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  • 21 Nov 2014 8:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: Thomasville Times-Enterprise
    By: Karen Murphy 

    Read the full story.

    THOMASVILLE - Shiver me timbers! The Plaza, Thomasville’s iconic restaurant, beat out Savannah’s Pirate House for the oldest continuous restaurant in Georgia.

    The Pirate House, established around 1734, is the first inn and tavern in the state, but it became a museum at one point and only recently became a restaurant again. According to Yahoo Food and Yvonne Morgan with the Georgia Restaurant Association, that makes The Plaza the “oldest continuously running restaurant in Georgia.”

    That’s enough to make some at the Pirate House say, “Arrrr!”

    The Plaza was originally established in 1916 by “a Davis man” at 115 N. Broad St. in the building that currently houses the Thomasville Onstage & Company’s Storefront Theater. It could seat only 26 patrons at its white marble tables.

    From 1919-1921 George Lacthous, Andrew Zalumas and John Papas owned The Plaza. In the early 20s, John Papas brought on a new partner, now known only as the “red-haired Greek.”

    The Plaza changed hands again. From 1926-1928, it was owned by Charlie Venos and his partner, Chris Blane. In 1942, Blane hired 26-year-old Greek immigrant Louie Mathes part-time. Mathes was serving in the U.S. Army and stationed at Thomasville Air Base. After the war, he returned to Thomasville and he and his brother Tom bought the restaurant from Blane.

    The Mathes' era marked much growth and many different expansions. In 1946, they remodeled the restaurant to hold 60 patrons. Two years later, it was remodeled again. The brothers added a private dining room to accommodate 85 patrons.

    ...

    Read the full story.

  • 14 Nov 2014 1:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Washington Post

    By: Tina Griego

    Read the full story.

    Ryan Turner, one of three self-described “bozos” who’ve made a name for themselves in Atlanta’s restaurant scene, was chatting with some fellow restaurateurs a few weeks back. The occasion was the Georgia Restaurant Association’s annual Grace industry awards and the crowd was, as you would expect, informed and invested and possessed by the optimism that comes from promoting an immutable truth: We all must eat.

    Turner, 42, and his partners - the other bozos - share ownership of three acclaimed restaurants, one of which opened in 2010, just as the leisure and hospitality industry was taking its first steps out of a recession that kneecapped 619,000 of its jobs. The company’s newest restaurant, Common Quarter, opened a year ago, joining its Muss & Turner’s and Local Three . In 2012, he and his partners added a speakeasy called Eleanor’s to Muss & Turner’s. Walk through a cooler door in the kitchen and behold the hidden bar.

    Is it just me, Turner asks his comrades, or are we seeing an insane amount of restaurant openings? He hasn’t seen this kind of fervor since the mid- to late 90s. Experienced, skilled culinary staff is hard to find, he says, though the culinary schools are churning out the newbies bitten by the bug. In all, just shy of 150 people work for the company.

    It’s not just Atlanta or Georgia. It’s Colorado and Texas and California and Florida and Oklahoma. It’s D.C. The leisure and hospitality industry – largely built upon restaurants – dug itself out of the recessionary job hole in half the time it took the larger economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And it’s still adding jobs at twice the clip of the rest of the U.S. job market. Most of the jobs are the part-time, lower-wage work that makes up the industry, but in the restaurant world, a disproportionate hirer of teens and students, it has been ever so.

    ...

    As with politics, all eating is local. Region matters. Demographics matter. Cities well-placed to ride the return-to-the-core wave and the rise of the millennials are seeing vibrant restaurant scenes. Denver is going gangbusters. In Atlanta, low occupancy costs, a recovering construction industry, an unsated Southern food, farm-to-table consumer appetite, more dual-income households and even lower gas prices have come together to contribute to the resurging restaurant climate, says Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

    Americans generally remain in “recession mindset,” the National Restaurant Association’s Grindy says. For most, the word “discretionary” has yet to find its rightful place before the word “income.” But, he points out, reasons exist to be hopeful. Trends in consumer confidence and spending bode well.

    According to the U.S. Census, sales for “eating and drinking places,” has been steadily rising all year. In September, they topped $48 billion, the strongest monthly volume on record.

    Read the full story.

  • 13 Nov 2014 9:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: Savannah CEO

    Press release from the issuing company

    The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA), Georgia’s only not-for-profit representing the state’s foodservice industry, has elected Jamie Durrence, Managing Partner for Daniel Reed Hospitality, to the GRA’s Board of Directors.

    Durrence has been a restaurateur for over 15 years, bringing a vast amount of expertise and creativity to his concepts and Savannah’s culinary scene as a whole. Daniel Reed Hospitality owns and operates four concepts in the historic district of Savannah including Local 11ten Food & Wine, Perch Rooftop Lounge, The Public Kitchen & Bar and Soho South Cafe.

    “Jamie is extremely passionate about the restaurant industry, striving to create a unique quality dining experience while maintaining valuable relationships with his patrons, staff and community. We are thrilled to welcome him to GRA’s Board of Directors,” said Karen Bremer, GRA’s executive director. “We believe his ambition to showcase the positive aspects of our industry to others will be very valuable to the GRA as we continue to gain a stronger presence around the state.”

    Durrence has been an active member of the GRA since joining several years ago. In 2013, he was nominated as a finalist for Restaurateur of the Year at the 7th Annual GRACE Awards. Durrence was also involved in the Edible Agricultural Tour of Georgia (EAT GA), a multi-city dining tour that celebrates the relationship between Georgia farms and local restaurants. Durrence hosted a dinner at Soho South Cafe featuring a six-course meal of specialty crops, meats and dairy from Sweet Grass Dairy, Georgia Buffalo, Vince Baker’s Culinary Herbs, Kachina Farms to name a few, and his own family’s farm, Durrence Farms.

    Also appeared in Albany CEO, Athens CEO, Atlanta CEO, Augusta CEO, Columbus CEO, Middle Georgia CEO, Valdosta CEO on Nov. 13, 2014.

  • 12 Nov 2014 9:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    At an event recognizing the sustainable efforts of two of its pioneer members, the National Restaurant Association’s Zero Waste Zones program officially re-launched in Atlanta on Veterans Day.

    The kick-off, held Nov. 11 at Coca-Cola Co.’s headquarters, highlighted the work of caterer Affairs to Remember for diverting 1 million pounds of recoverable material away from landfills. This achievement followed the recently announced Georgia World Congress Center certification of Silver LEED status by the U.S. Green Building Council. The GWCC, also a ZWZ founding member, has diverted 602 tons of material from landfills in 2014 alone.

    “We are proud of what these two long-time Zero Waste Zones members have accomplished in just five years,” said Jeff Clark, director of the NRA’s Conserve sustainability initiative and the ZWZ program. “Environmental sustainability is a complex issue and achieving zero waste is even more difficult, but these two pioneers have shown that with hard work and commitment, it can be done successfully.”

    At the event, Atlanta Councilwoman Felicia Moore told attendees that the city of Atlanta proclaimed Nov. 11 “Affairs to Remember Caterers Day” in honor of its sustainability achievements. Supporters in attendance included environmentalist and Captain Planet Foundation chairwoman Laura Turner Seydel; Jon D. Johnston, the Environmental Protection Agency’s chief of materials and waste management; and Holly Elmore, CEO of Elemental Impact.

    Clark said the Zero Waste Zones program would focus on educating restaurant operators about how to recover and recycling food waste materials.

    “At Zero Waste Zones, we’re seeking to make sustainability more approachable for businesses,” he said. “We want to connect operators with the community at large so they can share, learn and work together to make sustainability a part of doing business in Atlanta.”

    The event was sponsored by the Coca-Cola Co. and the Georgia Restaurant Association.

    Learn more about sustainable best practices for restaurants with Conserve and Zero Waste Zones.
  • 10 Nov 2014 12:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Farm Flavor

    Article By: Teree Caruthers

    Chef Holly Chute knows local. Through the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program, a partnership with the Georgia Restaurant Association designed to engage chefs across the state with Georgia products, Chute has traveled across the state introducing chefs and consumers, schoolchildren and teachers to the state’s commodities and the people who grow them.

    During her 33 years as the executive chef at the Governor’s Mansion, the occupancy changed six times. But one thing that never changed was Chute’s dedication to serving dishes made with Georgia-grown products.

    “We were proponents of using Georgia-grown products and loved serving food made with these products to dignitaries and other guests,” she says.

    Chute says engaging chefs and restaurateurs has become less challenging thanks to other farm-to- table champions, such as Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta. Hopkins is passionate about sourcing locally.

    “To be a good chef is to know your ingredients, and here that means cooking ‘Georgia,’” Hopkins says. “It’s important for chefs and growers to stand side-by-side to help create systems around good, wholesome food.”

    Hopkins says he enjoys teaching through his food and educating consumers about the entire farm-to-table process.

    “It requires a lot of different people, farms and ingredients to help build a robust cuisine and culture of food,” he says.

    Hopkins says he wants people to know that they can go to a farmers market, buy a Georgia watermelon in July, and that it’ll be at its most delicious because it’s in peak season, and that Vidalia onions a month out of the ground taste amazing.

    “People will come into the restaurant, eat a tomato and ask ‘Why are these tomatoes so good?’ or, ‘Why are these peaches so great?’ I can respond with transparency because I know exactly where all of my food comes from, but a lot of times that surprises them,” he says. “People are surprised by good food and that good food is available just outside their back door.”

    Roberto Leoci, a newly appointed Georgia Grown Executive Chef and head chef at both Leoci’s Trattoria and Pacci Italian Kitchen and Bar in Savannah, adds that sourcing local is not only important to educate consumers, but also to keep the industry viable.

    “The more local ingredients you use, the more acceptable it becomes,” Leoci says. “It works on supply and demand, and those small farms and businesses will be able to thrive.”

    Read the full article.
  • 07 Nov 2014 1:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

    Georgia is quickly becoming recognized as one of the nation's top travel destinations. In fact, last year the tourism industry achieved record-breaking results generating $53.6 billion in economic impact. The impact of the industry goes beyond the direct spending of visitors; it provides employment opportunities for more than 411,000 Georgians across the state. This means that 10.2 percent of all workers in Georgia are employed because of one of the state's leading industries. The rising economic impact of this industry not only provides revenue and jobs, but it impacts nearly every community in Georgia.

    In order to assist communities across Georgia with meeting the growing demands of this travel trend undefined the Georgia Tourism division will focus on culinary during 2015. The state's tourism website, ExploreGeorgia.org now includes a complete list of dining options through a partnership with the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA). More than 12,000 Georgia restaurants can be found on the site by location, cuisine or type of restaurant. Research shows that dining consistently ranks high on the list of amenities travelers want to experience when visiting Georgia. In 2013, 27 percent of overnight trips included fine dining and 20 percent included unique local restaurants. The new additions to ExploreGeorgia.org make it easy for visitors to find the rich culinary experiences they are seeking.

    Read the full story.

  • 06 Nov 2014 12:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: RestaurantInformer.com

    It was a great night at the annual Georgia Restaurant Association’s GRACE Awards Gala. With more than 300 restaurant professionals and guests attending, the evening was a wonderful tribute to leaders in Georgia’s hospitality trade.

    Below is a list of GRACE Award Winners. Look for your copy of Restaurant INFORMER in the mail for full coverage of the GRACE Awards, including write-ups on all award finalists.

    Restaurateur of the Year Award

    Ben and Jennifer Johnson, Shelley Sweet, West Egg Cafe, The General Muir, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla and Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla

    Chairman’s Award Honoree

    Commissioner Gary W. Black, Georgia Department of Agriculture

    Lifetime Achievement Award Winner


    Hal Nowak of Hal’s on Old Ivy

    Industry Partner of the Year


    Georgia Power

    Distinguished Service Award

    Bill Bolling, Atlanta Community Food Bank

    The Innovator Award

    Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow
  • 05 Nov 2014 12:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: PerishableNews.com

    by Georgia Restaurant Association

    The winners of the 2014 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards were announced Sunday, Nov. 2 at The Foundry at Puritan Mill in Atlanta. The GRACE Awards is the Georgia Restaurant Association’s (GRA) annual black-tie gala event honoring Georgia’s restaurant industry. Jim Stacy, host of the Cooking Channel's “Offbeat Eats” and owner of Pallookaville Fine Foods, served as the Master of Ceremonies and Seven Handle Circus provided live musical entertainment.

    The GRACE Awards are peer-nominated and winners are selected by the GRACE Academy. GRACE winners are presented with crystal works of art created by renowned local artist Hans Godo Frabel. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from this event goes to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

    2014 GRACE Awards Winners:

    Lifetime Achievement Award – Hal Nowak of Hal's on Old Ivy

    After 22 years in Atlanta, Hal Nowak has established himself as a successful and well- known restaurateur. Hal’s on Old Ivy has become an Atlanta institution - priding itself on serving great quality steaks and seafood, great service and giving great value. Originally from New Orleans, Nowak brought his New Orleans flare and personality to the Atlanta dining scene. Hal’s quickly gained hundreds, if not thousands, of loyal patrons over the years and Nowak is well-respected by the industry, his peers and loyal staff.

    Nowak has also been active in many charitable organizations over the years, and even brought in women and children from the battered women’s shelter and fed them Thanksgiving dinner for over 10 years. Hal serves on the board of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and is a founding board member of the Hospitality Business Network Foundation.

    Chairman's Award Honoree – Commissioner Gary W. Black, Georgia Department of Agriculture
    Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black is the sixteenth Georgian to hold the office of Commissioner of Agriculture since the department’s inception in 1874. He began his career with the Georgia Farm Bureau leading the young farmer leadership development program.

    He served 21 years as president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, a chamber-like organization representing all facets of Georgia’s food and fiber industry.

    Commissioner Black strives to foster a relationship between chefs and farmers across the state and bring awareness of Georgia grown food to Georgians while they are dining out. Commissioner Black was chosen for the Chairman’s Award because he is helping to educate Georgia on the importance of eating local and assisting in bringing that into Georgia’s restaurants.

    Industry Partner of the Year – Georgia Power
    Georgia Power, the largest operating company within Southern Company, has been providing electricity to Georgia for more than a century.

    Georgia Power focuses on helping customers save time and money, while being energy efficient in today’s commercial kitchen. Georgia Power also offers customers a range of incentives, including rebates, to help them set up their kitchens. At Georgia Power’s Customer Resource Center, their Foodservice Team demonstrates the latest advancements in electric induction cooking equipment as well as the latest electric end- use technologies and energy efficient products.

    Georgia Power works closely with farmers across the state and are a supporter of the National Restaurant Association, Atlanta Chefs Federation, Manufacturers to the Food Service Industry and the Georgia School Nutrition Association.

    Distinguished Service Award – Bill Bolling, Atlanta Community Food Bank
    Bill Bolling has served as executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank since founding the organization in 1979. In this capacity, he oversees the distribution of more than 35 million pounds of food and grocery products each year through a network of 600 local and regional partner nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry across 29 Georgia counties.

    The mission of the Atlanta Community Food Bank is to fight hunger by engaging, educating and empowering the community. Their mission extends beyond that, and is lived out every day through projects that help engage, educate and empower both people in need and those who want help. From supporting community gardens to assisting people in finding economic security, ACFB covers a wide range of opportunities for people to learn and get involved.

    The Innovator Award – Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow
    In May 2013, Chef Kevin Gillespie opened his restaurant, Gunshow, in the Glenwood Park neighborhood of Atlanta. The restaurant features a unique dining style where Gillespie prepares both refined and rustic dishes and sends them out to the small dining room for guests to choose from. The menu is ever evolving with delicious food that is seasonally rooted, locally focused and unlimited in its stylistic boundaries. In February 2014, Gunshow earned the seventh spot on GQ magazine’s list of 12 Most Outstanding Restaurants. Gunshow was also recently recognized as one of Esquire magazine’s best new restaurant in America.

    Gillespie’s true passion lies in serving his guests quality food every day. This enthusiasm means incorporating the use of fresh, organic and sustainable ingredients in all of his dishes.

    Restaurateur of the Year Award – Ben and Jennifer Johnson, Shelley Sweet, West Egg Cafe, The General Muir, Fred's Meat & Bread, Yalla and Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir, Fred's Meat & Bread, Yalla
    Ben and Jennifer Johnson opened West Egg in March 2004 hoping to create a comfortable environment that might help anchor a growing community. West Egg celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

    Shelley Sweet began her restaurant career at West Egg in 2004. She joined the Concentrics Restaurants group in 2006, but rejoined West Egg in 2011 as general manager, becoming a partner in 2014.

    The partnership between Jennifer and Ben Johnson, Sweet and Ginsberg started in 2011 and emerged with the opening of The General Muir in January 2013. The restaurant would go on to receive a number of accolades, including Atlanta magazine’s Restaurant of the Year, Eater Atlanta’s Restaurant of the Year, Creative Loafing’s Best New Restaurant, one of Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants, and one of GQ magazine’s 25 Best New Restaurants. Additionally, Ginsberg was named a 2014 James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast. The four are opening two restaurant stalls within the new Krog Street Market: Fred’s Meat & Bread and Yalla.

    Source: Georgia Restaurant Association
  • 03 Nov 2014 12:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: Savannah CEO

    Press release from the issuing company

    The winners of the 2014 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards were announced Sunday, Nov. 2 at The Foundry at Puritan Mill in Atlanta. The GRACE Awards is the Georgia Restaurant Association’s (GRA) annual black-tie gala event honoring Georgia’s restaurant industry. Jim Stacy, host of the Cooking Channel's “Offbeat Eats” and owner of Pallookaville Fine Foods, served as the Master of Ceremonies and Seven Handle Circus provided live musical entertainment.

    The GRACE Awards are peer-nominated and winners are selected by the GRACE Academy. GRACE winners are presented with crystal works of art created by renowned local artist Hans Godo Frabel. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from this event goes to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

    2014 GRACE Awards Winners:
    Lifetime Achievement Award – Hal Nowak of Hal's on Old Ivy

    After 22 years in Atlanta, Hal Nowak has established himself as a successful and well- known restaurateur. Hal’s on Old Ivy has become an Atlanta institution - priding itself on serving great quality steaks and seafood, great service and giving great value. Originally from New Orleans, Nowak brought his New Orleans flare and personality to the Atlanta dining scene. Hal’s quickly gained hundreds, if not thousands, of loyal patrons over the years and Nowak is well-respected by the industry, his peers and loyal staff.

    Nowak has also been active in many charitable organizations over the years, and even brought in women and children from the battered women’s shelter and fed them Thanksgiving dinner for over 10 years. Hal serves on the board of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and is a founding board member of the Hospitality Business Network Foundation.

    Chairman's Award Honoree – Commissioner Gary W. Black, Georgia Department of Agriculture

    Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black is the sixteenth Georgian to hold the office of Commissioner of Agriculture since the department’s inception in 1874. He began his career with the Georgia Farm Bureau leading the young farmer leadership development program.

    He served 21 years as president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, a chamber-like organization representing all facets of Georgia’s food and fiber industry.

    Commissioner Black strives to foster a relationship between chefs and farmers across the state and bring awareness of Georgia grown food to Georgians while they are dining out. Commissioner Black was chosen for the Chairman’s Award because he is helping to educate Georgia on the importance of eating local and assisting in bringing that into Georgia’s restaurants.

    Industry Partner of the Year – Georgia Power

    Georgia Power, the largest operating company within Southern Company, has been providing electricity to Georgia for more than a century.

    Georgia Power focuses on helping customers save time and money, while being energy efficient in today’s commercial kitchen. Georgia Power also offers customers a range of incentives, including rebates, to help them set up their kitchens. At Georgia Power’s Customer Resource Center, their Foodservice Team demonstrates the latest advancements in electric induction cooking equipment as well as the latest electric end- use technologies and energy efficient products.

    Georgia Power works closely with farmers across the state and are a supporter of the National Restaurant Association, Atlanta Chefs Federation, Manufacturers to the Food Service Industry and the Georgia School Nutrition Association.

    Distinguished Service Award – Bill Bolling, Atlanta Community Food Bank

    Bill Bolling has served as executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank since founding the organization in 1979. In this capacity, he oversees the distribution of more than 35 million pounds of food and grocery products each year through a network of 600 local and regional partner nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry across 29 Georgia counties.

    The mission of the Atlanta Community Food Bank is to fight hunger by engaging, educating and empowering the community. Their mission extends beyond that, and is lived out every day through projects that help engage, educate and empower both people in need and those who want help. From supporting community gardens to assisting people in finding economic security, ACFB covers a wide range of opportunities for people to learn and get involved.

    The Innovator Award – Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow

    In May 2013, Chef Kevin Gillespie opened his restaurant, Gunshow, in the Glenwood Park neighborhood of Atlanta. The restaurant features a unique dining style where Gillespie prepares both refined and rustic dishes and sends them out to the small dining room for guests to choose from. The menu is ever evolving with delicious food that is seasonally rooted, locally focused and unlimited in its stylistic boundaries. In February 2014, Gunshow earned the seventh spot on GQ magazine’s list of 12 Most Outstanding Restaurants. Gunshow was also recently recognized as one of Esquire magazine’s best new restaurant in America.

    Gillespie’s true passion lies in serving his guests quality food every day. This enthusiasm means incorporating the use of fresh, organic and sustainable ingredients in all of his dishes.

    Restaurateur of the Year Award – Ben and Jennifer Johnson, Shelley Sweet, West Egg Cafe, The General Muir, Fred's Meat & Bread, Yalla and Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir, Fred's Meat & Bread, Yalla

    Ben and Jennifer Johnson opened West Egg in March 2004 hoping to create a comfortable environment that might help anchor a growing community. West Egg celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

    Shelley Sweet began her restaurant career at West Egg in 2004. She joined the Concentrics Restaurants group in 2006, but rejoined West Egg in 2011 as general manager, becoming a partner in 2014.

    The partnership between Jennifer and Ben Johnson, Sweet and Ginsberg started in 2011 and emerged with the opening of The General Muir in January 2013. The restaurant would go on to receive a number of accolades, including Atlanta magazine’s Restaurant of the Year, Eater Atlanta’s Restaurant of the Year, Creative Loafing’s Best New Restaurant, one of Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants, and one of GQ magazine’s 25 Best New Restaurants. Additionally, Ginsberg was named a 2014 James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast. The four are opening two restaurant stalls within the new Krog Street Market: Fred’s Meat & Bread and Yalla.

    Also appeared in Albany CEOColumbus CEO and Valdosta CEO on Nov. 3, 2014.

  • 03 Nov 2014 12:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: Shelby Food Service 

    The winners of the 2014 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards were named Nov. 2 at The Foundry at Puritan Mill in Atlanta.

    The GRACE Awards is the Georgia Restaurant Association’s (GRA) annual black-tie gala event honoring Georgia’s restaurant industry. Jim Stacy, host of the Cooking Channel’s “Offbeat Eats” and owner of Pallookaville Fine Foods, served as the master of ceremonies and Seven Handle Circus provided live musical entertainment.

    The GRACE Awards are peer-nominated and winners are selected by the GRACE Academy. GRACE winners are presented with crystal works of art created by renowned local artist Hans Godo Frabel. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from the event goes to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

    The winner are:

    Lifetime Achievement Award: Hal Nowak of Hal’s on Old Ivy

    After 22 years in Atlanta, Nowak has established himself as a successful and well-known restaurateur. Hal’s on Old Ivy has become an Atlanta institution - priding itself on serving great quality steaks and seafood, great service and giving great value. Originally from New Orleans, Nowak brought his New Orleans flare and personality to the Atlanta dining scene. Hal’s quickly gained hundreds, if not thousands, of loyal patrons over the years and Nowak is well respected by the industry, his peers and loyal staff.

    Nowak also has been active in many charitable organizations over the years and even brought in women and children from the battered women’s shelter and fed them Thanksgiving dinner for more than 10 years. Nowak serves on the board of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and is a founding board member of the Hospitality Business Network Foundation.

    Chairman’s Award Honoree: Commissioner Gary W. Black, Georgia Department of Agriculture

    Black is the 16th Georgian to hold the office of Commissioner of Agriculture since the department’s inception in 1874. He began his career with the Georgia Farm Bureau leading the young farmer leadership development program. He served 21 years as president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, a chamber-like organization representing all facets of Georgia’s food and fiber industry. Black strives to foster a relationship between chefs and farmers across the state and bring awareness of Georgia-grown food to Georgians while they are dining out. Black was chosen for the Chairman’s Award because he is helping to educate Georgia on the importance of eating local and assisting in bringing that into Georgia’s restaurants.

    Industry Partner of the Year: Georgia Power

    Georgia Power, the largest operating company within Southern Co., has been providing electricity to Georgia for more than a century. Georgia Power focuses on helping customers save time and money, while being energy efficient in today’s commercial kitchen. Georgia Power also offers customers a range of incentives, including rebates, to help them set up their kitchens.

    At Georgia Power’s customer resource center, its food service team demonstrates the latest advancements in electric induction cooking equipment as well as the latest electric end-use technologies and energy efficient products. Georgia Power works closely with farmers across the state and is a supporter of the National Restaurant Association, Atlanta Chefs Federation, Manufacturers to the Food Service Industry and the Georgia School Nutrition Association.

    Distinguished Service Award: Bill Bolling, Atlanta Community Food Bank

    Bolling has served as executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) since founding the organization in 1979.

    In this capacity, he oversees the distribution of more than 35 million pounds of food and grocery products each year through a network of 600 local and regional partner nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry across 29 Georgia counties.

    The mission of ACFB is to fight hunger by engaging, educating and empowering the community. Its mission extends beyond that and is lived out every day through projects that help engage, educate and empower both people in need and those who want help. From supporting community gardens to assisting people in finding economic security, ACFB covers a wide range of opportunities for people to learn and get involved.

    The Innovator Award: Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow


    In May 2013, Chef Kevin Gillespie opened his restaurant, Gunshow, in the Glenwood Park neighborhood of Atlanta. The restaurant features a unique dining style where Gillespie prepares both refined and rustic dishes and sends them out to the small dining room for guests to choose from. The menu is ever evolving with delicious food that is seasonally rooted, locally focused and unlimited in its stylistic boundaries. In February 2014, Gunshow earned the seventh spot on GQ Magazine’s list of 12 Most Outstanding Restaurants. Gunshow also recently was recognized as one of Esquire Magazine’s best new restaurant in America. Gillespie’s true passion lies in serving his guests quality food every day. This enthusiasm means incorporating the use of fresh, organic and sustainable ingredients in all of his dishes.

    Restaurateur of the Year Award: Ben and Jennifer Johnson and Shelley Sweet, West Egg Cafe, The General Muir, Fred’s Meat & Bread and Yalla; and Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir, Fred’s Meat & Bread and Yalla


    Ben and Jennifer Johnson opened West Egg in March 2004 hoping to create a comfortable environment that might help anchor a growing community. West Egg celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

    Shelley Sweet began her restaurant career at West Egg in 2004. She joined the Concentrics Restaurants group in 2006 but rejoined West Egg in 2011 as GM, becoming a partner in 2014.

    The partnership between Jennifer and Ben Johnson, Sweet and Todd Ginsberg started in 2011 and emerged with the opening of The General Muir in January 2013. The restaurant would go on to receive a number of accolades, including Atlanta Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year, Eater Atlanta’s Restaurant of the Year, Creative Loafing’s Best New Restaurant, one of Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants and one of GQ Magazine’s 25 Best New Restaurants. Additionally, Ginsberg was named a 2014 James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast. The four are opening two restaurant stalls within the new Krog Street Market: Fred’s Meat & Bread and Yalla.

    Shelby Food Service is a product of Shelby Publishing Co., which also publishes The Shelby Report and The Griffin Report of Food Marketing.
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