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Archive for May, 2016

James Beard Winner RJ Cooper Welcomed as Executive Chef at 5Church Atlanta

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

The restaurant team behind 5Church Atlanta, the third location of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based modern American restaurant, has hired James Beard Award winner RJ Cooper as the restaurant’s executive chef. Slated to open this spring at the corner of 14th and Peachtree Streets in Midtown, 5Church will serve a technique-driven menu led by Cooper under the culinary direction of partner Jamie Lynch, who also oversees the menus of the Charlotte and Charleston, South Carolina, locations.

Cooper, who began his career working under famed chefs Guenter Seeger at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead and Gilbert Le Coze at Brasserie Le Coze in Atlanta, is collaborating with Lynch to design an eclectic menu that represents both the well-rounded nature of 5Church’s owners – Lynch, Patrick Whalen, Ayman Kamel and Alejandro Torio – and the city of Atlanta.

“RJ and I both have a penchant for exciting the palate,” says Lynch of the similarities in their cooking styles. “I think Atlanta diners will appreciate us pushing the envelope with our dishes.”

Like Lynch, Cooper began his career working under culinary heavyweights and earning an impressive pedigree while developing a passion for modern cuisine. Both approach food with a progressive style that is grounded in French cooking fundamentals and showcases local ingredients.

“RJ’s cooking philosophy aligns very closely with our management style – we all seek to challenge the culinary status quo,” says managing partner Kamel, who lives in Atlanta and will operate the restaurant locally. “He knows his way around the culinary landscape of Atlanta, and his pioneering skills will serve the city’s discerning diners well.”

A Detroit native who attended the Culinary School at Kendall College in Chicago, Cooper has an impressive list of accomplishments under his belt. After his time in Atlanta, he went on to work under Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin in New York City and Brasserie Le Coze in Miami, Florida, before returning The Crow’s Nest Restaurant at Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska, to its original four-star, five-diamond rating.

He went on to generate accolades in Washington, DC, as the executive chef at New Heights Restaurant and then at Vidalia, where he worked for seven years with esteemed chef and owner Jeffrey Buben. While at Vidalia, Cooper was instrumental in the creation of tasting table “24,” received a 2006 Star Chefs Rising Star Award and the 2007 James Beard Award for Best Mid-Atlantic Chef.

In 2011, he moved on to open his first restaurant, Rogue 24, in Washington D.C. An innovative cooking lair that featured a 24-course menu, Rogue 24 was the city’s first of its kind and earned a three-star review from The Washington Post. Cooper’s second restaurant, Gypsy Soul, opened in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2014, featuring a progressive menu with Mid-Atlantic and Southern influences. Now, he looks forward to furthering his Southern-inspired fare in Atlanta.


South City Kitchen Buckhead is Open

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

South City Kitchen Buckhead by Fifth Group Restaurants opened for its first dinner and lunch services. Located at 3350 Peachtree Road in Buckhead, the restaurant is the third location of South City Kitchen. The restaurant remains true to the concept’s tradition of authentic yet sophisticated southern cuisine and genuine hospitality while offering guests a more contemporary environment within the multi-level, urban space.

Executive chef Jason Starnes, previously of The Sun Dial, will helm the kitchen boasting a curated mix of traditional and contemporary Southern cuisine – a unique blend of the South City Kitchen specialties that have made the concept so beloved as well as seasonal dishes created by chef Starnes exclusively for the Buckhead location. Signature dishes include she-crab soup, fried green tomatoes, buttermilk fried Springer Mountain Farms chicken and shrimp and Red Mule grits, among others, while Buckhead exclusives include pickled shrimp with crunchy vegetables, pickled jalapenos and watercress; local strawberry and wood sorrel salad with pickled green strawberries, Bermuda triangle goat cheese and strawberry gazpacho; smokey grilled pork chop with barbecued hazelnuts, cornbread puree, charred broccolini and sorghum vinaigrette; and spiced grilled quail with Carolina risotto, lemon-tomato jus and crispy okra.

Fifth Group’s executive pastry chef Eric Wolitzky also draws on the traditions of the South to offer an expanded selection of cakes and pies exclusively for the Buckhead location with a “southern desserts: redefined” theme. The result is a diverse dessert menu with creative, modern twists on eight classic southern desserts from puddings and cobblers to cakes and pies. Dessert dishes include banana bread brulee pudding, beet red velvet cake, sourdough beignetswith pecan pie filling and chocolate caramel angel pie.

South City Kitchen Buckhead’s wine program, developed by Fifth Group Restaurants’ operating partner and director of food and beverage standards Vajra Stratigos, offers a selection of wines from around the world. Stratigos has leveraged his deep knowledge and passion for wine to find a selection of sommelier gems and age them appropriately. There is a new special section of the Buckhead menu specifically created to honor these specialty offerings.

Staying true to Southern traditions, the cocktail program focuses heavily on bourbon and offers exclusive collections. The cornerstone of the bourbon offerings is the new South City Kitchen barrel program. This one-of-a-kind program leverages Fifth Group’s standing relationships with individual distilleries and wineries to create something exciting yet familiar. The three tapped barrels are proudly displayed above the bar and will be changed on an ongoing basis as the barrels are emptied. The initial barrels will feature a spicy rye whiskey (High West) rested in a zesty Russian river Stuhlmuller zinfandel barrel; a custom Woodford whiskey blend exclusively for Buckhead; and a summertime whiskey staple of the South, the mint julep cocktail.

The Buckhead location occupies 6,000 square feet on the first floor of the 3350 Peachtree building facing Peachtree Road, in the heart of Buckhead’s business district. Created through a collaborative vision between Fifth Group Restaurants and John Barton of Parkway Properties, the space accommodates 220 seats, and the spacious design allows for 155 guests in the dining room, including a private dining room seating up to 50 guests as well as 65 seats on the various patios. Also exclusive to the Buckhead location is an open-air second story patio overlooking Peachtree Road for guests to enjoy. Additional features include an all-season patio along Peachtree Road, a porch with a fireplace and an outdoor fire pit area.


Georgia Restaurant Week Returns for the Second Year

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) and the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Division (GDEcD) have partnered together once again to create the second annual Georgia Restaurant Week. This seven day culinary event is aimed at increasing awareness about Georgia’s culinary scene and highlighting the state’s unique and varied dining options.

Georgia Restaurant Week will take place July 18-24, 2016 at participating restaurants throughout Georgia. During this week-long event, consumers, both local and from out of state, can explore the numerous dining options throughout the state for lunch and dinner for a set price and experience the local Georgia products that are available in Georgia’s restaurants. This event is sponsored by Flavors Magazine and Split and is done in partnership with OpenTable. Georgia Restaurant Week will display Georgia’s restaurants to patrons and attract new visitors through culinary tourism.

“We are very excited to bring back Georgia Restaurant Week for a second year and continue our partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development,” said Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association. “Georgia has over 17,000 foodservice establishments, and we want to continue showcasing our restaurants to locals and visitors. Our goal is to create awareness about our industry and the Georgia Restaurant Association, but we also just want visitors to have fun and experience the different styles and menu choices we have available in our state.”

“Georgia’s cities, towns and back roads are filled with authentic restaurants that feature our locally-grown products from every region of the state, and Georgia Restaurant Week is the chance for hundreds of participating restaurants to showcase their culinary achievements,” said Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner of tourism at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “From fine dining to casual eats, restaurants across the state are serving up their best menu items, special promotions and discounts. I encourage our locals and visitors to sample Georgia’s newest restaurants, visit some old favorites and taste the exceptional dishes being created by our world-class chefs.”

Leading up to the event, patrons will be able to view menu options, price details and make reservations online. Additionally, guests and participating restaurants can stay engaged and share their experiences via social media using the hashtag #GARestaurantWeek and tagging Georgia Restaurant Week’s various social media channels.


A Green Business Model

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

By Hope S. Philbrick


Parsley’s Catering in Marietta has been serving “Fresh Creative Cuisine” since 1983. In 2009, when Chef/Owner Marc Sommers took over the business that his mom had launched, he made sustainability a priority. “We try to be at the forefront of sustainability and organic food,” he says.

His current sustainable practices include sourcing locally grown and organic products, operating low-flow sinks and other water-saving devices, recycling, composting, using bio-degradable plates, utensils, cups and sandwich boxes, sustainable pest control, and using solar power. Parsley’s Catering’s solar panels divert nearly 9,000 pounds of CO2 from being consumed – the equivalent of taking eight cars off the road each year.

“To me, sustainability is not taking away, it’s part of the business,” says Sommers. “It seems like it is the right way to do business. A lot of people use it as a springboard to charge more; we never took that approach. It’s our business model, and it sometimes helps the bottom line such as with energy efficiency.”

Sommers also advocates working with other businesses and farmers in your area.

“Sourcing local keeps the money in the community,” he says. “If I’m buying from a farmer it may be more expensive, but that money goes directly to the farmer and I’m getting a high-quality product.”

Sommers was inspired to make his business “green” after spending time in Asheville, N.C., and Portland, Ore. “Their focus was inspiring,” he says. “It’s a great model of what Atlanta could be doing – even a local pizza place used fresh yeast from a local brewery.”

While Georgia is making strides toward more environmentally conscious business practices, it could benefit from looking at how these cities have created an overall sense of unity.

“People in those communities are very serious about how things tie together, and it was nice to see that. In Oregon sustainability is the norm, not the exception. People want to make things better for the neighborhood and surrounding environment. Here it was hard to get solar panels.”

The company recently partnered with Alpharetta-based Closed Loop Organics, which composts all organic materials. Along with its recycling program, this leaves very little for the landfills, reducing the company’s impact on the environment and resources even more.

The catering company also serves as a host spot for the local CSA Jackson Lowe Vegetable Farm where members can pick up their weekly box of locally grown produce.

“I don’t want to leave a big impact,” says Sommers. “I don’t want to have a trail of things behind me that I’m not proud of. I don’t like throwing plastic into the trash. I don’t like harming others. We can limit our impact on the planet and community. I think that’s awesome.”


10 Not-So-Obvious Ways to Go Green

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

By Christy Simo

It’s 2016, so by now we all know we should recycle our kitchen waste and compost food scraps. And it’s a no-brainer that the easiest thing you can do to reduce your energy usage is change out those old incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs.

But what are some other ways you can lessen your restaurant’s environmental impact? Here are 10 ways your restaurant can be more sustainable and add more money to the bottom line that you may not have thought of.

  1. Check your walk-in seals. Torn gaskets or dirty seals can cause air to leak through, upping your energy costs.
  2. Replace your take-out containers. Get rid of polystyrene foam packaging – aka Styrofoam. It’s already banned in more than 100 cities and counties throughout the U.S., including New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., and there are many other options these days to choose from.
  3. In-house filtration systems. Instead of selling bottled water, consider adding an on-site filtration system, many of which can serve both still and carbonated purified water. Then serve the water in reusable bottles.
  4. Recycle fryer oil. There are several biofuel companies in Georgia that will pick up your cooking grease and convert it to biodiesel – some even pay you to collect and haul it away.
  5. Grow a garden. It doesn’t have to be as in-depth as raised beds and seasonal produce. It can be as simple as planting some herbs in a few flower pots, or you can think bigger and incorporate a few edibles into the landscaping around your restaurant – just make sure you’re not spraying them with any toxic fertilizers or sprays.
  6. Use non-toxic pest control. Both indoors and out, there are more eco-friendly options than ever to keep bugs and vermin away without introducing chemicals into your environment.
  7. Print paper menus with soy-based ink. You can then throw it in with the compost when you’re ready to print a new one.
  8. Clean green. Trade non-biodegradable chemical kitchen cleaners for eco-safe and biodegradable ones.
  9. Reduce your linens use. Keeping all those tablecloths and napkins clean requires a huge amount of bleach, starches and chemicals. Opt for soft cloth napkins instead of starched, stay away from white linens if possible, and consider getting rid of tablecloths entirely.
  10. Educate your staff. No matter what efforts you decide to implement, you have to make sure everyone’s on board if you want it to succeed. Tell your staff what you’re doing and why – they can then spread the word to your diners and also feel like they are playing a part in your efforts. They may have other ideas and suggestions to make your business even more sustainable, too.

Atlanta’s 28th Annual Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry Raises $740,000

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

The 28th anniversary celebration of Atlanta’s Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry raised $740,000 to end childhood hunger in Atlanta and across America. More than 1,200 guests gathered at the Georgia Aquarium on Thursday, April 28, for the special gala featuring gourmet samplings from nearly 50 of Atlanta’s most celebrated chefs, as well as live, silent and beverage auctions, wine and cocktail tastings and live entertainment.

All of the proceeds from Atlanta’s Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry will help fund Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry efforts in Georgia and nationally as well as provide funding to Atlanta-based beneficiaries including Atlanta Community Food Bank, Cooking Matters Georgia, Our House, Captain Planet Foundation, Georgia Citizen’s Coalition on Hunger, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute and The Georgia Food Bank Association who administers the “Feeding for a Promising Future – No Kid Hungry” campaign in Georgia.

“Children and families in need are getting healthy meals today – and every day – because of the generous support of the Atlanta community over the past 28 years,” said Debbie Shore, Co-Founder of Share Our Strength.
Thanks in part to funds raised from Taste of the Nation events across the U.S. since the campaign’s launch, No Kid Hungry and their partners’ efforts have helped bring more than 460 million additional meals to kids who need them.

Pano Karatassos, founder of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, initiated Atlanta’s Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry in 1988 and has chaired the event each year since. He was accompanied by co-chair George McKerrow, president and CEO of Ted’s Montana Grill, in 2000 to lead the event. Ed Roland, lead vocalist for rock bands Collective Soul and Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project, served as honorary chair and Marc Murphy, owner of Benchmarc Restaurants, Author and Judge on Food Network’s Chopped, joined the event as the honorary chef.

Commended as the premier culinary benefit in the country, Taste of the Nation is a model for successful fundraisers from coast to coast. One of over 20 Taste of the Nation events held across the country, the Atlanta event has granted more than $10 million since 1989 and continues to make a significant contribution to Share Our Strength’s work ending childhood hunger in America.

About Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® Campaign
No child should go hungry in America, but 1 in 5 kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. When we all work together, we can make sure kids get the healthy food they need. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength.


Bombay Brasserie Opens in Roswell

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Restaurant owners Ricky Walia and Sunny Minhas want to mesmerize diners with the sumptuous fare that has deeply colored both their childhood and adult memories, and they’re going to do it with the opening of Bombay Brasserie in Roswell. Following on the heels of Walia’s successful Masti – Fun Indian Street Eats in Toco Hills, the adventurous chef has teamed up with co-owner, partner and managing director Minhas on this new restaurant. They are not only sharing favorite traditional Indian dishes but also creating new ones by incorporating Chinese, European and American influences. Bombay Brasserie is located at 900 Mansell Road in Mansell Oaks Plaza, near the corner of Alpharetta Highway.

“My idea is to bring a more upscale boutique Indian restaurant to Atlanta,” Walia says. “I’ve been having so much fun experimenting with many different foods and flavors. The menu features beloved Indian dishes like chicken tikka masala, vegetable pakoras and meat samosas, but we’re also adding many innovative dishes.”

Some of Walia’s new favorites include lamb chops gently spiced with cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger and chiles. He says, “After being marinated in yogurt for 48 hours, they are grilled to perfection. The tandoori salmon is also marinated in special tandoori spices and yogurt, then grilled. It’s served on a sizzling patter and melts in your mouth with that first bite.”

Walia believes his mustard greens with spinach, Indian butter and cornbread will also become a big hit. Other palate pleasers on the menu include garlic seared lamb chops, pav bhaji fondue, kurkuri bhindi fries and black tiger tandoori prawns.

To help diners witness culinary creativity in action, Walia and Minhas custom-ordered two copper-encased clay tandoori ovens from Jaipur, India. “It took two and a half months to get them, but it was worth the wait,” Walia says. “Our guests have a front row seat to a great performance.”

A masterful mixologist, Walia continues refining the restaurant’s creative cocktail menu. “We are infusing traditional liquors with exotic spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric and beetle leaves,” he says. “We are also offering a wide variety of local craft beer and wines.”

Like sister restaurant Masti, Bombay Brasserie’s atmosphere combines the best of rustic and contemporary decor, melding natural materials and traditional art pieces with India’s bright color palette. “I look forward to seeing friends gather on the 40-seat covered patio to relax with our hookah selection,” Walia says. “I also have a feeling some guests may prefer to sit inside on Friday and Saturday nights when our talented belly dancers will have them dancing in their seats.”


Brew at the Zoo

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

May 28, 2016, Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit Zoo Atlanta


International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event at the NRA Show

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

May 22-23, 2016, McCormick Place, Chicago, IL. For more information, visit BAR 16 at NRA Show


Dahlonega Arts & Wine Festival

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

May 21-22, 2016, Dahlonega, GA. For more information, visit Dahlonega Arts & Wine Festival

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