City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Ozersky raves about Atlanta after Food and Wine festival

atlfoodfest.0522Upon returning from last weekend’s Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, Josh Ozersky took to his weekly column on and made some grand, and complimentary, observations about the festival and about the Atlanta dining scene in general.

Now, I know that there are few things that Atlanta foodies enjoy more than bashing our own city and spewing vitriol over how we are light years behind New York, San Francsico, Chicago, etc. I’m sure some of you are going to scan this post, and copy and paste the same tired comments ripping on Atlanta that you have posted on other blogs. And any mention of the AFWF will surely draw comments about how expensive it was, at least one post including the phrase “in this economy”, and an example of how many five dollar foot longs one could eat for the price of a ticket.

Haters are gonna hate, I guess, but I’m more of an optimist than that. And it is always nice when an out-of-towner pays us a compliment.

In his post, titled “What I Saw In Atlanta, and Why It Matters”, Ozersky discusses his belief, strongly re-affirmed after his visit at AFWF, that “the south is the new capital of gastronomy in America.” And, as Atlanta is the capital of the south, it is “the place you have to be.” He goes on to mention some of his favorite dishes of the weekend, including Asha Gomez’s Kerala-style fried chicken, which he claims was the best version of the dish at the festival. Farm 255, Southern Art, The Spotted Trotter, and a misspelled “Bocato” also get shout outs.

Perhaps the line that I appreciated the most is his comment that “the experience cemented the conviction in my mind that the South was where American cooking, in its most vital sense, is happening.”

What do you think? Is Ozersky just still riding the pork-fat high from the AFWF, or are the snarkists too busy focusing on what is wrong with the Atlanta food scene to acknowledge what we are doing right?

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

12 comments Add your comment

Here we go....

May 16th, 2012
8:03 am

Pandora’s box is officially open.


May 16th, 2012
9:09 am

Your second paragraph kind of belies your optimism…


May 16th, 2012
9:38 am

Kerala fried chicken, “in this economy”? Sorry Jon, couldn’t help myself.


May 16th, 2012
9:43 am

The South’s history of contributions to great food cannot be denied.

I think that many local chefs are rediscovering that history and looking beyond the heavily fried period that dominated Southern cuisine after the Civil War when quality ingredients were harder to come by and the region rebuilt – which literally took decades.

Both my parents grew up in similar rural circumstances, mom in South Georgia and dad in Nebraska. My dad remarked at the ‘exoticness’ of southern food he encountered when he moved here. Funny word, I know; but when you grow up with cattle and corn in harsh Midwest conditions, the almost year round bounty of the Southern garden and field must have seemed that way.

I think that todays chefs are catching up with the beauty of local product and straightforward technique and critics are recognizing that complication in preparation and sourcing does not always equal flavor.


May 16th, 2012
10:36 am

It’s about time we got some props! I’m not saying we rival with Chicago or NY, however, I never have a hard time finding some place new or interesting to dine here in Atlanta. Plus you can always fall back on some incredilble southern cooking staples. I love to try new things and maybe I am bias since I’m home grown but I will take southern comfort food over some fancy two bite meal any day!


May 16th, 2012
1:24 pm

Forget the haters. I appreciate your optimism.


May 16th, 2012
1:51 pm

Interesting that has more coverage and better coverage of the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival than the AJC. What did we get from the AJC? Less than 300 words from Kessler and a short piece on beer from Townsend.

John Kessler

May 16th, 2012
3:44 pm

Ummm: I’ve got a wrap-up piece running in the paper Sunday. It will appear on the blog after it runs in print.


May 17th, 2012
12:01 pm

Thanks, John. Glad to hear it.


May 17th, 2012
12:04 pm

I suspect I’m one of the folks that Jon accuses of “spewing vitriol” and “hating” on the ATL food scene. I think that’s fair game, and I appreciate Jon’s honest no punches pulled opinion.

I would like to draw a subtle distinction though as to how I view things. I don’t consider myself a hater. I love much of what is happening in this town–there is some great food going on. And I try to “put my money where my mouth is” and not just post about restaurants. In the last couple months I’ve eaten at Woodfire, 4th and Swift, Abbatoir, Cakes and Ale, Floataway twice, and Miller Union, not to mention the usual cheap places for take out and quick bites, and enjoyed lots of fabulous food. And while I think it can be too much of a cliché, I still love “local seasonal farm to table” when it’s done well by guys like EJ Hodgkinson at WF and Billy Allin at CA.

Still, I wistfully wish that there was more of a sense of adventure to dining here. When is the last time you went somewhere for the first time and had your breath taken away by an unexpected experience? Wouldn’t it be fun to sometimes try, say, Peruvian cuisine, or Grant Achatz molecular, or an Alain Ducasse duck a l’orange? I think that the lack of creative adventure is the final frontier for the ATL dining scene.

I love what’s happening with southern cuisine in ATL, but it’s not all I love. That would be like the guy who says “I only drink Pinot Noir.” I love PN, but would hate to miss out on Rhones or Barolos. So, no vitriol, no hate, but a hope that the food scene here grows in variety and maturity.


May 18th, 2012
9:45 am

Good lord, please, no more “molecular” crap. I will be so glad when that fad dies out. You know it is tired when Applebees is now doing “foam”. Of course, there are times when a new technique is appropriate and can imbue a fun and fantastic element to the dish. But the days of creating some god-awful lab experiment simply because you can and then charging an exorbitant price for it (with the ubiquitous “douchey hipsters” fawning over it ignorantly), thankfully, are waning. I hope.

ex chef

May 20th, 2012
10:46 am

I think it is so amusing that so many Atlantans think that the dining scene here is not good. Well, I have a suggestion. Get thee out to some ethnic places on Buford Highway, Duluth, and other places with real ethnic food. Stop looking for trendy see and be seen scenes and try something truly different. You will be amazed at the wonderful diversity of Atlanta.