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

Archive for May, 2013

Restaurant inspections, Hana Japanese Restaurant

Food safety measures need improving at a Japanese restaurant in Canton, according to a Cherokee County health inspector.

Hana Japanese Restaurant, 147 Reinhardt College Parkway, scored a 60/U on its recent routine inspection, marking a second failing score in less than a year.

The health inspector said management did not have adequate control over food safety practices of the staff and needed re-training in those duties.

For example, employees were not following proper food safety practices. An employee working with food, and one in charge of cleaning dishes, were not washing their hands at the required times, the inspector said.

Several employee beverages and open beverage containers were in the food prep area and other restricted areas. The employee hand sinks had no soap or paper towels.

Points were also taken off for other code violations that involved food. Raw eggs were stored over raw, ready-to-eat fish for sushi. A container of sushi rice was away from temperature …

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Marc Taft speaks out about the transition at The Mill Kitchen & Bar



Each day seems to bring new details in the story of The Mill Kitchen & Bar’s kitchen affairs. It all started when I reviewed the restaurant and learned that chef Marc Taft was no longer running the kitchen. Earlier this week I posted an interview with the restaurant’s new chef, Benjamin Castro.

Following media coverage of the chef transition, the following was posted on Facebook by Chicken & the Egg, Taft’s restaurant:

Because I am being asked by so many of you and I have received so many calls about recent press, I want to set the record straight for all of you that are loyal followers of Chicken and the Egg and allow me to have such a great job feeding you.

I am no longer associated with The Mill Kitchen and Bar. I chose to leave because the partners and I had philosophical differences about how to run a restaurant, treat our employees and be true to who we say we are. A from scratch kitchen featuring local, sustainable food can not be …

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Atlanta Food & Wine Festival starts next week

The bourbon trail is a popular destination in the tasting tents. credit:

The bourbon trail is a popular destination in the tasting tents. credit: AFWF/Raftermen

A crowd of about 9,000 people is expected in Midtown next week for the third annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. Included will be top culinary talent hailing from Southern locales between Texas and the District of Columbia.

The festival, co-founded by Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter, gathers chefs, mixologists, artisans, industry experts and enthusiasts to experience the food and beverage traditions of the South. Love said she hopes to put the national spotlight on Southern cuisine and establish Atlanta as the gateway.

The four-day event (May 30-June 2) will include a variety of learning experiences, tasting tents and special events. While this culinary journey travels mainly through the American South, the festival also features the flavors of Southern regions around the globe, such as Southern Europe, South Africa, South America and the Southern Hemisphere as well as Mexico, Puerto …

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Eat Drink Delta, Puckett and Kessler in Decatur

EatDeltaEver wonder why Mississippi has such great tamales? Or why people there marinate dill pickles in Kool-Aid?

“Eat Drink Delta: A Hungry Traveler’s Journey through the Soul of the South” ($24.95, University of Georgia Press) author Susan Puckett will explain all that and more tonight at the Georgia Center for the Book in a talk that’s part of Decatur Arts Festival week.

Puckett, a native of Jackson, Mississippi and a graduate of the University of Mississippi, lives in Decatur and was the Food editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 18 years. She’s written for national food and culture magazines and is an author of six previous books, including “A Cook’s Tour of Mississippi.”

Adding to the evening’s festivities, AJC chief dining critic, John Kessler, will be joining Puckett on stage for a conversation about the book and the food of the Mississippi Delta.

Here’s what Puckett posted about all that on her Facebook page: “If watching Kessler trip me up with questions like how …

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School for Sommeliers

At the school for sommeliers

At the school for sommeliers

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit in for the first leg of the four-part education and examination sessions organized by the Court of Master Sommeliers — a certifying organization that promotes excellence in restaurant and hotel beverage service.

It was a fun experience that I recounted in detail in this article.

After two solid days of reviewing the world winemaking regions and the coarser points of wine service (along with a bit of information about beer, sake and spirits), we took a multiple choice test, and those that passed are invited to go the second, certifying level. The second level involves the process of deductive blind tasting — trying to determine the age, varietal and provenance of the wine based on sight, smell and taste.

I made a sample quiz based on study questions offered by the Guild of Sommeliers. If you like the grape, take a shot at it. Maybe it’s all the encouragement you need to go for your own certification.

- …

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CANCELLED: ESS Brandon Baltzley “Nine Lives” Dinner and Book Signing

Baltzley Book Image


On Thursday, Empire State South and chef Ryan Smith will host chef Brandon Baltzley, author of the new culinary memoir “Nine Lives: A Chef’s Journey from Chaos to Control.”

Baltzley’s story begins at age nine, when he fell in love with cooking at the Whistle Stop Cafe, a kitchen in the back of a gay bar in Jacksonville, Florida, where his single mom made soup and sandwiches.

From there, he paid his dues job-hopping through kitchens high and low, while playing drums in punk and heavy metal bands and battling multiple addictions — finally rising to chef positions in high profile fine dining restaurants in New York and Chicago.

Baltzley’s dark, funny and passionate account of food, rock, drugs and sex has drawn comparisons to Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” and Gabrielle Hamilton’s “Blood, Bones and Butter.”

But Baltzley, who is still under 30 and clearly something of a culinary prodigy, is his own …

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Taka health inspection: Return of the glove

sushichefWhen it comes to food safety rules, there has always been one that really bothered me, one that I sort of fundamentally disagree with as a cook. Of course, you know that I’m talking about the moldy ice machines…I mean, seriously, who cares? The ice in there is cold, it stunts the growth of any really harmful bacteria. Stop being such a baby about it.

Ok, obviously I’m kidding. Moldy ice machines are gross.

When I’m cooking, there are really only two situations in which I don gloves – cutting super-hot peppers or if I’m handling a single large piece of meat for an extended period of time, like trimming and cleaning a pig. Other than that, if I’m sitting at an open kitchen and I can see the folks preparing my food, I’d rather see freshly washed bare hands over latex gloves any day of the week.

Why? Because, when you have a layer between your skin and the food, it is very easy to touch something and not realize that you have just contaminated the gloves, then just go about your …

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Restaurant inspections, Cafe Bombay

Employees at Cafe Bombay, 1622 Woodcliff Drive, Atlanta, were careless about washing their hands and keeping the sink clean, and that cost the Indian restaurant a passing health score.

A DeKalb County health inspector noted separate incidents of employees talking on a cell phone, adjusting clothing and preparing tandoori chicken, and none of them washed their hands before putting on clean gloves.

In addition, the hand sink wasn’t being kept clean and maintained, the inspector said. Raw meat pieces were on the faucet handles. The restaurant scored a 65/U.

A manager at Cafe Bombay said a lot of points were taken off for minor details, but other than that there were no major problems during the routine inspection.

Points were also deducted because some food items were stored uncovered and subject to contamination. Sliced tomatoes and tandoori chicken were uncovered in a cooler, and meatballs, a dessert and samosa were all uncovered in the freezer.

Other prepared foods were not …

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New chef at The Mill Kitchen & Bar, Roswell

Chef Benjamin Castro, credit: Pavel Kuznetsov of VK Photography

Chef Benjamin Castro, credit: Pavel Kuznetsov of VK Photography

I recently reviewed The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Roswell. During the course of the review process, I learned that chef Marc Taft, who opened the restaurant, no longer has any affiliation with it. Owner Scott McCray said they were “holding over” a chef de cuisine of Taft’s until a new chef was found.

A new chef has been found. Benjamin Castro stepped into the position last week. This Athens native and CIA-trained chef has worked with Hector Santiago at Pura Vida and Doug Turbush at Bluepointe. He’s also spent time at Bistro VG and comes most recently from the very newly opened NOCA. Castro explained he “didn’t see eye to eye” with the owner at NOCA.

Castro says he immediately identified the consistency issues at The Mill and is working to get the kitchen refocused and to correct “bad habits.” He will spend the next few weeks retraining the staff and formalizing systems to ensure consistency.

Once he’s inserted some …

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Three questions for Chef G. Garvin

While in town last week to promote his show “Road Trip with G. Garvin,”  the celeb chef and Atlanta native visited several area spots on a quest to find the best Southern food.

Chef Garvin also sat down in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution studio to discuss restaurants,  his favorite food cities, cooking and life.

Garvin gave shout outs to Kyma and Tomo Japanese Restaurant, which both made our Atlanta 50 Spring Dining Guide.

“Road Trip” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Cooking Channel.

– Jamila Robinson/ Video by Ryon Horne (AJC)

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