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Archive for December, 2016

A Run for American Culinary Federation National President

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

By Eric J. Karell CEC,CCA,AAC and Culinary Consultant

michael diehl, acfMichael Deihl, CEC,CCA, AAC, Board Chairman and the Executive Chef/Culinary Director of Blue Frog Foods, has announced his intention to seek the office of National President of the American Culinary Federation. Chef Deihl is currently the Southeast Regional President of the ACF and has a long history of involvement and advocacy for the organization.

The ACF is a volunteer-driven organization with elections every two years. Deihl says that if elected, he hopes to hire a full-time, paid CEO, COO or President to help establish sustained growth, member support and sponsor relationship building.

“After serving on the National Board for the last three years, I have seen some very caring and committed people trying to make the best decisions they know how,” Deihl says. But, he notes, “Who could run and grow a successful culinary program or business with a new boss every two to four years who has a different idea of what direction the business should take?”

Deihl has agreed to be nominated for President at the 2017 national convention in Orlando this July. “I have no hidden agenda, one term to hopefully make the necessary bylaws changes and hire a full-time CEO then allow the professionals to do their jobs,” he says. As a starting point, Chef Deihl has outlined his three major points of emphasis.

1. Provide Choice. Members will have a real say in the direction of the ACF for the first time ever.

2. Hire a Full-time CEO/President. The new leader will work with the national ACF office to establish consistency in planning and execution of the organization’s future.

3. Create an Advisory Board. The advisory board will work with the current Board of Directors for execution and transition during Deihl’s first term. It should take about 18 months to 2 years to turn over the leadership to the right candidate, with the Advisory Board and current national board of directors establishing the qualifications, criteria and experience for the candidates to be interviewed for the new position.

Chef Michael Deihl spent 13 years as Executive Chef of the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta before founding The Michael Deihl Group, LLC after realizing the need for high-quality culinary professionalism in today’s Food & Beverage arena. He is also the co-founder of Operation Chefs Unite, which in conjunction with the USO has fed more than one million soldiers passing through the Atlanta Airport. He has helped coach numerous Atlanta Junior Hot Food Teams and High School Pro Start Culinary Teams and has also taught culinary arts as an adjunct professor for more than 15 years. In 2012, Chef Diehl was selected as one of only three chefs in the country to visit the White House for his dedicated work with the Chefs Move to School program, which teaches at-risk elementary students about healthy eating choices. He is the 1998 and 2006 ACF Chapter Chef of the Year, the 2005 Humanitarian of the Year and was named the Georgia Restaurant Association’s 2007 GRACE Award Winner for Distinguished Community Service.


Jamie Durrence of Daniel Reed Hospitality

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Jamie Durrence

GRACE 2016 Small-Independent Restaurateur of the Year Award: Jamie Durrence of Daniel Reed Hospitality

The way Jamie Durrence sees it, working in the restaurant industry is much more than a chance hold a job – or even make a good living.

It’s also an opportunity to be an ambassador for one of Georgia’s most important industries.
And, in Durrence’s case, for Savannah.

Durrence is managing partner of Daniel Reed Hospitality, which owns five Savannah Historic District restaurants: Local11ten, Perch, The Public Kitchen & Bar, Soho South Cafe and its newest concept, Artillery. The company also has plans to open Daniel Reed’s Public Kitchen & Bar next year in Atlanta.

Raised on a family farm an hour west of Savannah, the former national-champion equestrian delights in celebrating and sharing Savannah’s uniqueness to all-comers.

“My history in the industry is both a growing-up story and a love affair,” he says.

Durrence says competition, rising food costs and increased regulations are inspiring restaurant operators to change the way they do things, he says. “Many operators will need to reinvent their strategies to remain profitable,” he says.

Among Durrence’s fortes in the restaurant business is relationship building; he says he still recalls the names and faces of co-workers at his first restaurant job 16 years ago at Ruby Tuesday’s in Vidalia.

Durrence returned to the restaurant business a year after working in New York City upon graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design.

“It was this foundation that led me to experience how great of a fit the industry is for my gregarious personality and my drive to succeed in a fast-paced work environment,” he says. Durrence says he thinks the keys to a successful, fulfilling career in restaurants is the same as in any other industry. It’s a matter of hard work and finding your passion, he says.

“To put it simply to those who wish to grow their careers in hospitality, my advice is always the same: Do what you love,” he says.

Meanwhile, he says his best motivational tool for his associates is his enthusiasm.

Durrence says he’s motivated by progress, paying success forward and helping others. And by his parents.

“My parents rose with the sun to keep their farm going – a practice they still participate in today,” he says. “Their dedication is a constant reminder that hard work builds character and that … hard work is never without its rewards.”

Asked to cite the industry’s hottest trends, Durrence says the revitalization of the neighborhood grocery as a hybrid restaurant option is among the most intriguing.

“We will see grocery operators step up their game to attract would-be diners to eat or take home their fresh-cooked meals instead of partaking in the traditional dining-out experience,” he says.

Meanwhile, Durrence says the industry is trending toward “getting back to the basics,” which is a tribute to concepts that have stood the test of time.

“With the marketing continually flooded with new concepts,” he says, “many diners will begin to come full circle back to the tried-and-true establishments.” – KH


Paul Macaluso Promoted to Brand President of McAlister’s Deli

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

FOCUS Brands has promoted Paul Macaluso to President of McAlister’s Deli, a leading fast-casual restaurant chain best known for its Big & Bold Sandwiches, Famous Sweet Tea and world class hospitality which was recently ranked as one of consumers’ favorite chains by Restaurant Business.

“By leveraging his extensive restaurant experience, keen consumer insights knowledge and strategic marketing and operating skills Paul will continue to identify and execute against key growth drivers for McAlister’s. I am confident he will provide leadership to our franchisees and drive continued brand performance in this industry leading concept,” said FOCUS Brands President, North America, Paul Damico.

Paul’s background includes more than 20 years of operations, franchising and marketing experience with some of the most prominent brands in the foodservice industry, including Taco Bell, Burger King, and Sonic Drive-In. Since joining FOCUS Brands in 2011 as Vice President of Marketing for Moe’s Southwest Grill, Paul has successfully grown into several significant roles within the organization, effectively developing and executing new branding, advancing consumer insights deployment, leading high functioning teams and identifying notable sales driving innovations that have helped the brands continue to deliver superior results.

Most recently, as SVP of Brand Marketing Strategy, Paul led the collective marketing capabilities for all six brands that are a part of FOCUS Brands; developing long term, consumer-driven, strategic planning processes, creating a marketing center of excellence for creative, social media and PR and playing an instrumental role in developing a digital roadmap across the enterprise.

“I am honored to have this opportunity, and excited to lead the great McAlister’s team and brand in its next stage of growth and innovation,” said Paul Macaluso, President of McAlister’s Deli.


Innovative Cocktails Programs Debuts at AG

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Steakhouse AG, which debuted in September in downtown Atlanta, is introducing a new beverage program. Spearheaded by assistant director of food and beverage Diego Gentili, AG’s bar offerings emphasize classic cocktails elevated with seasonality and homemade ingredients and garnishes.

The restaurant’s new and experimental beverage program features an extensive menu of classic cocktails and several variations on martinis and gin and tonics, as well as seven different types of ice created in-house, including carved ice, perfect cubes, ice spheres and flavor-infused ice such as cucumber ice.

Highlights from the “Classics” section of the cocktail menu include the Bees Knees with Uncle Val’s gin, local honey syrup, citrus and fresh lavender, and the GA Peach Bellini with Ruggeri prosecco and fresh Georgia peaches. The Perfect Negroni features Plymouthgin, Campari and Carpano Antica, garnished with an AG orange peel, while the buzzworthy Smoky Old Fashioned incorporates AG’s signature Whistle Pig Old Fashioned recipe with a hickory-smoked glass, smoked bar-side.

For martini lovers, the restaurant will offer a full martini menu with multiple variations on the classic cocktail, including “Dirty” with Double Cross vodka, brine, truffle and blue cheese olives; “Vesper” featuring Tanqueray 10 gin, Belvedere vodka, Kina Lillet andolives; “Smoky Fourth Ward” with whisky-washed ice, Old Fourth gin, Dolin vermouth and a flamed orange peel; and of course the “Classic” with Dolin vermouth, Old Fourth gin or Old Fourth vodka – shaken or stirred and finished with lemon or olives.


Atlanta Braves Hit a Home Run With Chef Marc Taft’s FEED

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Growing up in Alabama, Marc Taft loved two things — the Atlanta Braves on TV and his grandmother’s juicy fried chicken. Now, the chef and restaurateur behind Marietta’s popular Chicken and the Egg is bringing his signature dish and some favorite Southern sides to The Battery Atlanta, the new live-work-play development adjacent to SunTrust Park, the brand-new home of the Atlanta Braves. FEED – Fried Chicken & Such is being readied to debut in March 2017, a month before first pitch.

“Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around a plate of my grandmother’s fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fresh pole beans and a warm biscuit or a hunk of cornbread,” says Taft. “In the South, fried chicken is practically a religion. It needs to be treated with respect, and that’s our mission at FEED.”

In addition to buckets of chicken, fried chicken tenders and Nashville hot chicken, FEED features other Southern favorites, including North Carolina catfish, Texas-style country fried steak, meatloaf, braised greens, macaroni and cheese, green beans and fried green tomatoes, all made from scratch. There will also be healthier options including grilled chicken and salads. Desserts will include soft serve ice cream, milk shakes, pies and other fresh baked treats.

“Our goal is to serve families a supper that tastes like the chicken I watched my grandmother fry up in her cast iron skillet each Sunday and for church socials,” says Taft. “It’s about starting with the highest quality chicken, using a unique brine and seasoning, and adding her special ingredient, love.”

While FEED will offer fast counter service on game days, diners coming for lunch and dinner the rest of the year can enjoy a more relaxed, full-service dining area as well. Thanks to The Battery Atlanta’s open container policy, beverages from the fully stocked bar can be taken outside the restaurant walls.

The 3,000-square-foot space designed by Jay George will evoke memories of the rural roadside eateries Taft ate at when traveling between Alabama and East Tennessee as a kid to see his grandmother.


ONE. midtown kitchen Announces Matt Weinstein as Executive Chef

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

ONE. midtown kitchen is proud to announce Chef Matt Weinstein as their Executive Chef. Weinstein, who hails from Woodfire Grill, was recently named to Zagat’s “30 under 30” list, an accolade that recognizes “gastronomic game changers”.

Since last July, Weinstein has been a Co-Chef at ONE alongside the talented Christopher Maher. The unprecedented Co-Chef announcement was met with acclaim from diners due to their different, yet complimentary, approaches. Now, Weinstein takes the reins with plans to offer intuitive modern cuisine inspired by global flavors and locally sourced ingredients at this Midtown staple. Maher has grand plans as well. He will be the new Executive Chef at a soon to be announced Concentrics’ concept located in Atlanta.

Weinstein works alongside an A-list front and back of the house team at ONE including Pastry Chef Danielle Smathers (recent winner of “Most Creative” dessert at Sweetest Chefs of the South 2016), Beverage Director Melissa Davis (formerly of Cakes & Ale, Woodfire Grill and The General Muir) and General Manager Kara Czaplicki (formerly with BOKA group Chicago).


Rise Biscuits Donuts Expands Existing Franchisee Territory to Develop Units in SC, GA and KY

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Rise Biscuits Donuts, Durham, NC’s award-winning concept featuring both sweet and savory breakfast and lunch options, has announced the signing of a multi-state development agreement that will introduce the Rise concept to Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky.

MDO Holdings, a Raleigh, NC based investment and management firm with a current portfolio of over 30 companies including such outstanding brands as O2 Fitness, Happy+Hale, Cyclebar and RISE Biscuits Donuts. MDO Holdings joined the Rise franchise system in June 2016 to develop locations in Georgia and South Carolina. In November MDO Holdings increased their development commitment to include Kentucky, bringing the total to almost 30-units. Their first store is projected to open in early 2017.

“We have always been fans of the Rise concept and brand, once we met the team we quickly discovered they share the same commitment to providing a great product and world class customer experience. We believe partnering with hard working, principled, and conscientious companies creates success. We found this with Rise and are excited to join them in their journey,” says Michael D Olander Jr, CEO of MDO Holdings.

In 2014 Rise partnered exclusively with Fransmart, the franchise development company behind the explosive growth of brands like Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Qdoba Mexican Grill, to grow the Rise brand. In the past two years, Rise has opened 6 more locations and has signed development agreements in 9 states. With almost 100 units in development, Rise is poised to continue expanding throughout the United States.


Dynamic Development for Downtown Roswell Begins in 2017 with Groundbreaking for Canton Place

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

After nearly four years in development, Roswell Inc., the Roswell Downtown Development Authority, Canton Place Development and Wells Fargo, in partnership with legendary Atlanta developer and Canton Place chairman Claude A. Petty, Jr. are pleased to announce a 2017 groundbreaking for an exciting new chapter for Historic Downtown Roswell, called Canton Place.

Designed as an enhancement to the thriving Downtown, plans for the site include a 110 to 120- room boutique hotel, 8,000 square foot special event space, chef-driven restaurant with rooftop dining, a luxury spa, an expansive park-like garden and an underground parking facility. Hotel Equities, an Atlanta-based company revered for its excellence in hospitality, will oversee the hotel’s operations.

“This represents a major game changer for Downtown Roswell,” says Roswell Inc. executive director Steve Stroud. “I’m most proud that this entire project was initiated by the passion of Roswell residents – people who live and work here who want to create a catalyst for continuing positive change for our next generation.”

“As a Roswell native, it is exciting to come up with a long-term solution to serve the needs of our vibrant Downtown,” says Canton Place Development’s Kevin Bryant. “We’re proud of our community, and we want the folks who are here for a wedding or on business to have a world-class reason to stay overnight and explore everything Downtown Roswell has to offer.”

Canton Place will be built at 37 Magnolia Street where Wells Fargo is currently located. The innovative plans will not interrupt business for local Wells Fargo customers. The new Wells Fargo facility will be constructed in phase one of the plan. “We’re always looking for ways to grow and better serve our community,” says Wells Fargo’s Scott Asher. “Canton Place is a great example of what a community can accomplish when we work together.”

“This is a vibrant, viable and sustainable blueprint for the next 40 years,” says Roswell Downtown Development Authority’s Monica Hagewood. It’s great to work with a local team that is as committed as we are to our continued growth and success. It’s an exciting time to live in Roswell.”

With its new dedicated underground parking area, a long-term solution to Historic Downtown Roswell’s parking challenges was hardwired into Canton Place’s development DNA from the first blueprint.

Canton Place chairman Claude Petty’s iconic career has included development of Piedmont Center, Atlanta Merchandise Mart, and later serving as a partner at PC Associates. “I’ve spent most of my career in community enhancement,” says Petty. “Canton Place was designed to serve as a new Downtown destination – a beautiful, comfortable, walkable place for us, the people of Roswell, and our guests to be.”

In the coming weeks, the team will make major announcements regarding architects, retail partners, boutique hotel brand, details about the chef-driven restaurant with rooftop dining, garden inspired by the vision for the Roswell City Green, and the free-standing adjacent spa that will pamper brides-to-be and local residents alike.


ACF Atlanta Chefs Association Monthly Meeting

Monday, December 5th, 2016

December 5, 2016, Location To Be Announced. For more information, visit ACF Atlanta Chefs Association


United Culinary Chef Association Annual Christmas Party

Friday, December 2nd, 2016
December 2, 2016 – Georgia Tech Conference Center Hotel, Atlanta.
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