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Archive for July, 2014

2014 ACF National Convention

Friday, July 25th, 2014

July 25-29, 2014, Kansas City, Mo. For more information, visit American Culinary Federation National Convention


Makan Brings Asian Cuisine to Decatur

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Owners Michael Lo and George Yu along with assistant general manager Damiano Pak plan to bring an elevated experience in Asian cuisine to downtown Decatur with their restaurant, Makan, opening July 24. Makan (pronounced “ma-kun”) is the Indonesian or Malay word for eat. The restaurant is their effort to share the food that they love and grew up eating, and take it to the next level with chef-driven ingredients. The cuisine is inspired by Asian street food and traditional Asian comfort food that you might find in market stalls in cities like Hong Kong, Taiwan or Seoul. The restaurant aims to be communal and convivial.

Owners Michael and George have many commonalities based on a shared heritage in food. Both grew up in the restaurant industry as the first generation of Chinese immigrant parents who owned and managed Chinese-American restaurants. They both worked in their respective parents’ restaurants, where they learned how to run a business and found a love for Asian food.

“Growing up working in my parents’ Chinese-American restaurants gave me a great understanding of the cuisine and the business, but it also taught me how it can be done differently. I lived, worked and traveled throughout Asia for three years, which inspired me even more,” Michael explains. “With Makan, we are trying to change the stereotype that good Asian cuisine doesn’t have a great atmosphere or bar program or even service. We want to show people that this kind of food pairs well with craft cocktails, beer and wine while showcasing the unique and vibrant Asian drinking culture.”

The menu, created by George (who is also the executive chef), consists of many types of elevated Asian comfort foods, all made with locally-sourced ingredients. Makan also has large format family meals that offer a communal dining experience while showcasing how Asian families typically eat. The beverage program features signature cocktails and local beers and wines by the glass, as well as specialty sodas and coffee from Batdorf & Bronson.

The 160-seat restaurant was designed by the local Square Feet Studio, whose recent clients include The Kimball House and General Muir. The space features an open kitchen, a chef’s counter and a full bar with a 14-foot long communal table made of reclaimed wood. Chef tables are stationed in front of the kitchen pass for a viewing-while-eating experience. The 1,500-square-foot patio will feature custom-made cypress and steel picnic tables that encourage sharing and socializing in front of the fire pit. The chef’s garden on the patio will produce fresh herbs and ingredients and string lighting will add to the night market feel. The design is inspired by vintage Asian artwork and the romantic yet defining period of Chinese history of the 1920s and 1930s.


The Bishop Now Serving Eco-Friendly Wine and Beer Growlers

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

The Bishop Beer and Wine GrowlersThe Bishop is now offering 32 oz. wine and beer growler bottles. The growlers can be filled with any of The Bishop’s wine and beer selections on tap; highlights include: Arneis from Demarie, Italy and Wild Heaven beers.  There is a $3.00 deposit for the growler bottle, plus the price of beer or wine.

Wines on tap are a unique, eco-friendly approach that ensures freshness and value. There is no oxidization of the wine by the glass, and waste is reduced. Growlers save 10-15% or more when compared to the same wine from a bottle, and they eliminate loss from corked bottles and oxidized wines. By replacing single-use packaging with a reusable container, wine on tap reduces the carbon footprint. One keg used for wine over its lifetime will eliminate the use of 3,000 bottles, closures/foils, and labels. Less than 30% of all glass gets recycled.

Described as a contemporary neighborhood restaurant and bar, The Bishop is located in the historic town of Avondale Estates. Their menu features American classics and traditional comfort foods with a twist using all-natural, locally-sourced products. With a neighborhood-centric philosophy, the restaurant showcases family recipes.


Randy Lewis Now the Executive Chef of Two New Buckhead Restaurants

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Southern Proper Hospitality, the team behind Atlanta-based restaurants Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails, The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill, Osteria Cibo Rustico, Smokebelly BBQ and Tin Lizzy’s Cantina, recently announced Randy Lewis as executive chef of their two new restaurant endeavors, Gypsy Kitchen and The Southern Gentleman, both opening this September in the Buckhead Atlanta shopping district.

Chef Lewis will feature locally-sourced Southern cuisine at The Southern Gentleman and Spanish-inspired cuisine at Gypsy Kitchen. He is inspired by his hometown of New Orleans, a city known for infusing both Southern and colonial Spanish influences into its cuisine.

“This new position gives me the amazing opportunity to create food inspired by my home in the Deep South,” said Lewis, a fourth generation Louisianan.

His culinary experience spans from New Orleans to the California Bay Area, where he spent the past 13 years before returning to his roots in the south to begin his newest undertaking with Southern Proper Hospitality.

“Randy is a high-caliber chef who brings more than 20 years of experience cooking Southern cuisine that focuses on fresh, regional ingredients,” said Guido Piccinni, chief operating officer of Southern Proper Hospitality. “We look forward to partnering with him on these two restaurant endeavors coming to Buckhead Atlanta.”

Lewis’ Career Highlights & Accolades
• Trained at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont.
• His New Orleans restaurant, Indigo, was named “Best in New Orleans” and “Most Splurge-Worthy” by Bon Appétit magazine.
• Honored as one of the “10 Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine Magazine – Cover Feature.
• His Sonoma County restaurant, Popina, earned him a three-star review from Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle, calling him “one of the best chefs in the Bay Area” along with a perfect four-star review from Wine County’s Jeff Cox.
• Awarded a Bib Gourmand from the MICHELIN Guide, San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country.
• Named one of five “American Chefs re-defining America’s regional cuisine of the future” by Food Arts magazine.
• Featured at the James Beard House and featured chef in the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner Series.
• Filmed and appeared in four episodes of “Ready, Set, Cook” on the Food Network.


2013 GRACE Awards Restaurateur of the Year Finalist: Jamie Durrence of Daniel Reed Hospitality

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

From Restaurant INFORMER, 2013, Vol. 3, Issue 4

By Christy Simo

Jamie Durrence 300As managing partner and director of operations for Daniel Reed Hospitality, Jamie Durrence is leaving quite a mark on his adopted hometown of Savannah.

After graduating from the Savannah College of Art & Design, he moved to New York City to use his degree in the fashion industry, but soon found he missed the restaurant industry, where he felt most at home.

“The more I tried to get away from the restaurant industry, the more I was drawn to it,” he recalls. “After a couple of years in New York City, I packed up and came back home. After only a few days back in the saddle at my old restaurant management job, I knew what it was that I was supposed to do with my life.”

Today, Daniel Reed Hospitality owns and operates four restaurants in the historic district of Savannah: Local11ten, Perch – the rooftop bar above it that opened in 2011 – The Public Kitchen & Bar, which opened in 2012, and his newest concept, Soho South Café, which opened in 2013.

The company is on a steady pace upwards, having tripled its workforce in the last two years as more restaurant concepts have opened across the city.

“I feel so lucky and grateful that I have the opportunity to provide a network for people to come together,” he says. “The restaurant industry has given more to me than I could have ever imagined, mostly because our employee base is enthusiastic about Daniel Reed Hospitality. My wish is that I can continue to grow our business so that more employees can take part and feel good about their contribution as part of the team.”

The Georgia Restaurant Association recently announced the finalists for the 8th Annual Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards. These finalists are peer-nominated and the winners will be announced November 2nd at the GRACE Awards Gala to be held at The Foundry at Puritan Mill in Atlanta.

For a list of the 2014 GRACE Awards Finalists, click here.


Robert Irvine to Deliver Keynote Address for the 2014 Atlanta Foodservice Expo

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Robert Irvine, celebrity chef, restaurateur and entrepreneur, will deliver the opening day keynote address for Atlanta Foodservice Expo (AFSE).

As the host of one of the Food Network’s highest rated shows, Restaurant: Impossible, Irvine is best known for saving struggling restaurants across America by assessing and overhauling the restaurant’s weakest spots. In 2013 Irvine added a new challenge to his resume as he mentored and challenged aspiring chefs as the host of Restaurant Express a new show on the Food Network. Going on its third year, Irvine continues to tour his live show, Robert Irvine LIVE, across the US. Irvine also operates Robert Irvine’s Nosh in South Carolina and is the author of two cookbooks, Mission: Cook! and Impossible to Easy. Robert was previously the host of Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible and Worst Cooks in America.

AFSE will be held October 13 – 14, 2014 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia.  It is the only event in Georgia and the Southeast to bring together under one roof all sectors of the restaurant, foodservice, and hospitality industries with a broad range of the best suppliers.

Irvine’s presence at the AFSE is made possible by Comcast Business as part of their ongoing partnership with Mr. Irvine to further educate the hospitality and restaurant industries on the importance of using technology to help improve efficiency, increase revenue and reduce costs. “We are thrilled to host Robert Irvine at the annual Atlanta Foodservice Expo event in Atlanta,” said Bob Deckard, VP of Comcast Business Services.  “Mr. Irvine has demonstrated over the years the importance that advanced technology can make in his line of work, and we’re proud to support his efforts.”

For more information please visit



Everything’s Coming Up Rosés: Learning to Love and Sell the Pink Stuff

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Excerpted from Restaurant INFORMER, 2014, Vol. 3, Issue 7

By Lara Creasy

Ros' Aura Dei Feudi Di San Gregorio

If you do not have a rosé on your by-the-glass wine list, now is the time to put one on. As the pink wine’s popularity grows with consumers, factors such as the production, selling, and seasonality of the wine come into play.

How is Rosé Made?
There are several ways that wine can take on that rosy hue. For sparkling rosés, winemakers simply blend red wine and white wine together. For still rosés, other methods are employed. One method is called saignée, in which the free-run juice is “bled” off of red grapes as they crush under their own weight. Rosé can also be made with a more purposeful pressing of red or black grapes, until just enough color is present in the juice. Most rosé, however, gets its color from limited maceration, in which the juice remains in contact with the grapes’ red skins for several hours, rather than several days as it would in red wine production. The length of time the juice remains on the skins will determine the depth of color the rosé will exhibit.

Sometimes rosé is a purposeful creation, and sometimes it is a by-product of red wine production, in which the free-run juice is carted away to make rosé, and the remaining juice in the red grapes is pressed to make for a more concentrated and deeper red.

Coincidentally, this by-product was the origin of the “rosé” that most of us probably experienced first: White Zinfandel. Originally made by Sutter Home as a by-product of red zinfandel production in the early ‘70s, the White Zin as we know it came about when their blush wine experienced a “stuck fermentation” and they added sugar to give the yeast a little more to chew on. A legend was born when sales of the sweet, pink wine skyrocketed. Even as recently as September of 2013, White Zin accounted for 7.2 percent of U.S. wine sales, just .3 percent behind pinot noir, according to Statistic Brain.

Steven Trager, manager and sommelier at Ray’s on the River, says White Zinfandel is still more successful at his restaurant than dry rosé. Still, there are many consumers who don’t like sweet wines, and many restaurateurs and sommeliers that don’t want to serve mass-produced wines in their establishments. Some would even argue that White Zinfandel gave rosé a bad rap that has taken decades to shake. Thankfully, there are currently hundreds of smaller production dry rosés on the market to come to the rescue.

Jean-Luc ColomboHow Much Rosé Can You Sell?
Most beverage managers and sommeliers I asked agreed with me that these days, for restaurants, at least one rosé by the glass is required. Some even have success pouring several in the warmer months.

“I am able to offer more options because of the different bars within the restaurants,” says Eduardo Guzman, beverage manager at JCT. Kitchen & Bar and The Optimist. “In addition to sparkling rosés, which I’m a fan of, I always try to have different styles in the dining room and in the bar [at each restaurant]. During the ‘rosé season,’ I like to feature two different styles in the dining room, for example, a French and a Spanish.”

This ability to market multiple rosés at Atlanta restaurants is a fairly new phenomenon. “Five years ago I had a lot of restaurant buyers tell me, ‘Rosé just doesn’t sell here,’” says Jennifer Martha, sales consultant with Ultimate Distributors. “I would feel like, ‘Of course it doesn’t, because you don’t have one on the list!’” She goes on to tell me that retail still outsells on-premise when it comes to rosé. However, a few of her restaurant accounts, such as JCT. Kitchen, Watershed, Restaurant Eugene and Krog Bar, are able to move rosé better than most due to staff eduction.

“First you have to put it on the list and then get the staff excited about it,” she says. “Now, most restaurants will tell you that they have to have a rosé by the glass. Hooray! When the servers and bartenders love it, it flies.”

Others in the industry agree. “I remember I had one rosé on my list when I was the buyer at Rathbun’s,” says Kristine Lassor, who is now the in-house sommelier for National Distributing Georgia. “Wine reps were always wanting me to add more rosés, but I had a hard time selling the one that I had. People in the industry were usually the ones drinking the rosé at the time. This was 8 years ago. [Now] I’ll walk into a restaurant in May and see a whole bar full of people drinking rosé!”

Part of the change in perception may be due to a broader selection of options now on the market.

“The proliferation of new-world dry rosé from really great producers has made it more accessible and easier to find,” says Anderson from No. 246. “When consumers can try a Malbec rosé from a producer they trust or a Pinot Noir rosé from California, they are already more comfortable. Plus when the wine is yummy and not hard to understand, it makes everyone happy.”

Prices for good rosés are generally affordable as well, which makes for an easier sell. Lassor says, “People have gotten used to paying up to $20 for a good glass of wine in a fine dining restaurant. Most rosés fall in the $10-12 price point. I don’t think it’s a huge risk for people to order it and try it.”
Trager agrees. “In my personal opinion, an inexpensive rosé does not mean a bad one. On the contrary, there are some phenomenal wines at a great value.”

Does Season Really Matter?
Is rosé’s obvious success during the spring and summer months due to supply or demand? Clearly the release of European rosés in March triggers patio fever to some extent. But with more Southern Hemisphere rosés on the market, and with rosé’s food pairing potential, rosé season can extend through the entire year.
Both Martha and Lassor said that their companies try to keep at least a few rosés in stock all year, with Martha adding that rosé can see a little sales pop around the holidays.

“Personally, I think its a year-round drink; that’s why we try to offer one all year,” says Blake Morley, general manager at Kevin Gillespie’s Gunshow in Atlanta. “Sales during the winter months generally lag, but that’s the problem, right? People still assume rosé is a porch wine to be enjoyed during the summer months. Granted it works as that, but the applications during the winter months are endless, for example [pairing with] winter root vegetables, winter citrus, grilled meats and smoked fish.”

Anderson says he loves to pair rosé with Chef Drew Belline’s trout dishes; Lassor says it can work with anything from cheese and charcuterie to burgers. Guzman even goes so far as to suggest a rosé Cremant de Bourgogne with the foie gras on The Optimist’s menu.

Clearly the pairing possibilities are limitless.

As with anything, belief in what you are doing is the first step to success. Choose a rosé appropriate for your menu, train your staff to sell it confidently, and your guests will follow your lead. That’s where the magic happens.


Art of Catering Food Conference to Take Place at the Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMart

Monday, July 21st, 2014
Chef Todd Annis

Chef Todd Annis

Catersource Magazine has once again partnered with the International Caterers Association to present the Art of Catering Food conference in Atlanta on August 4 to 6 at the Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMart. This intimate catering-focused program centers exclusively on enhancing the culinary abilities of caterers and will feature nationally renowned chefs like Top Chef Season Six finalist Kevin Gillespie, owner of Atlanta’s Gunshow restaurant and Paul Larson, Corporate Chef of Blue Plate Catering, Chicago, IL, among others.

The Art of Catering Food will present dozens of live demos — serving each morsel prepared, over 10,000 samples — roundtables, Lunch+Learns, three catering facility tours, edu-cocktail parties, plenty of takeaway materials including the full repertoire of recipes and the optional A la cARTe: An Exclusive Showing, presented by A Divine Event, an evening event showcasing a perspective on catering trends for action stations and more.

Schedule Sampling

• Day one, savor and learn about The Master of the Appetizer, presented by Paul Larson, who will explore the bite-sized tidbit; and witness the four-alarm sizzle of Smokin’ Hot Tableside, presented by Top Chef Season Nine contestant Ashley Santo Domingo of 24 carrots Catering & Events, Irvine, CA.

• Day two, prepare your taste buds for Red or Yellow: Using Watermelon for Apps and First Courses presented by Jamie Keating, Chef and CEO of JK Culinary INC, La Grange, GA; and Bold American Events’ Executive Chef Todd Annis’ Scallops: The OTHER Shellfish. These are four of the 17 seminars being presented on the first two days.

• Day three, take away a variety of dessert ideas during day three’s Dessert Circus for Catering, presented by Rachanee Keovorabouth, executive chef for Thomas Caterers of Distinction, Indianapolis, IN.

Top Chef/Closing Speaker
Kevin Gillespie, chef/owner of Gunshow, Atlanta (recently named one of the “12 Most Outstanding Restaurants” by GQ magazine) and a sixth season contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef, will be the closing speaker, sharing his passion for high-quality food, prepared with fresh, organic, and sustainable ingredients. Gillespie, also a James Beard award finalist in the Cookbooks: American Cooking category for his Fire in My Belly cookbook, says he can find culinary inspiration anywhere from “a hot dog cart to a 5-star dinner.” Using traditional dishes to tell his story, he’ll talk about food memories to connect with attendees.

Facilities Tours
How do the most esteemed caterers organize operations and navigate successfully the ever-changing world of food, facility, and price margin? Attendees will be able to go behind the scenes at three separate locations on Monday afternoon, sampling food and beverage, all while viewing A Legendary Event, Bold American Events, and Proof of the Pudding — all based in the Atlanta, GA area.

AOCF sponsors partner closely with all chef presenters to prepare for their culinary creations by providing cooking equipment, tabletop displays, serving vessels, and food products. Because each chef brings his or her own culinary perspective to the table with their own personal styles, techniques, and creative twists, AOCF sponsors offer customized orders for their needs. Sponsors will launch new catering ideas, debut creative uses for existing products, and participate in the program along with the conference attendees by sharing and learning.

For more information on the event and to register, please visit Registration is open to all catering chefs.

Presentations by Adam Gooch (Purple Onion Catering Company, Vienna, VA), Matthew Weingarten (Setting by Sodexo, New York), Michael Robbins (Research Chefs Association, Atlanta), Karen O’Connor (Daniel et Daniel, Ontario), Kevin Gillespie (Top Chef, Gunshow, Atlanta), and many more national experts and catering chefs.

The International Caterers Association (ICA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education, mentoring and resources for professional caterers and promoting the profession of catering to clients, industry members, vendors and the public.


Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

July 20, 2014, The Goat Farm Arts Center, Atlanta. For more information, visit Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival.


Willy’s Mexicana Grill Delivers Fresh Mex to North Druid Hills

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Willy’s Mexicana Grill has recently expanded their location to North Druid Hills, offering their signature, hand-rolled California-style burritos, thin and crispy tortilla chips, freshly blended salsas and more.

The North Druid Hills location offers a new look for Willy’s. This new look still embodies the original culture and traits of the brand, but it is an updated, richer version of the old design. In keeping with the original look, the new design uses a lot of bright colors—yellow accent striped walls, blue booth seating, and red and yellow tile walls in the kitchen— and also maintains the rustic, warm atmosphere with wood plank walls and patina metal tables and trims throughout the restaurant. The 2,800-square-foot space includes Willy’s Salsa Bar, which is the central focus of the North Druid Hills location. The salsa bar is larger to allow for new kinds of salsa, like the new HOT Roasted Tomato Salsa. At the end of the serving line is the Salsa Prep Bar. This is the “Fresh Zone” that puts fresh preparation of salsa and guacamole on display for health conscious patrons.

Willy’s showcases its housemade tortillas on a new Rotomal Tortilla Grill, which rotates and grills the tortillas that hold the Mexican-inspired ingredients in burritos and soft tacos. The tortillas are made with freshly prepared dough mixed throughout the day. An additional enhancement to Willy’s beverage offerings is the homemade horchata, a cinnamon cream-based drink, and flavored and regular lemonades made from fresh squeezed lemons.

The Atlanta-based independent restaurant serves made-to-order, California-style burritos in a laid-back atmosphere. Freezers and microwaves are noticeably absent from the kitchen, guacamole and salsa are made twice a day and the restaurant uses local, seasonal products when available. Every menu item is prepared from scratch. Beans and rice are cooked without lard or animal products, making them vegetarian-friendly as well.

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