Executive Chef Andrew Wilson brings a lifelong reverence for fresh, local ingredients to The Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market, adjacent to The Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah, GA. Overseeing menu and team development, Wilson also connects with local farmers, fishermen, shrimpers, and artisans to forge partnerships that supply his kitchen with the finest regional products in season. “My philosophy is simple,” he explains. “Source the best local ingredients, and only do as much as to highlight their inherent, natural goodness.” The resulting American Brasserie menu taps French technique and Southern influences for a seasonally changing spread.
As in its open kitchen—from which Wilson greets returning guests—the theme of simplicity rings true in the Sage Restaurant Group (SRG) concept’s warm, happy, and welcoming service standards, and Wilson’s approach to leadership. He prefers to lead by example, teach important skills, and empower individuals to thrive—“Nothing beats the feeling of witnessing a young talent grow into a successful chef.”
Food became central to Wilson’s life during his childhood in Northern Pennsylvania and New England, where food came from local farm stands, dairy farms, orchards, his grandmother’s garden, and local fishermen. He went on to follow his older brother to San Francisco, playing in bands and attending university between shifts in kitchens. Soon, however, he left college for the California Culinary Academy, and formative culinary experiences followed: Chef Hubert DesMarais took Wilson under his wing to refine his palate and skillset; the tutelage of chef Michel Richard entrenched Wilson’s love and respect for vegetables; and he learned to bring delight and whimsy to food, while respecting culinary traditions, at chef Kirk Webber’s Café Kati in San Francisco.
In 1999, Wilson joined McCrady’s Restaurant in Charleston, SC, and helped earn Esquire’s “Best New Restaurant” distinction before leaving in 2002, to join chef Rick Tramonto’s James Beard award-winning Tru Restaurant in Chicago. But he soon found himself back in Charleston, this time at F.I.G. Restaurant, another James Beard award winner. He also spent the decade consulting on various restaurant concepts around the country.
Wilson then returned to California, cooking at The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa’s Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar, a 100-seat farm-to-table restaurant, at which he earned numerous accolades including one of “America’s Best Chefs” from Best Chefs America, “ACE Rising Star of the Americas” from Marriott, and more, as well as the honor of participating in the James Beard Celebrity Chefs Tour in 2013, ’14, and ‘15. After a year-long hiatus spent as executive chef to Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, Wilson returned to The Lodge as the entire property’s executive chef. While he relished his time in California, he jumped at the chance to lead Emporium Kitchen in the fall of 2017, enamored with SRG’s culinary standards.
Wilson resides in Savannah, GA, with his wife and their dog, Sheldon the Super Mutt. He enjoys music, having played in several bar bands throughout the years, as well as films, motorcycles, and close-up magic. Additionally, the chef strives to help end child hunger through Share Our Strength. Follow chef Andrew Wilson on Instagram and ChefsFeed.