20 Questions: Joe Randall
Longtime Savannah, Ga., resident Joe Randall—everyone calls him Chef Joe—has spent 50 years in the food industry and founded the African American Chefs Hall of Fame. He’s now a consulting partner at Good Times Jazz Bar & Restaurant in Savannah.
1. What are you reading?
I just finished The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, about Africans in the 18th century who
2. What are you watching?
A show called The Enemy Within, about a CIA agent. The Blacklist—I like that. My wife worked for the police department when I met her, so she and I enjoy those kinds of things together.
3. Your favorite city?
Savannah, because I’m here. If you asked me, do I have a favorite food town—that’s different.
4. Your favorite food town?
San Francisco, because I like Chinese, real Chinese, stuff you can’t find on the East Coast.
5. Favorite restaurant?
I enjoy eating, so it has to go by meal—I’m a breakfast guy. This morning I had two eggs over light, grits, a rasher of bacon, a biscuit, a piece of liver fried with onions and gravy.
6. Beer, wine or spirits?
Wine. I used to drink
7. How many days a year do you travel?
8. Advice you give to young restaurateurs?
Try not to go into business
9. Thing you wish more people knew about?
Well, this pertains to life.
10. Best piece of advice you’ve received?
Just because you can make a steak $2 cheaper doesn’t mean it’s better. If you’re afraid to charge, go do something else.
11. Best piece of advice you’ve ever given?
Carry yourself so people like
12. What do you drive?
A 2002 Cadillac
Home is a place where you and the people
14. Biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Just going from teenager to young adulthood—how to deal with the temptations of alcohol and drugs. I was a ball of fire—they used to say I
15. What keeps you up at night?
Oh, I sleep in peace.
16. Your favorite philanthropy?
I work with foundations that try to help young people who want to do something in food service. I wouldn’t be where I was if somebody hadn’t loved me.
17. Who was your role model?
Chef Robert W. Lee, at the
18. Your best dish?
My crab cakes. Chef Lee taught me 50-something years ago, and I still make them the same way.
19. Your favorite thing?
Material things don’t mean a lot. My greatest joy is my wife and children.
20. How would you like to
Just remember that I was a good cook.