Mashama Bailey was born in the Bronx and raised in Queens. With family in Georgia, she spent some of her early education in Savannah at Charles Ellis Montessori Academy and spent many summers at her grandmother’s in Waynesboro. Mashama learned to cook from the women in her family and attended the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) to formalize that education, then studied in France and explored food through travel.
She spent a dozen years cooking at New York City restaurants, including at Prune for her friend and mentor, Gabrielle Hamilton, for four years. Now Executive Chef of The Grey in Savannah, Mashama won the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Southeast award in 2019, and received top honor at the 2022 James Beard Foundation Awards, winning Outstanding Chef. She is a vice chairman on the board of the Edna Lewis Foundation, honoring the legacy of the chef who greatly influenced Mashama’s menu at The Grey.
Chef Mashama says she aims to learn something new every day and be around family, friends and food.
Photo by Cedric Smith, 2017