This time out, we sit down with Kelly Spivey. She is the pastry chef at one of the top five restaurants of the year, as anointed by Food & Wine Magazine.
The Grey, which is housed in the former home of the 1938 art deco Greyhound Bus Terminal, features immaculate restorations and a penchant for attentive and hospitable service and an equally welcoming menu of Port City cooking and ageless cocktails and European wines.
Ms. Spivey is a hard working, always grinning chef. She and executive chef Mashama Bailey compete daily for most smiles. This excitement about what she does and joy of presenting Savannah's sweet tooth with satisfying, sugary selections only solidifies Kelly's appointment as director of the last course.
She has art for tapping into the desserts of the South and bringing a nuance to the palate. She does this with the brown sugar pie, which has a taste of a pecan pie without the pecans. She pairs the pie with sour whipped cream, oat crisp and candied orange peels. She also bring treats from abroad and filters them through the ingredients of the South. The Buttermilk Granita is an ode to a favorite Italian frozen indulgence made with a staple ingredient of the region. This is topped with a blueberry thyme compote. Kelly shares the recipe for this after our interview.
Read on to find out more about her love for offset spatulas, The Roots, and ramen with an egg.
Also, check out more about The Grey here.
Hams + Yams Talk to us about how you got into the sweets game.
Kelly Spivey I started out in photography. I got my degree at SCAD and moved on to get a Masters in Fine Art at the School of Museum of Fine Art in Boston. Baking was always my go-to when I had free time or was stressed and I found myself doing more baking and less art in Boston. I left the Masters program and came back to Savannah to pursue it as a career full time in 2007. I started baking desserts while I was a waitress at J. Christopher’s and selling them on the side and gradually worked my way up in a few local kitchens.
HY What is the most satisfying thing about your day at The Grey?
KS Getting to work with talented, hard-working people who love what they do. I feel lucky every day I get to walk in and see what everyone is working on and it helps me be more creative as well.
HY If you’re at home, what’s your go-to combo of comfort food, drink, and record?
KS Lime Seltzer, Leftover BBQ with Mac ‘n’ Cheese and The Roots.
HY What is your most beloved kitchen tool?
KS A small offset spatula.
HY In what way do the seasons affect your lineup of sweets?
KS I take seasonality into account whenever I make desserts; fruits and vegetables always have the most flavor at the peak of the season, so that’s when it’s best to use them. Spring and summer are a great time to plan ahead and put away as much as possible for the winter so you can utilize those great flavors all year. I also like to do lighter desserts in the summer and go a little heavier in the winter.
HY What's your favorite noodle and what goes on it?
KS Ramen with a soft poached egg.
HY What's your go-to late night industry spot?
KS I’m a little lame. It’s my house, where I immediately go to sleep!
1 quart buttermilk
¾ c sugar
1. In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar and buttermilk. Gently heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is lukewarm. Do not bring to a simmer or the buttermilk will curdle.
2. Pour into a 1/3 pan and freeze. Scrape with a fork to make the ice mixture fluffy before serving.
Blueberry Thyme Compote
4 pints blueberries
2 T butter
¼ C sugar
1 1/2 t fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ C fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Let simmer until most of the berries have popped and released their juices. Cool in a bain on an ice bath. Store in a quart container in the refrigerator.