Omnivore - Atlanta’s year in food: 2014

So what had happened was...

Here’s (a lot of!) what happened:

The beginning of 2014 was made bittersweet by the death of chef Ryan Hidinger and the subsequent Team Hidi 2.0 memorial fundraiser, which raised $325,000 for local nonprofit the Giving Kitchen. After a six-month run on the Westside, Guy Wong’s fast casual dim sum joint Yum Bunz closed the first week of January. Wong’s new Vietnamese restaurant Le Fat, however, is slated to open in the former Yum Bunz space at 935 Marietta St. in 2015.

Atlanta restaurant mogul Ford Fry’s empire grew with the opening of St. Cecelia in the former Bluepointe space in Buckhead. Waffle House offered candlelight dining to lovers on Valentine’s Day. TV personality Andrew Zimmern was in town to film the Atlanta episode of “Bizarre Foods”, just in the knick of time before thousands of Atlanta motorists and students were stranded overnight due to an unthinkable gridlock caused by a major winter storm.

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This year, pop-up restaurants were all the rage with Eat Me Speak Me’s Jarrett Stieber leading the charge. Lusca, sister restaurant to late-night-grub-only Octopus Bar, opened in Brookwood Hills. The 2014 Atlanta Food and Wine Festival let some cool Brits in to the club and introduced the south to Sensory Dining with Condiment Junkie. Controversy erupted over whether a bartender was fired via the internet. The Freedom Farmers Market made its debut in the parking area of the Carter Center. We found out Atlanta could be the oyster capital of the South at the Southeast Oyster Symposium. The first Atlanta outpost of hyped, New York-based Shake Shack opened in Buckhead. In 2014, a handful of Atlanta restaurants and chefs were named James Beard Foundation Award semifinalists in 2014. Also, Southern Living magazine named Decatur newcomer Kimball HouseBest New Restaurant of 2014. Esquire magazine named chef Kevin Gillespie’s Gunshow one of the 12 Best New Restaurants in America, 2014.

CL’s gone-but-not-forgotten, longtime contributing photographer [[[[http://clatl.com/omnivore/archives/2014/07/26/james-camp-cl-contributing-photographer-has-died|James Camp]] died unexpectedly in late July. Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy died at age 93.

Earlier this year, longtime Atlanta dining critic Bill Addison left his post as Atlanta magazine’s lead critic and food editor for Eater National’s Restaurant Editor gig - but not before leaving us with his final list of favorite Atlanta restaurants. Elsewhere in Atlanta food criticism, we’ve recently learned AJC dining critic John Kessler plans to leave for Chicago next spring. Famed Antico Pizza Napoletanta’s owner Giovanni di Palma came under federal investigation for alleged labor violations. Athens bowed down to the opening of the second location of Grant Henry’s famed Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium. Ron Eyester was a contestant on “Top Chef: Boston.”

Big Tex in Decatur closed, but owners Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q were named the official barbecue provider of the Atlanta Falcons. A fire severely damaged popular Ok Cafe in December but the good people of Atlanta as well as fund from The Giving Kitchen raised over $40,000 for out of work staff. Food trucks are waning with food stalls on the rise, as evidenced by the enthusiastic opening of Krog Street Market and upcoming Ponce City Market. Everyone awaits former Holeman and Finch partners Greg Best and Regan Smith’s “yet to be named concept” to open.

In-house, CL’s 2014 Spring Dining Guide, Eat By Number, shared myriad ways to get the most bite for your buck in Atlanta. Our legacy-themed 2014 Food Issue explored the far reaches of Atlanta’s food-filled past. Other food-and-drink-related cover stories included the Georgia Brewery Watch 2014 by our resident beer biographer Austin L. Ray; $20 Dinners with chefs Zeb Stevenson and Jarrett Stieber; and, of course, the Ultimate Atlanta Burger Smackdown. This year, our 2014 Best of Atlanta issue took a peak behind the scenes. Our 2014 Oral Pleasures winners included: Best Chef: Robert Phalen, Best Bartender: Miles Macquarrie; Best Overall Restaurant: The General Muir; Best New Brewery: Orpheus; Best Creative Diner Food: Sobban; Best New Restaurant: Kimball House; Best Neighborhood Restaurant: BoccaLupo.

And that’s a wrap on 2014, beloved food and drink section readers! Kind of. We’d love to hear what stories you found most compelling in 2014, so feel free to drop those, and anything we may have missed, in the comments.