Taste of Atlanta still growing after 13 years


Taste of Atlanta still growing after 13 years


Throwdown Tent, Oct. 25-26 — A new experience hosted by local radio personality Mara Davis, with chefs competing head to head each day to make the best meatballs, sandwiches, tacos, and fried chicken.

Grate Expectations, 12:30 p.m. Oct. 25 — “Food Network Star” contestant Linkie Marais takes the kitchen outside to show off the flexibility and versatility of the Big Green Egg.

The Secret’s in the Sauce, 12:30 p.m. Oct. 26 — Bravo “Top Chef” Season 10 champion Kristen Kish shares her sauce cooking secrets. Space will fill up fast, so sign up early.

Gospel Brunch, 1:30 p.m. Oct. 26 — Legendary Atlanta blues singer Francine Reed joins Atlanta chefs Jay Swift of 4th & Swift and Ron Eyester of Rosebud for a joyous Sunday brunch.


Friday Kickoff Party: “Culinary Matrimony.” $70 advance general admission; $90 advance VIP admission (begins at 6:30 p.m.). 7:30-10:30 p.m. Oct. 24.

Taste of Atlanta: $25 advance/$35 gate general admission; $75 advance/$85 gate VIP admission. Noon-8 p.m. Oct. 25; noon-6 p.m. Oct. 26. Tech Square at Spring Street and Fifth Street, Atlanta. tasteofatlanta.com.

After 13 years, Taste of Atlanta continues to grow and change, offering new experiences, while remaining the city’s premier fall food event.

More than 90 metro Atlanta restaurants will offer samples Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, including newcomers Bartaco, Bellwoods Social House, the Bishop, Lusca, Max’s Wine Dive, Tupelo Honey Cafe, and Vin Vie Bistro, and favorites such as 4th & Swift, the Optimist, Seven Lamps, St. Cecilia, the Spence, and the Wrecking Bar.

Taste of Atlanta founder Dale DeSena thinks the event is one of the best dining deals around. “It provides more than 300 menu items in one place over two days, and at a great price,” DeSena said. “A general admission ticket is only $25, and that includes 10 coupons. So you could easily eat at six restaurants, get a good taste of really diverse, quality food, and maybe even meet the chef.”

New this year on the festival site, which covers eight city blocks around Tech Square in Midtown, restaurants will be grouped by neighborhood. “We’ll have a Buckhead, a Brookhaven, a Midtown, a downtown, and so on,” DeSena said. “It’s really neat to be able to showcase the restaurants with their neighbors. It’s a great way for someone from Sandy Springs to see what’s in Buckhead. It’s like a culinary adventure through the city.”

Opening the three-day food festivities on Oct. 24, the all-inclusive “Culinary Matrimony” kickoff party “will unite unlikely, yet harmonious pairings, as local celebrity chefs lift the veil to match-made-in-heaven recipes, libations and more.” Among the chefs for the evening event will be Ron Eyester (a contestant on the current season of Bravo’s “Top Chef”), EJ Hodgkinson, Terry Koval, Craig Richards, Jay Swift, Drew Van Leuvan, Suzanne Vizethann, and Tyler Williams.

Returning this year, the VIP Experience is a premium ticket that permits entrance to an exclusive area with more restaurants, craft beer, cocktails and wine from around the world, plus a speaker’s corner hosted by Greg Best. Formerly part of the Holeman & Finch team, Best is about to open a restaurant at Krog Street Market.

The popular Barcraft Competition brings together Atlanta’s top bartenders in a contest sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild. The Chef’s Table, hosted by Tom Sullivan, presents tips, techniques and tastes in an intimate setting. The Kitchen Workshop, hosted by CNN correspondent Holly Firfer, is a hands-on cooking experience with local chefs. And the Family Food Zone, hosted by author Carolyn O’Neil, gets kids cooking and learning about food. (O’Neil also writes a weekly nutrition column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)

“Every year we have new restaurants, new activities and new stages,” DeSena said. “It’s not the same festival year after year. My goal is to keep it fresh, and let the world know how great Atlanta’s restaurants are.”

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