A Love Story…They Cook You Eat

A Love Story…They Cook You Eat

Kevin and Brooke Stovall recently celebrated 3 years of marriage. To some not a big deal, for them a milestone achieved after a two year, long distance courtship. They were separated by more than 700 miles. How did they make it work? They would try to visit each other bi-monthly. During the times they couldn’t see each other, they would meet up virtually. They dated via FaceTime, spending time cooking together. Technology helped to sustain the relationship while the couple communicated through food. Fast forward to the present and their love story has birthed another relationship, coauthors to a cookbook, He Cooks She Eats. It will be the story of their courtship alongside recipes. Pretty cool if you ask me. A love story. Over Food. Yes!

On November 3rd they hosted the inaugural meal for They Cook You Eat. It is their foray into the world of supper clubs. An opportunity to share their love story while highlighting up and coming chefs in the Atlanta area. Guess who was the chef they chose to roll it all out with? That’s right your girl, The Chef In Pearls. Of course I was more than honored to have this opportunity. It was an honor because I would be the chef making the first impression for their guests. I could have taken it on as a lot of pressure but instead I chose to see it as a challenge. How would I leave their guests wanting to attend future events while also setting the standard for the chefs to come? I believe I accomplished just that with this meal. With constant communication and open minds, the three of us came to an agreement on a menu. A menu that I felt would woo the guests. A menu that I hoped would create a new love story between guests and They Cook You Eat.

We started with a welcoming drink of Spike Horchata, a rice & almond milk drink spiked with tequila. The starter for the meal was a Tlacoyo. Traditionally a breakfast dish in Mexico, we filled the masa dough with lump crabmeat, roasted poblano peppers and oaxaca cheese. It was plated with an avocado crema and fresh corn salsa. The accompanying drink was a jalapeno- cucumber margarita. The second course was Pozole, which means hominy, a key ingredient to this soup. We kept it vegetarian, garnishing the soup with sliced radishes, minced cilantro, and pan seared shrimp. The accompanying drink was a grapefruit margarita with flamed rosemary. The entree was Red Snapper Veracruz, snapper fillets baked with a sauce of fresh tomatoes, capers, olives, onions and garlic, served atop lime-cilantro rice. The accompanying drink was a perfect Manhattan made with tequila. We finished the meal with a Mexican take on affogato, which is traditionally an Italian dessert of coffee and ice cream. We brewed our version of cafe olla using orange zest, anise and clove, topped a shot of Kahlua and a scoop of vanilla ice cream with it. I overheard it described as eating clouds. That put a big smile on my face. As usual, I’ll let the pictures speak to you.

This event was truly a love story.  I fell in love with my hosts, the Stovalls, and all the memories we created for ourselves and our guests. I hope that you will consider enjoying a night out at a They Cook You Eat event in 2019.  I am excited to see who the reigns get handed over to in the kitchen. Come out and help make some new memories for everyone involved.

Until next time….

~The Chef In Pearls

Photo Credit to Michelle Turner of Excited to Feast, Kamiliah Edwards and Michelle Munroe…thankful for you ladies because it sure is hard to cook and take pictures

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For the Taataas…Breast Cancer Awareness

For the Taataas…Breast Cancer Awareness

I did this shoot for the taataas. Truth be told I did this shoot because I wanted to honor those I know who fought the horrible fight against breast cancer. The ones who won and the ones who didn’t. I did this shoot to honor them. To honor the bravery they had to fight such a fight.  I had to be brave too. I never show this much skin. Plus size woman aren’t supposed to.  But I did it for the taataas.  I did it so that we recall our fallen sistas ( and brothas). I did it for the ones who feel less than because they lost what they thought made them whole (mastectomies can be hard not just on the physical but the mental as well). I did it so we remember our monthly breasts exams. One arm behind your head while checking feverishly in a circular motion with the other hand. So we are the first to notice when something isn’t quite right. I did it for my friend, Sandra Hutchinson, who survived breast cancer but still passed on.  I did it for Michelle Munroe who won that fight and continues to be a support for others ( I see you girl). I did it because I needed you to see this 46-year-old mom who breast-fed children. That these taataas were more than something to just look at. I needed you to see that they don’t stand up like 20 years ago. Nothing a good bra can’t fix. I did it because it was freeing. I did it because of the memories I created and will be able to share. I did it because I want you to be aware that we are nowhere near where we need to be in fighting this fight against breast cancer. I did this for… the TAATAAS!

Embroidered Mesh Top: Lane Bryant

Pink Hooded Jacket: JC Penney

Pink Shorts: JC Penney

Shades: Versona

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Diner en Blanc Atlanta . . . Another one in the Books

Diner en Blanc Atlanta . . . Another one in the Books

30 years since created + 5 years of Atlanta participating + 3,500 people all dressed in white + 1 location = Diner en Blanc Atlanta. This was the year Diner en Blanc turned the big three O and if that wasn’t enough Atlanta celebrated 5 years of being on board. I had goals set for this year’s Diner en Blanc. I wanted to cover 3 different Diner en Blanc and each location I chose held a special place in my heart. Jamaica, New York and Atlanta. My heritage, my past and my present. It would have been an homage to myself of sorts.  Like all good plans sometimes they just don’t work out they way you want. I reached out to the planning committee for Jamaica and have yet to hear from them. I guess I was not persistent enough. I started to be a little smarter with my approach. I reached out to a friend who worked with the planning committee in New York. She helped to connect me with the right people. I was in for New York! Plane ticket purchased, dress ordered, restaurant connection made, itinerary created. The only thing left for me to do was to pack. Then life hit me with a big blow. My Dad’s wife, my bonus Mom, passed away.  I talked a big game to myself and others. I was still going to New York. I was still going to cover at least 2 of the three locations for Diner en Blanc. Yeah I was a tad delusional. Death can do that to you. I had to cancel my trip to New York, I missed my Mom more than I realized.  As if wanting to add insult to injury, it seemed as if there would be no Diner en Blanc Atlanta. My 30 year Diner en Blanc blog post was dying right before my very eyes.  Ugghhh!

Just when I thought I would have to try again next year. I sent one more email to Diner en Blanc Atlanta. I didn’t get an email reply. Instead I received a phone call from Carla Griffin letting me know my name had been added to the media list. Whew. I guess one-third of an original idea is better than none. While I may not have been able to do Jamaica or New York, I enjoyed covering Diner en Blanc Atlanta. Which says so much as Atlanta is the location of my present life. What better way to pay homage to myself than with living in the present. Thank you to the planning committee of Diner en Blanc Atlanta. It was great meeting new people and having the Diner en Blanc experience! Since a picture speaks a thousand words, I am gonna let the below clip say all that I can’t.

Some of you may remember that I atended Diner en Blanc last year, if not then check out last year’s memories here.  If you wold like to create some Diner en Blanc memories of your own,  visit Atlanta.dinerenblanc.com to see how you can be down for next year. Hey maybe we will run into each other and make some memories together! Now go forward and make some memories.

Until next time. . .

~The Chef In Pearls

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Practice What You Preach…It’s About Time.

Practice What You Preach…It’s About Time.

How can I tell people they need to stop “trying” and do and I wasn’t doing the same. I was letting my need to get it just right stand in the way of all that I know I needed to accomplish. I created not one but two different series that I needed to bring to life in front of the camera. They would help me connect even further with followers. Introduce them to new people and places. I had people willing to work with me. I asked everyone and anyone that I thought was interesting if they’d be interested in being a part. And they all said “Yes”. I never received a “No”. So what was my hold up. I could list all the excuses I gave myself but the reality was I was letting fear of not being perfect, not having the “right” equipment, not being able to edit like others hold me back.  It was time for me to practice what I preach.

Well today I give you the first interview in my series “Conversations with The Chef In Pearls”. I will say that this interview didn’t go quite as  planned.  Footage got cut off, I lost my editing twice, spent time uploading the wrong version once edited. The bottom line is I did it. With every hiccup I was improving my abilities. I tell people constantly, “We are a people that do, not try, whether we fail or succeed. We do!”  So today I do! I present to you “Conversations with The Chef In Pearls featuring Dr. Leni Sorensen.”

 

 

After watching this interview  I want you to go and do that thing that you have been wanting to do. Like Nike …Just Do It. You will be amazed at the memories you will create from just doing. So glad to say that I do now. I am no longer a hypocrite because I practice what I preach. Now go forward and make some memories of you doing.

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls

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August Recap…

August Recap…


I know we are in a whole new month, September. But I never got to share all that I did in the month of August. So here’s a recap of all I did.  At the beginning of the month I got to visit a really great spot in the Dunwoody, GA area. It’s called Crafthall Kitchens. They are a 3 in 1 restaurant serving up gluten-free options that are amazingly good. You can read all about them in my next blog post where I’ll go a little more into detail. Just know that if you happen to get there before my post definitely try the fried avocado taco. You won’t regret it.

As always I fit in a trip up I-85 to visit my Dad and my bonus Mom. Once a month I work my way to Winston-Salem to check on the parental units and help them however I can. No big deal just teaching my kids through example. The daughter was in tow. We did get to check out a new to us breakfast place in Winston-Salem named Breakfastime. There were some hits and misses for me. No green tea offering, cold home fries, didn’t try the biscuit because it too came out cold. I did like the omelette I had but not enough to return.  Back down I-85 to Atlanta, GA.

When I returned to Atlanta I had a weekend of unexpected poetry and music. I don’t know if you have ever heard of the talented Mumu Fresh. Well if you haven’t I need you to check out her NPR little desk concert. Now that you have been officially introduced you will understand why I was hell bent on going to see her live at my favorite hole the wall music spot, Apache Cafe. I was so focused on getting to see her live in my neck of the woods that I didn’t even know that she was a part of  an erotic poetry night. Say what? Her friend and hostess for the night was Miss Ingrid B. If you have never been to a show she has put on you are truly missing out. She does a great deal in the Miami area and time to time in Atlanta. Keep an eye out. But back to Mumu she left me wanting for more. her talent is un-ending. I was literally left in awe as I watched her layer different recordings of her vocals to create the music she then sang over. Yeah she is not a part of that auto-tunes era, she is a true musician in every form. Since my life is never as simple as most the following night I was blessed with a ticket to take in “The Red Light Special” hosted by none other than my friend Journee Poetess. Did I mention that I had no clue either of these nights included erotica? Journee showcased some amazing talent from poets, to musicians, to a comedian. It was a hot night not to be forgotten.  Since I am a lover of music her closing act, Cristina Rae, vocalist extraordinaire left me with goosebumps. I am currently working out my schedule so that I am able to catch some more of the music she is serving. Her vocal range will leave you wanting for more.

As if August couldn’t be any better for me, I was back to host the 4th Annual Veggie Connection. I have been with Lateefah Smith since her inception for the event. As always she provided for a really great event. Not only did I host but I also did a demo. I showed attendees how to make an Un-Tuna Salad. I showed them my basic “tuna” salad recipe which includes corn, red onions, bell peppers and a few other things (video & recipe to come). I even gave them a sample of  an Un-tuna salad that had a spicy curry mayo base. Yeah I was doing it like that for the vegetarians and vegans.

I got a chance to visit High Hog Farm, only one of my favorite places in Georgia (even though I have an allergic reaction to their cats and dogs). I was there to help my sister friend Kiesha Cameron with the planning and organizing of a 3 day workshop on Provisioning with Leni Sorensen. Name not familiar to you? She is another person you should Google because the knowledge and history this woman brings to any table is amazing. When I first met her last year at the Food for Thought Conference. I thought this is what a 70 something year old Cass is going to be like. Well versed, opinionated and strong willed. Definitely my kind of woman. Interested in learning more about the workshop then hit the link. What link? This one right here.

What better way to close out the month than with me being the August feature on Flavorful World. Sometimes you think no one is noticing your work and then boom. Would you like to be our feature for August? Heck yeah I do. So I did. You can read my interview right here.

August has come and gone. It was memory filled. And I have seen some good and some bad but I keep moving. Thank you guys who are subscribed and those who dip in and out to see what I have going on. I appreciate the love you all give to The Chef In Pearls. I hope you had some great summer memories because Fall is on its way. Go make some last minute Summer memories before it is all gone.

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls

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Prosecco and Filet Mignon…At STK

Prosecco and Filet Mignon…At STK

Monday isn’t just National Prosecco Day, but it is also National Filet Mignon Day. How can you go wrong with a combination like that? The only thing that can make it better would be to enjoy it at STK Atlanta, Midtown’s sexiest steak and seafood house. Known for it’s high-energy atmosphere and its’ exceptional signature and seasonal offerings, STK Atlanta is offering an exclusive special this Monday, August 13th. To celebrate the day, guests are invited to sip in style as they enjoy STK’s Stellina di Notte Prosecco in the lounge and dining room. As an ideal compliment to this favorite bubbly, STK is also offering a brand new, 10 ounce coffee-infused filet mignon just for the occasion. Glazed with black garlic, served over creamy mashed potatoes, topped with wild mushrooms, morels, chanterelles and finished with black truffle butter and summer black truffles.  Is your mouth-watering yet?

I believe every good event starts with bubbly and Prosecco is the perfect bubbly to turn Monday or any day into a great day. Now add a Filet Mignon, also known as the King of Steaks, and you have a mearl that makes any day your personal special event. You can do it to celebrate these national days or create your own reason for heading over to STK Atlanta. How about something like National Let’s Make a Memory Day? Sounds good to me!

For more information or to make a reservation, visit www.stkhouse.com or call 404-793-0144. STK Atlanta is located at 1075 Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta, on the corner of Peachtree and 12th Streets in the 12th & Midtown development. Stay connected on Twitter  and Instagram at @eatstk and  #STKAtlanta. Now go forward and make new memories at STK Atlanta.  I have many memories with the STK team and you need to create some too.

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls

stk filet and presecco

 

Photo courtesy of  STK Atlanta

Some copy courtesy of  Caren West PR

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Birthdays and Reflectons

Birthdays and Reflectons

Unofficially I took the month of July off. I needed some time to reflect on life and all I have going on in it. I felt like I wasn’t present. I was living my life through pictures and video clips. I felt like my switch was always flipped to  “ON”. I am dealing with sick elderly parents, pushing my blog and it’s notoriety, two kids in college, striving to be a better chef and blogger. The list could go on and on but why? These are the things I had to sort out for myself. Not here to unload but to share where my mind was during this hiatus. Reflection is KEY! I needed to step back and take a look at who and where I want to be and how I want to get there.  Nobody is promised tomorrow, so we have to enjoy each day as if it is our last. And for the month of July I did just that! I lived in the moment, savoring each day like a fine wine.

I started my month off with a cupping at Gilly’s Brew Bar in Stone Mountain Village. What’s a cupping you ask? Think of a wine tasting but with coffee. I learned so much, like coffee smells and tastes different from bean to brew. Yeah, roasted beans smell different when freshly ground to when you actually add hot water to it. I would not consider myself a coffee aficionado but I do have a better understanding and appreciation of the beverage. Check out Gilly’s Brew Bar for their next cupping and don’t forget to try one of their Summer Elixirs. My favorites currently are the Bey and the Gilly. When you visit, tell Daniel I sent you over.

My birthday is July 6 and it fell on a Friday. I consider that a birthday win. Birthdays that fall on a Friday or a Saturday means no need to worry about your friends not being able to celebrate with you because they have work in the morning. My first stop on this leg of my birthday month took me to STK and their Happy Hour. I had envisioned my friends gathering and toasting to another year for me.  In life “the best laid plans of men and mice often go awry”. It rained . . . and HARD. My 12 expected guests whittled down to four brave women who came out to celebrate me and with me. Shout outs to Stacey Taylor, The Sistah Chick , Yalanda Lattimore of Dryer Buzz, Miss Kisha Of Course, Fellow Cancerian and Paris Corburn of PT Design. Thanks for braving the weather to have drinks and apps with me and the STK crew. I chose STK as the first stop because I know they always provide a wonderful atmosphere and the staff is like no other. And the food and cocktails are well worth the drive. I’m sure you’ve read how I feel about them, if not read up here and here. Then when you’re done go check out their happy hour week days 4-6:30pm.  Claire was the best bartender/server. She kept the rounds of shots coming and made me feel good. Thank you to Caren West PR firm for helping to arrange this for me. You guys rock!

The second leg of the evening took us to BarTaco. Guess what? The rain stopped. Guess what else? More folks showed up. I went from 4 to 10 guests. I had a whirlwind of an evening. Drinks, secret tacos, birthday cake and folks to enjoy it all with. Pretty awesome memory for me. I realize as I type this that I do not have any pics from that night. I will need to hit up my guests for whatever pics they may have taken. *Shrugs shoulders* This is all apart of living in the moment. I know Yalanda did a few FB Live posts so there is evidence of the fun that was had.

To continue with the birthday month madness I planned a Sip and Paint. I always wanted to paint something so why not now? With almost a dozen women we took over the Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers. I provided yummy eats of ground beef arayes, spinach arayes served with a tomato and cucumber salad and a tahini sauce, salad platters with honey smoked salmon and another with ahi tuna and raspberry vinaigrette. We drank lambusco and moscato from Corks and Cuvee, a B.O.B. located just across the street from the Sketching Pad. I learned about these places when I took a tour of Conyers through Visit Conyers GA. Funny how I have lived here for 2 years and didn’t know that all these great places existed just up the road for me. You can learn more about them in my post about Conyers.

I know for most that would have been enough but not me. I always seem to take things next level. The following weekend I met up with one of my BFF’s. We actually celebrate 30 years of friendship this year. What better way to celebrate each other than to take in a concert with one of our favorite reggae artists, Beres Hammond. We spent some time in Charlotte, NC enjoying restaurants, the concert and each others company. Before the concert we had dinner at Que Onda Tacos. We loved the tacos but the churros were a miss. (It made us sad since it was National Ice Cream Day and the dessert came with ice cream). Then it was off to enjoy some ole school lovers rock with Beres at Neighborhood Theatre. The DJs were playing tunes, bringing us through the years with 90’s reggae. The crowd just singing and dancing along like one big happy family. Then Leon came out as our emcee for the night, you may remember him from Madonna’s music video Like A Prayer. (I understand he did a couple of movies but whenever I mention that I have never watched any of them my friends give me strange looks). I did manage to get a pic with him but forgot to turn on the flash . . . Duh. Rookie mistake.  The next day after check out, we headed over to Cava.  It is a fast casual restaurant with a Mediterranean flare my Godson (who’s also her son) recommended we try out while in Charlotte. Let’s just say my Godson deserves a special Auntie gift for this suggestion. Good all the way around. So much so that I wish every day since that there was a location here in Atlanta. Check out their menu and if your mouth isn’t watering something is wrong.

As much as I wanted the month of July to be all about me, I knew it was unrealistic. I took time to visit my Dad and bonus Mom in Winston-Salem, NC; a 45 minute drive from Charlotte. My bonus Mom is doing rehab at a nursing home which keeps her separated from my Dad. Sad. I managed to catch a quick video of them loving on each other in the sweetest of ways,  a simple kiss. After taking care of them, I headed back to Atlanta to help celebrate my friend Keisha of High Hog Farm. The farm is one of my home away from home locations in Grayson, GA. You can’t want for a better farm experience. They literally open up their home to you, teaching and embracing people through food and diversification. For her birthday, we hit up Krog Bar for some amazing tapas and wine.  And a few day

 

s later, we did dinner at Sweet Georgia Juke Joint. Good food and great music. I forgot to mention that my middle child came to visit me from Savannah. It was supposed to be a surprise but his Dad let it slip. He and I headed to Kennesaw to visit his sister at school. It felt good to have my kids around even if for a short time. I did manage to squeeze in two more events before getting sick. I took in the VIP section at Old School Saturday. It’s a monthly event that showcases R&B and Hip-Hop from the 90’s. It brought me back to high school and college. I don’t know how you couldn’t have fun there. In wanting to have some me time I went to Communion at Gallery 992 in historic West End. It’s a brunch series curated by the United Artists Movement that showcases different chefs from Atlanta. I got to meet Pam of Pam’s Magic Cauldron. She specializes in smoking. That had me so geeked to meet a female chef that was into smoking foods. Brunch was so yummy and not as typical as you would expect.

I think me getting sick was the time I needed to really reflect. The things I learned about myself and my journey during this month has me refocused. You will see many changes in me as a person and even changes to my blog and business model. I have allowed people and events to take me away from what my goals are for me and this blog. I will still write about events but they will be fewer. I need to get back to showcasing my talents, which aren’t just cooking and baking. I pray that everyone will be able to appreciate things I want to bring to life in the months to come. Birthdays are what everyone needs to help remind them where they are and where they want to be. I thank God for another year and look forward to the greatness that will come along with it. I made some wonderful memories during July. Consider checking out some of the places I took in so you can make memories of your own.

Until next time go forward and make memories.

~ The Chef In Pearls

P.S. When you decide to write one giant post about a month long celebration of your birthday it ends up being longer than usual. Forgive me.

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Kennesaw State University …Chef’s Table

Kennesaw State University …Chef’s Table

I was honored to be able to take part in the Chef’s Table at Kennesaw State University’s Continuing Education Culinary Program. Yeah that’s a mouth full. It had taken me back 20+ years ago to when I was in my culinary program back in New York. There’s nothing better than being around that kind of excitement awaiting what’s to come. The students were excited to share what they learned. I was looking forward to tasting their creations.

Prior to the start of dinner, we were given the chance to view the kitchen and the students at work. I was immediately brought back to the quantity kitchen in my school. This was where as students we cooked for the school. We learned front end and back end stuff. It could make or break you from attitude to abilities. So I know first hand some of what they may have been experiencing that night. You definitely learn how to become a team player when you work in a commercial kitchen. Communication is key! You have to be able to convey a great deal from dishes being ready, time constraints, missing items, and more. Every single thing so that service moves without a hitch or at least not letting clients know there was one.

While in the kitchen, I ran into one of the instructors, Chef Robert Gerstenecker. He remembered having met me before, as my face was familiar to him. I wouldn’t say I have a very common look, so he must have met me somewhere. Well once officially introduced, we realized that we met at The Four Seasons in Atlanta. He used to be the executive chef there. I attended an event there on behalf of breast cancer awareness, The Atlanta Food and Lifestyle Bloggers’ Society and MSquared PR Firm. You can read all about my time at the Four Seasons here

The students worked in teams of two, each team preparing a specific dish for the meal. Before I get to the meal, I must mention the special invited guests were asked to speak. Now I never turn down an opportunity to talk to people, but this time I didn’t have any idea what I should talk about. When it was my turn, I shared the fact that I graduated from school during a time when celebrity chefs weren’t a real thing. There weren’t any social media apps to share all things you. Well fast forward 25 years and welcome to this new era. I told the graduates and their family that building their brand and creating a space in this fast-moving world of the internet was key to standing out amongst all the other chefs of the world. It was a way to be seen and also to see what others are doing. These were some of the things I learned and wanted to share with them. I am always representing my brand. There isn’t a time I walk out of my home without at least one pearl on. People often check me when out in public just to see if that’s true.  After our time in the limelight, the students started our meal service of four courses.

We started with our salad course. It was a Mushroom Carpaccio with seared Day Boat Scallops and Truffle Vinaigrette. It was very light, the scallop was perfectly seared and not over cooked. I did wish that the remoulade was lighter because it made the dish a little heavy. Next was our seafood course. It was Oven Roasted Halibut served alongside Spring Vegetable Ragout with a Lemongrass Beurre Blanc. I enjoyed this course very much! I especially loved the fact that the fish was not overcooked.  I have a thing about overcooked fish, well actually I have a thing about overcooked everything. The lemongrass beurre blanc made me want to recreate my own version.

Our third course was Braised Beef Short Rib Bali Maki, English Pea Whipped Potatoes, Ginger BBQ Reduction and topped with Herb Salad. The dish presented very well. I loved the colors. The toppings were a bit much because you lost sight that there was beef under it all. The beef was wonderfully cooked, nice and tender. I did learn about the Bali Maki style of cooking, as one is never too old to learn something new. Our final course was dessert, of course. We had a Buttermilk Panna Cotta with a Fresh Rhubarb Coulis. The Panna Cotta was smooth and velvety. I loved the inclusion of the Meyer lemons in the rhubarb sauce. Overall the students did a wonderful job . I know they will be culinary rock stars when they graduate and enter into the cooking world.

I had a wonderful night at Kennesaw State University’s Continuing Education Chef’s Table. It’s always fun to be around my fellow bloggers. As always I made some wonderful memories. If you ever get a chance to do a Chef’s Table please do it. You can read about one I had last year at Cobb Galleria Center here in Atlanta  The memories you create will be unforgettable. So go forth and make new memories.

Until next time….

~ The Chef In Pearls

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I’m Not Judging You… A Taste of Conyers

I’m Not Judging You… A Taste of Conyers

May 5, 2018 . . . What a busy Saturday for The Chef In Pearls! I had so many things on my plate. I just prayed I would be able to pull it all off. I was chosen to be a judge for Taste of Conyers. How cool was that? Tré cool, if you ask me. I would get a second chance to find out more about my small town. Excited I was (in my Yoda voice). Then there was the event that was very close to me. My family, along with One Heart Ministries, hosts a community event to bring awareness to cancer in memory of my bonus Dad, Raymond Brown. I was the unofficial official chef for the event. Anything my family does know that there will be food involved.

Game plan. Adorn one of my black aprons and get the food done. Shower, get dressed and head to Olde Town Conyers for Taste of Conyers. Meet up with other bloggers/judges. Meet and judge participants for Taste of Conyers. Discuss and tally vores with fellow bloggers/judges. Leave Taste of Conyers and head to family event. Be present. Participate in games and activities. Go home and rest.

What actually happened. Adorned apron. With the help of a few friends, we were able to knock out over a hundred burgers, 25 lbs. of potato salad, 2 full trays of coleslaw and get 21 whole chickens portioned and cooked. Very tired and rather slowly I got showered, dressed and headed to Olde Town Conyers. Problem. Can’t find any parking. Miss meeting fellow bloggers/judges. Finally find parking. Fellow bloggers/judges are three-quarters of the way thru meeting and judging participants. Teri Haler to the rescue. She provides me judge’s badge and clip board. I look official. After just 5 booths I run into my fellow bloggers/judges. They have judged and tallied their votes. So . . .?

No, Taste of Conyers I am not judging you. How could I? But from what I did see of you I look forward to next year’s invite to judge. The fact that it took me forever to find parking tells me it was well received. And the booths I did get to visit showed that they were in it for the win. The crowds that I passed through tells me that small town Conyers ain’t so small anymore. Everyone is going to want to be in the place to be next year . . . Taste of Conyers.

As for the rest of my day, I had a good time at my family’s community event. I was present and accounted for!  I even tried my hand at a game of trying to get an Oreo cookie in my mouth by using my facial muscles. So much harder than you think, Know that the tired chef didn’t win. Afterwards, I didn’t go home and rest. I ended up at a Cinco de Mayo party. I would find rest on another day.

I still managed to make it a day of memories. Food, Family and friends. How could I not? I hope you’ll consider attending next year’s Taste of Conyers so you can make some wonderful memories of your own. If you don’t know anything about Conyers, check out my post about the tour I took of my new hometown here.

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls

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Small Town Love…Conyers, Georgia

Small Town Love…Conyers, Georgia

For the past 2 years, I lived in a town 40 minutes outside of Atlanta.  Conyers is a place most people know of or have least heard of but most can’t say they have been. Until recently, I fit into the live here but do not know of category. Yes I created my own category!  I mean, I would drive down what I considered the main street of Conyers, Highway 138, and wish for more. I often complained that the only way for me to get what I wanted in food and entertainment was to drive into Atlanta. How wrong I was! I signed up to take a tour of Conyers courtesy of the Conyers Tourism Board. And now Conyers is so more to me than the place where Vampire Diaries was filmed.

Before I get started, I want to take time to thank a couple of people. Thank you to Teri Haler of Conyers Convention and Visitors Bureau. Your tour helped to change my mind about the where I now call home. Also thanks to Toby Bloomberg, President of Atlanta Food and Lifestyle Bloggers’ Society, for organizing this wonderful tour. Now to share some of what helped me fall in love with my small town

Have you ever been to a Monastery? Me either! The first stop of our tour took us to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Sitting on 2,300 acres of land it is nature at it’s best. There are trails for running, walking and biking, a beautiful church with stained glass created by one of their very own monks, a museum where you can learn all about the monastery and all things relating to monasticism. Monasticism or monk hood is a religious way of life in which one renounces worldly pursuits to devote oneself fully to spiritual work. You’re welcome. The property also boasts an all natural burial ground, no chemicals of any sort are used in body preparation and caskets must be of all natural materials. Pretty cool, huh? You can still care for Mother Earth even in death.

The last two places I want to mention are the bakery and the gift shop. They kind of go together. Well at least in my mind. The monks at this monastery make some great treats; fudge, fruitcake and my favorite biscotti. I forgot to mention when we first arrived, we were blessed with coffee and a tray full of biscotti. This was not your ordinary biscotti, the dry, extra crisp kind that you soak in your coffee or tea. This was a moist dense cake filled with nuts and fruits and was very hard to stop eating. It definitely gets #CIPapproved. The important thing is that all of their goods can be purchased in the gift shop. See why they go hand in hand now? You can purchase all their yummy goodness as well as other spiritual and religious items in the gift shop. Check out their website to find out how you can visit them and enjoy all things Monastery of the Holy Spirit.

The second leg of tour took us into Olde Towne Conyers. It’s like the downtown of Conyers. You can find the court and many of the municipalities you need for a small, thriving city. There are even some really cute store fronts, some of which we got to visit during our tour. After a full morning at the monastery we were good and ready for lunch. Our first stop The Tin Plate. This place has become my saving grace. There have been many nights on my way back from Atlanta that I wanted something to eat but would not do fast food. The Tin Plate has come to the rescue because their kitchen doesn’t close until 10pm. Wait I skipped some stuff. The Tin Plate is what I have been hoping for in Conyers. A non chain restaurant offering locally sourced foods with a farm-to-table concept. The food gods answered my prayers.  They source the beef for their burgers from White Oaks Pastures. That name should be familiar to you because I recently wrote a post about them. If it’s not, check them out here.  So we know the burgers are good but did I mention the hand cut fries made on site with the unheard of flavor combinations? Flavors like the Thai Coconut Fries or the “PB&J” (pimento cheese, bacon and pickled jalapeños) and so many more. They even make some pretty amazing salads. You just can’t go wrong with choosing to eat at the Tin Plate. Make sure you visit their website here to read all about them and their menu.

We continued on our tour by taking a stroll across the street to the E-Station. It’s Conyers answer to the ideal work space. You no longer have to fight the noise and bustle of the local Starbucks or Panera Bread to have a meeting or get some work done. You can utilize their open space desks or opt for a private office space with door so you can look really official for your twelve o’clock meeting. There is full A/V equipment as well as printing & copying services too. You can have all this with daily drop in fees or do a monthly membership. After viewing a presentation on Conyers at the E-Station we proceeded to walk around the corner to Beasley’s Pharmacy. This pharmacy is pure nostalgia, like you walked back in time. They have a soda fountain counter. You can get a hand crafted milkshake or ice cream float to name a few of the things offered. Let’s not forget that it is a pharmacy so you can fill your prescriptions there as well. And just like any other drugstore there are knickknacks you can purchase including nostalgic games like pick up sticks and my favorite jacks. Some of you may have to google those games because they are not something you play on a screen. LOL! The best thing about Beasley’s Pharmacy is that it has been family owned for 85 years. You can’t beat that.

From Beasley’s we headed to one of the newer businesses in Olde Town Conyers, Corks and Cuvee. Conyers has it’s very own wine shop. Not a package store but an actual place dedicated to wine, wine lovers and learning about wine. The space is beautiful and inviting. The owner, Regina Jackson, has crafted a place where you aren’t afraid to ask questions about all things wine. She offers daily wine flights, private tastings, wine and wine accoutrements; everything for the wine enthusiast. Check out her site here to learn about all she offers.

Teri was the hostess with the mostess and represented Conyers to the utmost.  As any fine hostess would do, she ended our night with appetizers and cocktails at Las Flores, a Mexican restaurant located in Olde Town Conyers. We had margaritas, on the rocks of course, fresh made salsa with chips, a platter of street tacos and yucca fries. We were a group of happy bloggers. Visit their website to see if they have your favorite Mexican dish here.

This tour helped me to appreciate where I now call home. I got to meet some wonderful new people while hanging out with some old friends. Memories made. So when you get an opportunity, come on out to Conyers so you can make some memories of your own.

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls

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The Chef In Pearls

Cassandra Mason is a Lifestyle Chef and Gourmet Cooking Instructor who enjoys demystifying the art of cooking for One. You can catch her live demonstrations across major social media as @TheChefInPearls.

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