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Archive for March, 2013

High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction Trade Tasting

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

March 21, 2013, Atlanta. For more information, visit High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction.

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Seven Lamps: Serving Craft Cocktails with Local Ingredients

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

By Melissa Weinman

If you go to Arianne Fielder’s bar and order a sour apple martini, she’ll probably try to change your mind. Instead of a Day-Glo green concoction, she might suggest a cocktail made with a natural apple-infused craft spirit instead.

Fielder, “head mixtress” and beverage manager at Seven Lamps in Atlanta, is the kind of culinary bartender who believes that beverages, as much as food, should be wholesome, well-crafted and, of course, tasty.

Gone are the days of pre-made sour mix, artificial flavors and mass-produced liquors. Just as chefs have embraced the farm-to-table dogma that prizes carefully produced local foods, bartenders, brewers and baristas are getting in on the trend.

“That’s the direction this bar program is in and I think most bar programs are turning in,” Fielder says. “People don’t know the difference it makes to use fresh juice, fresh ingredients and fresh distillates.”

Fielder says she uses as many local ingredients as possible and makes the juices and syrups for her cocktails in-house.

“It’s refreshing that, as much as people have started to care about where what they’re eating [comes] from, they are starting to have that crossover to care about what they drink,” she says.

Seven Lamps opened Dec. 20 in a cozy nook near Atlanta’s Lenox Square. Fielder and chef Drew Van Leuvan, both well known in Atlanta’s restaurant scene, have found a market for their craft food and drinks in Buckhead.

“If they’re coming in, they’re not walk-ins. They’re coming in for my drinks and Drew’s food. We’re both very fortunate,” says Fielder, who’s helped open three other craft bars in Atlanta. “This is the first bar program I’ve had where the majority of the drinks I sell are off the cocktail menu. Here, we don’t get many call drinks at all. People are excited about the techniques we use and the ingredients we use.”

Fielder says she’s happy to see the enthusiasm around craft cocktails — something that wasn’t as common just a few years ago.

Virginia Miller, a spokeswoman for The American Distilling Institute, says there has been exponential growth in the number of craft distilleries opening each year, not just in Georgia, but across the United States.

“Over the last decade or so, it has really taken off all over the country,” Miller says.

When the organization was founded in 2003, there were only 69 licensed craft distilleries. The Institute projects there will be between 400 to 450 licensed distilleries by the end of 2015.

Here in Georgia, there weren’t any legal distilleries even five years ago. Now, three distilleries are producing small batch spirits using local ingredients, and more are on the horizon. As customers clamor for produce and protein – and drinks – from local sources, chefs are searching for more local options.

Miller says it’s typically artisan bars that want to focus on local or unusual beverages that will be drawn to craft spirits.

“The more savvy and more creative they want to be, the more they’re going to want to use small-batch spirits,” she says.

The Evolution of Bartending

This new energy around craft cocktails has its roots in the early 20th century, notes Fielder, before Prohibition made the sale of alcohol illegal in the U.S. The craft of bartending faded as bartenders moved abroad or changed professions, and the quality of spirits decreased as people made them illegally, using additives and sugar to make them palatable. But even after Prohibition was lifted, the quality of American spirits stayed low. Still, Miller says, after Prohibition, some of the first craft distilleries opened up in California in the 1970s and 1980s, fueled in part by the “cocktail renaissance” that was starting to take shape in New York in the ’80s.

“We are 92 years since prohibition went into effect,” Fielder says. “It’s incredible that American distilling, American bartending, is just getting back on track with the rest of the world.”

Fielder says she likes to use craft spirits from across the country, including whiskey from Thirteenth Colony Distilleries in Americus, Ga. She loves that they use ingredients grown in Georgia. But what’s important to her is that the products come from “small batch, passionate distillers.”

She adds that the best bourbon is made in the South, where the climate allows the barrels to properly expand. The best rum is made in Puerto Rico, where the climate is right for growing sugar cane.

“I think spirits need to be true to where they’re from,” she says.

Miller says one of the reasons people are drawn to small-batch distilleries is that they are easy to relate to. Often craft distilleries are small family businesses. Other times, they are owned by people with a passion for spirits who opened a distillery as a second career.

“People want to know where their food or drink is coming from, who made it,” Miller says. “Those stories are a lot more accessible than the big brands. They can get a personal story and know where it comes from.”

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Toast of the Town

Friday, March 15th, 2013

March 15, 2013, RiverMill Event Centre, Columbus, GA. For more information, visit Toast of the Town

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Federal Government Issues New I-9 Form

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the federal government issued a new I-9 form March 7 — and while the new form is available for immediate use, employers have a 60-day grace period to begin using it, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  The new form, which verifies the identity and work eligibility of newly hired employees has been made clearer and more user-friendly and will be required for new hires starting May 8, 2013.

USCIS said it realizes employers will need extra time to update their business processes to accommodate the new form, particularly businesses that use electronic I-9 forms. As a result, certain older versions of the form can be used for the next 60 days, or through May 7, 2013.

 Employers do not need to complete a new I-9 for existing employees who already have an I-9 on file, unless their employment needs to be re-verified.

The new form includes a revised layout that expands the form to two pages from one, along with improved instructions. A downloadable form and more details are available on USCIS’s website. Employers also can call the agency at (800) 870-3676.

Employers must maintain I-9 forms for their employees as long as they work for the employer and for the required retention period after the end of employment. That period either is three years after the date of hire or one year after the date employment ended, whichever is later. Employers also must make their I-9 forms available for inspection by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, and the Labor Department.

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SMASH Kitchen & Bar Opens in Town Brookhaven This June

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Here To Serve Restaurants will open SMASH Kitchen & Bar this June, its second dining venue and nightspot in Atlanta’s Town Brookhaven community. SMASH will feature classic American chophouse food and signature cocktails in a modern setting just steps away from its Noche Tequila and Tapas Bar.

SMASH’s menu — designed by Here To Serve Founder and Certified Master Chef Tom Catherall — will feature steaks, seafood, salads, pizza and a signature “smash-potato,” all complemented with an extensive list of wines and cocktails.

Opening in the former Stir Crazy location, SMASH will feature a custom-engineered lighting and sound system, cozy seating for date-nighters and a modern square bar designed for quick drink service. The restaurant will also offer outdoor seating on the patio.

Here To Serve Restaurants is comprised of 10 dining concepts with 13 locations throughout Atlanta, including Aja, Cantina, Coast, Goldfish, Noche, Prime, Shout, Smash, Strip, and Twist along with Crust in-house bakery.

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Annual Benefit Raises Critical Funds to End Childhood Hunger in America

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Share Our Strength’s sixth annual Baking Contest for No Kid Hungry raised $16,100 to end childhood hunger in Atlanta and across America. Held on Tuesday, March 5, at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta, this kickoff event for Share Our Strength’s 10th annual Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry® featured 12 professional pastry chefs, 27 amateurs, eight culinary students and nine children vying to win the title of “Atlanta’s Best Dessert.”  All of the net proceeds from the event will help fund Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit working to end childhood hunger in America.

Guests who attended the contest helped sample the chefs’ creations, sipped wines and bid in a silent auction. At the end of the evening, the entries were judged for originality, taste and appearance. The top three contestants in each of the four categories received prizes. Winners included:

Crowd Favorite
Deanna Papuga – Chocolate Potato Chip Caramel Bars

Professional
1.    Kathleen Miliotis (Davio’s) – Dark Chocolate Praline Cake
2.    Virginia Wansley – Chocolate Stout Cake
3.    Joshua Foltz (Kroger Bistro) – Ricotta and Goat Cheese Meyer Lemon Cheesecake

Amateur
1.    Kristin McKenna – Creamsicle Cupcakes
2.    Christopher Taylor – Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake
3.    Brenna Smith – Sublime Nutella Doughnut Bread Pudding

Culinary Student
1.    Victor Manuel Reyes – Tropical Illusion
2.    Susan Neto – Chocolate Coconut Cake
3.    Tram Hoang – Irish Chocolate Mousse Cake

Children
1.    Rebecca Soloman – Easy As Pie Cakes
2.    Ava Changnon – Salted Apple Caramel Cupcakes
3.    Cally Anderson – Strawberry Lemonade Chiffon Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

Guest judges were Mamie Doyle, winner of “Cupcake Wars” and owner of Mamie’s Cupcakes in Marietta, Ga., Broderick Smylie, founder of Savory Exposure blog, Jenny Turknett, Atlanta Journal-Constitution food blogger and critic, and Sonia Chopra, editor of Eater Atlanta. They were also joined by Virginia Willis, chef and author of Bon Appétit, Y’all!, Val Barnes, a member of the No Kid Hungry social council, CSM Bakery Products culinary team member Lynn Kuczjada and children’s judge Lizzie Marie, a 12-year-old local food blogger.

Restaurant INFORMER served as a media sponsor for the Baking Contest.

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I-9 Form

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

To download the I-9 form click the link below.

i-9

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2nd Annual Golden Onion Showcases Georgia’s Official Vegetable

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Twelve Georgia chefs will soon reveal layers of their own talent as well as the versatility of the famous Vidalia onion. The 2nd Annual Golden Onion will be held on Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Vidalia, Ga., as the official kick-off to the 36th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival. This professional cooking competition showcases the Vidalia onion, Georgia’s official state vegetable, and also serves as a platform for chefs across Georgia to display their skills and creativity.

The 2013 roster of chef competitors represents a cross-section of Georgia restaurants and cuisine, including: Chef Mimmo Alboumeh, owner and executive chef of ME Restaurant Group, which operates Red Pepper Taqueria, Coldbrews Sports Bar & Grill, and Coldbrews Oyster Bar in Atlanta; Chef Daniel Chance, executive chef of Campogonolo in Atlanta; Chef Linda Harrell, executive chef and partner of Cibo E Beve in Sandy Springs; Chef Brian Jones, chef de cuisine for Atlanta Grill at The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta; Chef Brian Justice, chef and owner of Tasteful Temptations Café in Brunswick; Chef John Mark Lane, executive chef of Elements Bistro & Grill in Lyons; Chef Roberto Leoci, chef and owner of Leoci’s Trattoria in Savannah; Chef Keira Moritz, chef and owner of Steel Magnolias in Valdosta; Chef Austin Rocconi, executive chef for Le Vigne Restaurant at Montaluce in Dahlonega; Chef Michael Shutters, executive chef and food service director at The Pilot House Grille Restaurant at George T. Bagby State Park and Lodge in Fort Gaines; Chef Dave Snyder, chef and owner of Halyards and Tramici in St. Simons Island; and Chef Marc Taft, chef and owner of Chicken & The Egg in Marietta.

The Golden Onion professional cooking competition challenges 12 Georgia chefs to create and prepare recipes featuring Vidalia onions. Competing chefs will have one hour to prepare and present their recipes. The First Place champion will be presented the Golden Onion trophy to hold for one year along with a cash prize of $500. The second place winner will receive $250 and the third place winner $100. All winners will also receive commemorative plaques.

For more information, visit Golden Onion.

 

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ME Restaurant Group Opens 2nd Red Pepper Location

Monday, March 11th, 2013

ME Restaurant Group’s Red Pepper Taqueria is slated to open in May 2013 on the corner of Piedmont Road and Peachtree Road.

Restaurateur Mimmo Alboumeh brings more than 20 years of experience and knowledge to the Atlanta dining scene. As the Owner and Executive Chef of Red Pepper Taqueria, Coldbrews Sports Bar and Grill, and Coldbrews Oyster Bar, Chef Mimmo combines his culinary training and Mexican heritage to deliver a menu with classic Mexican favorites as well as contemporary dishes, all made with organic ingredients, fresh seafood and local beef.

The menu features classic starters, soups and salads, entreés and a variety of handcrafted taco selections. Weekend brunch and kid menus will also be available. The bar offers wine, hand-crafted cocktails and more than 100 tequila option.

The restaurant has a 3,300 square-foot main dining area and extensive bar seating.

 

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National Bakery-Café Slated to Open Summer 2013

Monday, March 11th, 2013

The 12th & Midtown development team recently announced that Panera Bread will join the list of retailers and restaurants featured in the landmark Midtown Atlanta mixed-use development. Other restaurants in the development include STK, Cucina Asellina, Ri Ra Irish Pub, RA Sushi, Mi Cocina and Piola, with Café Intermezzo, Taco Diner and Tabla, also set to open in 2013.

The new Panera café will offer a handcrafted, artisan menu and a European-styled outdoor café. It is the newest of 30 Panera Bread locations in the Atlanta market.

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