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2012 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Hangover Observations

[Photos by John David Photography unless otherwise noted]

The weekend of culinary extravagance and good ol' fashioned Southern fun that is the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival wrapped up yesterday with the Parting Bite dinner, hosted by chefs Anne Quatrano and Linton Hopkins and featuring a collard green opera composed by University of Mississippi student Price Walden. The second annual festival was held at the Loews Hotel in Midtown, and despite a little rain on Sunday (easily forgotten once you made your way through the bourbon trail in the tasting tents), all went well. Over the course of the weekend, there were three tasting tent sessions, 17 events, and more than 80 learning experiences. These panels, demos, and seminars ranged from a barbecue and wine pairing to a tour of Buford Highway.

The very best chefs from all over the South were in attendance. Notable names include Hugh Acheson, Greg Best, Richard Blais, Shaun Doty, Ford Fry, Asha Gomez, Kevin Gillespie, Linton Hopkins, Eli Kirchstein, Anne Quatrano, and Kevin Rathbun from Georgia as well as Chris Hastings, Edward Lee, Bryan Voltaggio, Andrea Reusing, Sean Brock, Frank Lee, Mike Lata, the Lee Brothers, and Bryan Caswell.

· Shaun Doty shared his opinion on haters and owning theme restaurants like Yeah! Burger and upcoming Bantam & Biddy: "People say about me, 'He's selling out, he wants to make money.' Well yeah, I want to make money."

· At the Sourcing from Extinction panel on Friday, Sean Brock, Shaun Doty, Bryan Caswell, and Kristen Hard waxed nostalgic about their shared obsessions and what food used to taste like. "Food used to be delicious before it was genetically engineered," said Brock. About tracking down and saving heirloom seeds, he added, "It's almost like being Indiana Jones— you're an archeologist of deliciousness."

· At the same panel, the chefs talked about the importance of knowing what you're eating and why and got serious about the olden days. "It's not food, it's a story," claims Brock about fifth-generation seeds. Caswell talked about conservation over sustainability and said that the oil spill saved the lives of many fish, because after the damage, shrimp trawling, which kills many young fish, was nonexistent for a time.

· Top Chef finalist Kevin Gillespie was hanging out at the Acura tent convincing people to drink potent whiskey and ginger slushies.

· Holeman and Finch mixologist Greg Best distributed festival survival kits that included mini-bottles of Fernet Branca, mints, and aspirin. When asked if his restaurant was on Twitter, he replied, "I don't know. I live in the Stone Ages." Apparently people needed hangover remedies back then too.

· Sean Brock let us in on the secret to making carrot vinegar: "You take carrot juice, add some yeast. You hide it from the health department."

· Eater editors attended first look dinners at upcoming restaurants The Optimist and The Spence. The Spence event was held in a pop-up space because the restaurant isn't finished yet. It opens May 26 but is only accepting reservations through Twitter for the first few days. The Optimist opens May 21.

· At her Poetic Greens session, Anne Quatrano said she didn't include pork fat in a dish because she was "afraid of vegetarians."

· Quatrano also let attendees in on a little secret: she uses the same [ingredients] at all of her restaurants— she just "charges less at some of them." Try eating at Floataway Cafe next time you're in the mood for prix-fixe at Bacchanalia.

· By far the most potent drink in the tasting tents was the flight of three Ilegal Mezcal samples.

· Upcoming restaurant Lure had a table in the seafood tent to give festival-goers a taste of what to expect when the spot opens in July.

· A King of Pops cart was on site with Patron pops in flavors like hibiscus margarita and pineapple cilantro.

· Holeman's Greg Best won the cocktail throwdown with his Kentucky Traveler: Wathen's bourbon, lemon, sorghum, amaro milanese, orange bitters, and mint. The drink from Cure in NOLA was another favorite, and Anvil's Bobby Heugel represented Houston with an insanely spicy habanero-infused drink that almost nobody could finish.

· Hugh Acheson's Empire State South was after-party central all weekend, hosting chefs until close every night. Word is that a bunch of unnamed chefs headed off to the Clermont Lounge for an after-after party.

· Hugh Acheson's book publicist accidentally forwarded an email to Eater in which he wrote that he "both likes and hates Eater." When asked about it, Acheson said, "That's pretty much how everybody feels."

Other Coverage of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival:
· Recapping the 2012 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival [Blissful Glutton]
· Summing Up the 2012 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival [Atlanta Magazine]
· Notes from the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Day 1 and Day 2 [CL]
· Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Wraps Up [AJC]

Bacchanalia

1460 Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard Northwest, , GA 30318 (404) 365-0410 Visit Website

Lure

1106 Crescent Avenue Northeast, , GA 30309 (404) 817-3650 Visit Website

The Optimist

1400 Adams Street, , TN 37208 (615) 709-3156 Visit Website

The Spence

75th 5th Street, Atlanta, GA 30308 (404) 892-9111

Holeman and Finch Public House

2277 Peachtree Road Northwest, , GA 30309 (404) 948-1175 Visit Website

Floataway Cafe

1123 Zonolite Road Northeast, , GA 30306 (404) 892-1414 Visit Website

Empire State South

999 Peachtree Street Northeast, , GA 30309 (404) 541-1105 Visit Website

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