Named “the most important chef in America” by the Financial Times, Mashama Bailey is the award-winning executive chef and co-founder of the critically acclaimed The Grey and its all-day counterpart The Grey Market in Savannah, Georgia. Along with her co-founder and business partner Johno Morisano, their Grey Spaces hospitality group opened two new restaurants in 2022: the Diner Bar and The Grey Market in Austin, which was lauded by The Austin American-Statesman and Austin Monthly Magazine as one of the city’s Best New Restaurants, for its distinct take on Port City Southern fare.
Born in the Bronx and raised in Queens with maternal roots in Georgia, Mashama attended grammar school in Savannah. She first learned to cook at the hands of the women in her family and her formal education includes the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City as well as LaVarenne in Burgundy, France. Prior to opening The Grey, Mashama’s career includes a dozen years cooking throughout New York City, the last four of which were at Prune on Manhattan’s Lower East Side under the tutelage of Gabrielle Hamilton. In 2019 and with the premier of Netflix’s Chef’s Table Season 6, Mashama became the first African American chef to star on the show. In 2022, her story was featured on the TODAY show as part of a series on inspiring women alongside the likes of Michelle Obama.
Together with Morisano, Mashama co-wrote Black, White and The Grey (Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House) which explores the business partners’ challenges navigating race, class and culture while building businesses, relationships, and community in the South, as featured on CBS Sunday Morning.
Winner of the 2022 James Beard Outstanding Chef — the first Black woman to receive the honor — and winner of the 2019 James Beard Best Chef: Southeast, Mashama serves as the chairwoman of the Edna Lewis Foundation, whose mission is to honor and extend the legacy of Edna Lewis by creating opportunities for African Americans in the fields of cooking, agriculture, food studies, and storytelling.