Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival Returning to Atlanta
“tuh-MAY-toh” of “tuh-MAH-toh,” however you pronounce it, the bright and plump fruit is summer’s favorite. The juicy icon of the season was very much maligned in recent history with nicknames like “poison apple” and “wolf peach,” the translation of its Latin botanical name (Solanum lycopersicum). All this changed with European immigrants, the invention of pizza in Naples, and canneries feeding soldiers during the Civil War. We are now under its aphrodisiac spell.
Each year restaurateur Ford Fry brings folks together to celebrate the fruit that eats like a vegetable. Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival is back on Sunday, July 14 for its 11th year, returning to its original location at JCT Kitchen and Bar and sprawling out into Westside Provisions District.
From 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., (noon for VIP ticket holders), a plethora of tomato delights will be served up by some of the South’s finest chefs. Bartenders will stir and shake cocktails showcasing the fruit. In years past, chefs have served tomatoes in pies, in ice cream cones, as aspic, in between crisp macaron cookies, iced, and gazpacho-d. Each year they take clever up a notch in their tomato-based bites. We recall Gunshow’s tomato hand pies, Craig Richards’ chicken liver Agnolotti with tomatoes and basil, and Guy Wong’s tomato cheesecake ice cream bun.
The list of notable chefs is 70+ this year, including Bravo Top Chef Season 16 winner and fan favorite Kelsey Barnard Clark. With decorated booths and sometimes costumes, they all vie for the tomato champion crown and fan favorite prize. They team up with dozens of local farms with different varieties of tomatoes in shades of red, green, and gold.
Bartenders vie for a prize as well and this year’s crop is near twenty talented mixologists. Taste how the fruit vegetable pairs with various spirits. Decatur’s S.O.S. Tiki Bar will no doubt bring some flair. It’s also a place to get to know new spots that have popped onto the scene recently. Lazy Betty, Little Rey, Lloyd’s and Tiny Lou’s will be in attendance.
This all started because of Fry’s fondness for the kitschy B-movie Attack of the Killer Tomato. In the 1978 cult classic mutant tomatoes ravage a town. This won’t happen on the midsummer Sunday, but he will bring some silliness. The Spazmatics, new wave nerds playing 80’s classics, will play songs we all know and love. Fry’s band of chefs will also rock out with the crowd.