What began as a pop-up dinner between friends and former colleagues has become one of the most anticipated culinary events of the year.

By Chris Hughes

What began as a pop-up dinner between friends and former colleagues—James Beard Award nominee Bill Briand (Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina) and his mentor Donald Link (Cochon, Pêche)—has become one of the most anticipated culinary events of the year. Now in its fourth year, Fisher’s Southern Grace series has showcased some of the South’s top talent, with award-winning chefs such as John Besh (August), Alon Shaya (Shaya), and Bill Smith (Crook’s Corner) taking part in past festivities.  Now, owner Johnny Fisher has unveiled this year’s lineup, which includes Ryan Smith (Staplehouse in Atlanta), Katie Button (Cúrate Tapas Bar and Nightbell in Asheville), and one star-studded night celebrating Coastal Living’s 20th Anniversary.

“This is truly our favorite thing to do here,” says Fisher. “We’re not strict on food costs, and we give the chefs complete creative freedom, so they tend to go all-out. And for our guests, it’s a great way for them to experience these restaurants without having to travel all across the southeast.”

As has now become tradition, Briand will not only open up his kitchen for the joint dinners, but host each guest chef (in collaboration with Alabama Getaway Vacation Rentals) throughout the weekend in order to meet with local fisherman and seafood farmers.

Each multicourse menu will have a focus on Gulf Coast seafood, and a portion of all proceeds will go to benefit the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Tickets

Tickets are $145 per person, which includes tax, gratuity, and a copy of Coastal Living’s Beach Cocktails book. Seating is limited to around 100 guests and tends to sell out fast. Purchase your tickets here.

Without further ado, check out the 2017 summer lineup:

May 18: Tory McPhail of the historic Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, Louisiana.
After Michelin-starred stints at L’Escargot in London and its sister restaurant, Picasso Room, McPhail turned to the Big Easy where he was named executive chef at Commander’s in January 2002—following in the footsteps of culinary giants like Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme.

June 1: Ryan Prewitt and Stephen Stryjewski, both of the Link Restaurant Group.
Stryjewski is a James Beard Award winner and chef/partner of New Orleans restaurants Cochon, Cochon Butcher, and Pêche Seafood Grill. Prewitt oversees all culinary operations at the Link Group as executive chef for the company. He received the James Beard Award for Best Chef: South in 2014.

June 22: New Orleans all-stars for the Coastal Living 20th anniversary celebration
Chef Briand is teaming up with four of New Orleans’ best and brightest for Coastal Living’s 20th anniversary celebration. Justin Devillier is the James Beard Award winning chef/owner of La Petit Grocery and Balise. Michael Gulotta, a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2016, is the chef/owner of MoPho, a nominee for Bon Appetit’sBest New Restaurant” in 2014. Lisa Marie White is a partner in the fabulous Willa Jean Bakery, and the recipient of Eater NOLA’s “Chef of the Year” award in 2016. And Nina Compton of Compere Lapin was recently named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs 2017 and a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: South

“It’s a big puzzle trying to arrange these dates, so we’re really excited about the way the 20th anniversary dinner came together,” says Fisher. “The stars aligned to have all these amazing chefs available during that one weekend.”

July 13: Ryan Smith is a chef/partner in the award-winning Staplehouse in Atlanta, Georgia.
Since opening in 2015, the restaurant has been recognized in GQ, Bon Appetit, and CBS Sunday Morning. Staplehouse is a for-profit subsidiary of The Giving Kitchen, which grants assistance to Atlanta restaurant workers facing unanticipated hardships.

July 27: Katie Button of Cúrate Tapas Bar and Nightbell in Asheville, North Carolina, joins Roy Milner of Blackberry Farm Brewery out of Walland, Tennessee.
Button was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2015, and Milner is a highly experienced brewer known for his ways with Belgian-style farmhouse ales. Price of admission includes a copy of Button’s new cookbook, Cúrate: Authentic Spanish Food for an American Kitchen.

August 3: Levon Wallace, formerly of Cochon Butcher Nashville, is the executive chef of Nashville’s upcoming Gray & Dudley Restaurant located inside the 21c Museum Hotel.
Prior to his tenure in Tennesse, Wallace oversaw the culinary programs for two boutique hotels on Martha’s Vineyard, and was executive chef of Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky.