"Georgia, Georgia, just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind." Atlanta, Georgia, the third stop on the Top Chef Tour, is home to the Georgia Peach and also Peachtree Street ... all 71 of them. Everywhere I went, whether it be a restaurant, shop or my hotel, I seemed to be on some variation of Peachtree street. However, I never saw one peachtree on any of the Peachtree streets I drove or walked down. Anyway, I digress! More importantly, Atlanta is home to chefs Richard Blais, Kevin Gillespie and Hector Santiago, all of whom joined the Top Chef Tour during our two days in Atlanta. Let’s get right into the food because it was extraordinary!
On Day One, Richard Blais made a sous vide chicken and sausage sandwich wrapped in cabbage that was incredibly tasty. As most of you know, Richard loves his gadgets and machines. The sous video machine made for a very tasty and perfectly cooked chicken and substituting cabbage for bread made this dish much more health conscious. I have to say Richard is looking very healthy as he is now wearing a small chef jacket. When we started this tour two years ago he was wearing an extra large. Way to go Richard!
Hector Santiago, who everybody on his season would agree was the one chef who left the show way too early, showed us why he should have been around until the end by satisfying the audience with Yampi Fritters with crab meat and Aioli. Hector took a microplane to the root vegetable, Taro, and turned it into a texture much like taffy and deep-fried it. If you are ever in Atlanta, go to Hector’s restaurant Pura Vida Tapas and try his delicious and exciting food.
Day Two in Atlanta brings Season 6 finalist and fan favorite to the tour, Kevin Gillespie. Kevin is known for his simple food, and he proved why he was a finalist on Top Chef with his confit shrimp with warm asparagus salad. Everybody in the audience agreed this was one of the best shrimp dishes they had ever tasted.
Next up Richard Blais created a dish that only Richard Blais could create. A liquid nitrogen, sous vide and microwaved peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Seriously? What? You are kidding me? Not only was it an incredible show, but the most amazing flavors. If you're in Atlanta or Birmingham, go to Richard’s restaurant FLIP and taste some of his innovative foods, including a foie gras liquid nitrogen milkshake. Of course the greatest part of my day was listening to Richard Blais' jokes while nobody is laughing. I get pure pleasure out of life when Richard cracks a bad joke and there is dead air. Simply brilliant, and it happened often. I will share some of these jokes in a later blog.
I can’t leave Atlanta without one dinner recommendation, which is Paces 88 at the St. Regis Hotel. The food is delicious and be sure to catch the sabor ceremony at 6 p.m. every day where the top of a champagne bottle is sliced off with a sabor, ready to serve with no broken glass. Thanks Atlanta for being such great hosts. Next stop Charlotte, North Carolina, where Ariane Duarte and Jennifer Carroll join the tour!