2017-08-23 / Front Page

Chef Lazar Brown to compete in contest at Jekyll Island


Chef Lazar Brown of Honey Café and Catering will compete in the “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits” cooking competition at Jekyll Island’s 12th Annual Shrimp & Grits Festival next month. (Photo contributed) Chef Lazar Brown of Honey Café and Catering will compete in the “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits” cooking competition at Jekyll Island’s 12th Annual Shrimp & Grits Festival next month. (Photo contributed) Lazar Brown Oglesby of Honey Café in Millen will compete in the “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits” cooking competition at Jekyll Island’s 12th Annual Shrimp & Grits Festival next month.

The winner of this heated battle among Georgia’s top chefs will walk away with a $2,000 prize, feature in Southern Living, the exclusive rights to proclaim themselves as the creator of “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits,” and the opportunity to face the competition at next year’s festival.

Honey Café beat out other favorite restaurants in the region in a week of online voting at the beginning of July.

The newcomer will take on the defending champion, West Egg Café, of Atlanta, and returning contenders The LOCAL Kitchen:Bar, of Tifton, and Jekyll Island Club Resort. In addition to Honey Café, the other new challengers include Aubri Lane’s, of Milledgeville; Eagle Creek Brewing Company, of Statesboro; Johnny Mitchell’s Smokehouse, of Cartersville; Southern Soul Barbeque, of St. Simons Island; Sweet Potato Café, of Stone Mountain; and Valhalla Resort, of Helen.

Lazar started cooking in the kitchens of her mother and grandmothers.

“I knew I wanted to own a restaurant at a young age, probably around 7 or 8. I come from a long line of excellent cooks and entertainers. I enjoyed the atmosphere created by my grandfather when he hosted farmers for lunches at our family's kitchen house at Brown Farms. I graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts from Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro, and gained experience working in two locally owned restaurants in Statesboro,” she said.

Looking for a change of pace, Lazar accepted the Head Chef position at Beaver Creek Plantation in Twin City where she prepared meals for quail hunters, hosted private dinner parties, and helped create a one of a kind rustic wedding venue.

“I gained much of my catering experience at Beaver Creek. I decided to open my own Catering business in 2012 and the rest is history!” Lazar said.

Honey Café and Catering, now located on the Millen Bypass, started out in the back of a tiny flower shop downtown.

“We intended to offer only catering, but we soon started offering sandwiches, sides, and our now famous cheesecake. The cheesecakes are hand crafted by myself and my husband, Johnny Oglesby. The business quickly grew. We now have a restaurant which seats over 100 guests! My sister, Mary Beth, moved home after my first year in business. Mary Beth helps manage the catering portion of the business. She is my right hand and best friend. We opened a BBQ restaurant Dolan's BBQ, named after our grandfather, in 2014. The catering business has grown over the past five years. We cater private dinner parties as small as 5 guests to weddings of 500 guests,” she said.

Lazar says the secret to her shrimp and grits is simplicity.

“I keep the ingredient list to a minimum. I don't want a lot fussy flavors to overpower the delicate flavor of local wild caught shrimp. The shrimp and the grits are the stars of the show!” she said.

Lazar is looking forward to the shrimp and grits contest at Jekyll Island, which is predicted to be a captivating competition of friendly rivalries, culinary creativity, and secret recipes.

“However, I feel the real star of our show is cheesecake. We are famous in our area for our perfectly Southern Style cheesecake,” she said.

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