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Savannah Technical College Foundation to honor Chef Mashama Bailey at annual gala
Mashama Bailey
Mashama Bailey, award-winning chef and co-founder of Gray Spaces, will be honored at the 18th annual Opportunity Awards on April 14. (Nydia Blas/submitted)

Special to the Effingham Herald

SAVANNAH – Mashama Bailey, award-winning chef and co-founder of Grey Spaces, the hospitality group behind restaurants such as the critically acclaimed The Grey, Diner Bar and its all-day counterpart The Grey Market, will be honored at the 18th annual Opportunity Award Gala, on April 14. The event, hosted by the Savannah Technical College Foundation, honors deserving leaders in the local community for a lifetime of service in creating and enhancing opportunities for others to succeed.

The STC Foundation will honor Bailey for her commitment to culinary excellence, leadership for aspiring chefs, and dedication to the preservation of Southern cuisine. Event proceeds will benefit Savannah Culinary Institute students.

Bailey opened The Grey, a Savannah-based restaurant serving Port City Southern cuisine in a 1938 art deco Greyhound Bus Terminal, with her co-founder and business partner Johno Morisano in 2014. Since its opening, the duo have garnered national attention, with Mashama being honored by the James Beard Foundation as ‘Best Chef: Southeast’ in 2019 and ‘Outstanding Chef’ in 2022. 

That same year, Bailey and Morisano brought a slice of Savannah to Texas, opening  two restaurants, Diner Bar, an all-day, full-service restaurant and bar with a lively, convivial spirit, and a new outpost of The Grey Market, a community gathering place with counter-service, display cases filled with baked goods, grab-and-go items, pantry staples and provisions, in the new Thompson Austin .

Born in the Bronx and raised in Queens with maternal roots from Waynesboro, Bailey attended grammar school in Savannah. She first learned to cook at the hands of the women in her family and her formal education includes the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City as well as LaVarenne in Burgundy, France. Prior to The Grey, Bailey’s career includes a dozen years cooking throughout New York City, the last four of which were at Prune on Manhattan’s Lower East Side under the tutelage of Gabrielle Hamilton. In 2019 and with the premier of Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” (Season 6), she became the first African American chef to star on that show.

Together with Morisano, Bailey co-wrote Black, White and The Grey (Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House) which explores the business partners’ challenges navigating race, class and culture while building businesses, relationships, and community in the South.

Named “the most important chef in America” by the Financial Times, Bailey’s influence extends far beyond the restaurant. She serves as the chairwoman of the Edna Lewis Foundation, whose mission is to honor and extend the legacy of Edna Lewis by creating opportunities for African Americans in the fields of cooking, agriculture, food studies, and storytelling.

The event gathers community and civic leaders for a celebratory evening honoring a special individual. The evening also showcases the talents of students enrolled in Savannah Technical College’s award-winning Culinary Arts programs. Past recipients include: Former Governor Zell Miller, Arnold Tenenbaum, Judge Griffin Bell, Tom Coleman, Dick Eckburg, Arthur M. Gignilliat, Jr., Bob and Alice Jepson, Howard Morrison, Stratton Leopold, Chef Jean Vendeville, Ted Kleisner, Kevin “Catfish” Jackson, and Dr. Bill Cathcart.

The event is a fundraiser for the Savannah Technical College Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that raises funds to support Savannah Technical College. STC Foundation Board members are leading the fundraising efforts. For ticket and sponsorship information, contact Robert Grant or 912-443-3022.