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Matthew Raiford

Matthew Raiford is a chef, author, speaker and six-generation farmer from the Gullah-Geechee corridor in Georgia. In 1874, Raiford’s great-great-great grandfather, a former South Carolina slave, purchased the land that is now Gillard Farms, a sibling-run sustainable farm outside Brunswick, Georgia.  

Raiford is trained in classic French cuisine, but has an affinity for North and West African and coastal flavors.  His cookbook, Bress N’ Nyam (which translates to Bless and Eat) is based on his Gullah-Geechee heritage.  

He graduated from Culinary Institute of America in New York and earned a certificate in ecological horticulture from UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. In 2011, he returned to Gillard Farm to continue the traditions of his Gullah-Geechee heritage and create an authentic farm-to-fork experience for locals. 

Raiford was a finalist for James Beard Best Chef, Southeast, and served as culinary director at the College of Coastal Florida, the executive chef of Little Simons Island and of Haute Catering in Washington, D.C. He currently is working on growing rice at his farm for commercial production, serves as the board chair of Georgia Organics, and on the board of directors for Chefs Collaborative and is an active member of Slow Food USA.