Nashville Chefs Headed to Atlanta for Food Festivals

Nashville foodies, you  might want to set your Waze app to figure out the best way around Chattanooga road construction and Atlanta traffic, because there are some fantastic food events coming in the next few months that will have you wanting to head down to the Peach state.  

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The first fest is the 11th annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival at Westside Provisions DIstrict in Atlanta on Sunday, July 14 from 1:00 until 4:00 pm. This celebration of all things tomatoey has been organized by acclaimed Atlanta chef and restaurateur Ford Fry for more than a decade now. The festival is a benefit event for Georgia Organics, a non-profit organization that “champions organic agriculture and healthy families by empowering farmers to thrive, helping schools engage children in delicious and educational farm-to-school experiences, and making organic and local food accessible to all Georgians.” Fry annually invites dozens of chefs and bartenders to create dishes and drinks featuring tomatoes for attendees to sample and enjoy. 

In addition to all the lycopene-laden goodness to experience, there will also be cooking demos from local chefs and live music from The Spazmatics and Fry’s own band, The Foo’d Fighters. If you’d like to see a roster of participating chefs and mixologists to whet your appetite, here’s a list. Tickets are available at a few different levels of access, so pick yours up at the festival website.  

While chef Fry is based out of Atlanta, you might as well call him an honorary Nashviliian since he’s on the verge of opening four establishments in Music CIty soon, including an outpost of his Tex/Mex restaurant Superica in the Gulch. In addition to that spot, Fry has a trio of concepts under construction as part of the Hammermill complex east of Germantown. The first is an iteration of his popular Atlanta seafood restaurant, The Optimist along with an upscale cocktail lounge named Le Loup and his version of a listening room/honky tonk crossed with a taqueria which he plans to name Star Rover.  

This Fall, Taste of Atlanta will take place for three days from Friday, October 18 through Sunday, October 20, 2019. Held at Historic Fourth Ward Park, which was also the site of the highly successful tasting tents at the recent Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, the 18th annual festival will feature more than 100 restaurants plus on-stage cooking demos and classes. New this year are Food Districts, a more expansive VIP Experience and a Saturday night concert. Bringing together food lovers and chefs from neighborhoods across Atlanta, the event welcomes attendees of all ages and offers something for everyone.  

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Here’s a rundown of the highlight events of the weekend:

●     Opening Night Party (October 18): Kicking off on Friday with the Opening Night Party hosted by Chef Nick Leahy of Aix and Tin Tin, the evening will bring together a roster of well-regarded local chefs who focus on sourcing ingredients locally and cooking seasonally. From 7:30-11 pm, participating restaurants, including Kimball House, Tiny Lous, Bellina Alimentari, KR Steakbar, Double Zero and dozens more, will serve tastings alongside wine, beer and cocktails. Plus, the celebration will feature live music from Moontower and a portion of the evening’s proceeds will support Georgia Grown's restaurant partnership program. 

●     Main Tasting Events (October 19 & 20): Bringing together chefs from neighborhoods across Atlanta and representing dozens of cuisines, Taste of Atlanta will serve as a destination to try bites from over 100 restaurants all in one place. Plus, this year’s festival will feature Food Districts, including Tailgating, Buford Highway, The Battery, Sunday Brunch and more. 

●     Cooking Classes & Demos: Sponsored by PeachDish, The Cook’s Warehouse and Sprouts, Kitchen Workshop offers free, hands-on cooking classes for home cooks led by Atlanta chefs. Festival attendees will learn to cook a variety of cuisines, from Southern to Italian to vegan. Attendees will also get an inside view into the Atlanta culinary world at Chef’s Table and Home Plate Stages, where chefs will demonstrate how to prepare mouthwatering dishes and provide tastings of their creations. 

●     Saturday Night Concert (October 19): For the first time, Taste of Atlanta will continue into the evening on Saturday of festival weekend with a concert from 7-11 pm. While the band remains a surprise until later this summer, attendees can expect sing-along, light rock hits from a favorite local band. Guests will be able to bring their own chairs and blankets to enjoy tunes on the lawn, and local food trucks will be selling bites for purchase alongside drinks. 

In another innovation this year, ticket buyers will receive special RFID-enabled wristbands in advance, making Taste of Atlanta a cashless festival.The wristbands come pre-loaded with “Taste Points” which can be used for drink and merchandise purchases plus food tastings ranging from one to three points each. General admission ticket holders will receive 10 Taste Points, and additional points can be purchased for $1 each online or at Taste Point Banks located throughout the festival. Your wristbands will track which tastes you sampled and provide attendees with a post-event tasting list, serving as a customized roundup of restaurant recommendations for future dining choices. The special VIP Experience provides access to an all-inclusive festival area with tastings from more than a dozen select restaurants in addition to  pours from craft beer, wine and cocktail makers. VIP ticket holders can access the General Admission area of the festival and will also receive a post-event tasting list from restaurants enjoyed in all areas of the festival. 

As is frequently the case in the world of Southern food, there’s a Nashville connection, even for an event called Taste of Atlanta. Music CIty visitors should feel right at home as many of the participating restaurants are either Nashville-based or also have an outpost in both cities. And by many, we’re not kidding. The list of restaurants you should recognize includes: Barcelona Wine Bar, Bartaco, City Winery, Del Frisco’s, Hattie B’s, Maggiano’s, Melting Pot, O-Ku, Shake Shack, STK, True Food Kitchen and of course we can’t forget everyone’s favorite 24-hour culinary rescue destination Waffle House! Shake Shack will be offering a particularly Nashvillian treat at the Opening Night Party on Friday where they’ll be serving their signature Crackle Shack Cheeseburger topped with Peg Leg Porker seasoned cracklings and ShackSauce. 

Tickets will go on sale in mid-July for Friday’s Opening Night Party and Saturday and Sunday’s main tasting events. Later this summer, tickets will be available for the concert on Saturday evening. Ticket prices begin at $25, and guests are encouraged to buy early.

Heather Sinyard