East Tennessee diners devour samples of “Atlanta’s Kitchens” best offerings

It was a sumptuous Saturday dinner spread of some of Atlanta foodies’ favorite dishes: grilled shrimp on sugar cane from Nam, macaroni and cheese from Mary Mac’s Tea Room, 4th & Swift’s parmesan and truffle popcorn, Son’s Place fried chicken, Restaurant Eugene’s butter bean and corn succotash and Coca-Cola cake from Carver’s Country Kitchen.
The only odd aspect of the dinner? Its geography.
The recipes, all featured in our old friend and former Atlanta magazine editor Krista Reese‘s new book, “Atlanta Kitchens: Recipes From Atlanta’s Best Restaurants” (Gibbs Smith, $30), were being served at The Minnis House in New Market, Tennessee.
The sold-out dinner was the brainchild of the East Tennessee bed and breakfast’s owner Kim Stapleton, who grew up across the road from Reese’s husband, New Market artist and popular Houston’s Mineral Water purveyor Bill Houston.
The couple currently splits time between New Market and Atlanta.
Dish was among the Atlantans who drove in  over the weekend to support Reese and soak up some rural Tennessee hospitality.
As Reese signed books in the parlor, dinner guests (many of whom were alerted to the event through a Knoxville News Sentinel food section centerpiece), were divided into three separate seatings throughout the evening.
Technically, the dinner was scheduled to end at 8 p.m. but at 8:45 p.m., additional diners, hungry to sample the work of some of Atlanta’s best restaurants, were still patiently rocking in chairs on the extended front porch awaiting a table inside.
Stapleton conceded to us that trying to replicate some of the menu items challenged her and her small staff, all working away in a tiny kitchen.
Frying large batches of the late, lamented Son’s Place’s legendary fried chicken was an ordeal in a thin, non-cast iron pan, Stapleton said. (The beautifully browned, crispy result surely would have brought a smile to recipe originator Deacon Burton’s face, however).
“I have a new appreciation for all those chefs in Atlanta who turn out these dishes every night!,” Stapleton said, laughing. “Accessing some of the ingredients here was tricky but we did our best. We had such a great time doing this.”
Stapleton plans to keep the Atlanta-centric series going this fall with an October 16 visit by Atlanta James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Joe Dabney, who will be introducing locals to his latest, “The Food, Folklore and Art of Lowcountry Cooking” and a biscuit-themed event next spring with former Atlantan Nathalie Dupree.