• 22 Mar 2013 4:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) has kicked off their 100th Anniversary year and would like to invite GRA/ACVB restaurant/bar members to participate in the Centennial Cocktail Contest, an initiative of the ACVB Restaurant Committee. The winning cocktail, ACVB’s “Centennial Cocktail,” will be celebrated at various Atlanta hospitality industry events as the 100 year celebration continues throughout 2013.

    Read the Rules & Regulations for the Contest. All entries must be submitted on-line by FRIDAY, MARCH 29th. To register, click here, complete the form and click Submit.

    A couple of things to note:
    - Restaurant/bar must be an ACVB member to participate.
    - Cocktail entered must be the original creation of the restaurant/bar.
    - Cocktail name should relate to ACVB’s Centennial anniversary and/or Atlanta’s hospitality industry.
    - Each product category will be limited to 20 entrants. Once a spirit has 20 entries, that product category will close for entrants. Please see Rules & Regulations for the spirit categories.
    - Registration for participation will close Friday, March 29, 2013.
    - All participants will be announced at ACVB’s Centennial Celebration Gala on Thursday, April 25, 2013.
    - Online voting will be from Friday, April 26 – Friday, June 14, 2013.
    - There will be two finalists from each of the seven spirit categories that will be invited to participate at the Grand Finals on Thursday, July 11 at 5:30pm at the Connect at Opera night club.

    Questions should be directed to Ellie Westman-Chin, ACVB VP, Business Development & Corporate Events at or 404.521.6396.
  • 20 Mar 2013 1:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    In June 2011, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in partnership with Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and other leading business and community organizations introduced the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (Atlanta BBC). The Challenge was officially launched at CAP’s Downtown Development Day event on November 3. Atlanta is at the forefront of a national effort as one of three municipalities--Seattle and Los Angeles--participating in the Better Buildings Challenge, a national energy efficiency leadership initiative and a core element of President Obama's plan to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020.

    The goal of the Atlanta BBC is to reduce energy and water consumption by at least 20 percent in participating buildings across Atlanta by 2020, with a primary focus on the city’s Downtown central business district. Through substantive energy and water efficiency (collectively “EE”) upgrades of municipal, university, hospital, and commercial buildings, the Atlanta BBC intends to free up business capital for more productive uses, stimulate growth for communities, foster new business opportunities, and create more sustainable footprints.

    The Atlanta BBC is a part of the City’s Power to Change- an effort aimed at making Atlanta more sustainable by improving “green” programs and policies such as water and energy conservation, reducing our solid waste, reducing carbon emissions, and improving the rates of recycling.
    The effort is already underway with a benchmarking initiative for Atlanta's 220-block Downtown Improvement District, including City Hall, the Civic Center, and other municipal facilities, as well as to eventually include landmark buildings in the downtown area. The Civic Center, the Challenge’s showcase project, has an estimated $228,000 payback annually after the EE upgrades have been completed on the 380,000 sq. ft. building.

    A growing public-private partnership has been formed to execute the projects and achieve the goals of the ATL-BBC. Founding partners include companies as large as Georgia Power and public entities including the Department of Energy and General Service Administration.

    Get Involved
    Participation in the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge provides many benefits to property owners, service providers and suppliers, including positive public recognition and educational resources to improve the water and energy efficiency of your organization. For more information, please visit or contact Central Atlanta Progress.
  • 18 Mar 2013 3:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The Vidalia® onions that will be used during the 2nd Annual Golden Onion professional cooking competition are growing right on schedule.

    “The crop of Vidalia Onions that will be harvested for the competition is in the ground at the Vidalia Onion Museum,” says Ingrid Varn, executive director of the Vidalia Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The sweeties grow in the world’s smallest licensed Vidalia Onion field under the watchful eyes of R.T. and Diane Stanley of Stanley Farms.” R.T., who was the 2007 Onion Grower of the Year, tackled the small plot as he would any other, taking meticulous soil samples, measuring the Ph and prepping the sandy ground (typical of Vidalia fields) with fertilizer and lime.

    The small patch of Vidalia Onions was first planted in 2011 as a living exhibit near the entrance to the Vidalia Onion Museum. In the small plot thousands of Vidalia seedlings growundefinedsufficient quantity to supply the twelve chefs who will compete on Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Vidalia, Ga. This professional cooking competition showcases the Vidalia® onion, Georgia’s most exclusive and renowned agricultural treasure, and also offers a new platform for chefs across Georgia to display their skills and creativity. Golden Onion competitors will have one hour to prepare and present a recipe that features Vidalia® onions.

    New this year, culinary students will be granted free admission to Golden Onion.

    “This is an opportunity for students who are currently pursuing a culinary career to come see twelve of our state’s leading chefs in action,” says Varn. “We support education and know that by watching these professionals in action students may gain valuable insights, including how chefs operate under time constraints, how they showcase our state’s official vegetable, how they organize their work stations, how they interact with spectators and judges, and more.”

    For free admission, culinary students are asked to show a current, valid student ID. A free booklet of all competitors’ recipes is included with all admissions.

    Golden Onion competition will be held at the Vidalia Community Center, 107 Old Airport Road in Vidalia, Ga. The event is open to the public starting at 12:30 p.m. Advance tickets cost $10 per person or $15 at the door. For details visit
  • 15 Mar 2013 8:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Affairs to Remember Caterers was awarded the 2013 Best-Caterer-in-the-South ACE Award at the world-renowned Catersource Conference & Tradeshow in Las Vegas.

    Catersource’s “Achievement in Catering Excellence” (ACE) Award recognizes companies that have shown “noteworthy achievement in the catering industry through culinary, business, community and professional development.”

    During the edge-of-your-seat presentation, five highly coveted regional trophies were awarded, four domestic and one international. The ACE Award for the South Region is selected from among the top entries from 12 States, including Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.

    The awards ceremony takes place in conjunction with the Conference’s keynote speaker program, the world’s largest gathering of catering industry professionals. This year’s keynote was Celebrity Chef Scott Conant, one of the country’s preeminent Italian chefs, author, and television celebrity.

    General Manager, Patrick Cuccaro, said, “It’s an honor to be recognized on an international platform as the most exceptional caterer in the Southern USA. Catersource hosts the largest catering convention in the world, attracting more than 6,000 attendees, and to be cheered on by so many is humbling.”

    Cuccaro continued, “Between our stunning venues, brilliant partners, and focused staff, it’s a pleasure just to practice our art and craft. To be recognized for doing so is the icing on our cake.”
  • 13 Mar 2013 10:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The federal government issued a new I-9 form March 7 -- and while the new form is available for immediate use, employers have a 60-day grace period to begin using it, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services . The new form will be required for new hires starting May 8, 2013, USCIS said.

    The revised form has been in the works for a while. The agency said its goal was to make the I-9 clearer and more user-friendly for employers and employees. Employers and employees complete the form to verify the identity and work eligibility of newly hired employees.

    USCIS said it realizes employers will need extra time to update their business processes to accommodate the new form, particularly businesses that use electronic I-9 forms. As a result, certain older versions of the form can be used for the next 60 days, or through May 7, the agency said.

    Employers do not need to complete a new I-9 for existing employees who already have an I-9 on file, unless their employment needs to be re-verified, USCIS said.

    The new form includes a revised layout that expands the form to two pages from one, along with improved instructions. More details are available on USCIS’s website. Employers also can call the agency at (800) 870-3676. For more information about the I-9 process, call the USCIS’s National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283. ASpanish version of the form is available on the USCIS website for use in Puerto Rico only.

    The USCIS offers additional background on the new form in the March 7 Federal Register.

    According to USCIS, employers must maintain I-9 forms for their employees as long as they work for the employer and for the required retention period after the end of employment. That period either is three years after the date of hire or one year after the date employment ended, whichever is later. Employers also must make their I-9 forms available for inspection by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Justice Department's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, and the Labor Department.

    From the National Restaurant Association, March 8, 2013

  • 12 Mar 2013 2:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The highly-anticipated 2013 Atlanta Chef’s Expo treated a sold out crowd to menu tastings from some of the city’s best and most beloved chefs, restaurants and caterers, benefiting Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta. While sampling sweet and savory fare across various categories, guests cast votes for their favorite exhibitors. The Atlanta Chef’s Expo is pleased to announce the following winners:

    Best Restaurant: (Tie) GRA Member Thrive, Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails

    Best Caterer: Melia Hotel

    Best of the Sugar Shack: GRA Member Honeysuckle Gelato

    Best Gluten Free / Vegan Restaurant: Pure Knead Bakery

    Best Personal Chef: Chef Jax Concepts

    Fan Favorite: Chef Rob’s Caribbean Cafe

    With record attendance at this sold out event, the Atlanta Chef’s Expo team presented Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta with a check for more than $2,000 to help combat breast cancer.

    Between tastings from a wide variety of Atlanta’s best culinary talent, guests had a chance to relax in the Infiniti Lounge and experience the Infiniti JX and IPL G Convertible. While in the lounge, guests were also able to enter for a chance to win dinner for six at Serpas True Food, compliments of Infiniti.

    Courtesy of the Georgia Beef Board, cooking demonstrations from star chefs Scott Serpas and Joe Arvin were presented during the afternoon. Mixologist Kit Lewis provided a demonstration using Patron spirits and also gave attendees tips and recipes for mixing their own cocktails at home.

    Other sponsors include Patrón Spirits, Ultimat Vodka, Pyrat Rum, Smartwater, the Georgia Beef Board, Lethal Rhythms Entertainment, Juniper Blu, Oh-Brides Magazine, Shutterbooth Atlanta, AFR Event Furnishings, Enchanted Events of Atlanta and Enchanted Blu Events.

    Enchanted Blu Events and the team behind the Atlanta Chef’s Expo are busy planning for the 2014 event, tentatively scheduled for early next year. For more information, please visit
  • 08 Mar 2013 3:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Athens, GA 

    It's no surprise that Athens, the notoriously hip Southern college town known for its music ties to bands like R.E.M., makes our list of up-and-coming food cities. A number of exciting eateries, including Farm 255, helmed by executive chef Whitney Otakwa (Top Chef Texas), are fixing up amazing plates that change daily based on what's fresh from local farms. The restaurant's management even runs a farm collective, which brings the freshest produce and humanely raised animals to the table every night.

    Athens' most famous chef, Hugh Acheson, now a judge on Top Chef, snagged himself a James Beard Award last year for his eatery 5 & 10. According to him, things in Athens haven't truly blown up yet, but he tells us, "It hasn't changed immensely. While it's still not prevalent with food choices, so much more improved in the last 10 years, I think finally people are starting to realize there's so much going on right in their own backyards, and it should be a celebration. There's a sense of place in the food. There's so many farms that have long sort of catered to Atlanta, and we now buy a lot of their stuff. There's like 30-40 farms that we can access." See who else made the list. 
  • 07 Mar 2013 12:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Twelve Georgia chefs will soon reveal layers of their own talent as well as the versatility of the famous Vidalia® onion.

    The 2nd Annual Golden Onion will be held on Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Vidalia, Ga., as the official kick-off to the 36th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival. This professional cooking competition showcases the Vidalia® onion, Georgia’s official state vegetable, and also serves as a platform for chefs across Georgia to display their skills and creativity.

    From the mountains to the islands, fine dining to casual eateries, new business ventures to long-standing community mainstays, the 2013 roster of chef competitors represents a cross-section of Georgia restaurants and cuisine:

    Chef Mimmo Alboumeh is owner and executive chef of ME Restaurant Group, which operates Red Pepper Taqueria, Coldbrews Sports Bar & Grill, and Coldbrews Oyster Bar in Atlanta, Ga. Alboumeh’s childhood was spent in Italy and Spain where he gained a passion for the culinary arts and was immersed in rich food-centric cultures. After moving to the states, he assisted with his family’s restaurant in Athens, Ga., before moving to Atlanta to further his career. In August 2002, he became executive chef and managing partner of Barcelona Restaurant and Tapas Bar in Duluth, Ga. He opened Cheeky Taqueria in Suwanee, Ga., in June 2006. “I believe in using the freshest ingredients whenever possible, buying locally and giving back to our community,” he says. “That being said, cultivating dishes that include Vidalia onions on my menus has always been very important. The light and delicate flavor of the Vidalia onion makes it so versatile.”

    Chef Daniel Chance, executive chef of Campagnolo in Atlanta, Ga., is an Atlanta native who has spent more than 15 years gaining experience in modern and traditional cuisine. He began his career cooking Italian food at Pricci and Veni Vidi Vici. His resume also includes stints at Trois, Two Urban Licks and Abattoir in Atlanta, Ga., before taking the helm at Campagnolo in April 2012. Chance enjoys using fresh produce from local farms and even spent a summer as a commercial salmon fisherman learning a lot about fish. He has participated in several events including Food & Wine in Aspen, Colo., and Charleston Wine + Food Festival in S.C. “The flavor of Vidalia onions is really fantastic,” he says. “It’s one of the few that can stand on its own or elevate any dish.”

    Chef Linda Harrell, executive chef and partner of Cibo E Beve in Sandy Springs, Ga., brings over 20 years of experience to the Italian restaurant. Harrell received her culinary foundation and formal European training working in Williamsburg, Va. She hit her stride at Les Clos de Marchands in Williamsburg where she worked as executive chef for five years. For the next eight years, Harrell worked as executive chef at the Italian restaurant Trattoria Toscana in Baltimore, Md., where she made virtually every product by hand. It was here that her passion for Tuscan-influenced Italian cuisine blossomed. She brought her skills and passion to Atlanta to help open Antica Posta. She then began working with the owners of 101 Concepts Restaurant Group, first at Mangia 101, followed by a stint at Meehan’s Public House restaurants, and now Cibo E Beve. “When we can get Vidalia onions, we use them,” she says. “They’re local and delicious.”

    Chef Brian Jones, chef de cuisine for Atlanta Grill at The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta is a native of Chamblee, Ga. He began his culinary career at Carbo’s Café in Buckhead, and then moved on to The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. Other notable restaurants on his resume include Watershed, Canoe and the 1848 House in Marietta. Jones grew up cooking alongside his grandmother and aunts, appreciating authentic Southern dishes made from daily harvests of the family gardens. He brings that heritage to his menus that brim with varieties of local and regional produce. “What I enjoy most about using Vidalia onions is the confidence that I am using a product that is world renowned and at the same time supporting our local agricultural economy,” he says. “I love the fact that I can further that name by respectfully preparing these local gems in as many ways as possible.”

    Chef Brian Justice, chef and owner of Tasteful Temptations Café in Brunswick, Ga., is a Georgia native. He started working at the Sea Island Company in 1992, completed the Apprentice Cook Program and was named lead cook/banquet chef at The Cloister, Sea Island. Six years later, he moved to the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., where he held multiple positions. In 2004 he leapt at the opportunity to drive fresh and frozen foods across the U.S. for Frozen Foods Express, based in Dallas, Texas. In 2007, he returned to his home state and hometown with his wife and opened Tasteful Temptations, which offers catering services, serves as the in-flight vendor for Netjets and most other private jets flying out of Brunswick and St. Simons Island, and also operates the café in the Brunswick Airport. He enjoys Vidalia® onions because, “They’re sweeter and don’t overpower dishes,” he says.

    Chef John Mark Lane, executive chef of Elements Bistro & Grill in Lyons, Ga., was born in Charleston, W. Va. He launched his culinary career at age 15, working as a dishwasher at Café Society in Charlotte, N.C. Within a year he’d progressed to sous chef and was creating lunches. By age 16, Lane decided that he one day wanted to cook great food at his own restaurant. A graduate of the Culinary Arts program at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C., he worked at several restaurants including Trio Restaurant, Charley’s and Sonoma Bistro in Charlotte, N.C., and then took some time off from cooking before opening Elements Bistro & Grill in October 2007. “I like cooking with the Vidalia onions because of the sweet flavor and versatility” he says. “The onions are very fresh and caramelize well. They can be used in a wide range of dishes.”

    Chef Roberto Leoci, chef and owner of Leoci’s Trattoria in Savannah, Ga., developed a passion for food at an early age while spending summers in Sicily with his family. His culinary career began as he worked and studied in Florence, Italy, and continued after crossing the Atlantic to work at The Ritz-Carlton on Key Biscayne, Fla. He then worked as a private chef for several years. After moving to Savannah to help open Bull Street Chophouse, in late 2009 he opened Leoci’s Trattoria. The menu is influenced by his boyhood in Bari, on the heel of the Italian boot. With a family of shopkeepers, cheese mongers and cooks, Chef Leoci has a firm background in the region’s foodways. “I am an Italian Chef who was raised on Cipollini onions,” he says. “I try my hardest to use only local ingredients. Importing food from Italy defeats the purpose of Italian food as I was raised and trained to understand itundefinedthe true basis of Italian food is local ingredients, no matter where you’re cooking. So finding these Georgia gems was a no-brainer. Cooking with Vidalia onions gives my dishes a mild sweetness with a perfect acidity that complements.”

    Chef Keira Moritz, chef and owner of Steel Magnolias in Valdosta, Ga., is a Georgia native. She attended Valdosta State University and was planning on a career in criminal justice before fully realizing her passion for cooking. Filling in at an event where the chef failed to show up, Moritz fed 150 guests and knew she had stumbled upon a career. She earned her culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C., and then a foodservice management degree from the university’s campus in Denver, Colo. After graduation, she remained in Denver to work at Panzano Restaurant where her admiration of Italian cuisine grew. Her career with Kimpton Hotels and Restaurant led to stints in Denver, Aspen, Portland, San Francisco and Atlanta, where she opened and led the team at Pacci Ristorante. Moritz returned to her hometown, purchasing and renovating an historic building in downtown Valdosta, which now houses her independent restaurant where the menu showcases local farms and artisan producers. “I love cooking with Vidalia onions because they are location specific,” she says. “When you say ‘Vidalia onion’ people from all over the country and all walks of life know what it is, almost like a secret handshake.”

    Chef Austin Rocconi, executive chef for Le Vigne Restaurant at Montaluce in Dahlonega, Ga., graduated from the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, Calif. Prior to his current position, he worked in kitchens at Kyma, BLT Steak and Canoe in the Atlanta area. Rocconi favors locally-sourced cuisine and hyper-seasonal ingredients; at Le Vigne he incorporates ingredients from the restaurant's garden as well as from regional purveyors. “I consider it a blessing to live in the state of Georgia where I have access to such a nationally sought-after product such as the Vidalia onion,” he says. “I strive to support local and regional farmers and feature their products exclusively on my menu. The Vidalia onion gives me the chance to support local agriculture as well as show my community just one of the great accomplishments their state has produced. Vidalia onion season is something I always look forward to and a product I will use as long as I am cooking.” Chef Rocconi placed third at the inaugural Golden Onion competition in 2012 and is excited to be competing again.

    Chef Michael Shutters is executive chef and food service director at The Pilot House Grille Restaurant at George T. Bagby State Park and Lodge in Fort Gaines, Ga. He was born in Indianapolis, Ind., and grew up near Jacksonville, Fla. After working for several years as a corporate trainer, he changed careers in 2002 and has worked his way up from a sandwich maker and dishwasher to his current position at the helm of the restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. About Vidalia® onions he says, “I love the unique sweetness and low sulfur content.”

    Chef Dave Snyder, chef and owner of Halyards and Tramici in St. Simons Island, Ga., first gained cooking experience during his high school years in Michigan. He continued cooking while attending college at the University of Georgia in Athens and later graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. He then gained experience working at several New York City restaurants, including Les Celebrites, Union Square Café, The Mark Hotel and Zoe. Returning to Georgia, he worked at Azalea in Atlanta for a brief time before joining J Mac’s Island Restaurant on St. Simons Island. Now as chef and owner of two restaurants, his goal is to develop a team that will enable Halyards and Tramici to expand into a family of restaurants. He enjoys cooking with Vidalia onions, he says, “because of the variety of applications of this Georgia Grown product with a great history. It’s a one-of-a-kind onion with flavors of a specific growing region.” Snyder is a Georgia Grown Executive Chef in 2013.

    Chef Marc Taft, chef and owner of Chicken & The Egg in Marietta, Ga., and executive chef and general manager of the new The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Roswell, Ga., earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and then began working for the restaurant companies Carlson Hospitality and Brinker International. He has since served as general manager for The Inn at Evins Mill in middle Tennessee, B.A.N.K Restaurant in Minneapolis, Minn., Domaso Trattoria Moderna in Washington, D.C., and Pacci Ristorante in Atlanta, Ga. Taft has also worked as the concept development director for Al Copeland Investments, where he helped develop Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro, and has held executive chef and corporate chef positions. His experience also includes stints as the director of food and beverage for the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., and director of restaurant operations for the Southeast region of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants where he was responsible for overseeing several restaurants including Area 31 in Miami, Fla., and Central 214 in Dallas, Texas. About Vidalia onions, Taft says, “I love the versatility of the Vidalia® onion, the perfect balance of the onion flavor and sweetness make it the perfect additive to any dish or stand alone as the star of the show.”

    Chefs Jones, Lane, Rocconi, Snyder and Taft also competed in Golden Onion 2012.
  • 05 Mar 2013 3:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Chefs from across Georgia will face-off on Sunday, April 14, 2013, for the Second Annual Golden Onion professional cooking competition that kicks-off the 36th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival. This cook-off showcases the Vidalia® onion, Georgia’s most exclusive and renowned agricultural treasure, and also offers a platform for chefs across Georgia to display their skills and creativity.

    After winning over the audience at last year’s inaugural Golden Onion, Sonny Dixon will return as event emcee. The popular anchor of Savannah’s WTOC’s innovative broadcast, THE News NOW at 4 PM, plus THE News at Five and THE News at Six won an Emmy for Best Anchor in the Southeast U.S. in 2011. A longtime member of Toastmasters International, Dixon has won numerous awards for public speaking and communication, including Georgia's Best Anchor/Reporter by the Associated Press in 2005. The Leadership Savannah graduate was elected to five terms in the Georgia House of Representatives, where he held key offices and served on prominent committees before retiring from elected office in 1997. He has also appeared on the CBS Evening News, the CBS Early Show, on CNN, in Newsweek magazine and many major market newspapers. [For more information, visit]

    A panel of five judges will taste and score the competition. Dishes will be judged on the basis of taste (50%), chef’s verbal presentation (5%), visual presentation (10%), creativity (15%), overall use of Vidalia® onions (15%), and following the recipe submitted during the application process (5%). Judges of Golden Onion 2013 are:

    Executive Chef Holly Chute of the Georgia Governor’s Mansion. A graduate of the renowned Culinary Institute of America, Chute first arrived at the Governor’s Mansion in 1981 as Chef and Foods Manager. Since then, she has helmed the kitchen for six different Governors: Governor George Busbee, Governor Joe Frank Harris, Governor Zell Miller, Governor Roy Barnes, Governor Sonny Perdue, and now Governor Nathan Deal. At the Governor’s Mansion, Chef Chute oversees all meals served, from private family meals to official state dinners. Chute is an active member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and served as a Georgia Grown Executive Chef in 2012.

    Chef Hilary White, owner of The Hil: A Restaurant at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., and First Place Champion of Golden Onion 2012. White grew up in rural Shelby, Ohio, and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She spent much of her early career working with Atlanta’s Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and earned particular recognition when, in 2000, she was named the company’s first female executive chef at the award-winning 103 West in Buckhead. When later selecting a location for her own restaurant, she was drawn to the Serenbe community’s collective commitment to sustainability. She opened The Hil in 2007, with her husband, Jim, and her mother, Sandy Pitsch. White is an active member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Southern Foodways Alliance and served as a Georgia Grown Executive Chef in 2012. [For more information, visit]

    Executive Chef Ahmad Nourzad of Affairs to Remember Caterers in Atlanta. Nourzad’s love of the kitchen and cooking began at an early age in Tehran, Iran, where he was born. He came to Atlanta by way of Vienna, Austria, and Austin, Texas, where he worked in various positions in the food industry. Nourzad has 25 years of experience in all aspects of a working kitchen. He enjoys experimenting with products and favors local and/or organic produce. He is responsible for executing some of Georgia’s most exclusive events, including the opening of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s new International Terminal, the Fernbank Timeless Signature Benefit Gala, and the Buckhead Business Association’s Annual Luncheon and many others. Nourzad is a Georgia Grown Executive Chef in 2013. [For more information, visit]

    Bob Stafford is director of the Vidalia® Onion Business Council, a role he’s held since the mid-1990s. Among Stafford’s responsibilities is lobbying on behalf of farmers, working with researchers to improve the annual crop, and working to protect the Vidalia trademark. Stafford was inducted into the Vidalia® Onion Hall of Fame in February 2010. Prior to his current position, he worked with the Florida Department of Agriculture for 34 years.

    Hope S. Philbrick, is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and editor who conceived of and helped launch the Golden Onion competition. She has published thousands of articles in dozens of publications including Atlanta Journal-Constitution, San Francisco Chronicle and New York Post. She’s served as contributing editor to Epicure, managing editor of Restaurant Forum and assistant editor of Wine Report magazines. She has reviewed restaurants for many publications, including Where Atlanta, Where Nashville and The Atlantan, and authored weekly dining columns for Sunday Paper and Southern Voice. She’s judged several culinary competitions, including the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, S.Pellegrino “Almost Famous” Chef Competition, Taste of Atlanta, Beaufort S.C. Shrimp Festival, and International Wine Summit. She recently founded [For more information, visit]

    About the Golden Onion
    The Golden Onion professional cooking competition challenges 12 Georgia chefs to create and prepare recipes featuring Vidalia® onions. Competing chefs will have one hour to prepare and present their recipes. The First Place champion will be presented the Golden Onion trophy to hold for one year along with a cash prize of $500. The second place winner will receive $250 and the third place winner $100. All winners will also receive commemorative plaques. The Golden Onion competition will be held at the Vidalia Community Center, 107 Old Airport Road in Vidalia, Ga. The event is open to the public starting at 12:30 p.m. Advance tickets cost $10 per person or $15 at the door and include an event recipe booklet. For details visit

    About the Vidalia Onion Festival
    Celebrating its 36th year in 2013, the Vidalia Onion Festival will be held April 18-21 in Vidalia, Ga. The event has been featured on The Food Network and recognized as one of the “5 Don't-Miss Festivals Across the U.S.” by MSNBC. The four-day festival offers something for everyone, including the Miss Vidalia Onion Pageant, a children’s parade, outdoor music concerts, an arts and crafts festival, opening ceremonies and fireworks, car show, the Kiwanis Onion Run, the Vidalia Onion Festival Rodeo, and the Famous onion eating contest. Come to Vidalia to experience the “whole onion.” For more information, visit

    About Vidalia® Onions
    Vidalia® Onions are the pioneer of sweet onions and Georgia’s official state vegetable. Grown only in the mild climate and unique soil surrounding Vidalia, Ga., they’re loved by chefs and home cooks throughout the world. Vidalia® onions are hand-planted and hand-harvested each year, with sweet, juicy bulbs available seasonally from late April to late August. Their mild, sweet taste makes Vidalia® onions more versatile than stronger onions. And these Georgia sweeties are a low-calorie, fat, cholesterol, and sodium-free way to get a healthy dose of Vitamin C. For more information, visit

    About the Vidalia® Onion Committee
    Because Vidalia® Onions are sweetly unique, farmers were forced to unite and seek legal protection of their crop and its name. Federal Marketing Order No. 955 was established in 1989 to stipulate how and where the crop can be grown and sold. The Vidalia® Onion Committee administers FMO No. 955 and authorizes production research, marketing research and development and marketing promotion programs. This federal protection reinforces Georgia state laws and the Vidalia® trademark. So, you can try to grow a sweet onion elsewhere, but you cannot call it a “Vidalia!” For more information, visit

    About the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA)
    The GRA’s mission is to serve as the voice for Georgia’s Restaurants in Advocacy, Education and Awareness. The GRA is sanctioned by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to operate Georgia’s only not-for-profit representing the state’s foodservice industry. From large chains to start-ups, the GRA helps make Georgia a better place for restaurants to do business and helps make restaurants better for Georgia. For more information, visit

    About Georgia Grown Executive Chefs
    The Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Restaurant Association appoint four Georgia Grown Executive Chefs each year, as part of a program that debuted in 2012. The goal of the program is to help raise awareness about the availability of the quality, local products that can be found in Georgia and promote relationships between chefs and farmers across the state.
  • 05 Mar 2013 11:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The following GRA members were featured on this past week’s episode of Atlanta Eats.

    CANOE-- Nestled against the Chattahoochee River in Vinings you’ll find Canoe. While the front of the building doesn’t look like much, when you walk out into the massive garden that leads down to the river, the beauty of the setting is unmatched in Atlanta.

    But the river views aren’t the only thing that will take your breath away: Chef Carvel Grant Gould has created a menu that can elevate any scenery, even scenery as beautiful as the ‘hooch.

    Whether it’s the jumbo lump crab cake with yuzu dressed slaw, or Hickory Grilled New York Strip with creme fraiche potatoes, broccoli rabe, and black garlic butter, Chef is a serious player. And she shows she’s got game (PUN ALERT!): slow-roasted Carolina rabbit with a swiss chard/bacon ravioli, sweet potato hash and candied garlic sauce; and a Duck N Beef Burger with a fried egg, wilted spinach, pickled cabbage, and truffle pommes frites.

    MAX’S COAL OVEN PIZZERIA-- We’re always ready for pie, baby. Especially at Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria in downtown Atlanta, where the city’s only genuine coal-burning oven cooks up gourmet New York style pizza and wings. The menu also offers a full selection of fresh pastas, Italian sandwiches, salads, and desserts…but the coal-fired pizza and wings is where it’s at.

    We don’t know what happens to a wing when it’s coal-fired. But we like it. These fall-off-the-bone lemon pepper wings are served with a garlic yogurt sauce…and lots of napkins. Dig in, get dirty, and save plenty of room for pizza.

    Max’s pizza is famous for many reasons: the crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside crust; their super secret special red sauce; house made mozzarella; fresher than fresh ingredients. Whether you design your own pizza or order off of their specialty pizza menu (like, say, the Fontina & Wild Mushroom Pizza with caramelized onions and fresh oregano…) you’re sure to leave with a pleased pizza palate.

    SEED-- It won’t take long for this avant-garde East Cobb kitchen to grow on you.

    Planted in the midst of Merchant’s Walk in East Cobb, Seed Kitchen & Bar serves chef-driven, modern American cuisine alongside an expansive collection of boutique wines and creatively crafted cocktail classics. Diners enjoy dishes made with the finest locally sourced, seasonal ingredients in a sleek, vibrant setting. The menu is packed with popular plates – crispy calamari, hanger steak frites, and seared scallops – each with a culinary twist that takes it to a whole new level.

    Yeah, we’ve heard great things about almost everything on the menu here. But the dish that diners really rave about is Seed’s signature Sweet Potato Ravioli, served in a brown butter sage sauce with winter mushrooms. The pasta is so fresh that it bursts in your mouth…a perfectly prepared pasta dish if you ask us.

    But it’s not the only perfectly prepared plate on the menu. The Pimento Crostinis, served with Benton’s country ham, apples, and micro celery, are a popular starter for a good reason…they’re spicy, sweet, and simply delicious.

    When you eat at Seed, don’t stop at dinner. The dessert lists leave nothing to be desired. The Peanut Butter Parfait is to die for…and with choices like Blueberry Crème Brulee and Banana Chocolate Crème Tart with toasted marshmallows and pecans, you’ll definitely want to save room for seconds.


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