Miller Union chef and co-owner Steven Satterfield had an immediate response when asked about his West Midtown eatery being named as one of Esquire magazine food critic John Mariani’s “Best New Restaurants of 2010” Monday.
Via cellphone on the streets of New York City where the winning chefs were gathering for a dinner in their honor Monday night, Satterfield told Dish: “I’m pretty sure he suffered an aneurysm!”
Satterfield and the Miller Union staff still vividly recall Mariani’s visit to the restaurant during last summer’s record-breaking heatwave. On that particular evening, the air conditioning in the dining room was on the blink.
Shuddered the chef: “He’s an old school critic who carries a thermometer around with him to check the temperature of the wine. He informed us that the dining room was 82 degrees.”
But Satterfield and co-owner/general manager Neal McCarthy (pictured at right in a photo shot by Kelly Blackmon) never let the esteemed critic see them sweat.
Recalled Satterfield: “I just told the staff, ‘We’re not going to change anything for this guy. He either likes the good simple food we’re making from local ingredients or he’s not. There’s nothing we can do about it.'”
Mariani obviously loved Miller Union’s approach.
“This is a huge reward for us,” said Satterfield. “Working open to close every day and being in the kitchen for hours on end is not at all glamorous. This is the one glamorous moment we get. It’s just exciting to be a chef/owner of a small independently owned restaurant in Atlanta that seems to be making a difference in the city.”
At the time of our call Monday afternoon, Satterfield was still starstruck after running into Slow Food International founder Carlo Petrini at lunch.
“He’s a celebrity in my eyes,” he says. “I’m a total slow fooder. He barely speaks English but he remembered meeting me a few years ago. That was huge for me!”
Also on Esquire’s “Best New Restaurants” list this year: Buckhead’s bustling Bistro Niko and West Midtown’s meat-centric Abattoir chef Joshua Hopkins was named as a “chef to watch.”
Originally, the mens magazine had embargoed the news until midnight Tuesday. But by midday Monday, food bloggers already had the news posted all over the Internet. The full list will appear in Esquire’s upcoming November issue.