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Much like our intrepid political leaders, I spent the better half of Tuesday refusing to accept the reports of meteorologists that a snowstorm was coming to cripple the city. Even when images of overturned vehicles popped up on Facebook, I remained optimistic that I was making my 7 p.m. dinner plans. Obviously, they didn’t happen.
Last week the team behind the forthcoming Watershed on Peachtree revealed Julia LeRoy would become the kitchen’s chef de cuisine, working alongside executive chef Joe Truex. LeRoy, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has pursued a diverse cooking career: She cut her teeth at the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead and Seeger’s and led the kitchen previously at the Bookhouse Pub and her short-lived LeRoy’s Fried Chicken. Just prior to her new post at Watershed, she worked as the consulting chef for the menu at Decatur’s Pinewood Tippling Room, which opens on May 15. Q: What were the deciding factors in making the decision to join the Watershed team?JL: I think one of the main reasons I wanted to join the Watershed team is because I have enormous respect for Joe’s approach to food. I would dine at Repast any time I could talk someone into taking me and I think he’s done a great job transforming the new Watershed menu into his own. He and I are opposites in a lot of ways, but we get along really well and I think that shows in our collaborations. Q: How did you meet Truex?JL: We were on a panel together at the 2011 Taste of Atlanta and started talking then. I was in the middle of shutting down my fried chicken restaurant and kind of stressed. We talked after the event and found out we had a food ideas in common. We worked together almost a year doing dinner parties before I decided to join the Watershed team.I signed the contract on my birthday, April 20th. Q: What are some of the new items you will be introducing to Watershed’s menu?JL: I’m not ready to divulge the fruits of those collaborations yet, but I think you’ll be pleased. But Joe and I plan on expanding Watershed’s current menu with flavors from the Georgia Coast, the Louisiana Bayou and the diverse ethnic flavors found throughout the South. Q: Will you be doing the fried chicken now?JL: The fried chicken is going to be the same recipe as it’s always been. It’s a vertebra in the backbone of Watershed and I have no desire to change that. I’m sure I will be making the fried chicken from time to time, but it will be the tried and true Watershed recipe I follow.Q: You have been serving as consulting chef to the Pinewood Tipping Room in Decatur, how is that project coming along?JL: I have wrapped up the menu [which includes dishes like fried bologna sandwiches gussied-up funnel cake], and it is similar to the food I prepared at Bookhouse. NEWS AND NOTES:The biggest news of the week, of course, is that Hugh Acheson and Linton Hopkins tied for the title of Best Chef Southeast at this year’s James Beard awards announced on Monday. ( On Friday, at the ceremony for cookbooks, journalism and broadcast media, Acheson also received a Beard award in the American Cooking category for his cookbook, “A New Turn in the South.” The founder of R. Thomas Deluxe Grill, Richard Thomas, was featured in a Huffington Post piece about his personal journey from President of KFC to founding what the article calls “Atlanta’s healthiest restaurant”. The Southern Food Writing Conference and the International Biscuit Festival will be held jointly in K
Ten days ago Decatur Metro first reported the brown paper covering the windows of the former Cakes & Ale space that revealed the name (and Twitter handle) of its new tenant: Pinewood. And last night Brad Kaplan tweeted that Julia LeRoy will be consulting chef.Here’s some more info: Its full name is Pinewood Tippling Room, so expect as much emphasis on drink as on food. T. Fable Jeon, who has worked as several bars around town and was most recently associated with the Lawrence, will head the gastropub's bar program. And LeRoy will be devising a list of updated Southern classics, including a riff on fried bologna sandwiches. Still no exact timing on the opening (is there ever, really?), but expect a launch late spring. Take a gander at the full press release below. H/T to Ms. Besha Rodell for the info…
LeRoy’s Fried Chicken closed last night, which makes me sad. Like many others, I wasn’t overly enamored with the thick-battered style of Julia LeRoy’s fried chicken when the Howell Mills shack opened four months ago. But if you tried the place after it was open two weeks and gave up on it, you missed what eventually became a destination for some righteous fried chicken. I was there a few weeks back and loved the sheer, much-thinner batter, the vividly seasoned (but not salty) potato salad that replaced the iffy mac and cheese, the fluffier biscuit, and the smoky greens. We were planning to give the newcomer a Best Of award in our December issue (in production this week), I liked it that much better.
ATL Food Chatter: May 31, 2011 (To receive the Chatter and other culinary tidbits directly in your inbox, sign up for our weekly dining newsletter)LeRoy’s Fried Chicken certainly sounds like a place that will put some South in your mouth. Julia LeRoy is opening her Westside fried chicken stand with Clay Harper and Mike Nelson, the owners of the Fellini’s Pizza and La Fonda Latina restaurants. Their first collaboration was a gourmet frozen yogurt concept called Three on The Tree, where LeRoy served as the “guest confectioner.” Leroy has been looking to open her own restaurant since she left the Bookhouse Pub last year. Since then, the Seeger’s alum has worked in several local spots, including Shaun’s and Woodfire Grill. But she enjoyed consulting with the Fellini’s team that she decided to partner with them on LeRoy’s.