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Archive for December, 2015

Rat Pack New Year’s Eve-Benefiting Atlanta Community Food Bank

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

December 31, 2015, Crowne Plaza Ravinia, Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit Atlanta Community Food Bank


Serving Up Healthful Menus

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Healthful Menus Move beyond entree salads and heavy protein plates to satisfy your health-conscious diners

By Cristina Caro

The restaurant industry’s top five menu trends in 2015 according to the National Restaurant Association directly interplay with health and nutrition, and they’re likely to drive restaurant sales into the New Year. How does your menu rank? Do you identify healthful options? List serving sizes? Allow substitutions? Modify culinary preparation?

For many Americans, eating healthy i s not easy, particularly when dining out. Added fat and sodium and large portions make it difficult to manage cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and weight gain. Diners looking for healthful options can’t always spot them on the menu.

Consider a businessman following a low-cholesterol diet:

Joe is meeting a business client for lunch. He arrives at the restaurant early to ask questions about the menu since the nutrition information isn’t available online. Joe is looking for items lower in calories and fat and higher in fiber. He asks about the servings sizes and preparation methods and learns that the steamed veggies are dressed with butter and seasoning and the grilled chicken is marinated in housemade sauce containing oil. He settles on the grilled salmon served with sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes. Joe asks the server if he can substitute a plain baked potato for the mashed potatoes. The answer is ‘yes, for a $3 upcharge’. When his plate arrives, he sees that the sautéed spinach is creamed and not as low in fat as he thought.

Everyone who walks in the restaurant is managing a food allergy, medical need or personal preference, and though we can’t be all things to all people, we can make it easier for diners to eat dairy-free, gluten-free, low-carb, low-fat, low-sodium, vegan or vegetarian to meet their lifestyles. Variety of and easily identifiable healthful options can create loyal dining guests who then bring their own clients and friends and event-catering opportunities.

food3So let’s showcase the healthful and modifiable menu options, including description of serving sizes and culinary preparation – all the while emphasizing flavor – because taste still matters. We must move beyond entrée salads and heavy protein plates to satisfy the growing number of health-conscious diners and cash-in on the top food trends.

Menu Review

Identify your healthful ingredients or dishes. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can help you do this.

Do you…

• Incorporate vegetables, legumes and grains as primary ingredients whenever possible? (Especially main course soups)
• Use low-fat low-salt flavorings? (Such as fresh herbs and spices, lemon or flavored vinegars)
• Use vegetable oil instead of butter when possible for more dairy-free options?
• Have accurate food descriptions revealing dairy, eggs, nuts or other common allergens?
• Grill, roast or smoke meats and vegetables?
• Use minimal amounts of added sugar?

Can you…

• Increase the amount and variety of vegetables offered to provide fiber and different phytochemicals and nutrient mix?
• Feature seasonal vegetables, steamed, roasted or grilled to maximize nutrients for calories?
• Have fruits available as a dessert option?
• Offer small plates (reduced portions) to help diners regulate appetite, blood sugar and body weight?
• Substitute hummus, mashed avocado or mustard for mayonnaise on sandwiches for more egg-free and heart-healthy options?
• Offer gluten-free grains such as quinoa and rice?
• Provide plain, un-sauced steaks, fish filets, grilled meats and vegetables that are cooked whole to help accommodate food allergies and restricted diets?


food2Menu Promotion

We continue to see food trends that follow healthful menus – ancient grains, ethnic cuisines and flavors, housemade infused oils and vinegars, locally grown or sourced produce, meatless dishes, minimally processed and seasonal items. Help yourself and your dining guests by highlighting any menu items that satisfy these trends. Have monthly features associated with events, growing seasons or observances.
• Low-fat or low-sodium entrée (or side) for Heart Health month
• New entrée salad or soup for National Nutrition month
• Children’s menu item for Family Meals month
• Pumpkin or sweet potato dish for fall harvest
• Small plate (reduce portion) for New Years’s resolutions

These seasons can tie in with your existing promotions around school, sports, holidays, celebrations and dining themes. Diners will recognize and appreciate your participation in current events and promoting healthful menu items. And they will return soon to see what you’re doing next. A small investment in a menu makeover can yield big returns in popularity, loyalty and increased sales.


Chef Jay Yarbrough, CEC of the Piedmont Driving Club

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Chef Jay Yarbrough When Atlanta chefs talk about the individual who has left an indelible mark of professionalism and integrity in their city, they are speaking of Jay Yarbrough of the Piedmont Driving Club.

Chef Yarbrough was born and raised in Marietta and moved to downtown Atlanta in 1979 to begin his culinary career. While still in high school, Jay served as an apprentice cook for three years at the highly regarded French restaurant Le Papillon in Inman Park. After graduating high school, Chef Jay enrolled at Georgia State University, studying Hotel and Restaurant Administration.

During his studies, Jay earned the position of Executive Chef at Conversations, a continental restaurant in Decatur.

1986 marked the beginning of a true blossoming in Chef Yarbrough’s career. He took a line cook position at the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta and was promoted to Sous Chef of “The Restaurant” then Chef of “The Café.”After working as Chef-Garde Manger, Jay was sent to Los Angeles in 1991 to be a member of the opening team of The Ritz-Carlton Huntington, followed by a stint as Executive Sous Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island.

He then transferred to Cancun and became the Executive Chef of the Ritz-Carlton property for a year. Chef Yarbrough returned to the United States in 1995 to take over the position of Executive Chef at the revered Piedmont Driving Club, where he continues today.

Chef Jay has earned many awards and accolades throughout his career. He received CEC certification in 1998 and has won a plethora of gold and silver medals in cold food, hot food and ice carving competitions.

Over the last 20 years, Chef Jay has given back to his community and to his fellow chefs
by participated in numerous charity events and serving as an officer in the Atlanta Chapter
of the ACF. Recently, Chef Yarbrough was the Chef Chair for the 2015 “Give Me Five” Share
Our Strength dinner, a tremendous honor. He also participated in the 2011 event, which typically raises more than $50,000 to end childhood hunger.

“The ACF has most influenced my career by allowing me to work with some of the
best chefs in the country,” Chef Yarbrough says. “The insight, knowledge and exposure
to an array of techniques from your peers in a positive and cooperative environment is
priceless. I feel it is essential for chefs to get out of their kitchens occasionally and interact with fellow chefs. Most chefs’ daily duties are so intense, they must concentrate solely on their kitchen. In my case, I have three restaurants and a banquet operation to manage. Therefore, I look forward to being involved in special events and dinners.”

Chef Jay’s personal culinary style is a mix of classical European classical methods and regional influences of the Deep South, Mexico and the Caribbean. He is particularly interested in modernizing old Southern recipes with a contemporary approach to satisfy the needs of an increasingly well educated dining audience.


Career Education Announces Planned Discontinuation of Le Cordon Bleu Operations

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Career EducatiLe Cordon Bleuon Corporation announced that it will begin a gradual process of discontinuing the operations of its Le Cordon Bleu North America colleges of culinary arts. Le Cordon Bleu will no longer enroll new students after the January 2016 student cohort begins classes. The Company also announced that it has extended its credit agreement with its lender.


Career Education had previously been engaged in advanced negotiations with a potential buyer interested in acquiring all of the Company’s Le Cordon Bleu campuses. These discussions, and discussions with alternative parties, did not lead to an agreement the Company felt was suitable to complete a transfer of ownership that would protect student, faculty and stockholder interests. The decision to teach out the Le Cordon Bleu campuses is aligned with the Company’s strategic decision to divest or teach-out the remaining institutions of its former Career Colleges segment, which was previously announced in May 2015. As part of a “teach-out,” students making reasonable academic progress will have the opportunity to complete their program. All Le Cordon Bleu campuses are projected to remain open until September 2017.

“New federal regulations make it difficult to project the future for career schools that have higher operating costs, such as culinary schools that require expensive commercial kitchens and ongoing food costs,” said Todd Nelson, president and CEO of Career Education. “Despite our best efforts to find a new caretaker for these well-renowned culinary colleges, we could not reach an agreement that we believe was in the best interests of both our students and our stockholders.”

Le Cordon Bleu North America offers hands-on educational programs in culinary arts, as well as patisserie and baking, to students at 16 campuses located in cities across the United States.



Chef Stephen McGuffin Opens Cafe Highlands

Monday, December 21st, 2015

McguffinChef/restaurateur Stephen McGuffin opened Café Highlands in the space that formerly housed Café 640 in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood of Atlanta on December 18th. McGuffin’s resume spans two decades of restaurant industry experience ranging from French fine dining to down-home Southern fare, but his vision for Café Highlands combines progressive American cuisine with the atmosphere of a neighborhood bar and grill.

“I’ve worked in Poncey-Highland for many years, and I love its walkability and proximity to so many of the city’s unique intown neighborhoods,” says McGuffin of why he chose the location. “My goal is to become a neighborhood staple where guests can easily drop in any time of day for a simple yet satisfying meal. We are offering local, approachable food and the type of courteous service that immediately puts guests at ease.”

A graduate of the Culinary Institute in Montgomery, Alabama, McGuffin’s career began under renowned chef/restaurateur Charlie Palmer. He went on to hold executive chef and ownership positions in some of Atlanta’s restaurants including Dish, Parker’s on Ponce, Solstice Café and Vine. His track record of menu design and effective management and training styles has also allowed him to consult for 13 restaurants throughout the Southeast.

McGuffin’s “source locally, cook globally” philosophy is the basis for Café Highlands’ menu of lunch, dinner and brunch, which he produces with the help of chef de cuisine Brad Allan, who worked under him at Parker’s on Ponce.

To complement McGuffin’s and Allan’s approachable fare, “liquid chef” Nick Moody has designed a beverage program that showcases classic cocktails and other cask-aged libations on tap along with nitro beers.

TCafe Highlandshe structure that houses Café Highlands was built in 1927, and the décor reflects a polished, industrial theme. The space remains airy, Edison bulb lighting provides texture while historical photographs of Atlanta’s growth over time adorn the walls. Café Highlands seats 80 guests indoors and an additional 40 on the covered patio. For private events, the restaurant has access to The Highland Inn’s ballroom, which can hold up to 220 people.

Café Highlands is located at 640 North Highland Avenue


ACF Atlanta Chefs Association Culinary Competition

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

December 19, 2015, Athens Technical College, Monroe, GA. For more information, visit American Culinary Federation


Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Takes on Second Equity Investor

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Rutherford SeydelUncle Maddio’s Pizza announced today that Rutherford Seydel, attorney, conservationist and business investor, who has been part of the Atlanta Hawks ownership since 2003, has acquired a minority share of Uncle Maddio’s and has agreed to serve on the Board of Advisors. Seydel’s investment comes on the heels of a minority share acquisition from S&S Investments.

Both Seydel and S&S view Uncle Maddio’s as the pioneer and leader of the category and a brand positioned for continued growth. The investors cited the experienced leadership team and the nationwide franchisee interest as strong indicators of its potential and believe Uncle Maddio’s is the best-in-class fast-casual pizza concept around.

“I have spent my career leading and working with many great Atlanta brands and organizations,” said Seydel.

Seydel became one of the first investors in Moe’s Southwest Grill, a concept co-founded by Uncle Maddio’s CEO Matt Andrew, among other brands. Seydel is a partner in the law firm of Davis, Pickren, Seydel & Sneed, and is an active part of its growing real estate, franchising and business transactions practices. He is married to environmental champion Laura Turner Seydel, the daughter of Ted Turner. Laura and Rutherford are co-founders of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and he is the Board Chairman.

Uncle Maddio’s will use the capital to augment the company’s infrastructure and human capital, as the fast-casual pizza chain plans to triple the staff in its headquarters to 30 people this year – a strategy aimed at both enriching franchisee support, as well as staying abreast on cutting-edge technology. Currently, Uncle Maddio’s operates 44 locations in 14 states.

“Rutherford Seydel brings with him an unmatched network of business connections and experience,” said Matt Andrew. “As we grow, his input and insight will be invaluable to our brand.”


December Cheese Course: French Classics 201

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

December 16, 2015, Star Provisions, Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit Star Provisions


#FLIPGives Day Benefiting For The Kid In All Of Us

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

December 16, 2015, Buckhead, GA. For more information, visit FLIP Burger Boutique


Rreal Tacos Opens in Midtown

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Adrian VillarrealExecutive chef and owner Adrian Villarreal debuts Rreal Tacos, a new taqueria located in Atlanta’s Midtown district. Chef Villarreal’s first independent concept offers a dynamic social atmosphere along side of Mexican fare inspired by Villarreal’s Mexican heritage.

Trained at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, chef Villarreal has worked in kitchens both abroad and in Atlanta, where he most recently served as chef de cuisine to chef Richard Blais at The Spence, executive chef at TAP Gastropub and as chef de partie at JOËL Brasserie. At Rreal Tacos, he combines his culinary experience with the Mexican traditions of his childhood, promising enhanced back-to-the-basics fare.

“I am delighted to open the doors of Rreal Tacos,” said Villarreal. “Rreal is an opportunity for me to expand upon my passions while also paying homage to my culture and childhood. Many of the concept’s elements stem from my experimentation with different techniques and flavors in my pursuit to redefine familiar and authentic Mexican cuisine, and I can’t wait for everyone to try it out.”

Rreal Tacos’ interior includes rustic concrete floors and high ceilings with brightly colored accents, the modern space is at once industrial and contemporary. Guests will find a space lit up by authentic Talavera tiles, imported from Puebla, Mexico, red pendant lighting and orange chairs. Ebony-stained pine fixtures and hickory table tops balance the restaurant’s many bright colors. Seating will be available at custom-designed wooden booths and blue painted parson tables, including a communal table seating 12 to 16 guests with picnic bench seating.

The fast-casual Mexican destination is located in Midtown, on 6th Street between Peachtree and Juniper Street.

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