For the first time in Taste of Atlanta history, the event kicked off on a Friday night with an event called the Big Grill - Grills Gone Wild. Seventeen of Atlanta's best chefs served up smokey bites while attendees enjoyed 70's music by kitch-rockers, Yacht Rock. The People's Choice winner for the Big Grill was David Roberts from Community Q with his St.Louis Ribs.
What does Ford Fry do on the day his brand spankin' new restaurant, The Optimist, is named Esquire Magazine's Restaurant of the year? Well, he jams with his chef buddies Ted Lahey (Table & Main) and Gary Mennie (High Cotton) on a bunch of rockin' cover tunes for a crowd of hundreds.
This was the charcoal section of the grill zone - Kamado style grills were provided for the event by Grill Dome.
Further back in the grill zone were four 6ft gas hotel grills which were in high demand all night. I spent the evening back here glazing and firing racks for Community Q and eating all kinds of delicious snacks coming off the Pura Vida grill. Pura Vida featured chicken - every last bit of the bird. I was able to chow down on chicken gizzards, livers, and hearts all night.
Here's a shot of the winning ribs taken from my position in the grill zone. My only job for the night was to work with my partner Paul to glaze off the ribs and then cut them into single bone servings. One note for the Taste of Atlanta organizers - a little more light in the grill zone would have been a nice thing. Fire and knives are a lot less fun in the dark.
My highly biased opinion is that the Big Grill event was a huge success and could become the highlight of the Taste of Atlanta in years to come. It didn't feel as much like a foodie event as it did a big party celebrating the diversity and skills of Atlanta's thriving dining scene. Our chefs deserve to be celebrated and what better way to celebrate them than with copious adult beverages, great music, and smokey bites.