Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nashville Culinary Personalities to Shine in Atlanta

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 6:13 AM

This coming weekend is one of my favorite events of the year, the fourth annual Atlanta Food and WIne Festival. Local Atlantan chefs join forces with lots of regional talent to put on some amazing dinners, teach at informative seminars and classes and offer samples of their wares at massive tasting tents set up in Midtown.

The event runs from this Thursday, May 29, until Sunday, June 1, and tickets are still available. A three-day pass that includes 9 Learning Experiences (cooking & cocktail demonstrations, food & beverage tasting seminars, panel discussions), entrance to the fabulous tasting tents all three days, a ticket to the Pig Out: Coastal Style dinner at JCT kitchen, a gift bag plus a one-year subscription to Food and Wine Magazine runs $525. You can definitely eat your money's worth, but you'd best pack your stretchy pants.

Nashville will be well-represented at the festival, including at two of the special dinner events. Chef Tyler Brown of the Capitol Grille will join forces with Chattanooga's Daniel Lindley and a host of other Southern chefs to put on an amazing dinner Friday night at the Atlanta Historical Center (which you might recognize as the presidential palace in the Hunger Games movies).

I was lucky enough to attend the "About South" dinner last year, and it was a blast. Great chefs prepared small dishes on the grounds of the AHC during a convivial cocktail hour, followed by a very memorable sit-down dinner served family-style around a huge table that had to have been at least 100 feet long. Guests pass plate after plate of magnificent dishes prepared by iconic chefs and share food and conversation with their neighbors.

The reason I included Chef Lindley is because by this time next year, he should officially be considered a Nashville chef with his new project rumored to open in Germantown.

On Saturday night, recent James Beard Award-winning sommelier Andy Chabot of Blackberry Farm will curate the wine and chef Joseph Lenn will provide the food at the third annual Blackberry Farm Tribute DInner to Southern Farmers. The wines will come from the portfolio of formerly Nashville-based wine importer Jon-David Headerick. While Headerick recently moved his base of operations to North Carolina, we'll still claim him!

The educational seminars also feature Nashville talent, with the Nelson Boys of Green Brier Distillery, Brown and Headerick all participating in presentations for AFWF attendees who want to do more than just eat and drink. But there will be plenty of food and drink at the classes, too. Here's the rundown on the classes:

FRIDAY 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Andy Nelson & Charlie Nelson
For more than 200 years, the process of distilling bourbon and Tennessee whiskey remains the same, but
the flavor profiles have evolved for the modern day palate — not only the taste but also how it is used.

Today, consumers are taking more risks with our beloved Southern spirit, using it in untraditional ways like replacing the vodka in a Bloody Mary or the rum in a Piña Colada. During this tasting seminar, participants will learn to expand the possibilities with traditional cocktails, using whiskey in new and different ways, while learning the best ways to highlight key flavor profiles.

SATURDAY 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Throughout the country, the ultimate status symbol for today’s culinary crowd isn’t a fancy gadget or a kitchen of the future. It’s a farm. In the South, however, farming isn’t a status symbol for chefs; it is simply a way of life. During this tasting seminar, guests will follow the journey of one chef into the world of farming, starting with a 65-acre garden to a new 250-acre farm that is producing its own beef label, and taste some of his prized products.

SATURDAY 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Jon-David Headrick & Andrea Reusing
Drinking Champagne only before dinner is so 2013. It's time to pop the cork in a hot, new direction. And,
by hot, we mean really (really) sizzling hot.* During this tasting seminar, participants will follow a James
Beard award-winning chef and one of America’s best specialty wine importers as they push the limits of
the traditional wine tasting with mind-numbingly flavorful and spicy food that meets its match with
Champagne and other French bubbles that were born for this sort of gig. Corks will fly, mouths will burn,
and the angels will sing.

*You've been warned.

I can't emphasize enough how fabulous the tasting tents are at AFWF. Divided into "foodways" like pork, seafood, chicken, barbecue, Southern wine and spirits, craft beer, breakfast and bourbon, the constantly changing roster of tasting opportunities can be overwhelming, so plan your caloric and alcoholic intake carefully. Among the hundreds of possibilities, you might want to have a list of locals who will be featured:

American Born Moonshine — Sean Koffel and Patrick Dillingham
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery — Andy and Charlie Nelson
Sweet 16th — Dan & Ellen Einstein
Goo Goo Cluster — Beth Sachan
The Farm House — Trey Cioccia

Late Breaking News: I just received an email stating that the Dirty South Dinner that was in the original version of this post has unfortunately been cancelled. Apologies for the late notice.

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