Food & Wine // 4 min Read

South by Southeast

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Jan 20, 2021

If there’s one thing that rings true about the Lowcountry, it’s the alluring draw—that familiar feeling of home, the saltiness of the air, the hospitality that has no limits—that brings people back time and time again. For some, it’s a return home after time spent away, and for others, it’s a place that left such an indelible mark, it couldn’t remain just a lasting memory.

For Chef Chris Hathcock of Husk in Savannah, GA, it’s a little bit of both.

A Georgia native, Hathcock was born in Atlanta but spent the majority of his school-aged years—elementary to high school—in Savannah. After departing the coastal town to pursue his Bachelor of Science in Forestry and Natural Resources at The University of Georgia, he found himself gravitating to the kitchens of Athens, GA for side jobs fueled by the notion that food brings people together in the most experiential way.

“My interest in cooking started when I was young, growing up in Southern kitchens while being raised by women—my single mom, two aunts, and my grandmother,” says Hathcock. “I was always hanging out in the kitchen and helping out where I could. That’s what piqued my interest at an early age.”

After his time in college and various positions at local Athens establishments, like East West Bistro and The National, he moved around the Southeast, taking up residence in culinary-infused cities like Atlanta, GA, Charleston, SC, Asheville, NC, and Greenville, SC.

“I was really humbled when I left my college town, where I was a big fish in a small pond,” he says, reflecting back on his first job in Atlanta with chef and mentor Ryan Smith at Empire State South. “He taught me more in the first two months of working with him, than I had learned over 10 years of cooking prior. It was one of those moments where I knew then that I had just scratched the surface of the culinary world, and I had so much more to learn.”

Hathcock first joined the newly opened Husk Greenville in 2017, and in 2018, he traded his views of the Upstate for the Lowcountry, joining the Husk Savannah team as Executive Chef.

“Many chefs are drawn to Savannah now. It feels a lot like Charleston did 15 years ago where the talent is there, and it’s just starting to gain traction,” reflects Hathcock, who doesn’t consider his return to the Lowcountry a true homecoming, since he no longer has family there. “I wanted to return to that slower lifestyle and a place that’s close to my heart.”

At Husk, Hathcock leads the menu creation and focuses on using only the highest quality, seasonal bounty from local farmers and purveyors to create dishes with a distinctly Southern, but more specifically, Coastal Georgia, identity. Hathcock is both passionate and expressive, conceptualizing dishes that showcase a depth of flavor, while also conveying a story and deep sense of place.

When considering how Husk Savannah differentiates itself from the other locations, Hathcock says, “I think more about Southern ingredients, rather than just Southern food. I take my experiences from the past and from my travels and incorporate those with ingredients that are close to our door.”

Two recent trips to Southeast Asia and Mexico City have had a profound impact on his menu development.

“After visiting Mexico, I played a lot with high-acid and bright seafood preparations, making aguachiles,” Hathcock says. “I also did riffs on classic Mexican dishes like pulpo con patatas using heirloom summer ingredients.”

Following a trip to Thailand, Hathcock experimented in the kitchen with a variety of high-heat dishes and Thai sausage. He notes that the dishes have been well-received by guests, and there’s a genuine appreciation for the restaurant’s ability to balance the menu with dishes that are approachable and comfortable alongside those that are a little more adventurous and daring.

“I grew up eating a lot of classic dishes like casseroles and creamed vegetables as a kid” explains Hathcock. “That’s probably why I cook lighter versions of Southern food now. I like to use the same great Southern ingredients, but less butter, less cream, less gluten, and more acid and texture to make the vegetables shine and speak for themselves.”

Hathcock’s menu development methodology includes taking notes on every way that an ingredient can be prepared, often manipulating it multiple times to explore the various ways it can be served, plated, and presented. In addition to traveling, he also draws inspiration from dining out locally to see what his peers are creating, staying connected through social media, as well as turning to literature, which ranges from newly released books to educational pieces on fermentation.

Hathcock’s passion for ingredients is not only evident through his cooking, but also through an intricate display of tattoos weaving up and down both his right and left arms.

“These have come up a lot over the course of my career, and people are always interested in them,” he says. “One is a half sleeve of Southeast Asian vegetables, which includes daikon, shiso, and maitake mushrooms. The other arm is a full sleeve of Southeast American vegetables, like heirloom squash, different varietals of tomatoes, carrots, and ramps. The reason behind the two designs is my heritage—I was raised in the South, but also a nod to my [family’s] Southeast Asian roots.”

And when he’s not cooking?

Having grown up in Savannah, Hathcock has always had a natural affinity towards water (something he credits to his Pisces astrological sign). He finds it calming to return to this city on the coast, where his “off days” include going out on the boat and casting fishing lines.

While the road for 2021 is still being paved, Hathcock has his sights set on new and inventive menu offerings at Husk Savannah and another culinary focused trip. Destinations on the docket? Cambodia and Vietnam.

palmetto bluff

Real Estate / Behind the Bluff with Broker-in-Charge W. Bryan Byrne

Bryan’s Journey to Palmetto Bluff Real Estate In this edition of Behind the Bluff, W. Bryan Byrne, the Broker-in-Charge at Palmetto Bluff Real Estate Company, discusses his two-decade journey in the community. His experience has intricately molded the authent...

Jan 2024
real estate in bluffton sc

Real Estate / Lowcountry Housing Trends & Market Updates

Real Estate in Bluffton, SC: Trends, Updates, and Insights Bluffton, South Carolina, nestled within the scenic Lowcountry, is not just a picturesque haven but also a thriving real estate market. As the demand for homes in this charming town continues to grow,...

Jan 2024

Food & Wine / Mocktails from the Palmetto Bluff Club

Rosemary Spice Mocktail Recipe Introducing Buffalos' exquisite Rosemary Spice Mocktail—a meticulously crafted blend that awakens the taste buds with a perfect harmony of bold flavors. Fresh jalapenos are muddled for a subtle spicy kick, while luscious cra...

Jan 2024

Artist in Residence / Painting Wild

Story by Sandy Lang and Photographs by Lawson Builder In early May, The Arts Initiative hosted renowned Lowcountry painter West Fraser as our esteemed Artist In Residence. Throughout his stay, residents were treated to an array of events, including a painting...

Jan 2024
palmetto buff golf course

Sporting Life / Behind the Bluff with the Palmetto Bluff 9-Hole Golf Course Team

All About the New Palmetto Bluff Golf Course Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Palmetto Bluff, a new golfing adventure is taking shape—the Crossroads 9-Hole Golf Course. To delve into the intricacies of this project, we had the opportunity to sit down w...

Dec 2023

Conservation / Palmetto Bluff Buffalo Run 2023: A Celebration of Endurance, Nature, and Community

A Recap of the 2034 Buffalo Run The Palmetto Bluff Buffalo Run celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sunday, December 11, 2023, drawing in a record-breaking crowd of over 500 runners. The event, nestled in the heart of Palmetto Bluff's 20,000 acres of natural sp...

Dec 2023
places to eat near hilton head

Food & Wine / Ask the Locals: Our Favorite Restaurants Near Hilton Head

The 10 Best Places to Eat Near Hilton Head Island Nestled on the southernmost tip of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island beckons not only with its pristine beaches but also with a culinary scene that rivals its natural beauty. The Lowcountry, known for breatht...

Dec 2023

Artist in Residence / Journey through Creativity: Palmetto Bluff's 2023 Artist in Residence Highlights

As the sun sets over the picturesque landscape of Palmetto Bluff, we are grateful for the creativity that took center stage throughout the year. The 2023 Artist in Residence program has ended, leaving behind a trail of artistic marvels and inspiring stories. F...

Dec 2023

Real Estate / The Builders Behind the Bluff

Meet the Palmetto Bluff Builders Team A home is more than just bricks and mortar; it's where cherished memories are made, and dreams come to life. At Palmetto Bluff, the Palmetto Bluff Builders team designs homes based on your vision.  Allow us to introduc...

Dec 2023

Well Living at Montage Palmetto Bluff

Story by Meghan Lamb A life well lived is a life full of connection and rich experiences. It is about embracing the present moment, exploring new horizons, and nurturing the mind, body, and spirit. One such lifestyle can be found at Montage Palmetto Bluff, a ...

Dec 2023
Community Villages
Palmetto Bluff Club
On The Water
The Arts Initiative
About Us