Omnivore - Reservation-less? Under-informed? Undecided? These 12 Atlanta Food & Wine Fest classes are the solution

The BEST Atlanta Food & Wine Festival classes EVER. This weekend. If you’re into that sort of thing.


  • Alyssa Pointer/CL FILE
  • A scene from an oyster class at the 2013 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

There are more than 100 classes (AKA Learning Experiences) to sit in on at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival this weekend. We don’t know about y’all, but when we first read through the sprawling list of classes, narrowing it down to just one per time slot felt impossible.

If you bought tickets in advance, you were likely asked to reserve a spot in several classes of your choice ahead of time. Your schedule is already set, and guests with reservations get first dibs on seats. (Lucky you!)

But, if you find yourself reservation-less, under-informed, or undecided at #AFWF14 this weekend, here’s a list of classes we are pretty psyched about:


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noon-1 p.m.

Does it take a certain kind of person, someone with a deep connection to nature, to be a successful forager? It couldn’t hurt, but probably not. It does, however, take skill, patience, and know-how. Join Chris Bennett of Hollow Springs Farm in Alabama, chef Rob McDaniel of Springhouse at Crossroads in Alexander City, Ala., and chef Rob Nelson of Tusk and Trotter in Arkansas as they highlight the breadth of wild ingredients that can be foraged in the South and discuss how seasonality is changing the look of restaurant menus across the region. Salon E.

Can food cure you? Steve McHugh - chef and owner of Cured restaurant in San Antonio - thinks so. McHugh beat cancer with the help of a clean, farm-fresh diet. Hear more about how good food changed the chef’s life, and the unique methodology that guides his cooking today. Salon F.

1:30-2:30 p.m.

Brothers Charlie and Andy Nelson of Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery - AKA the dudes responsible for Belle Meade Bourbon - will explore new and unexpected ways to utilize whiskey in cocktails. Bourbon Piña Colada anyone? Salon C.

Ever wonder how the American colonists got down in 1714? Not so much? No worries, we’ve been plenty curious for you. In this tasting seminar and booze talk, freelance journalist Wayne Curtis, Frederick H. Smith, PhD, and renowned cocktail historian Dave Wondrich will discuss spirits that were popular 300 years ago. Salon F.


10-11 a.m.

Few foods are more prevalent in the American South than barbecue. But in this experience, Scott Drewno, executive chef of Wolfgang Puck’s the Source in Washington D.C., and Pitmaster Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Ala., look beyond the South to explore how the rest of the world roasts, smokes, and grills its meat. Spain, Mongolia, and Argentina will be among the countries discussed. Salon D.

For some, tasting wine at 10 a.m. on a springy Saturday morning in Atlanta might be considered a faux pas. Certified Wine Educator Eric Crane and One Flew South chef/owner Duane Nutter would argue that any time is a good time to taste rosé. Learn about the nuances of this delicate wine and why rosés pair so well with food. Salon F.

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Asheville, N.C. chef Katie Button and Atlanta booze and bar man Greg Best will share tips and strategies for making tasty eats and drinks with whatever ingredients are lying around the house. Salon F.

A seminar on George Washington’s Grist Mill? Snooze fest, right? Not necessarily! The history of the mill, which presenters chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Va., and the Mill’s own Steve Bashore assure us is fascinating, will serve as a starting point for a broader discussion of mill culture in the South. As more and more chefs begin to partner with individual millers, the significance of these modern day heirloom mills is on the rise. History buffs and food geeks, we will see you there. Salon AB.

1-2 p.m.

Food can be fun, and we need it to live. But when compassionate, tight-knit communities develop around the restaurant industry, food becomes truly nourishing. Join panel members John Currence (City Grocery, Oxford, Miss.), Chris Hall (Local Three, Muss & Turners & Common Quarter), and Nick Pihakis (Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q) for a discussion on the growing social significance of restaurant communities in the South. The talk will be moderated by chef Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Downtown Diner, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Fox Liquor Bar, Chuck’s, Raleigh, N.C.) Salon C.

TECHNIQUE LAB: Citrus History
Why waste a whole session on citrus? New Orleans cocktail overlords Nick Detrich (Cane & Table) and Kirk Estopinal (Cure, Bellocq) would argue that citrus is quite possibly the most underrated, yet absolutely vital, cocktail component ever. During this hands-on drink-making lab, learn about the evolution of citrus in cocktails and how tiny variations have the power to destroy a perfectly good drink. Cocktail Technique Lab.


11 a.m.-noon

To understand food in the Carolinas, you must first understand the lay of the land. In this cooking demo, chefs Vivian Howard (N.C.), Michael Kramer (S.C.), and Jacob Sessoms (N.C.) cook dishes typical from each of three distinct regions: Appalachia, Lowcountry, and the farmland that lies in between. Salon E.

12:30-1:30 p.m.

Have you noticed that SEC football has a direct impact on Atlanta restaurants? If UGA is playing, forget about it. You can be certain more than a few restaurants will be dead that night. Sports College football and food go hand in hand in the South. Join three sportswriters - Holly Anderson (Ga.), Spencer Hall (Ga.), and Wright Thompson (Miss.) - and three Southern chefs - John Currence (Miss.), Eli Kirshtein (Ga.), and Kelly English (Tenn.) - as they explore the many intersections of food and sports in the modern South. Salon D.

For the full class schedule, you can download the schedule from the website. They even have a handy planning worksheet if you want to get really OCD about your day(s).

Going to Atlanta Food & Wine this year? Let us know which classes you are most looking forward to in the comments!