With the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival only a week away, chefs all over the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic are gearing up for a weekend of culinary adventures. Eater caught up with David Guas, NOLA native, owner of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Virginia and one of Bon Appetit's top eight dessert stars in the country; and Lee Richardson, 2011 James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist and executive chef of The Capital Hotel in Little Rock, Ark; for their take on the upcoming festivities.
What role are you playing in this year's Atlanta Food & Wine Festival?
Guas: This year I am on the 2012 Advisory Board representing Virginia, I will be showing at two Techniques Labs where I will be sharing my knowledge of Cast Iron Cooking, I will be showcasing some of my signature ‘nut’ recipes at the Connoisseur Cocktails Lounge, and also helping at the “Parting Bite: A Chorus of Greens Dinner” at the end of the weekend.
Richardson: On Saturday evening I will work with Kelly English, Derek Emerson, Chris Hastings and on a hunting inspired dinner and will serve many things including a Dry Cured Duck Breast (my version of a homemade Southern Slim Jim.)
What's your relationship with Linton and Gina Hopkins? Any future collaborations planned?
Guas: Linton, Gina, and I all go way back. Linton was my former roommate while I was cooking and living in New Orleans, and he is now the Godfather to my oldest son. Gina and I worked together at D.C. Coast in Washington, D.C., back in 1999 with Passion Food Hospitality. Now we collaborate and cook together every holiday we can with the families. Linton and I will also be traveling together to South Carolina in September for the Euphoria Food, Wine, and Music festival.
Richardson: I've had an opportunity to meet Linton and Gina on several occasions, always at events such as this or the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in October. Linton's Holeman and Finch Burger is at the top of my food wish list in Atlanta, or anywhere else. He's always been a chef that I would like to host as a guest at Ashley's in Little Rock sometime.
How do you plan to bring the flavors of your hometowns to Atlanta cuisine?
Guas: I plan on bringing authentic New Orleans dishes on the road to Atlanta for my events. Any chance I have to share my background and the recipes and dishes I have grown up with is an opportunity I don’t like to miss, and this just gives me another outlet to share my love of Louisiana cookin’ with a bunch of great people.
Richardson: My focus will be to explore Arkansas cuisine and traditions and help find its place in the broader spectrum in context of Southern or American food in general. With a New Orleans background, I am finding new ways to merge my experience and my heritage into the style and approach that I have developed- I call it New Americana Cuisine, a new directions in Southern foods. Atlanta is the perfect place to showcase this as the city and the people are always open to try new things. This year, my participation in the festival will be focused on hunting and wild game—I was practically born with a shotgun in my hands. That's what my food will be about this year.
What should Festival attendees most look forward to this year?
Guas: Last year there was a great Food Truck section to the festival that I am hopin’ to find again this year. By day it was a chance to sample new and exciting quick bites in between events, and at night, it opened up and became a huge party with all of the chefs and guests chowin’ down late night and rocking out to some tunes. I hope to find the same thing this year.
Richardson: I think festival goers should be looking forward to not only lots of great food and wine and like minded camaraderie, but also the chance to get up close and personal with so many of the South's culinary standard bearers and edge cutters, if you will.
Any signature dishes?
Guas: For my cast iron labs I plan on making my Sweet Potato Tart Tatin, a personal favorite from my cookbook DamGoodSweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth New Orleans Style [Taunton, 2009]. I’ve always loved the flavors of a roasted sweet potato loaded with butter and brown sugar, and this is a perfect and elegant way to get that perfect combination. And when I’m making it, I always use my cast iron skillet from my Aunt Boo—just wouldn’t be the same without it.
Richardson: I have a few signature dishes, one of my favorites, which I will be showcasing at the dinner on Saturday night, Los Arkansas rice grits, which I will be serving with sorghum roast duckling and southern style greens.
Anything else we should know?
Richardson: I'm just looking forward to having a chance to eat a little around Atlanta. It's a rising American culinary destination--Atlanta has become a downright difficult dining dilemma for anything less than three full days and nights! I can't wait!