Cooking in Savannah with Chef Joe Randall

This month, Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School in Savannah celebrates its 15-year anniversary, and a series of special classes are scheduled to mark the occasion.

Chef Joe Randall's Cooking School in Savannah

Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School in Savannah

Chef Joe Randall is an expert on Southern cuisine and a food service veteran with more than 50 years in the hospitality and food service industry. Years of working in the restaurant field have given Chef Joe the knowledge, expertise (and patience) to run his own cooking school for the last 15 years. With the motto of “Put a little South in your mouth,” he shares his extensive culinary knowledge with an emphasis on Southern, Low Country, and Atlantic Georgia Coastal cuisines in a comfortable, yet practical, setting.

Black-eyed pea cake with grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon and roasted red pepper vinaigrette

Black-eyed pea cake with grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon and roasted red pepper vinaigrette

Located on Waters Street in Savannah, Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School offers nightly classes of dinner and a show. Choose from either a hands-on or a chef demonstration-style class. During the hands-on class, you cook your own dinner under the watchful eye of Chef Joe, who is there with a guiding hand to the proper cooking techniques. If you’re not interested in working, then the demonstration dinner is for you! Just sit back, watch Chef Joe in action, and enjoy a delicious meal.

Chef Jennifer Hill Booker and her former student Kyle Petrucelli with Chef Joe.

Chef Jennifer Hill Booker and her former student Kyle Petrucelli with Chef Joe.

To celebrate the school’s 15-year anniversary, Chef Joe is calling in an impressive list of Southern celebrity chefs to teach classes Sept. 14-19, 2015, with the show stopper prepared by the man himself on Saturday, Sept. 19.  As you can well imagine, these classes are very popular with guests from around the globe interested in meeting Chef Joe, trying their hand at Southern cuisine, and enjoying a great meal. Make your reservations early!

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. She is the guest chef at Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School Sept. 17, 2015. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

10 Places to Visit in Athens When at a UGA Game

Between the Hedges in Athens

Between the Hedges | Photo courtesy of The Broad Collective

It’s that time of year again and if you are a Georgia Bulldogs fan, there is no place you’d rather be than in Athens, Georgia watching football on a Saturday. A fall breeze in the air, the smell of the grill while tailgating and a cold drink in your hand tends to conjure up all sorts of good memories for so many Georgians.

We live here every day so we get to see how great this city is up close and personal all the time. So we thought we would give you some recommendations for ten great places to check out when you’re visiting Athens for a UGA game.

We broke them into three categories for you so that no matter your mood or what point in the day you were at, you could ramp up your partying, kill some time with shopping or wind down before the long drive back to the real world. And better yet, all the recommendations are within walking distance to Sanford Stadium and your tailgate!

The Ramp Up

Creature Comforts in Athens

Creature Comforts | Photo courtesy of The Broad Collective

Creature Comforts – One of the best new breweries in the country. While they have only been around for less than two years, they have already won multiple national awards for their beers. They are in the old Snow Tire building that they beautifully renovated with the help from local woodworkers, Oneta Woodworks. It is a warm and inviting place and with four or five beers in their regular rotation there are plenty of options to choose from.

All Good Lounge – This bar is typically packed but they have two floors complete with a rooftop bar so there is plenty of room to spread out. Being in right in the heart of downtown, they leave their garage door open to let their energy out onto the street and the street’s energy into the bar. While it may be bustling, they have three distinct bars that run the length of the building so you won’t wait long at all and will have your choice of cocktail or beer.

Trappeze Pub* – An Athens staple for years, Trappeze not only has a ton of great beers on tap, but they have really good food to go with them. You won’t find many domestic beers here but you will find the most exhaustive beer menu in Athens full of craft beers from around the world. The best bet is to tell your knowledgeable bartender or server what kind of beers you typically enjoy and then let them go to work finding something that you’ll love.

The Georgia Theatre Rooftop* – When rebuilding the Georgia Theatre in 2011 after the fire that destroyed it, the owners wanted to add a new layer to the concerts they were famous for. So they added a rooftop bar that mixes great drinks with a great view. Food service is provided by the Branded Butcher downstairs and offers a great selection of burgers, sandwiches and tacos. So you can eat or drink (or both!) all while overlooking beautiful downtown Athens.

The Time Killers

Wuxtry Records in Athens

Wuxtry Records | Photo courtesy of The Broad Collective

Kristen Ashley Artist Shop/Dynamite/Community – We are cheating here: this is really three great businesses but since they are all right next to each other we thought we’d combine them into one. Kristen Ashley Artist Shop opened this year and is a beautiful art supply shop full of handmade stationary and other local art. Dynamite Clothing is one of the best vintage shops in Athens, which is saying a lot. Community is a gorgeously designed and decorated retail shop focusing on fashion and the products from local artists including many Athens themed items.

Wuxtry – One of the more popular spots for Athens visitors, it absolutely worth a trip. Wuxtry has been consistently showing up on ‘Best Record Store’ lists for years. And with their additional adjacent building for discounted records, Wuxtry Side Car, and their comic book shop upstairs, Bizarro-Wuxtry, they have the whole corner of College and Clayton to themselves.

Frontier – A great gift shop that carries a wide selection for both men and women. Many of the items come from local artists in Athens and the ones that don’t are carefully selected to reflect seasons and trends. From soaps to art to jewelry, Frontier has something for everyone and being in the middle of downtown, it’s an excellent space to pop into to escape the heat . . . or the game day crowds.

The Wind Down

The World Famous in Athens

The World Famous | Photo courtesy of The Broad Collective

The Grill* – Odds are if you’ve been to Athens, you’ve been to The Grill. You also know there is nothing better than gorging on their famous feta fries after a long day of football. A classic grill setup with jukeboxes and fountain drinks, it’s both a throwback for alumni and a savior for newbies.

The World Famous* – More bar than restaurant, The World Famous often gets overlooked for having some of the best food in Athens. The bar feels like a Pinterest board come to life thanks to its creative design and the Mason jars that all of their drinks come in. Local chalk artist Chris Collins also keeps their chalkboard colored with UGA-themed artwork during the season. Whether it’s a day game or night game, this is the perfect spot to grab food and drink as you wind down.

Seabear* – Relatively new to the Athens food scene, Peter Dale (The National, Condor Chocolates), Patrick Stubbers (The Four Courseman) and Chris Luken (Normal Bar, The National) opened Seabear Oyster Bar in the Fall of 2014. Since then they’ve been flying in fresh daily oysters from across the country with some of the best bar service in town with their signature cocktails and their well-thought-out beer selection. This is a great spot to stop on your way out of town and if you time it right, you can hit one of their two daily oyster happy hours when all oysters are $1.50.

* Also have food.

The Broad Collective Logo

The Broad Collective is a development engine for the artist, creative and small business community in Athens, Georgia. Their goal is to foster and advocate for a healthy and sustainable Athens by nurturing the community’s economic, communal and cultural growth. 

Tailgating in Atlanta this Football Season

Tailgating at BASG

Beer Tower at Braves All-Star Grill | Photo courtesy of Gigi Dancourt

You have the folding chairs, you have the cornhole boards, you have the football – now all you need for your tailgate is the food (and drink). If you’re tailgating in Atlanta this football season, here are some restaurants to check out for your tailgating needs:

Braves All Star Grill
As the official game-watching destination for the Georgia Bulldogs this football season, Braves All Star Grill offers the ultimate tailgating experience! A prime venue to enjoy watching all sports, the restaurant keeps fans coming back with its chef-inspired menu. Along with big, juicy burgers, perfect wings and ballpark fare, Braves All Star Grill features menu items such as the ahi tuna tacos, Reuben egg rolls, seasonal salads and flatbreads, as well as entrees like cedar plank salmon and beer can chicken. Oh, and then there is the beer tower! Perfect for groups, the 96-ounce beer tower allows guests to refill at their leisure through the game. Braves All Star Grill also offers multiple catering options and spreads for taking home or to the game.

Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta
Whether you’re looking for a place to catch the game this football season, or looking for pre- and post-game grub, Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta has got you covered. Call in advance to order to-go catering for your tailgate, complete with Hard Rock’s selection of mouth-watering appetizers and Smokehouse items. Located minutes from the Georgia Dome and Bobby Dodd Stadium, the restaurant and bar is a convenient stop along the way.

Shake Shack
Win your tailgating pals over with the ultimate menu this season: Shake Shack. Pre-order your Shackburgers and crinkle fries three days before the big game and strut your Shack style at the pre-game.

Tailgating at the Shake Shack in Atlanta

Photo courtesy of Shake Shack

Twenty-Two Storys
Hyatt Regency Atlanta’s beer-forward gastropub, Twenty-Two Storys, serves up Georgia beers and ales, a tasty, beer-influenced menu of dinners and small plates, and the best pretzels in the city. To top it off, the restaurant boasts 17 televisions so guests don’t miss a single moment of the game. Tailgate-friendly menu items include malt vinegar chips and dips with roasted tomato hummus, beer cheese and raw veggies; hops-smoked chicken wings with sweet bourbon hot sauce, ranch and celery; and Bavarian soft pretzels with beer cheese, duck rabbit stout mustard and creamy horseradish.

10 Degrees South, Biltong Bar, Cape Dutch and Yebo
Restaurateur Justin Anthony of South African dining destinations 10 Degrees South, Yebo and soon-to-come Biltong Bar and Cape Dutch swears by South African braai for all his tailgating needs. In South Africa, you can find locals grilling out before a game, otherwise known as a “braai,” featuring boerewors, a traditional Farmers sausage, steaks, burgers and boerewors rolls, a type of South African hot dog. Anthony enjoys his South African-style tailgate favorites with a beer, similar to a tailgate we’re most familiar with, in addition to brandy and coke, and slices of biltong, a fresh, air-dried beef jerky.

Tailgating at Yebo in Atalnta

Boerewors from Yebo | Photo courtesy of Biltong

Lovell Bros. Spirits
For a special touch to tailgating this fall, try the “spirit of the mountains” Lovell Bros. Spirits. The hand-crafted whiskey offers a refreshing spin to any experience. The authentically Southern whiskey is crafted with local ingredients and distinct methods of production. Georgia Sour Mash Whiskey and Georgia Sour Mash Spirit allow for all sports fans to create multiple different cocktails to satisfy everyone at the party! Try it neat and enjoy the smooth, vanilla-like flavors or mixed into a favorite cocktail.

Tailgating at Bourbon Bar in Atlanta

Bourbon Bar | Photo courtesy of Sara Hannah Photography

Bourbon Bar
What’s better than football and bourbon? This fall, watch the big game at Bourbon Bar, a Southern-inspired bar that has been named one of “America’s 55 Best Bourbon Bars” by The Bourbon Review for three years. And for good reason: Bourbon Bar offers a well-cultivated selection of more than 70 American bourbons, including favorites like Early Times 354, Old Crow Reserve and Four Roses Single Barrel. Pair any of these delicious flights with an artisanal ham and charcuterie board full of regionally cured heritage breed hams from the Ham Bar, located in the Southern Art lobby beside Bourbon Bar. Settle in for the big game with more than 70 seats to choose from, including an outdoor terrace.

Georgia’s Tastiest Adventure: BBQ

Old Clinton BBQ rated Georgia the number one state for BBQ in 2014. In 2015, Joe’s BBQ in Blue Ridge captured the honor of Best BBQ in America. Sufficed to say, Georgia’s got some great ‘que.

How to Find the Best BBQ in Georgia
The problem with great BBQ joints however, is they aren’t always the easiest to find. The best ones are usually a little off the main drag. When on a road trip, our family generally consults Yelp to find a place nearby. After consulting the reviews, the final decision on whether to visit usually rests with the sign outside. If it doesn’t have a pig on it, we question the food quality.

The Brews and Q’s Passport to Flavor
There’s always the Best of Lists too. We’ve found tasty establishments, like Joe’s, based on those lists, and then seek them out when we are in the area. Georgia’s Historic Heartland has gone a step further. They’ve created a Brews & Q’s BBQ Trail. What a brilliant idea! The trail features 30 locally owned locations in 14 counties and each restaurant is listed in an easy to use brochure that serves as your passport to flavor. Many of these country kitchens have been featured on various TV shows and have won awards from numerous outlets. Get it stamped at each place and once you’ve visited a third of the sites (or 10 locations), you can mail in the passport to receive a free Brews & Q’s t-shirt. Download a brochure and get started on a delicious tour through Georgia’s heartland.

For more Fall Fun, visit the Field Trips with Sue Fall Guide.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

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Atlanta Chinatown Mall

As a true lover of food, I’m always looking for a great meal. You may be thinking that since I’m a Chef, a great meal means lots of fancy food, served as lots courses-all costing lots of money. Nope. To me a great meal means delicious food with big flavors, lots of fresh ingredients and affordability. I also like to step out of my comfort zone from time to time and try something new. I’ve found all of that, and more, right here in Atlanta at the Chinatown Mall. It’s tucked away off I-285 and New Peachtree Road, and offers Chinese, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Laotian and Korean culture all in one small community.

Atlanta Chinatown Mall

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Chinatown Mall

My favorite location at the mall is the food court. No surprise there, especially considering it offers six restaurant stalls, a bakery and two dine-in restaurants. The food selections are all authentic cuisines from around China, recipes passed down from generation to generation. I’ve enjoyed Peking Duck, which is a whole duck cooked until the meat is tender and the skin crisps up crunchy and delicious. The Crispy Pork Belly with a Spicy Hoisin Sauce is another dish I like that cooks the pork belly until the fat and lean are both rich and crisp, before being dipped into a sweet and spicy sauce. And then there is my all-time favorite, a big piping hot bowl of Red Pepper Fish Stew. This stew is thick with chunks of succulent white fish swimming in a broth thick with red hot peppers and Chinese vegetables. Yum! The main thing to remember when checking out the Atlanta Chinatown Mall is to bring a big appetite, your sense of adventure and cash-they don’t accept plastic.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.