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Food Chatter: Checking in with BLT Steak’s Cyrille Holota

It has been almost a year since star chef Cyrille Holota decamped from the now-closed FAB and moved, literally, across the street to helm Atlanta’s outpost of BLT Steak at the W Downtown Atlanta. Since joining BLT, the classically trained Holota, who worked at several Michelin starred restaurants before joining Joel Antunes at Joel, has added a sense of elegance to the high-end steakhouse. Holota, a native of Montluçon, France, recently completed the first of a series of boucherie (French for “butcher”) dinners, which highlighted whole-animal cookery in five-course meals. Holota recently chatted about why he has remained in Atlanta and some of his future plans for BLT Steak.Q: With all of your international experience and reputation you could have had a top position anywhere in the world, what motivated you to stay in Atlanta after Joel closed?CH: Atlanta is a wonderful city that can be family friendly, and I have found some very nice dishes in the restaurants around Atlanta. As well, Atlanta is a town that is rapidly growing in terms of the food industry. We are lucky enough to have several local farmers who are doing a fantastic job in supply us with extremely fresh fruits and vegetables. Q: What attracted you to BLT Steak and what inspired you to create the Boucherie series?CH: BLT Steak has a great reputation in the industry, as chef Laurent Tourondel brings his personal touch to each property. The Boucherie series, specifically, is a great way to showcase some of our local ingredients as well as our local artisan talent. We are currently working on the next series of dinners and playing around with a few new recipes, which will be announced soon. Q: Many chefs have said that they enjoy music in their kitchens because it helps them to relax, do you listen to any music while you are cooking?CH: No, I do not like to listen to music while in the kitchen because I find it to be distracting while trying to communicate and coordinate with the rest of the kitchen staff. Q: What are some of your favorite restaurants here in Atlanta?CH: Some of my favorites around Atlanta are Bacchanalia, Muss & Turner, and Douceur de France. NEWS AND NOTES:StarChefs.com has announced its 2012 Atlanta Rising Stars, which include Andy Carson, chef de cuisine at Bacchanalia and Ryan Smith of Empire State South, and Robert Phalen of One Eared Stag. Check out the full list. Harold’s Barbecue, an Atlanta institution, announced last week that it would close Thursday ,May 3, after 65 years. However, veteran journalist Jim Auchmutey reported to food editor Bill Addison yesterday that, at a mobbed lunch yesterday, a staffer told Auchmutey the restaurant would stay open for another month after a deluge of business. We’ll keep you posted on developments. Buckhead. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Del Frisco’s Grille has officially inked a deal for the former Craft space in front of the Mansion on Peachtree/soon-to-be Mandarin Oriental Atlanta. Newbie STG Trattoria is now open for lunch, Tuesday to Fridays from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Fox Brothers Restaurant Group, owners of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q and Big Tex Decatur, are opening Fox Bros. Rib Joint, a fast-casual concept, in the former Maddy’s space at 1479 Scott Boulevard this summer. 

The French Paradox

French cartoon master Jean-Jacques Sempé, whose big-nosed, slightly bewildered characters often appear on the cover of the New Yorker, once drew two old men wearing berets and riding rickety bicycles with string bags of identical long baguettes hanging from the crossbars. I remember that each man sported a little mustache and a limp cigarette dangling from a mouth set in a sour expression. The absurd caption—“We are becoming more and more American every day”—made me laugh out loud.

BLT Steak

A thin but significant crack has appeared in the dining public's accepted wisdom about steakhouses, dividing our perceptions toward these wellsprings of rapaciousness into "then" and "now." The former cradles the archetypes of the American chophouse: wood paneling and hazy lighting, shiver-inducing martinis, the implied (if not actual) whiff of cigar smoke in the air. Many of us can recite the foundations of this menu—from the appetizer shrimp cocktail and the creamed spinach nuzzled against the T-bone to the unnecessarily hedonistic desserts—as easily as we can repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. Bone’s and Chops shoulder such traditions in Atlanta.

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