SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - After almost 20 years, thousands of students and countless meals, Chef Joe's Randall's cooking schools will close its doors after its last class this Friday evening.
Chef Randall is not only an icon in the Savannah cooking scene but his culinary accomplishments have earned him national recognition as well.
Just days before his last cooking class at the school that bears his name, Chef Joe Randall says the feeling is bittersweet.
"It's a joyful and sad thing at the same time. We've had some wonderful evenings in the countdown to the end. people coming who have been coming for years and getting a chance to see them again has been joyful," said Chef Randall.
Chef Randall's culinary career spans more than half a century. His long list of honors and achievements culminated this year, with a lifetime achievement award from the American Culinary Federation, followed by recognition in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
"To get on that 4th floor and see myself and know I'll be there from now on, a part of history is a joy.
And I'm not there with strangers. The other three are friends of mine," said Chef Randall.
He says none of this would have been possible without the help from his family.
"I couldn't have done it without the support of my mother and my wife. The spirit of my mother here in the kitchen with me. My wife was very supportive from the beginning," he said.
And of course, he is forever grateful to this community
"I thank Savannah for welcoming me to the city. I've been welcomed with open arms, and I appreciate they appreciate what I've been trying to do and they came out and supported me," said Chef Randall.
He says he hopes people never forget the contributions African-Americans have made to food in this country. He also urges the next generation to just get in the kitchen, like he did with his mother and grandmother, to carry on their family's traditions before it's too late.
"If you don't learn it, then when she's gone, she's gone," said Chef Randall.
Chef Randall only has two more classes, one Thursday and one Friday. But if you still want a chance to try his amazing cooking, there will be a pop-up dinner featuring chefs from around the country on Saturday, Jan. 7. For more information, please click here.