Friday, November 25, 2011




"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well,
if one has not dined well."

                         ~ Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"

By Doc Lawrence


They gathered at Atlanta’s Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, celebrating the good fortune of four chefs with food, wine and cocktails. Atlanta has evolved as a gourmet destination, reaching well-deserved heights and there’s no getting around the tireless effort by the Ritz-Carlton to maintain its position as the best here.

 This was a special dinner inspired by Esquire Magazine’s selection of Ritz Chef Todd Richards and three other masters as chefs to watch, rising stars who produce, as the magazine feature said, “The Best Food in America.” Introductions and commentary were from the magazine’s highly regarded food critic John Mariani who selected the four chefs for Esquire.

And joining Mr. Mariani at The Café in the Ritz Buckhead were the four chefs.

The reception featured a touch of North Georgia elegance, flutes of Wolf Mountain Blanc de Blanc, served with The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead’s Chef Todd Richards’ canapés: duck croquette with duck sauce, local apple, pork belly with acorn squash puree, plus seared scallop with chorizo crisp, lemon sabayon, and Blue Ridge Mountain trout roe.

More than a few guests clamored for something original and daring.  Mixologist magician Christa Sladky answered, serving her “Buck Stone” Sidecar, a knockout cocktail welcoming everyone to Atlanta.

Chef Sachin Chopra came from All Spice in San Mateo, California to prepare the first course, roasted mini-pumpkin with truffled wild mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, spicy pumpkin spread. The gifted Sommelier Linda Torres Alarcon poured her delightful white wine selection, Chanson Mathier, “Les Cabotines,” Montlouis, from the Loire Valley of France, and it seamlessly blended with everything on the plate.

Next was Chef Tyler Brown who commands Nashville’s crown jewel, The Capital Grille in the legendary Hermitage Hotel. His second course of capers glade clams was served with “dirty” Anson Mills faro and paired with Ms. Alarcon’s delightful choice, a Gruner Veltliner from Austria.

The third course was Mangalitsa pork neck with braised radish, pesto, cardamom and chickpea prepared by another Esquire rising star, Scott Anderson, the acclaimed Chef at Elements in Princeton, New Jersey. It was time for a light, fruit-filled red wine and the generous pours of Chiroubles, a Cru Beaujolais, magnified the majesty of this dish.

Chef Todd Richards heads the gourmet kitchen at the Buckhead Ritz, and is among Atlanta’s food elite, that upper echelon who sets the standard for epicurean excellence. The event pièce de résistance was his dessert, a maple panna cotta with a touch of Bourbon. The accompanying wine was Cocchi, Barolo Chinato from Italy’s Piedmont.

In his comments, John Mariani observed that Atlanta and Nashville, represented in Esquire by Chef Todd Richards and Chef Tyler Brown, “show how far southern cooking has come without losing what made it great in the first place.”

Four rising star chefs, three courses, one dessert, a new cocktail, five classic wines and a trove of priceless memories.

We dined well.

NOTE: Jack Daniel's World Champion Barbecue. Read the story-

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