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Archive for August, 2015

2015 Governor’s Tourism Conference

Monday, August 31st, 2015

August 31-September 2, 2015, Hyatt Regency Savannah, Savannah, Ga. For more information, visit the Georgia Restaurant Association.


ACF Monthly Meeting

Monday, August 31st, 2015

August 31, 2015, Chattahoochee Technical College, Marietta, Ga. For more information, visit American Culinary Federation Atlanta Chefs Association, Inc. 


International Gourmet Foods 2015 Product Showcase

Monday, August 31st, 2015

August 31, 2015, The Westin, Charlotte, North Carolina. For more information, visit International Gourmet Foods


Communitas Hospitality Announces Michelle Matlock as Executive Chef

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Michelle MatlockThe new executive chef Michelle Matlock, of Communitas Hospitality’s 10th & Piedmont and G’s Midtown has joyfully ladled out her version from Hollywood’s Sunset and Vine to New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, and now she’s excited to serve it up in Atlanta. But when it comes to sharing her recipe for success, Matlock will only say it’s less about the ingredients and more about her technique.
Matlock loves talking about the career path she knew she would take at the age of five. Never afraid of hard work, she achieved her culinary school education through the American Culinary Federation Apprenticeship Program at Delgado Community College, apprenticing under renowned French Master Chef René Bajeux at the famed Windsor Court Hotel’s Grill Room.
She has worked in some of New Orleans’ finest restaurants, including the Royal Café, Acme Oyster House and Cobalt, a trendy restaurant she was privileged to open in the Hotel Monaco for famed Chef Susan Spicer. When Hollywood called, Matlock packed up and headed west to become executive chef for Element Film’s restaurant division.
She brings passion for all things piscatorial to the Communitas Hospitality menus with favorite items such as Scottish salmon and coconut scallop ceviche. Thanks to distribution connections she forged while in New Orleans, she’s crafting her own version of fried oysters Rockefeller. She will also be serving a whole fish that changes frequently, reflecting her commitment to fresh and sustainable seafood.
Matlock is proud of the international tapas menu she’s created at 10th & Piedmont, referring to it as eclectic, borderless cuisine. She is committed to creating a melting pot restaurant of sorts where she can bring out the best of all cultures. Ever the tinkerer, Matlock used what she had on hand to tweak Communitas’ new smoker to add a tin-can chimney. While she’s certain the smell of barbecue will delight both 10th & Piedmont and G’s Midtown customers, she can’t wait until guest reviews come in for her new smoked caprese salad, which incorporates tomatoes and fresh-smoked mozzarella.
With just a year under her belt in Atlanta, Matlock continues to meet local farmers to incorporate the best of their bounty into her menus. As much as she loves to cook, though, what drives her most these days is being able to train and bring out the best in her staff. She wholeheartedly believes her Communitas team is magic and is eager to help them further their careers within the company and community. With seemingly boundless enthusiasm, Matlock hopes to teach them everything she knows, with one tiny exception – her seven-generation gumbo will remain under wraps, at least for now.


Taste of Atlanta Cooks Up New Technology

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

taste of atlanta wristbandIf you are participating in Taste of Atlanta this September, get ready for a new experience. The event team is partnering with Intellitix to provide a cashless payment wristband system using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, the first food festival in the city to use such technology.

The Intellipay system could increase spending per person by between 15 percent and 30 percent, provide real-time reporting on sales and income, reduce queue times at restaurant booths, and provide in-depth audience insight to help participating restaurants more effectively target and deliver their messages.

How does it work? Attendees receive a wristband that they can either preload with “taste points” or by purchasing these points at stations located throughout the festival. They can then use the wristbands to pay for food, drinks and other merchandise.

After attendees wrap up their day of sampling at the festival, they will be emailed a comprehensive list detailing which restaurant booths they visited and what they had to eat and drink. This helps them remember which restaurants they liked best and which ones they want to visit after the event to try again.

Taste of Atlanta will be held Sept. 25-27, 2015, in Midtown Atlanta in Technology Square. More than 90 of the city’s best restaurants will participate with insider cooking demos, specialty food and beverage tents. For more on Taste of Atlanta, visit For more on the Intellipay system, visit


3rd Annual Atlanta Foodservice Expo to Take Place on October 19-20

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

If you haven’t made it to the Atlanta Foodservice Expo yet, mark your calendars. The third annual Atlanta Foodservice Expo is gearing up and scheduled to take place October 19-20, 2015, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Atlanta Foodservice ExpoThe Atlanta Foodservice Expo is the only event in Georgia to bring together all sectors of the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry under one roof. With a broad spectrum of top suppliers in the industry, the latest products, services and technologies will be showcased along with a comprehensive education program that provides foodservice operators key tools to grow and enhance their business.

Education and Seminars

This year, the event is partnering with the UGA Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Kennesaw State University (SBDC-KSU) to assist with the development and content of the 2015 education program, which continues to be a key segment for attendees. The program will highlight eight primary topics:

  • Catering
  • Financial
  • Human Resources
  • Legal
  • Marketing
  • Menu
  • Operations
  • Spanish

The Atlanta Foodservice Expo will feature more than 30 sessions, and all education is included with the attendee badge for foodservice outlet managers and their teams to stay abreast on the latest trends, technology and skills required to run a successful business. Some exciting sessions include:

  • Craft Beer Pairings
  • Rules of Thumb for Restaurant Financial Performance
  • How to Design a Menu that Puts Money in Your Pocket! (a.k.a. Menu Engineering for Top Profits)
  • 7 MUST Dos to Reduce Labor Costs
  • Identifying Effective Managers for Your Restaurant
  • How to Properly and LEGALLY Manage your Employees
  • 7 Successful Strategies for Driving Revenue Into Your Restaurant
  • Marketing Best Practices Panel Discussion
  • Social Savvy Tips, Tactics & Tools

Show Floor

Aside from the educational aspects, the event’s show floor will feature culinary demonstrations, more than 200 suppliers and happy hour receptions each day.

The American Culinary Federation Atlanta Chefs Association will again be organizing the onsite competitions and culinary demonstrations throughout the event. Over the two-day event, there will be head-to-head competitions as well as 12 different culinary demonstrations to showcase the latest tips and skills. It’s a must-attend for any culinary professional!

From food and furnishings to tableware and technology, if you’re looking for it, chances are there’s a supplier that can match your need. More than 200 top suppliers in the industry will showcase their latest products, services and technologies over the two days from the following product groups: Food; Beverages; Apparel & Uniforms; Furnishing and Décor; Equipment; Tableware; Technology; and Supplies and Services.

Besides the benefit of sourcing new products on the show floor, Atlanta Foodservice Expo is the place for the industry to come together to network, collaborate and interact with each other. This will culminate at the end of each day with a Happy Hour Reception on the show floor sponsored by Savannah Distributing Company.

Who Should Attend?

Anyone involved in the running of restaurants, bars and foodservice outlets such as but not limited to: restaurant owners, general managers, executive chefs, bar managers, hotel managers, purchasing managers, caterers and F&B directors.

For full program details, show information and to register, visit


Atlanta Q2 2015 restaurant sales volume increased a modest 1.6% over Q2 2014

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

By Robert Wagner

Atlanta Q2 2015 restaurant sales volume increased a modest 1.6% over Q2 2014. For the quarter ended June 2015 positive sales gains were reported at 63% of the 79 independent Atlanta restaurants surveyed. Year-to-date 2015 Atlanta restaurant sales are up 3.0% over the six months ended June 2014.

National Trends

In its survey of national restaurant sales Black Box Intelligence, a restaurant sales and traffic-tracking company, reported national restaurant Q2 revenues increased 1.8%. Black Box reported that nationally Q2 same-store traffic declined -1.7% compared to Q2 2014.


Robert Wagner, NetFinancials president states that, “Q2 2015 was a very challenging quarter for existing Atlanta restaurants. Increased unemployment in Atlanta and increased competition from new restaurant openings combined to dampen sales growth at existing Atlanta restaurants. In fact the 1.6% increase is the smallest comp sales increase we have seen at Atlanta restaurants since 2010. While a clear majority (63%) of existing Atlanta restaurants in our Q2 survey experienced positive comp sales, the percentage of stores experiencing a negative sales trend (37%) was at an all-time high. By definition, new restaurants are not included in our survey. We expect comp sales at existing Atlanta restaurants to recover as the local unemployment rate improves and newly opened restaurants are absorbed into the Atlanta hospitality ecosystem.”



Atlanta’s Charcuterie Scene- Inside the Trend

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

The Resaltwood menusurrection of Charcuterie

By Alexander Gagnon

Charcuterie is a French term used to describe the painstaking process of curing meats and it has recently become the spotlight on local menus all across Georgia. Many of the state’s local chefs are facing this challenge head on, using their skills and ingenuity to create new flavors with the use of charcuterie.

The most common presentation of charcuterie is the charcuterie board. These expertly crafted house-cured meat appetizers are often plated on large wooden boards that showcase a wide variety of different meats, pickles and preserves. This trend is rapidly reviving a culinary movement that originated thousands of years ago. In Atlanta and elsewhere across the state, chefs are embracing the fundamentals of cuisine and going back to the basics to bring an ancient tradition back to the table.

The Roman Empire was the first documented civilization to experiment with curing meats, and they are often considered the founders of charcuterie. Hundreds of years later, the French elevated charcuterie from an essential food medium into a revolutionary culinary art form. They popularized individually owned prepared-meat shops called charcuteries. Neighborhood charcuteries quickly became a part of everyday life for the middle-class citizen. One by one, charcuteries were opening all across France, each one striving to produce something deliciously innovative in their field.

The French passion for charcuterie was fueled by an extremely competitive market that lead to the creation of a wide array of new meat products, such as various types of sausages, pâtés, terrines, rillettes and countless other cured products. Soon these charcuterie practices spread throughout Europe and were interpreted by other cultures, giving us modern-day favorites such as the iconic Italian Genoa Salami and the bold-flavored German Currywurst.

Understanding the history of charcuterie is important to properly appreciate what is taking place in our own backyard. I wanted to find out more about the rapidly expanding popularity of the charcuterie scene, so I sought out the help of two local chefs who are both well known for their production and use of charcuterie.

Olivier Gaupin is the ExChef Olivier Gaupinecutive Chef of Saltwood, the highly anticipated restaurant that opened this spring in the Loews Hotel Atlanta. Chef Olivier is originally from Orleans, France, and he earned his culinary degree from France’s esteemed CFA Charles Peguy School. He is also one of four chefs in Georgia who can claim the title of Maitre Cuisinier de France, one of the highest honors a chef can achieve. These Master Chefs, which include many of the world’s top toques, vow to preserve, advance and perpetuate the tradition of great French cuisine.

Chef Gauipin’s first experiences with charcuterie began as a child in France where he would help his mother craft delicious pâtés and terrines in their family’s kitchen.

“Charcuterie is a part of everyday life in France,” says Gaupin, “It has been part of the culture for hundreds of years. Every local market has a section dedicated to charcuterie, and it is eaten on a daily basis. Handcrafted charcuterie and cheeses – there is nothing better than that. ”

At Saltwood in Midtown Atlanta, Gaupin crafted the menu around the concept of small, shareable plates that highlight local Georgia meats and produce using classic European techniques. Saltwood’s menu is described as charcuterie-driven and will feature both housemade charcuterie and products from other local chefs.

“Charcuterie is such a creative element, everyone does something different. We will be making items such as pâtés, foie gras, terrines and sausages all in house, but we will also use other local products from places such as The Spotted Trotter and Benton’s,” he says. “I really respect the hard work of other local chefs, and that is why I will showcase their charcuterie on our menu as well.”

The restaurant contains a stunning white marble charcuterie bar that is fully equipped with a beautiful manual prosciutto slicer. This one-of-a-kind bar will create an informative and visually intriguing experience for the guest. Saltwood’s versatile floor plan will offer many different dining experiences depending on the guests needs, from a quick lunch with friends to a large party in their private event space.

Located just a few minutes south of Midtown is the historic Old Fourth Ward district. This culture-rich area will be home to one of Atlanta’s most anticipated new restaurants, an establishment that is years in the making, Staplehouse. I had the pleasure to sit down with Staplehouse’s Executive Chef Ryan Smith to speak about the intriguing process of new restaurant menu development. Ryan Smith is well known in Atlanta’s culinary scene for his work as Executive Chef of Empire State South and his knowledge of all things charcuterie.

Ryan Smith  Chef Smith first experienced charcuterie more than 10 years ago while residing in Ithaca, N.Y., where he attended The Culinary Institute of America. He would fire up the Kitchen-Aid and craft different terrines and pâtés in his apartment, experimenting with new ideas and techniques. “There was a lot to learn,” he recalls. “School only taught the basics of charcuterie. I had to learn by trial and error.” Over the years, Smith’s passion and dedication to creating new cuisine has not changed, although today, diners are much more open to trying new foods than even a decade ago.

“Atlanta’s culinary scene is providing us with the right clientele to test the limits of charcuterie,” Smith says. “Staplehouse will provide the perfect venue to present these new ideas in a neighborhood setting.”

Staplehouse’s menu will take a refined approach to the use of charcuterie, not merely displaying different meats on their own but incorporating them in creative new ways. Smith’s experiences as Pastry Chef of Empire State South has inspired him to craft English-style meat pies using local and housemade charcuterie to create a modern twist on the traditional dish. Other menu items include the highly anticipated double-skinned crispy buffalo wings and many other elegant twists on modern favorites.

“Working with charcuterie is a difficult and time-consuming process, but that is why it is so rewarding,” he says. “Slicing into a country ham that has been aged for two years and finally being able to taste the complex flavor you created makes it all worth it.”

With restaurants such as Saltwood and Staplehouse opening their doors all around the city, it is no wonder Atlanta’s culinary scene is continuing to thrive. These two establishments are revolutionizing charcuterie by taking a step back to embrace an ancient tradition that has become the newest trend in farm-to-table dining. Atlanta’s charcuterie scene is still a relatively new concept and I look forward to seeing what Atlanta best chefs have in store for the resurrection of charcuterie.


Manning the Helm of Pittypat’s Porch, Ron Horgan, CEC

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Ron Horgan

By Eric J. Karell CEC, CCA, AAC

Ron has been one of the American Culinary Federation, Atlanta Chefs Association’s most decorated and honored members. Serving as a board member and past president, Ron has been the driving force behind many of the chapter’s key charitable and fundraising efforts.

A graduate of the Arts Institute, Chef Horgan began his restaurant career in Pittsburgh’s Max’s Tavern as a dishwasher. He progressed to cook and then decided to resume his education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a degree in Business Finance.

A move to Atlanta saw him take an accounting position for an interior design firm.

“I hated the job,” Horgan recalls. “I clearly felt the need for a career change, so I went back to cooking.”

He took a position at Eagles Landing Country Club and took advantage of an opportunity to move to Ansley Country Club, where he stayed for two years.

It was at this point Chef Horgan had a fateful meeting with famed Atlanta culinary impresario Guy Thompson, for a position at Proof of the Pudding catering.

“It was a turning point in my career.” Horgan says. “Besides working with such a great group of professionals, such as Mr. Thompson, I learned how to manage and coordinate large-scale catering functions.”

The people at Ansley had not forgotten Ron, and he was asked to return as Executive Sous Chef. Eventually, Horgan became Executive Chef and spent 18 years at the Midtown Atlanta private club.

After leaving Ansley, Chef Horgan and Mr. Thompson, who was a member of the club, sat down and discussed options for his future. They decided that Ron would make the jump to management, becoming the general manager of one of the most venerable Atlanta dining institutions, Pittypat’s Porch.

“The two jobs are very similar, except that I now have control over beverage and the front of the house. I do have to be a bit more careful in the manner I deal with associates, and I do need to take a “big picture” approach in terms of the restaurant’s overall priorities,” Horgan says about the differences between being executive chef and general manager. “The hours are completely different to what I had as an executive chef. The budgeting processing is much more comprehensive as a GM than that as a chef, as well. One thing that hasn’t changed is that the most critical aspect of any operation lies in good hiring and understanding people.”

Chef Ron has worked with many inspiring people, mentors from the front of the house and renowned chefs.

So who had the most significant influence on his career?

“Malcolm Stanchfield when he was clubhouse manager at Ansley. He followed a similar path as I have,” Horgan says. “He was an executive chef for many years, then made the transition to management.”

Ron has been such an integral part of the ACF, Atlanta Chefs Association that it’s difficult to separate the two.

Besides running the super-successful yearly golf tournament, Ron always assists wherever and whenever he is needed.

“The chapter always gives you an opportunity to get something out of your membership. The more activities and educational experiences you can take advantage of, the better,” he says. “There is simply no other organization that offers more competitions, meetings, events and educational programs in the city. We’ve had a Certified Master Chef give a cooking demonstration at one meeting, then watched a belly dancer at the Imperial Fez at the next meeting.”

For more information about the American Culinary Federation, Atlanta Chefs Association and how to become a member, go to


Halpern’s and Prime’s Event

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

August 25, 2015 at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta. For more information, visit Halpern’s Web Site.

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