Acheson kicks off “Farm to Table and Back” series


ATL Food Chatter: April 19, 2010
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Last Thursday, I had my first taste of Hugh Acheson’s cooking—at a fundraiser organized and hosted by JCT Kitchen called “Farm to Table and Back.” If this was any indication of what the Athens-based James Beard nominee will be serving at his forthcoming Atlanta spot, Empire State South, then Atlanta’s dining scene will definitely have a new star in its universe.

“Farm to Table and Back” was the kickoff event in a series to feature guest appearances by some of the Southern chefs who are most committed to using local and organic ingredients on their menus. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to support the work of Georgia Organics. Ford Fry conceived this spinoff from JCT Kitchen’s successful Attack of the Killer Tomato festival, and as another way to assist Georgia Organics by having a fun, casual event.

Guests enjoyed a seven-course tour de force menu that took us on a rhapsodic journey through Acheson’s new Southern cuisine menu. It started with a sweet Brunswick red shrimp appetizer that featured Southern caviar and wound through to a huge smothered, thick-cut pork chop with morels and ramps set on a bed of grits. My favorite: The sumptuous she crab soup that one of the event’s participants described as “better than McCrady’s,” the Charleston, South Carolina spot famed for its rendition of the Southern classic. I left the event feeling very positive about the future and direction of Southern urban cuisine in general and the arrival of Empire State South, specifically.
Future dinners will feature Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Ala. on July 15; John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Miss. on October 14; and Mike Lata of Fig in Charleston, S.C. in December.
Oh, by the way, in addition to operating JCT and organizing events, Fry is still planning to a Mexican restaurant that he says will have an “Austin, Texas feel”, with margaritas, music. and fresh tortillas. He’s eyeing a Midtown location near Peachtree Street. No date has been established yet.
Next week, I’ll share the comments that Hugh Acheson made about the status of Empire State South.
In a follow up to the Concentrics/Legacy Properties split we previously reported, there are apparently no hard feelings—both camps called it a “business decision.” In fact, David Marvin told me that he would work with Concentrics again because of his respect for Bob Amick’s skill at developing concepts.
The 18th Annual Atlanta Wine Auction, a major fundraiser for the High Museum, raised $ 1.6 million this year, a 23 percent increase over 2009’s total.
Buckhead. Rusto’s Pizzeria and Pub has opened at 2100 Cheshire Bridge Road, next to The Red Snapper.
Decatur. Sammiches N’ Stuff has opened at 515 McDonough Street on the Square in downtown Decatur.
Downtown. What Now Atlanta is reporting that a Roll Gourmet franchise—featuring an array of sandwiches, salads, and paninis—will open at 127 Peachtree Street this summer.
East Atlanta. The Shed at Glenwood will celebrate their 2nd anniversary on April 27 with a blow out buffet from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Inman Park. Rathbun’s is celebrating its sixth anniversary with a BBQ and Blues party on Sunday May, 16.

Midtown. Speaking of farm-to-table concepts, Meridith Ford Goldman reported that an edible garden featuring fruits, vegetables and herbs along with an outdoor demonstration kitchen will open Saturday, May 1, in the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Vinings. Tomorrow’s News Today reports that Pinkberry frozen yogurt is finally hitting the metro area in June, at 3937 Cobb Parkway SE.
Question of the Week: What local resto is serving a version of Vancouver’s beloved “Japo Dog?”
PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What intown gastropreneur is selling his specialty from a pushcart until his store is finished being renovated?—is Steven Carse, King of Pops