Head to Atlanta or Memphis for Big Chef Events Feb. 3-4


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If you have a traveling bone and want to experience some great chefs showing off their wares, gas up the car and mark your calendar for Feb. 3-4.

You'll have to decide whether to head east or west.The James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dining Series is coming to Atlanta Feb. 3-4, while over in Memphis, the Cochon 555 Tour stops in the Bluff City on Feb. 4

Executive chef Robert Gerstenecker of Park 75 Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta is the host of the James Beard event. The festivities begin with a cocktail reception hosted by the chefs on Friday night, Feb. 3, in Park 75 Lounge at Four Seasons in conjunction with the Atlanta’s Bartender’s Guild. Some of Atlanta’s best bartenders will create specialty cocktails with local spirits and favorite ingredients. Throughout the event the chefs will mix and mingle with guests. An array of delicious appetizers will be prepared by Park 75 to complement the creative libations.

The roster of participating chefs reads like a "who's who" of Southern talent: Top Chef contestant Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Ky.; Chef James Lewis of Bettola Restaurant in Birmingham, Ala.; Chef John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Miss.; Chef Bob Waggoner of Nashville's Watermark; Chef Josh Feathers of Blackberry Farms, Walland, Tenn.; Chef Hugh Acheson of Five & Ten and Empire State South, Atlanta; and Chef Andrea Litvin of The Spence, opening this spring.

On Saturday night, the chefs will create a seven-course dinner in the Grand Ballroom at the Four Seasons. Each course will highlight the talent of one chef and will be served with a wine pairing. Beginning with passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, the dinner should be a once in a lifetime experience. After the meal is served, guests will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about each chef and the culinary world.

Tickets for Friday evening’s cocktail party are $50 per person, and Saturday dinner is $140 per person. Proceeds will benefit the James Beard Foundation. To purchase tickets, visit celebritycheftour.com or email jeffblack@celebritycheftour.com.

Meanwhile in Memphis, the Cochon 555 Tour features five chefs and five winemakers creating a snout-to-tail menu made with five heritage breed hogs, paired with wines from family wineries.

I was fortunate enough to attend a Cochon 555 after-party at last year's Atlanta Wine and Food Festival and can personally attest that the event was a hog-wild good time.

Foodies will congregate Feb. 4 at the Columns at One Commerce Square in downtown Memphis to enjoy the efforts of five fantastic chefs as they compete to see who is the Big Pig. The participating chefs on the Memphis stop of the national tour are are:

- Kelly English of Restaurant Iris in Memphis
- Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis
- Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham (instead of Gerard Craft of Niche in St. Louis, which we reported in November)
- Lee Richardson of Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock
- Kevin Nashan of the Sidney Street Cafe in St. Louis

The competing wineries include:

Elk Cove Vineyards in Gaston, Ore.
Chase Cellars in St. Helena, Calif.
Saldo in Rutherford, Calif.
Davis Family Vineyards in Healdsburg, Calif.
Scholium Project in California's Napa Valley

Sounds like a blast to me. Tickets range from $125-$250. For more information, visit cochon555.com.


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