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What did Atlanta chefs cook at home during Snowpocalypse?
As you might imagine, nobody baked frozen pizzas
Much like our intrepid political leaders, I spent the better half of Tuesday refusing to accept the reports of meteorologists that a snowstorm was coming to cripple the city. Even when images of overturned vehicles popped up on Facebook, I remained optimistic that I was making my 7 p.m. dinner plans. Obviously, they didn’t happen.
On the other hand, I did make it home in twenty minutes and when the question of dinner arose, my roommate and I opted for leftover pizza and turkey sandwiches. Later that night we dug through the pantry and put together a pumpkin soufflé with caramel sauce. Further pantry rummaging followed, and so for dinner last night, it was white wine risotto with guanciale and 18-year aged balsamic vinegar. Yes, we have fared quite well at a time when the country thinks Atlanta is under attack by White Walkers.
As for Atlanta’s restaurants, most of them closed early on Tuesday and many of them remained shuttered yesterday. Chefs either went home, or, if you’re like Rosebud’s Ron Eyester, you spent eleven hours on I-75. I spoke with several chefs to hear how their day fared and how their talented hands survived in a home kitchen with random ingredients in the fridge.
Todd Ginsberg, the General Muir
Emory Point’s General Muir closed its doors shortly after lunch on Tuesday, but around 3 p.m., Owen Samuels, the director of Emory’s neurocritical care unit, called Ginsberg asking if he could prepare platters of food for the doctors and nurses in Emory’s intensive care unit.
After Ginsberg handled the order, he left the restaurant at 4 p.m. and made it to his house in Grant Park in a breezy twenty-five minutes. Ginsberg was also in luck with food, since Gu’s Bistro had catered a holiday party for the General Muir and West Egg Cafe staff the previous day, leaving leftovers of Chengdu noodles, Szechuan chicken with chilies, and fried lotus roots.
Ginsberg says he used the ingredients for a quick stir-fry, which he also ate yesterday for lunch and then delivered to another friend. By late afternoon, Ginsberg was at Empire State South hanging with executive chef Josh Hopkins and enjoying some charcuterie. Ginsberg suggested that it wasn’t entirely out of the question that leftover Gu’s would also be for dinner.
Billy Allin, Cakes & Ale
Cakes & Ale was one of the few restaurants to stay open on Tuesday, serving gnocchi, spaghetti, and fisherman’s stew until 9 p.m. For lunch the next day, Allin threw together nachos for his kids using kielbasa sausage, cheddar, white beans, and “the most delicious Salpica-brand green salsa with olives.”
Julia LeRoy, culinary instructor/formerly of LeRoy’s Fried Chicken
LeRoy posted on Facebook that her fridge was “almost empty” but that didn’t stop her from pretending that Geoffrey Zakarian from Chopped was in her kitchen waiting to insult her food.
There was braised romaine with anchovies, capers, and tomato; guinea hen fricassee with parsnips, carrots, and fettuccine; and fried eggs, bacon, grits, and biscuits. LeRoy didn’t have buttermilk for those biscuits so she tried making her own but didn’t have a lemon.
“I had to use yuzu juice. Desperate times,” she wrote.
David Sweeney, formerly of Cakes & Ale Bakery
While Atlantans were skidding on ice in their cars, Sweeney was experimenting with tomatoes in his kitchen.
“I have recently been testing out a preservation process of semi-dehydrating organic cherry tomatoes that are re-hydrated with palm fat, garlic, and a little brown sugar,” he wrote to me via email.
Sweeney served the tomatoes alongside blue corn grits he cooked up polenta-style using Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil, and a sunny-side up fried egg.
Virginia Willis, cookbook author
When you’re a cookbook author with deadlines, your fridge is bound to be well-stocked. Such was the case for Willis, whose partner drove for eight hours and walked one-and-a-half miles from Lenox to Vinings. For dinner last night, Willis was testing a recipe for her upcoming book, Lighten Up, Ya’ll: garlic herb chicken and cornmeal dumplings with collard green pesto.
Gerry Klaskala, Aria
After spending several hours in the car on Tuesday trying to drive home, Klaskala returned to Aria where he slept on one of the banquettes. He noted that he could have raided the wine cellar or walk-in cooler but opted for a glass of Tempranillo instead. The next morning, he brewed a large pot of Lakehouse Coffee and cooked an oyster mushroom and gruyere omelette with toasted ciabatta.
Jeff Wall, Kimball House
Grocery stores may be closed, but good thing Jeff Wall and Philip Meeker, the chefs who helm Kimball House’s kitchen (and who are also roommates), live down the road from their own restaurant. On Tuesday Wall says he grabbed sandwiches from Community Q BBQ for everyone in the restaurant. As we spoke last night, he was in the process of planning dinner for a group of friends. His final menu consisted of cured trout with blood orange and watercress; roasted chicken and gravy; turnips and sweet potatoes; brioche stuffing with chicken liver and mushrooms; charred escarole with bacon, apples, pecans, and shallots; and first of the year Florida strawberries with buttermilk and Georgia olive oil.
If only we all had a restaurant refrigerator to ransack.