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Chef Ron Eyester Returns to Food 101

Food 101 Chef Ron Eyester, photo by Henry Hollis

November marks the 18th anniversary of Food 101 and the return of Ron Eyester, Food 101’s executive chef from 2001 to 2008 and “Top Chef” Boston chef contestant. Eyester is managing both the kitchen and the dining room. Eyester is refreshing the lunch, dinner and brunch menus, overseeing a departure from heavier, Southern-slanted cuisine and finding inspiration in the essence of Food 101’s early days.

Eyester’s culinary career first began in Charleston, but he developed his skills as both a chef and restaurant owner in Atlanta, where he went on to open four of his own restaurants after purchasing Food 101’s Morningside space from 101 Concepts in 2008. Eventually, Eyester’s larger-than-life personality would make him a Twitter phenomenon and secure him a spot on season 12 of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” In the next phase of his career, Eyester launched I Dig Food, a consulting brand in which he partners with other local restaurateurs to curate food-inspired events. One such event was “Smoke A Peach” with 101 Concepts’ Smoke Ring, and he and the 101 team look forward to developing more of those events in the future.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this homecoming,” says Eyester. “Sandy Springs has become such a bustling area, and we’re just minutes away from Buckhead and other booming neighborhoods. It’s a great time to strengthen Food 101’s momentum with new menus that are more reflective of our original vision. This is a restaurant that has stood the test of time by consistently offering top-quality ingredients and satisfying dishes while still keeping things new and exciting for guests.”

Eyester looks to his New York background and the restaurants where he grew up eating to bring a “new age diner” feel to Food 101’s latest offerings, expanding the current focus on Southern fare in favor of a more comprehensive American menu. His menu changes emphasize the craft of comfort food, highlighting the traditions involved and the patience required to create these dishes. Eyester, who has always been heavily involved in the Eat Local movement, is also adding lighter dishes to the mix, giving guests more options than just the heavier items often associated with comfort food. Food 101 has a renewed focus on providing the ultimate brunch experience, which is one of Eyester’s specialties.

“It’s been an honor to be a part of the Sandy Springs community for the past 18 years, and we are looking forward to getting back to our roots,” says 101 Concepts co-owner Steve Buero. “Ron really found his niche in neighborhood dining and shares our commitment to serving the community, so having him back on our team is helping us revisit Food 101’s original concept and what made the restaurant a local landmark in the first place.”

New lunch and dinner menu selections include the following starters and entrées:

Braised Lamb Shank, photo by Henry Hollis

• Honey and lemon glazed smoked chicken wings with fresh herbs and slightly pickled carrots ($10)
• “Green goddess” glazed Brussels sprouts with scallions and toasted almonds ($9.50)
• Connie’s chopped salad with romaine hearts, white beans, radish, tomatoes, shaved fennel, fried capers and buttermilk cucumber and dill dressing ($10)
• Ahi tuna “au poivre” with garlic spinach, horseradish celeriac puree and soy-balsamic reduction ($28)
• Braised lamb shank with butternut squash puree, slightly pickled mushrooms and natural jus ($28)
• “Shake & bake” pork cutlets with cranberry-cheddar mac’ and cheese, green beans and applesauce ($24)
• Lavender & lemon poached salmon with grilled romaine, local apple and caper relish and dill aioli ($24)
• Red Hare Root Beer BBQ St. Louis-style ribs with chopped Southern slaw and house-made steak fries ($26)

Weekend brunch, another well-known strength of Eyester’s, now features items such as the following:

Skillet Pancake, photo by Henri Hollis

• Fried cheese grits with smoked pineapple aioli ($7)
• “Skinny brunch” with sliced organic tomatoes, grilled asparagus, leeks, fresh herbs and soft poached eggs ($13)
• Skillet pancake with sorghum-sea salt butter, Vermont maple syrup and 10x sugar ($10)
• “Pastrami” cured salmon Benedict with baby arugula, soft poached eggs and hollandaise ($15)


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