I hold close. My dear friend, Bill, knows my story and where I’ve been. He said it best.

“You have a brand new testimony of someone who stopped, took stock of her life and decided that life was too short not to pursue her passion. You are proof that success isn’t about the size of the stage or how big the audience, but making it happen. You have taken what you love and pursued it with passion. And, in the process, you have discovered that regardless of where the road takes you, you already are living out your dream.”

If you’d like to see my audition video, you can check it out below. I’ll keep you posted on where the road leads.

My Year in the Blog-Sphere

Some Kinda Good is one. Happy Blog-iversary to me!

I began blogging at a time in my life–the year was 2011, the month was November–when I needed to be fully engaged in something. It’s amazing how the landscape of your life can change in a year’s time, and who would’ve thought blogging about crab legs and barbecue would’ve filled a hole I never knew was missing?

Blogging allows me to combine many of my favorite things like eating, food and cooking but also writing, taking pictures, being on camera and sharing my personality and passion for coastal culture and the South. I really didn’t have any expectations when I set out to blog, other than not being one of those people on Facebook that share nothing but food pictures–because unknowingly, I was that girl for a long time. The moment became very real to me when a friend commented on one of my food pictures with this: “Facebook: Rebekah’s Food Diary.” I thought, ‘Wow, he’s right. There’s a better way.’

Enter Some Kinda Good.

Some Kinda Good’s original design by my friend, Amanda Hudson.

With a background in web writing and PR, I had all the skills in place. I set out to learn WordPress and gathered up some photos of the food I’d cooked. Not surprisingly, I had plenty of content at the ready, as though it had been stockpiled for its moment in the sun.

Some Kinda Good has evolved over the year, and I’m kind of embarrassed at some of my earlier posts. You’ve got to start somewhere though. As one of my favorite quotes says, “The expert in anything was once a beginner.”

Some Kinda Good’s current design by my friend, Tori Sprankel.

Throughout the year, I’ve built relationships with restaurant owners, food and beverage connoisseurs, food writers and other bloggers. I’ve gotten to meet notable cookbook authors, culinary producers, well-respected chefs and colleagues at food & beverage public relations firms throughout the Southern seacoast.  I’ve also subscribed to Bon Appetite Magazine and become a sort of amateur kitchen expert among friends and family. I’ve worked with ingredients I once considered foreign like, heirloom tomatoes and pimiento-cheese. I’ve sampled restaurant dishes I thought I would never order like fried chicken and waffles or an open-face whole egg omelet topped with goat cheese, sautéed shrimp, spiced pecans and arugula….for breakfast!

I’ve learned to be true to me, that you can’t pursue a food trend because it’s a trend. When I did that, I only did it for the sake of being popular, to show that I too was up-to-speed with food on a stick, kid food for adults and all things local and organic. While it was fun to experiment, those ventures lacked passion.

And we all know without passion, the fire dies.

All along, my philosophy has been guided by one thought from Julia Child who said, “Find something your passionate about, and keep tremendously interested in it.” I’m a firm believer that it’s never too late to do the things you love, and when you do the things you love, success comes.

Some Kinda Good was ranked #2 on Urbanspoon’s Leaderboard of Top Georgia Food Blogs September – November 2012.

These are the successes I’m celebrating…a few highlights from my year in the blog-sphere:

Most Popular Posts:

Most Searched Post:

Favorite Search Term:

  • Faulk Some Kinda Eating

Accomplishments:

  • Held #2 spot on Urbanspoon’s Leaderboard of Top Georgia Food Blogs: September – November 2012
  • Currently ranked #3 on Urbanspoon’s Leaderboard of Top Georgia Food Blogs
  • Featured as an Editor’s Pick of the Day on Bloggers.com
  • Featured as a Tweep of the Week on Atlanta Dish, the company blog of Melissa Libby & Associates
  • Becky Sue Hits the Big Time: Special feature on Kudzu Dad Blog
  • Featured in numerous editions of Paper.li, an online newspaper
My Farmers Market Fun and One Souped-Up Strawberry Shortcake post was featured in The Atlanta Moms Daily on April 30, 2012.

Relationships I’ve Built as a Result of Blogging: 

I got to meet Nathalie Dupree (bottom right) at the Inaugural Saint Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival in September 2012.

Without sounding too much like I’ve won a Grammy, I couldn’t celebrate my successes without acknowledging a few special folks:

Thanks to my mom and best friend Charity, who without fail were always the first to comment on my posts, even when the content lacked interest or when no one else cared. Thanks to my graphic designer friends, Amanda and Tori for giving my blog the exact look and feel I envisioned, as it progressed throughout the year. To Angela and Jennifer, my other best friends, thanks for all your encouraging words…your affirmation often kept me going. To my former co-workers and friends in the PR department at Floyd Medical Center, your belief in my abilities blows my mind. Thank you for your constant reassurance, for calling me out when my posts aren’t well beyond expectations and for holding me to the Class of Style standard.

And finally, my favorite Twitter friends: @Golden_Isles, @VisitSavannah, @ClassicGeorgia, @Grocerize and @ChefCourtney13–y’all are always faithful to retweet my posts and I’ve gained many followers as a result of your influence. Thank you, really.

With nearly 15,000 hits and a healthy following through social media, I’m pretty stoked. Not too shabby for my first year in the blog-sphere. Some Kinda Good is bringing my dreams to life. Maybe year two will include The Cooking Channel or Food Network. Dream big or go home!

Follow @SKGFoodBlog on Twitter or find me on Facebook.