April 11, 2014

Chef Darryl Evans

by James Oxendine

Another culinary star entered the celestial kitchen on February 26, 2014, when Chef Darryl Evans, passed away at age 52, after a protracted illness. Although slight in stature, Darryl Evans cast a giant shadow over Atlanta’s culinary landscape over the last 30 years with both his individual accomplishments and his mentoring of others whose contributions, in Atlanta and beyond, continue to grow.

Darryl E. Evans was born November 24, 1961 in Columbus, Georgia. He studied business administration at Chattahoochee Valley Community College, 1981-83; was enrolled in the National Apprenticeship Program, American Culinary Foundation, 1983-86; and became Certified Working Chef, 1991.

Evans began his distinguished culinary career as a chef’s apprentice in 1983 with the American Culinary Federation at the Cherokee Town and Country Club, which has been named the very best private club in America since 1997. Seven years later, he was appointed Executive Chef, a position he has held at several restaurants, country clubs and four Star-rated establishments including the prestigious City Club of Buckhead.” I would recommend my job to anyone who has a passion for food. It’s a valuable and exciting career that I love and has taken me all over the world and now, I am honored to be at City Club of Buckhead,” said Evans. Evans was also a founding board member of The Edna Lewis Foundation, founded in 2012 after the famed chef, cookbook author, and teacher, it is dedicated to honoring, preserving and nurturing African Americans’ culinary heritage and culture.

Famed Savannah chef Joe Randall said that this quote from Evans’ appearance on his television show provides the best insight to the man:” I give a little bit of my personality ”“But I don’t have to cover it up or add things to disguise it and make it something that it is not”. Star chef Todd Richards fine-tuned his talents in the kitchen under the direction of Chef Darryl E. Evans of whom he studied under for seven years. From Evans, Richards learned the skill of transforming food into works of art, which he takes seriously with each plate that leaves the kitchen. “I look at each plate as a canvas to express myself to the guest.

Chef Duane Nutter , top toque at the award winning One Flew South, recalled Evens’ influence on his career: ..”I will never forget when he told Todd & I you two made me step my game up y’all was some bad mother’s in that kitchen.” I’ve never met many men like him,” said Certified Master Chef Tom Catherall founder of Here to Serve Restaurants, a friend who gave him his first serious kitchen job at The Cherokee Town and Country Club.” He was a gentle soul whose smile could light up a room. “He cared about everyone.”
Evans leaves behind to cherish his memory a lovely wife Deborah, and 2 sons: Brandon and Branford-Michael.

April 1, 2014

Charred to Perfection

by Festival Co-Founder, Dominique Love

A guiding principle of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is that we want guests to leave our weekend saying “I heard it first …”, “I tasted it first …”, “I experienced it first … at Atlanta Food & Wine Festival.”  So, each year, we challenge our Advisory Council to develop off-the-beaten-path topics that have not yet been explored in a large format.  And, each year, our Advisory Council rises to the challenge, providing a few hundred ideas that are ultimately paired down to make our weekend’s 100+ classes.

This year, we’re seeing a number of really cool topics and one in particular has had me in awe:  charring.  In the past, we’ve seen chefs and mixologists experimenting with smoke to flavor dishes and cocktails but now we’re seeing them create flavor by charring their food and drinks.

Advisory Council member Gary Crunkleton, The Crunkleton in Chapel Hill, NC introduced me to charging when he developed a class concept to teach guests how to make burnt cocktails.  According to Crunkleton, “burning spirits not only creates a more flavorful cocktail but it also creates a reverse caloric intake.”

It took me a moment to get this but, basically, the flame burns the congeners in the alcohol, which represent a large portion of the calories found in distilled spirits.  Crunkleton explains that burning the spirits – the congeners – ultimately burns the calories. “Make it burn” suddenly has a new meaning and skinny margaritas and skinny martinis need to watch their backs!  Crunkleton will be adding an assortment of charred cocktails to his menu later this Spring.

Atlanta, Advisory Council member Chef Ford Fry, Rocketfarm Restaurants, and his team have spent the past several months exploring various burn processes to achieve the perfectly charred meat and seafood.  According to Fry, the biggest challenge is burning the exterior to create a thick, black, seasoned crust while making sure what is underneath the crust is still the perfect temperature.  Fry shared, “Right now, we’re really loving burnt meat with Aleppo chilli pepper, a fruity and mild spice that creates a crust with hints of vinegar and salt.” While Fry isn’t letting on to whether a char restaurant will be the next on his roster of new openings, he did say we should expect to see this emerging food trend on future menus.

Advisory Council member, Chef John Currence, City Grocery and Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford, MS, discovered the burn by accident.  It happened a little more than a year ago when Currence’s daughter was a newborn and, like most new parents, he was suffering from serious sleep deprivation. Currence explains, “I literally fell asleep while cooking breakfast and woke up when I smelled burning eggs.”  Too tired to remake his meal, Currence ate the burnt eggs and discovered a new tanginess he didn’t know eggs had.  Since falling asleep at the stove, Currence has jumped on the burning band wagon and guests should expect to see a charred egg cup appetizer with a dollop of Louisiana Ghost Pepper Caviar at City Grocery and a charred egg sandwich with pickled tomato relish and a side of spice-burnt bacon at Big Bad Breakfast. 

For Currence and many Southern chefs, ash has been an ingredient in food for years but he sees this move toward full-on charring as a new innovation, in part borrowed from the vision of cocktail chefs.  “While vegetable ash is benign and neutral in flavor, the bitterness of burned sugar and meat has the same appeal as Frenet and Amaro,” says Currence. 

Back to Atlanta, I sampled a dish from a soon-to-be-announced, char-style restaurant – Charred duck with a burnt sweet potato dumpling, red cabbage and dried cherry.  Definitely a meal for the books. 

To learn more about this year’s AF&WF classes, download our full schedule at

May 29, 2013

Arkansas to Atlanta – 21c Museum Hotels bringing chef Matthew McClure of The Hive

21c_Museum_Hotels_1Returning to Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for the third year, 21c Museum Hotels is a Gold Level Sponsor for this year’s festivities. Born out of a desire to integrate contemporary art into everyday life, 21c launched in downtown Louisville, Kentucky in 2006. Offering a compelling combination of cutting edge contemporary art, genuine hospitality, and chef-driven culinary experiences rich with local flavor, 21c reflects authentic modern Southern Hospitality.

Arkansas-native chef Matthew McClure will represent 21c at the festival on Sunday. Culinary creativity abounds at Bentonville’s newest dining destination, The Hive. With his refined country cooking, chef McClure’s menus showcase the unique culinary identity of Arkansas and the region’s farmers and producers. McClure’s cooking pays homage to the High South, highlighting ingredients such as black walnuts, freshly milled corn meal, hickory smoked hams, peaches, melons and sweet onions.

Swing by the Northwest Corner of the Tasting Tent Lawn to get a taste of McClure’s Leg of Lamb with bread and butter cabbage, field peas and romesco aioli. And The Hive team won’t let you leave thirsty. 21c Bentonville’s Kentucky roots will shine bright with a specialty cocktail featuring one of Kentucky’s finest Bourbons.

Want to talk local ingredients with chef McClure? Connect with @MatthewRMcClure on twitter or visit for reservations.

May 28, 2013

Welcome Back Michael Gulotta

Michael Gulotta.jpgI found myself standing on a stage in front of 300 people at 10:45am. I’m a little groggy, perhaps a touch too much bourbon the night before. I wasn’t supposed to be on this stage, with this particular group of food fans. They were looking forward to a fantastical cooking demo led by, ahem, a famous and very charismatic chef, who, due to extenuating circumstances, could not appear on said stage. So instead they got me, and my cohort, Chef Brian Landry. He was actually supposed to be there, but at this moment looked equally queasy and a little flustered. We weren’t ready.

I had no idea what we were preparing, or even what the demo was supposed to be about, and we had to fill sixty minutes of possible silence. As I felt the terror rising inside me, wondering why on earth I agreed to this, a good friend had the presence of mind snap me back into place. “Mike, here, you look like you need this, and remember we have two cases.”
Ahhh, tequila. A plan forms. I turn to Chef Landry, “Brian just get the first dish together and start cooking, I’m gonna stall them till you’re ready to speak.” I took another shot, shook off the daze and just opened my mouth hoping for the best.

I’m not exactly sure how we did it over the next hour, but we succeeded in getting the crowd to help us polish off the two cases. I spent a good portion preaching the good news of being a born-and-raised New Orleanian who spent his summers on the Gulf coast fishing and crabbing. The rest was spent heckling poor Chef Brian as he tried to actually be a professional, lead a cooking class and show people true technique. Something must have gone right, because by the end, the crowd was cheering and clapping as we handed out servings of oyster pasta and roasted pompano.

As I came down off the stage, and down off the surge of alcohol and charged adrenaline brought on from standing in front of a rapt audience for what ended up being eighty minutes, I realized I still had a long day and night ahead of me. There was only one way – gotta keep it going. Pulling from years of experience waking up at 7am to get to the Mardi Gras day parades with my family, starting with mimosas, fried eggs and grits, moving on to King Cakes and hard liquor around noon and finishing at 2am with duck and oyster gumbo with beer, I knew I could do it. I stashed the last bottle of tequila in my knife-bag; it was already time for us to get across town to start prepping for our New Orleans themed dinner.

The next four hours were spent in close company with an amazing team: Chefs John Currence, Kelly Fields, Brian Landry and Alon Shaya. Alon had missed the demo so we spent most of the time trying to catch him up with shots. Chef Currence, for one reason or another, was already pretty well liquored, but gladly jumped in round for round. I sliced nearly 400 paper thin discs of slow-cooked calves head roulade on a deli slicer. I still have all my fingers – don’t know how I accomplished that.

Alcohol, when consumed over the course of a day, has a tendency to speed up time. Before long the guests were arriving and we were sending out platter after platter of hors d’oeuvres. The next moment, I am standing in front of a group of diners waxing nostalgic about how I grew up eating hogs-head cheese on triscuits, and how it inspired the dish I prepared for them.

Flash forward two courses as Alon runs to me, visibly shaken, “Mike, we’re in trouble!” 30-second pause, evidently time has not sped up, I have slowed down. I stare questioningly. “Someone shut off all the equipment and the entrees are fired!” It’s an open kitchen, all of this is happening in front of the guests, and I’m sure we are speaking louder than we intend. “Just start talking about the dish!” I said and dashed into the storeroom to grab two large braising pans, I crank the heat and start pouring in olive oil. As Chef Shaya is presenting his course I have taken these beautiful slow-cooked short rib roulades, lovingly stuffed with slow poached eggs and Parmesan, and begun deep-frying them in extra virgin olive oil. As Alon goes in to grab the first roulade so he can start slicing the oil reaches flash point and flames jump up. We didn’t realize till the next day that his eyebrows were mostly gone. He slices, perfect, the eggs are just cooked through, the yolks like custard. A sigh of relief as the entrees go out, and we’re almost there.

Six Stella Artois glasses arrive filled with a dark amber liquid. “This is delicious!” I exclaim. “Of course it is, “ says Chef Currence, as he stares at me incredulously and says, “it’s 20yr Pappy.” “What the hell is it doing served in a beer glass, what’s the matter with you people!” “Look Mike, if you’re gonna get all bent outta shape go ask Mr. Julian, he poured it himself.” My eyes grew wide. “He’s here?!”
A slow pan across the room. It is at this moment that the faces and names of all the Southern food stars sitting in the room, people we had just served, came into focus. I had no idea, in the rush it had all gone unnoticed. And to think I had been up in front of them pontificating about my views and feelings of coming up as a Gulf Coast kid immersed in the surrounding food culture, at multiple times throughout the night. I can only guess that Chef recognized my sudden silence for what it was – awe. “Come on Mike, I’ll introduce you.”

It’s funny that I started the day terrified at the idea of teaching 300 people how to cook a few dishes. As I think about it now, that terror was justified; nothing would be more boring than listening to someone drone on about how to exactly replicate a particular dish. That is certainly not how I cook.

To us Southerners, it is our culture, our way of life, which makes our food entertaining. The stories we share while we cook, the coming together around a pot of gumbo, a platter of fried seafood, or a whole roast pig. It was the same stories I’ve shared with my friends and family that I was now sharing with all of these guests in Atlanta. Not so much a class on cooking but instead an energized revelry of Southern roots and how that affects each person’s view of food. More fights have been started amongst the closest of friends over who boils the best crawfish and who needs to just mind their damn business. To then carry that energy into a dinner surrounded by my peers and betters, mostly betters, to have them graciously lend me their ears while I shared those personal stories, made it so much more than just stressfully trying to get picture perfect plates out of a kitchen. It once again became a communion of friends celebrating the things we’ve come to cherish and what the festival celebrates. And, apparently it must have all tasted okay – because Atlanta Food & Wine has invited me back!

-Chef Michael Gulotta (chef de cuisine, August, New Orleans)

May 24, 2013

21c Museum Hotels’ chef Michael Paley of Metropole returns to Atlanta Food & Wine

21c_Museum_Hotels_2Returning to Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for the third year, 21c Museum Hotels is a Gold Level Sponsor for this year’s festivities. Born out of a desire to integrate contemporary art into everyday life, 21c launched in downtown Louisville, Kentucky in 2006. Offering a compelling combination of cutting edge contemporary art, genuine hospitality, and chef-driven culinary experiences rich with local flavor, 21c reflects authentic modern Southern Hospitality. 

On Saturday chef Michael Paley of Metropole will return to the festival for his third year. Opened last November at Cincinnati’s new 21c Museum Hotel, Metropole is one of the Queen City’s hottest tables, offering a contemporary take on old world fireplace cooking techniques. Chef Paley’s menu focuses on dishes cooked in a custom-built wood-burning fireplace. A showcase for the region’s sustainable farmers and producers, Metropole’s ever-changing menu features hearth roasted meats, fish and vegetables; grains; and housemade charcuterie.
Be sure to visit the Northwest Corner of the Tasting Tent Lawn to enjoy Paley’s Jerk Bison Brisket served with a cashew & charred orange salad. Thanks to Metropole’s roots to 21c Louisville and Kentucky Bourbon Country, there is bound to be a bit of one of Kentucky’s finest Bourbons being served.
Want to talk fireplace cooking with chef Paley? Connect with @MichaelPaley on twitter or visit for reservations.

May 17, 2013

21c Museum Hotels Bringing Proof on Main Chef Levon Wallace

Returning to Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for the third year, 21c Museum Hotels is a Gold Level Sponsor for this year’s festivities. Born out of a desire to integrate contemporary art into everyday life, 21c launched in downtown Louisville, Kentucky in 2006. Offering a compelling combination of cutting edge contemporary art, genuine hospitality, and chef-driven culinary experiences rich with local flavor, 21c reflects authentic modern Southern Hospitality.

This year, festival-goers will be treated to the culinary creativity of each of 21c’s chefs. First up on Friday will be chef Levon Wallace of Proof on Main from Louisville, Kentucky. A favorite for locals and visitors alike, the art-filled restaurant features seasonally inspired cooking that references the culinary traditions of the American South. Menus pay homage to local farmers, artisanal producers and sustainable agriculture. Through partnerships with Woodland Farm and other regional producers, chef Levon Wallace’s plates are a showcase for the bounty of the Ohio River Valley.

Stop by the Northwest Corner of the Tasting Tent on the Lawn to sample Wallace’s Tobacco Cured Duck with grains of paradise, yogurt, pickled peaches, bourbon and toasted corn. As a stop along downtown Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail, the Proof crew will also be shaking up a special cocktail that features Kentucky’s native spirit.

Want to connect with chef Wallace before the festivities? Follow @Levon_Wallace on Twitter or visit for reservations.

May 13, 2013

Learn the secrets behind the Blackberry Farm Wine Cellar from Food and Beverage Director Andy Chabot!


Blackberry Farm sat down with Food and Beverage Director Andy Chabot to find out a few secrets and tidbits about the wine cellar at Blackberry!  Here is what we discovered:

 1.  A lot or a little? We have more than 350 selections of half-bottles from great producers.  It’s perfect for couples wanting to pair different selections with one meal or someone wanting a glass or two.  On the other end of the spectrum we have more than 1,000 magnum selections.  

2.  We display our wines with the most elegant decanters around! Inspired by Martine Saunier, when I first purchased our Ercuis decanters, colleagues gave me flack for their feminine style, but now they’re our most complimented pieces.

Want more secrets? Find out more here… 

April 29, 2013

Le Creuset Kitchen Sessions with Chef Josh Feathers and Roasted Potato and Mountain Ramps

A spectacular spring side, Chef Josh Feathers shows us how to create roasted potatoes and mountain ramps

Read more  from Chef Josh Feathers


April 22, 2013

School Is In For Summer

Our 100+ classes cover just about anything epicurean you can imagine. A small sampling:

Stella + Art
Art Smith (IL/FL) & Marc Stroobandt (GA) with Timothy Magee (GA)
Stella and Art sitting in a kitchen, p-a-i-r-i-n-g. First comes food, then comes brew, then comes amazing pairings all for you. During this cooking demonstration and tasting seminar, award-winning chef and master brewer will join forces to create surprising beer and food pairings. The end result … a marriage of soul-filling, simple dishes and refreshing, crisp flavors. We’ll drink – and eat – to that!
tastingtentsCoastal Merroir
Mike Lata (SC) with Clammer Dave Belanger (SC)
We’ve embraced the notion that land influences the characteristics of the foods and wines produced on it through the concept of “terroir.” But oyster farmers across the South are using their own version of terroir with the “merroir” concept. During this tasting seminar, a seafood-loving chef and a popular clam farmer will lead guests on a tasty and informative exploration of the “merroir” of Charleston’s barrier islands, showcasing how Clammer Dave’s sought-after oysters are sustainably grown and harvested using the centuries-old, “cull-in-place” method. The world is our oyster!
Vini Vidi Spumante
Brett Davis, MS (KY)
We came. We saw. We sparkled. While most wine drinkers think lush, robust reds when they hear “Italian wind,” only the savviest consumers know that Italy actually produces more kinds of spearkling wines than any other country in the world. From light, off-dry Proseccos to classic Franciacortas, Italian spumantes are varied, tasty and quite affordable. During this tasting seminar, participants will explore the flavor ranges of Italian sparklers from Asti to Lambrusco and Moscato. Cin Cin!!
The Brothers Grill
Kevin Rathbun (GA) & Kent Rathbun (TX)
There are no tall tales here. Only raw meat, a sizzling flame and two brothers who can grill like no other. During this grilling demonstration, participants will learn the tips, tricks and flavors for which grilling fairy tales are inspired.
Liberate Your Lettuce
Edward Lee (KY), moderated by Christine Quinlan, FOOD & WINE
It’s time to liberate your lettuce from the salad bowl! With Romaine, Bibb, Radicchio, Mizuna, Purslane and Iceberg, maximizing spring and summer’s bounty will be a treat. During this cooking demonstration, participants will learn how to draw out the lettuces’ complex flavors through different “cooking” methods like pickling, searing, stir fry and more. BOOK SIGNING: Chef Lee will be signing copies of his cookbook, Smoke and Pickles, in the book sighing area in the conference floor lobby after this class.
Our classes take place on Friday, May 31, Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2. To learn more about our offerings, view the schedule.
Ready to sign up? Tickets to our traditional and Connoisseur day passes include learning experiences:
1-day pass, including 3 learning experiences:

3-day pass, including 9 learning experiences:

April 13, 2013

The Southern Glossary for Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Some phrases don’t need a definition (bless her heart) but we realize some on our Web site, like “Advisory Council,” “Tasting Tent Talent” and “Connoisseur Lounge” might leave you scratching your head. Since we’ve got a variety of ways to build your perfect AF&WF experience, we made a brief glossary to guide you along:

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  • Advisory Council: a group of culinary industry rock stars who are personally invested in showcasing, celebrating and protecting our region’s rich food and beverage traditions. Made up of close to 70 award-winning Chefs, Sommeliers, Mixologists and industry leaders, Council members work in collaboration with the Festival to build the weekend’s programming. Membership is by invitation and all members commit to building authentic, educational and entertaining programs and events. Our original Council, aka the Founders Council, set a few very basic rules for future participants: all activities are voluntary, no one gets paid; if you have an ego, check it at the door; and finally, if you’re going to be on the Council, you’d better bring your A- game.


  • Presenters: a collection of industry leaders who support the efforts of the Festival and the Advisory Council. Presenters enrich the Festival’s Learning Experiences by acting as “teachers” in our various classes.


  • Imports & Inspirations: our South wouldn’t be so special without the many international influences – French, Spanish, Latin American, African, etc. – that have defined our food and beverage traditions. It’s only fitting that we extend our Southern geographic focus beyond our TX – DC borders and shine a light on our “cousins” from other Southern regions around the globe: Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece), South Africa, South America, the Southern Hemisphere (Australia and New Zealand), and South-of-the-Border (Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean).


  • Adopted Southern: sometimes we meet people so great, we just have to have them involved in the Festival. In a few rare cases, these fabulous folks don’t have ties to our Southern region or any of our “Other Southern” regions (gasp!), so we deem them “adopted Southern.” It’s because they’re so wonderful that we know they must be tied to the South, even if it’s through some 6-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon sort of way. Mmm, bacon. 



  • Learning Experiences: housed in our Official Host Hotel, the Loews Atlanta, the Festival’s Learning Experiences are PhD-worthy programming. The Learning Experiences are how we wish school could have been: only learning about what you really want to, in the form of a wildly specific lesson from a passionate expert in the subject. From “Creole Surf ‘n Turf” to “Sip Down Under,” our classes cover ground from here to Australia on a vast variety of subjects.


  • Trail Chefs or Tasting Tent Talent: the Festival’s Tasting Tents are like no other, offering curated “tasting trails” which feature some of the South’s best ingredients and dishes. To ensure guests experience a wide variation of flavors, the Festival engages Trail Chefs: leading Southern culinary talent who rotate throughout the tents during the weekend. More than 70 Trail Chefs are engaged by invitation during the weekend, each participating in only one Tent session. The Chefs complement our Tasting Tent exhibitors (approximately 100 purveyors, restaurants, etc.) who are in the tents throughout the full weekend. 


  • Connoisseur: the serious food and beverage lover, looking for the very best experience the Festival can offer. Connoisseurs have a dedicated concierge, daily breakfast served by our award-winning chefs, VIP passes to Tasting Tents, exclusive Connoisseur classes, up-close demonstrations with nationacslly-recognized chefs, and reserved seating for general Festival classes. Connoisseurs also have access to the Connoisseur Lounge.


  • Connoisseur Lounge: inspired by the “classic Southern hunting club” and presented by PNC Bank, the Lounge is designed to be a visually delicious experience for our Connoisseurs. Designer William Peace will incorporate rich woods, leather, crystal decanters, and inspired artwork into the lounge, topped off of course with an incredible bar. A perfect mix of contemporary and classic, the Lounge is your escape into a dream living room during the Festival.

Did we leave something off? Tell us in the comments section!