Foodies, celebrity chefs, secret ingredients flock to Taste of Atlanta

3:08 PM, Oct 6, 2012   |    comments
Volunteers come to Taste of Atlanta to provide help to everyone who attends (Photo: Holly Pennebaker, 11Alive News)
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ATLANTA -- The annual Taste of Atlanta took its 11th anniversary festival to downtown Atlanta on Saturday and Sunday, October 6, 7.

Over 90 Atlanta Metropolitan eateries set up in Tech Square to share local favorites with thousands of food lovers from Atlanta, and other areas.  Each vendor provided smaller portions, just a couple bites as samples for everyone to try.

There were also local wines and craft beers, demonstrations from local celebrity chefs, and entertainment for families. While there was plenty to do over the weekend, the food was the star of the show.

PHOTOS | 2012 Taste of Atlanta

Atlanta local Nan Fischer came to Taste of Atlanta with two friends to explore what food choices would be offered at the fest from various parts of the city.

"I wanted to see if there's anything new that I have missed around town, then I can sample it and see if I would like to go to that restaurant," Fischer said. "The restaurant owners can talk with us about their restaurant, Local Free was fun."

Many Atlanta area restaurants and food vendors have some secret ingredients that they share at Taste of Atlanta. Scott Dault moved to Atlanta from Florida in 1996. He brought his family-owned Sweetwater Growers company to the festival.

"We use a hydroponic farm, meaning that we use all water to grow herbs in greenhouses, so everything is environmentally controlled and pesticide free. That way, we can get fresh herbs around the southeast all year," Dault said.

A secret ingredient used by one local chef required some convincing for people at Taste of Atlanta to try. Host of The Sportsman Channel's "Dead Meet" Chef Scott Leysath presented his Rabbit Rattlesnake Sausage dish.

"People hear rattlesnake and they flinch," he said. "I promise everyone has had worse things in their sausage than rattlesnake."

The way Leysath sees it, people will remember the dish because of the rattlesnake he adds to it, although the dish also contains pork and jalapeno.

Other than trying some new foods, people enjoy learning of new restaurants that come out to Taste of Atlanta. Here, restaurant owners can spread word of new dining that Atlanta residents may have not yet discovered.

Buckhead Bottle Bar, according to Executive Chef Jason Ellis, has been known as a hot nightlife spot on weekends in the Buckhead community.

Ellis comes to Buckhead Bottle Bar with experience as a contestant on the seventh season of the "Hell's Kitchen" television show.

"When they brought me on, we added a dining element. We want people to know we have great food, like sea bass and lobster," Ellis said.

Along with dishes from restaurants like Buckhead Bottle Bar, people at Taste of Atlanta spent the afternoon trying food samples off all kinds with family and friends.

Atlanta native Mike Hesler appreciates the variety of food options he has within the city.

"Taste of Atlanta is the best way to see what Atlanta has to offer in one afternoon," he said. "The environment is casual and relaxed, and the day is a preview of what I'm going to eat for the next year."

Taste of Atlanta has dozens of volunteers on site to help the crowd. Dwight Hughes moved to Atlanta from New York 22 years ago, and has volunteered at the festival since it started.

"Besides the food, I enjoy providing people with a smile and information so they're happy all day."

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