Q&A with Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Founders


ATL Food Chatter: June 21, 2010
(To receive the Chatter and other culinary tidbits directly in your inbox, sign up for our weekly dining newsletter)
Atlanta food fans learned last week that a new showcase of the culinary South will be held here in May 2011. The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival will be built around the themes of Old Traditions, New Traditions, and Imports and Inspirations. The event, slated for Midtown, is the brainchild of two dynamic young civic entrepreneurs, Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter, who shared their inspiration and aspirations for the event with me via e-mail:
Q: Where did the idea for this event originate?
DVL: Aspen! My business partner, Elizabeth Feichter, and I were engaged by Food & Wine magazine to create a cause-marketing campaign to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the magazine’s Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, the nation’s leading culinary festival. As part of our work, we attended the Classic to manage the campaign and in between seminars, demonstrations, events and tastings, we would ask ourselves, “Why doesn’t Atlanta have a festival like this?”
EF: Dominique and I walked away feeling like we wanted to show off what the South has been doing for years—bringing people together around dining room tables across our region to enjoy the simple satisfaction of delicious food and wine. We love the way the Food & Wine Classic has created a not-to-be missed experience that caterers to people who want to really learn about food, wine, cocktails and beer from some of the best in the world.
Q: What are some of the goals you want to achieve with this event?
DVL: Aside from making Southern food lovers proud, the goal of the festival is to offer an experience like no other that unites leaders of their craft—barbecue pit masters, award-winning chefs and mixologists, Master Sommeliers, fry cooks and local growers—and provides guests the opportunity to sip, savor and learn about the best of Southern food and beverage traditions.

Q: Who are some of the key individuals/organizations that you have gotten involved in the project to date, and what other individuals or organizations are you seeking support from?
DVL: I’m learning quickly it takes a village to build a good festival and we’ve had a lot of “villagers” helping us so far! Elizabeth and I are food (and wine and cocktail) lovers but we aren’t experts, so we’ve made sure to surround ourselves with the very best through our Founders Council. The Council currently includes Atlanta’s culinary leaders who are informing our content but will soon include representatives from each state in our region. On the nonprofit side, we have gotten a lot of inspiration from the Southern Foodways Alliance, Oxford American, and the Atlanta History Center. Festival proceeds will benefit charity and our plan is to invest in organizations that are working to promote and preserve Southern culture and culinary traditions.
EF: The Atlanta community has been very welcoming and sponsors like Loews Atlanta Hotel, Midtown Alliance, and recognized developers like Jamestown Properties, Daniels Corporation, Selig Enterprises and Tivoli Properties have already committed their support to making sure the Festival is a success. Our partners at Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure as well as the Atlantan have also been championing our efforts to bring festival together.
Q: Last question: What are some of your favorite restaurants in Atlanta?
DVL: Really? You’re going to ask me this? You know I’ll be in trouble if I miss anyone! But in all seriousness, I don’t have a single favorite because what I like from one restaurant to the next can’t be compared. Our office is in Cabbagetown, so we are regulars at Carroll Street Cafe, and the best BLT sandwich EVER comes from Little’s. The first time I had it, I was so blown away that I dragged my husband out of a business meeting to tell him about it. My Saturdays wouldn’t be complete without one of Dan Latham’s Mote Bene pizzas from the Peachtree Road Farmer’s Market.
EF: I’m with Dominique—this is impossible to answer! Atlanta has some amazing white table-cloth restaurants, delicious off-the-beaten path kitchens, and hospitality like you can get nowhere else! I could eat out every night and have nothing but fantastic meals. I love neighborhood favorites like Shaun’s, JCT Kitchen and Miller Union, grabbing a pint and local, farm-fresh meal at one of the best beer pubs in the world, The Brick Store (or its Decatur sibling, Leon’s), and little gems like Cafe Alsace that remind you of being in your grandmother’s kitchen. There are so many more! I challenge anyone to make me a meal I don’t love in Atlanta … come on, try me!
CNN has launched a food blog called Eatocracy.

Yelp Eats! is currently hosting a Restaurant Week of sorts: From today, June 21, through June 27, eleven Atlanta restaurants affiliated with the event are offering three-course meals for $25. Participants include Shaun’s, Bocado, Canoe, and Park 75.

Alpharetta. 52 Bistro, featuring a casual American menu, is slated to open on June 25 at 52 Main Street. http://52bistro.com/
Thrillist is reporting that Studio Movie Grill—a Texas-based, all-in-one dinner/drinks/movie megaplex group—has opened its first Georgia location at 2880 Holcomb Bridge Road.

Buckhead. Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that the Waffelry, featuring Belgian waffles and crepes, is replacing Cinnabon inside of the food court at Lenox Square Mall.
The AJC is reporting that the Buckhead Bottle Bar has opened.
Douglasville. A commenter on Kessler’s blog mentioned that Sno Cone Shack and Dessert Bar will be opening at 6740 Douglas Boulevard at the end of the month.

East Atlanta. Vino Libro has closed

Grant Park. We’ve heard rumors that the owners of the Brick Store Pub may open a new venture around the corner of Confederate Avenue and Ormewood Avenue.
Inman Park. Tomorrow’s News Today reports that Zaya Mediterranean closed its Inman Park location but plans to open another version inside of Georgia Tech’s student center this fall.
ToNeTo also mentions that Sno* Flake Ice House—featuring shaved frozen milk desserts with an assortment of toppings—plans to open at 240 North Highland Avenue by late summer.
Old Fourth Ward. Besha Rodell first broke the news that Repast was closing—its last night of dinner was this past Saturday, June 19.
. Bai Wei, a sushi spot, has opened at 10930 Crabapple Road.
Sandy Springs. The Tasting Room has closed.
Question of the Week: What metro area pub is celebrating its thirteenth anniversary with thirteen straight days (beginning June 19th) of keg tapping and rare beers?

 P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What mobile operation is providing the latest in frozen treats at local farmers markets (that can also be shipped to your home)?—is Westside Creamery.