Athens native Andrea Litvin has landed the job as pastry chef for the Spence, the upcoming partnership between Concentrics Hospitality partners Bob Amick and Todd Rushing and the city’s most famous chef, Richard Blais. Other players in the upcoming restaurant—which is currently aiming for a March opening—include longtime Concentrics favorite, the Johnson Studio, as designer; sommelier Justin Amick, crafting the beverage program; and Bradley Chance, formerly of Flip Burger Boutique, who will be sous chef.
Litvin couldn’t yet reveal much about desserts in the works at the Spence but did fill us in on her background:
Q: What motivated you to become a chef and where did you attend culinary school?
AL: Growing up in Athens my mother worked for the UGA Horticulture department so at a young age I was around plants of all kinds. That sparked my interest to learn more about how our food grows and how it makes its way into our home.
I also started to question how the animals we eat were being taken care of after I saved a chicken escape artist off a Tyson’s chicken truck. It was so malnourished and sad-looking it made me become a vegetarian. After that my mom helped me plant a garden at our home in Athens. We grew everything so I learned how to harvest and cook different vegetables. That really started my passion for cooking and for finding different ways to cook ingredients. I went to Le Cordon Bleu here in Atlanta.
Q: Who have been some of biggest influences in your career and who are some of your favorite pastry chefs?
AL: Gary Mennie gave me my first pastry job as part of the opening crew at Livingston. Working there allowed me to obtain a solid foundation of basic pastry techniques. After a year of working for Mennie I had the opportunity to move to New York. He was very supportive and gave me a list of people and restaurants to check out.
I got turned down by tons of people because no one was hiring. A little discouraged, I haunted Craigslist. I answered an ad for a new local, seasonally based restaurant that would later become the year’s best restaurant.
Being on the opening crew at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen helped me become a better cook. Everyone there wanted excellence. Jean-Georges’ food is elegant, exciting, and delicious. He was always at the restaurant looking at everything that came of the kitchen. At the same time he had opened the Mark and between the two I don’t think he slept. He had such dedication to his craft that it made me work harder, learn more, and stay motivated to try to be the best. Some of my favorite pastry chefs are Johnny Iuzzuni, Bill Corbett, and Cristina Tosi.
Q: How were you selected to join The Spence’s team?
AL: My first kitchen stint was at Chef Blais’ restaurant Home. From there I worked briefly at Flip before leaving to work at The Livingston. I always kept a good standing relationship with Chef Blais and after moving back from NYC and working and staging everywhere I could, he was very impressed with how much I had grown as a cook and also how I am continuously learning on my own. After doing a tasting for him I was hired as the pastry chef at The Spence.
Q: What are some of your favorite Atlanta restaurants?
AL: I love Lee’s Bakery, Panahar, Dong Nae Bang Nae, Holeman & Finch, and Community Q BBQ.
NEWS AND NOTES:
Former Atlanta star chef Joel Antunes has opened another London restaurant, Kitchen Joel Antunes, featuring Provencal style cuisine in the posh Mayfair neighborhood, according to a report on Amateur Gastronomer.
Avondale Estates. What Now Atlanta is reporting that the former James Joyce Pub will now be called Brewhouse Cafe, its fourth name change in four months.
Druid Hills. The Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that metro Atlanta’s fourth Tin Lizzy’s Cantina, with a 4,000 square foot space that includes a “significant patio,” is slated to open in the Emory Point development this fall.
Kirkwood. The Pullman, a gastropub featuring Former Radial Cafe chef Lontinza Clark’s take on comfort food, opened last Friday.
Midtown. Creative Loafing is reporting that a New York architect is planning a 1,000-square-foot rear addition to the renovation of “The Castle,” an architectural landmark at 87 15th Street, into a boutique hotel which will consist of a “hotel and restaurant lounge,” along with renovations to the existing interior. We hear that Michael Habachy (Viande Rouge) will be involved in the project’s design.
Vinings. The Cafe at Pharr is opening its 5th store in the former Grape spot at the Vinings Jubilee shopping center, according to a report by What Now Atlanta.
Question of the Week: What ATL food truck was named by a national publication as having some of the most creative food truck cuisine?
PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What Hooters-like chain will be opening their first Georgia location in Buckhead this summer?—is Twin Peaks, as first reported by Tomorrow’s News Today.
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