Do Savannnah

New cooking show eats up Savannah’s Treylor Park, Walls BBQ and Seafood Shack

  • Hosts Damaris Phillips and Rutledge Wood at The Pie Folks, as seen on "Southern and Hungry," Season 1.

New cooking show eats up Savannah’s Treylor Park, Walls BBQ and Seafood Shack

16 Oct 2017

It started with a pair of custom tennis shoes.

This small fashion-focused act was enough to bring together Damaris Phillips and Rutledge Wood and send them on their Southern food quest. The duo host “Southern and Hungry,” which premiered on the Cooking Channel on Oct. 9, and are scouring the South for some of its most delicious food spots — including a few stops in Savannah.

“The South is way different than people think. It’s not just sweet tea and fried foods,” Wood said about their decision to focus on this part of the country for their show.

“One of the things we were intentional about with ‘Southern and Hungry’ was to take towns that people know for food, like Savannah, and show them places that are traditional, show them places that are making food specific to that region, but then to also really highlight those places that are making Southern food in a new and updated way,” Phillips added.

Southern food is in both of their blood. Phillips hails from Louisville and appears on a number of Food Network shows following her victory in the ninth season of “Food Network Star” and Wood was born in Birmingham, Ala., before moving to Peachtree City, Ga. The University of Georgia graduate now works on a number of NASCAR shows, but they both know the importance of food in their home region.

“It’s about eating delicious food, but it is also about slowing your life down so that you can connect with other people,” Phillips said. “That’s when stuff tastes more delicious and that’s when stuff sticks with you, and is why you remember food when you were a little kid — it’s because it was a memory, not just a meal.”

Naturally, a tour of the South has to include a stop in Savannah and the show made an effort to find places off the beaten path of your usual Hostess City staples. While they aimed to pay respects to some establishments with a long, storied history, Phillips and Wood said the key was opening people up to some of the new places in such a well-known and beloved city.

“We found that there is food now (in Savannah) that you can walk around the city with, which we think is totally fun and totally celebrates what’s going on in Savannah now,” Phillips said.

The places highlighted in Savannah over the course of the season include the Seafood Shack, Walls BBQ and Treylor Park. At Treylor Park, Phillips and Wood tried the shrimp and grits taco as well as peanut butter and jelly chicken wings, which they both assured were much better than they sounded.

“I think we went from awkward to awesome,” Wood said. “At any point, I’m like ‘that sounds a little weird, but let’s do it’ and I’m super glad that we did,” Phillips added.

Phillips said once you begin eating the wings, you realize that most of the ingredients are items you are used to tasting with the peanut sauce being something reminiscent of a normal peanut and chicken meal in Asian cuisine mixed with the jelly that works as an acidic-based sweet sauce.

As for Walls BBQ, the good food was equaled by the homely atmosphere.

“Walls BBQ for me was one of my favorite places we visited in the whole season because we saw so much love and care from (Teresa Weston) and hearing all the stories,” Wood said. “When you go in there, it is like being in their house.”

Finally, both hosts praised the Lowcountry boil at the Seafood Shack, but the waffle cone filled with fried oysters was what initially caught their attention.

“I mean that’s so traditional, but a new way of doing it and it is fresh and fun, but also delicious and it tastes like home and that’s magic,” Phillips said.

“Southern and Hungry” will be hitting spots all over the South, including stops in Oxford, Miss., Moncks Corner, S.C., and Memphis, Tenn. Of course, they couldn’t help but stop in Charleston, and while neither Phillips nor Wood wanted to say which place they liked better between Charleston and Savannah.

Phillips did have to give the Hostess City some points in one way.

“I’m going to give Savannah points for the walking. I love a walking city and Savannah has done it absolutely right,” she said. “It is one of those cities that makes it so easy to slow down because it is walking friendly and there are so many places to see or stop in that also encourage that walking … I love how much Savannah has embraced that and worked to cultivate that.”

I guess we’ll take that.

“Southern and Hungry” airs its first episode featuring a Savannah restaurant at 10 p.m. Monday with Treylor Park. Walls BBQ appears on the Oct. 24 episode and Seafood Shack is on Oct. 30.