Mashama Bailey is the executive chef and partner at The Grey, a restaurant in a landmarked 1938 Art Deco Greyhound bus terminal in Savannah, Georgia. At The Grey, Mashama serves a classic Southern menu that reflects her kitchen experience in New York and Europe. The Grey marks a return to the city in which she spent much of her childhood and where her parents were married.
Most recently, Mashama worked under the tutelage of Gabrielle Hamilton at the beloved downtown Manhattan restaurant Prune for nearly four years, which she considers the most formative experience in her development as a chef. Mashama received a degree in psychology from Brooklyn College before realizing her true passion was in the kitchen. She enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan and got her professional start as a line cook at the Michelin-starred Soho restaurant Aquagrill. As a private chef for several years, she discovered her ability to create crowd-pleasing dishes without compromising her creativity. In 2007, Mashama packed her bags for Burgundy, France, where she trained at La Varenne École de Cuisine and staged under the two Michelin-starred chef Patrick Gauthier at La Madeleine. There, she took pleasure in gathering fresh ingredients, preparing elaborate meals and breaking bread with her fellow colleagues. She also began to realize the parallels between French and Southern food traditions, such as slow cooking, an emphasis on baked goods and highlighting fresh produce. Upon her return to New York, Mashama joined the kitchen at David Burke Townhouse before transitioning to The Oak Room at The Plaza Hotel.
Now, Mashama has partnered with entrepreneur Johno Morisano to open The Grey, where she has introduce locals and travelers to her flavorful cooking, inspired in part by her grandmothers, one of whom was a true Georgia cook, frying fish every Friday and baking cakes, and the other a consummate entertainer. Her aim is to highlight local and seasonal ingredients in dishes that are both straightforward and modern, such as chicken schnitzel with white BBQ sauce and whole roasted local fish for two. Mashama is now rediscovering the city she knew as a young girl, where she loves trying the local cuisine, driving down the coast and relaxing outdoors with a cold drink while people watching.