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Last Saturday was The New Q, “the First Annual BBQ to celebrate local chefs, heritage breeds, sustainable farms and to raise money for the Atlanta Community Food Bank“. The event was sponsored by Heritage Foods USA and Slow Food Atlanta. Heritage Foods USA is one of our favorite food companies because they provide markets for small, sustainable growers of heritage breeds of meat. Of course we are supporters of Slow Food USA as well, having finally become members.
When we arrived at New Q, the crowd was already buzzing and the air was fragrant with hickory smoke. At the gate we were given five “barbecue bucks” each. We grumbled about five each not being much. An hour or so later, we were stuffed and still holding on to three of our original ten tickets. (Not to worry, we put those last three tickets to good Q use.)
I’m not sure which was better, the emphasis on sustainable, humanely-raised meat, or the opportunity to see so many talented chefs at work. Every station seemed to be saying, “hey, did you ever think to do it this way?” Watching the chefs sneak away from their own stations long enough to try samples from other chefs only reinforced this feeling.
In the Heritage Foods USA newsletter, Chef Ron Eyester of Food 101 said, “bringing together unlikely ingredients is a big part of New School barbecuing.” His beef ribs braised in Coca-Cola and balsamic vinegar were the most interesting preparation we saw, and they were also one of our favorite items. The ribs he used were from Sequatchie Cove Farm near Chattanooga.
Chef David Larkworthy of 5 Seasons Brewery prepared whole Ossabaw hog served in a crepe with scallions and your choice of three barbecue sauces. The Ossabaw hog also came from Sequatchie Cove Farm. Crepe aside, this was the best straightforward barbecue. The meat was tender and so flavorful from a nice slow smoke. We tried the chipotle and the spicy orange sauces. We skipped the carrot sauce. Barbecue on a crepe had tilted our world view quite enough for one day.
Chef Robert Gerstenecker of Park 75 at the Four Seasons Atlanta Hotel put on the biggest spread. There were tasty little chili dogs made with ground chuck from White Oak Pastures. There were mini-cobblers of strawberry and peach. Best of all, though, were heritage Berkshire pulled pork sandwiches on sweet potato brioche. The pork was from Newman Farm which is just up the road in Myrtle, Missouri. If a fancy place like the Four Seasons can make that good a sandwich using Mark Newman’s pork, I can’t wait to see what my father-in-law, Grandaddy Squirrel, can do with it in the backyard.
Finally, another idea that I would never have thought of came from Chef Delia Champion of Flying Biscuit. Her admittedly “way-out-there” dish was Good Shepherd Ranch heritage turkey barbecued in root beer and set on a flying biscuit. The turkey turned out tender and juicy, and the sauce had a nice hint of sweetness without being cloying. I’m glad I got to try it at New Q. I don’t know that I would have the nerve to try making that at home.
We tried some other excellent dishes as well, but if I took the time to list them all, I would still be going when the second New Q got here. Not only did we get great food. We met some great folks as well.
We noticed one of the chefs was wearing a cap from City Grocery. We struck up a conversation with him. First we learned that he had gotten the cap from his friend, Chef John Currence of Oxford, Mississippi. Next we learned that we were chatting with none other than Litton Hopkins, Iron Chef competitor (He was robbed.) and executive chef of Atlanta’s best restaurant, Restaurant Eugene.
Talking about Oxford led us to talk about the Southern Foodways Alliance. In addition to Slow Food Atlanta, Chef Hopkins supports the SFA as well. He cooked at last year’s symposium in Oxford. He is very proud of the work of both Slow Food and the SFA.
Talking about the SFA, Chef Hopkins said, “It’s like a revival. It has that kind of feeling. There are no pretensions. It’s just about the food. It’s about bringing people to the table. Just like here.”
One person putting food on the table is Mark Newman of Newman Farm in Myrtle, Missouri.
We worried about how many people would show up for this, but this is great. We have worked for years to find this niche market. The foodie market started on the east coast and the west coast, mainly the west. Now in Kansas City you have a buy local movement. You see “buy Missouri products” everywhere.
I can’t wait to bring some of those Missouri products home. I can’t wait for the next New Q.