Food and Cooking Stage gets higher profile at AJC Decatur Book Festival

Brys Stephens demonstrates how to cook using pablano peppers during the AJC Decatur Book Festival on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. JONATHAN PHILLIPS / SPECIAL

Brys Stephens demonstrates how to cook using pablano peppers during the AJC Decatur Book Festival on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. JONATHAN PHILLIPS / SPECIAL

BY HOWARD POUSNER

Atlanta is a foodie’s paradise, and the AJC Decatur Book Festival has recognized as much by moving its Food and Cooking Stage to the heart of the festival, near the corner of Ponce de Leon and Clairmont avenues.

What’s cookin’?

The stage will feature demonstrations by a slew of local celebrity chefs, including Kevin Gillespie, Hugh Acheson, Steven Satterfield and Nathalie Dupree. Conveniently enough, most of them have recent or brand new cookbooks to discuss and sign.

On Wednesday, the DBF pulled highlights together in this release:

The Food and Cooking Stage presented by Springer Mountain Farms will showcase top local chefs in metro Atlanta along with other culinary stars from throughout the United States at the 2015 AJC Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical (AJC DBF).

With the combination of cookbooks that they will present, the local chefs will provide foodies with a virtual encyclopedia of how to cook and prepare foods native to the region in favorite Southern techniques. Together, this cast is a who’s who of James Beard Foundation Award winners and nominees.

This year, the Food and Cooking Stage is moving to the heart of the festival near the corner of Ponce de Leon and Clairemont Avenues. The new stage is part of the Georgia Grown Culinary Village, featuring locally sourced foods and artisan products. AJC DBF Programming Director Philip Rafshoon said book festival staff elected to locate the cooking stage more centrally for festival-goers because of how well attended those events have been in the past.

“We know how popular these local chefs and their restaurants are and how large of a following the other chefs have, as well, so we wanted to make the cooking stage as accessible as possible,” Rafshoon said. “With the array of chefs we have, they are sure to whet the appetite of any foodie or cooking enthusiast.”

Food and Cooking Stage highlights include:

Local favorites

  • Kevin Gillespie, the owner of Gunshow in Atlanta and Decatur’s new hit restaurant Revival, presents “Pure Pork Awesomeness”, sharing his unbounded passion for pork in 100 unique recipes. Gillespie’s first cookbook was “Fire in My Belly,” which was released in October 2012, and was named a 2013 James Beard Award finalist in the American Cooking category.
  • Steven Satterfield, executive chef and co-owner of Atlanta’s Miller Union, is the author of “Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons”. The debut cookbook from the James Beard-nominated Satterfield is a vegetable cookbook for omnivores packed with 175 recipes, hundreds of beautiful color photos and helpful vegetable profiles, from leafy greens to legumes.
  • Hugh Acheson is chef/partner of the Athens, Ga., restaurants 5&10, The National, Atlanta restaurant Empire State South and the Savannah restaurant The Florence. He is the author of “The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits” in which he shares stories about living and cooking as a sardonic Canadian in the American South. In 2012, he won the James Beard award in American Cooking for A New Turn in the South.
  • Cynthia Graubart and Nathalie Dupree present “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables”. Graubart is the author of six books, including the James Beard Award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking”. Dupree, a South Carolina native, is a best-selling author with 13 hardback and two softback cookbooks. She also has appeared on more than 300 television shows for The Food Network, PBS and The Learning Channel.
  • Virginia Willis is a French-trained chef with Georgia roots, brings “Lighten Up, Y’All: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome” to the AJC DBF. She is a columnist for FoodNetwork.com, a contributing editor to Southern Living and was named one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know” by the Chicago Tribune.
  • Born and raised in South Georgia, Rebecca Lang is the author of “Around the Southern Table,” which appeared on QVC and sold 3,600 copies in six minutes. A ninth-generation Southerner, she presents “Fried Chicken: Recipes for the Crispy, Crunchy, Comfort-Food Classic”.

Georgia and beyond

  • Cat Cora, the first female Iron Chef, launches “Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef’s Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness,” her memoir on Southern life, Greek heritage, same sex marriage and the meals that have shaped her memories. Cora grew up in Jackson, Miss., and attended the Culinary Institute of America. She worked in New York City before travelling overseas to apprentice in Europe with world-renowned French chefs Georges Blanc and Roger Vergé.The AJC will publish an exclusive excerpt of Cora’s “Cooking As Fast As I Can” in Sunday’s Living & Arts section on Aug. 30. Following her appearance on the Food and Cooking Stage (1:45-2:30 p.m. Saturday), Cora will sign copies of her memoir in the neighboring AJC tent.
  • Savannah’s legendary Lady & Son’s former chef Dora Charles presents her first cookbook, “A Real Southern Cook: In Her Savannah Kitchen,” which launches at the festival. From a huge family of famously good cooks, Charles worked in one of Savannah’s most famous restaurants for 22 years, where she taught dozens of staffers and managers. A stickler for quality, she became the restaurant’s first female kitchen manager.
  • Maangchi, who The New York Times dubbed “the Korean Julia Child,” demos from her new book, Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking: Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook. An Internet sensation, Maangchi has won the admiration of home cooks and chefs alike with her trademark combination of good technique and good cheer as she demonstrates the vast and delicious cuisine of Korea.
  • Sandra Gutierrez presents “Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America”. Recognized as a leading expert on Latin cuisine, Gutierrez has presented on the subject of Latin American food at the conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and was a cookbook judge for the 2013 and 2015 James Beard Awards.
  • Rising star Leanne Brown shows how to live to eat on the most frugal of budgets with Good & Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day. While studying food policy as a master’s candidate at New York University, Brown asked a simple yet critical question: How well can a person eat on the $4 a day provided by the U.S. government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, informally known as food stamps)? The answer is surprisingly well.

More information

  • AJC overview story on DBF highlights here.
  • AJC highlights children’s/teen programming here.
  • AJC details art|DBF, the arts-festival-within-the-book-festival here.

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