Illegal Food

Pop up turned restaurant, Illegal Food in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood is definitely worthy of your dinner plans. Besides Zagat rating them in the top 10 best burgers in Atlanta they have impeccable cocktails and a fresh menu that changes daily.

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Who can resist fresh chicharrons?

Who can resist fresh chicharrons?

I enjoyed four courses that included a cocktail. The portions you get with every course will put you in a food coma so take a date, a best friend or a hungry stranger to share with.

The Haymaker's Switchel with ginger was spicy but perfectly well rounded. 

The Haymaker's Switchel with ginger was spicy but perfectly well rounded. 

The crab cake and corn relish was perfectly cooked! 

The crab cake and corn relish was perfectly cooked! 

After finishing my crab cake I was presented with a coffee roasted pork belly porchetta that was life changing! Placed on a bed of collard greens and a parsnip & apple purée, every bite melted in my mouth. If that wasn't enough I also had the rigatoni with Italian sausage. Soon after I was ready for a nap.

I still dream about this pork belly. 

I still dream about this pork belly. 

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I ended my meal with a chocolate tiramisu. If you follow me on Instagram you know how much I love tiramisu so this was a real treat!

Chocolate and espresso tiramisu. 

Chocolate and espresso tiramisu. 

Owner and head chef Steven Lingenfelter outdid himself! Illegal Food is a Atlanta gem so do yourself a favor and go!

- Morgan Bryant

 

East Lake Golf Club

Sometimes in life you have to create an opportunity where there isn't one. That is exactly how my interview with Nick Barrington, executive chef of the East Lake Golf Club came about.

I live within walking distance of the corporate members only club. Like many people in my neighborhood, I drive by looking over the fence wondering what all those who are privileged enough to be a member are up to. Turns out it's a whole lot of good! East Lake Golf Club puts those millions of dollars they receive in donations to use. Drew Charter School is their largest use of that money. If you are also a neighbor of the club you can see the middle schoolers crossing the streets in the morning. They spared no expense on the beautiful architecture and put as much detail into the education of the attendees and they do into keeping their donors happy.

I reached out to Chef Nick on Instagram and was thrilled that he said yes to allowing me to come meet him and his talented staff. I knew immediately that the interview required a professional eye, so of course I asked my photographer Kelley Raye to accompany me.

I am so glad I asked Kelley to come along, I was so nervous! My nervousness quickly passed after meeting Chef Nick. Like myself he has a bunch of tattoos but more importantly he is kind and easy to talk to. He walked us through the entire grounds making stops to tell us about the history of a particular room or funny story about a time Tiger (thee Tiger Woods, he and Chef Nick are on a first name basis) were enjoying lunch.

My favorite stop on the tour were the kitchens. Besides cooking daily for the hundreds of members who visit weekly, the club is home to major golf tournaments like the PGA Tour Championships. Each member of the kitchen was just as talented as the next. The pastry chefs were extremely precise, the sous chefs come with years of experience all while Chef Nick leads the way.

The work ethic that the entire East Lake team showcases is unmatched, there is a reason this non profit has been active for over 20 years. Their mantra is "Food With A Purpose" and everyone believes in those words.

A huge thanks for Nick and his team for the tour, history of the club and of course the gumbo!

Be sure to follow Chef Nick on Instagram @chefnick24

- Morgan Bryant (Founder of Eat Here ATL)

Brunch at 101 Steak

Let's just start off with how gorgeous 101 Steak is. I could barely make it to my seat because I was too busy gawking at all the rich dark wood, soft buttery leather and tall grand ceilings adorned with beautiful chandeliers.

We walked past a well stocked bar and a large table set with all different juices, fruit, and bitters. Which I would later come to find out is their "Libation Station" , where you can customize your own Mimosa or Bloody Mary.

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The "Libation Station" 

The "Libation Station" 

We were seated in a nice comfy corner and were promptly greeted by our awesome server, Christopher. He was very attentive and super sweet, even going so far as to put a candle on my ricotta donuts we had for dessert for my birthday. 

We started our meal off with their delicious smoked salmon board that they smoke in house on their big green egg in the back served with all the fixings to create your own bagel. Then we had to choose from their extensive list of not only champagne but rose' and prosseco allowing you to further customize your Mimosa. When we made our way up to the "Libation Station", we were greeted by the restaurants assistant general manager Chris Reid who showed us some delicious combos for our Mimosas.

Keeping it local with  18.21 Bitters

Keeping it local with 18.21 Bitters

House smoked salmon board

House smoked salmon board

Awesome recommendation, Christopher! 

Awesome recommendation, Christopher! 

Finally for our main dish I decided on the hangar steak and eggs with chimichuri sauce. When I say that was the best steak and eggs I have ever had, I'm not exaggerating. The steak was cooked perfectly and the chimichuri sauce was so good I almost licked the plate.  

 

Hangar Steak and Eggs

Hangar Steak and Eggs

I had such a wonderful experience at 101 Steak and can't wait for my next meal with them.  

- Arielle Kleinman

Pastry Shells

One of the best things about the Eat Here ATL platform is that we have been working so hard to build up the people behind their brands. Atlanta is home to some of the world's best restaurateurs, chefs, and bakers. Several months ago my intern (Ashleigh Byrne) and I attended a film screening at Ponce City Market where she introduced me to Shelly Jones of Pastry Shells.

Shelly Jones

Shelly is pretty much a bad ass. Although she may not define herself as such, she is. By day she is an engineer, yet by night she is an innovative pastry chef. What started as a project fueled by passion in college transformed into a full-fledged business.

Passion comes with sacrifice. Shelly's hard work is evident in the elaborate cake designs and the amazing service she offers her clients via her customization process. I learned about Shelly's business's inner workings while conducting an interview at her home.  One thing that is very clear- Shelly is a woman who works hard for what she desires. The below questions are just a taste of the things I learned from our time together.

*I will also add that she made the most adorable sugar cookies fashioned after the Eat Here ATL logo. Too bad I ate them before I snapped a good picture.

 

 - When did you start baking and how did you decide to turn that passion into a business?

I have been baking for as long as I can remember.  At a very young age,  I would make pies every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas with my Dad as his little helper. Now, he has turned into my helper for many of my orders, and it seems like I am baking more often than not!

 

- What's your favorite thing to bake?

My favorite thing about Pastry Shells is decorating!  I love all the different designs that come with every order; no two orders look exactly alike.  My favorite order consists of creating an outside-the-box type of wedding cake. For example, the ruby red marble cake that is going to be published in the Celebration Society - Weddings: Fall 2016 magazine

- If you could only bake one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sugar Cookies!  These come in all shapes, sizes, colors, etc! There is no limit to what I can put on a sugar cookie!


- What's the hardest thing about being your own boss?
Being my own boss is a dream come true; however, it is also quite challenging. I'm responsible for learning and perfecting every aspect of my business. People see the finished product as a beautifully decorated dessert, but there is so much more that goes into consideration. Not only am I responsible for designing and decorating the desserts, but I also have to learn and perfect  effective social media usage, advertising, website design/ layout, accounting, etc. - the list goes on! I am constantly learning new things about every different facet of my business, which definitely adds both the challenge and excitement of building this on my own! Eventually, I will task off some of the admin-related responsibilities via hiring and outsourcing; therefore, I will solely focus on the creative aspect of this business- what I love the most!


- Who is your biggest supporter?

By far my biggest supporter is my fiance, Chris!  He not only helps with my orders, but he supports me in every way possible.  It means the world to me! Especially to have someone that puts so much faith and trust into my business's future.


- Where do you find inspiration for cakes?

I love following wedding blogs!  I get inspiration from all aspects of weddings.  I'm inspired by lace ideas from dresses, color ideas from flowers, texture ideas from the linens, etc.  The wedding industry is constantly changing and bringing more and more inspiration for my pastry designs


- Where do see your brand in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

This is a tough question, but my goal is to work full time on Pastry Shells in the next year or so. This would be such a huge leap, which I can't wait to experience!  In 5 years I fully plan to have a great team to help me take on and fulfill many more orders.  In 10 years I hope to have a full staff to help create some amazing pieces of edible art and run a successful year-round baking business.
 
- If you could give advice to an upcoming baker what would you say?
Never stop learning!  I know this is true in all aspects of our lives, but baking can get very frustrating.  It took me MANY attempts to finally get the hang of covering a cake in fondant.  I watched countless online videos, took some local baking classes, and joined some various Facebook groups.  Even now, I am constantly learning new tips and tricks to continuously hone my craft and perfect the art of decorating a cake.  Don't let one failed attempt or cake bring you down. I assure you- all bakers had hundreds of failure experiences that they could share on their journey to whatever their definition of success looks like for them today.

 

Be sure to follow Pastry Shells on Instagram.