Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Blackberry Daze Showcases the Best and Worst of the Human Heart

BANG! 

A man is shot dead. This musical is not a classic whodunnit murder mystery, but we are greeted with the mystery of who shot playboy Herman Camm (T.C. Carson). You'll soon learn that it was very likely one of three women...nightclub Blues singer, and Herman's lover, Pearl (Brittany Inge), Herman's wife Mae Lou (Naomi Lavette), or Mae Lou's daughter Carrie (Ayana Reed). 

There's no shortage of drama in this show, but there are a few laughs along the way, too. And it's overflowing with talent!

Now in its final week at Horizon Theatre, Blackberry Daze is one of the finest plays of the summer, and a Suzi Awards recommended show!


Blackberry Daze | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Greg Mooney
Blackberry Daze | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Greg Mooney

I've been a Brittany Inge (Pearl) fan for some time now, but particularly for this show. Well, that's not true...she's AMAZING in every show I've seen her in (Father Comes Home From the Wars; Significant Other)! And what a spectacular voice! She's absolutely charming in real life, too.

In Blackberry Daze, Pearl may come across as flippant and carefree, but the acting is so perfectly nuanced that you almost don't know that the character has feelings that run incredibly deep. Deep enough to commit murder, perhaps.

One of the many things that I love about Brittany is that she wholeheartedly owns whatever role she's playing. From a tipsy, laughter-loving bridesmaid to an emotionally-wrought Civil War slave to a curves-in-all-the-right-places nightclub Blues singer, Brittany always delivers a superb performance.


Blackberry Daze | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Greg Mooney
Blackberry Daze | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Greg Mooney

If your heart doesn't break while watching this performance, you're just not human. The performances are so amazing, it throttles and breaks your heart. I've been called devoid of emotion while others have seen more than their share of emotion from me. This show had me in tears. But it gifted plenty of smiles and laughs, too. 

The first question I asked Ayana Reed (Carrie) after the show was, "Broadway or Hollywood?" She's extraordinarily talented. She can take her acting career anywhere she wants!

Ayana completely and wholly immersed herself into the character of Carrie. You did not see an actress on stage performing Carrie...you saw Carrie. Ayana's range of emotion, expression and steadfast commitment to her character's persona elevates the theatre-going experience to multitude of feel-it-deep-in-your-heart emotional states.

It turns out that Brittany and Ayana have been best friends since high school, but were surprised when they learned that they would be acting together in this show! It's a small world.  


Blackberry Daze | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Greg Mooney
Blackberry Daze | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Greg Mooney

Christian Magby (Willie/Simon) gives a solid, enthusiastic performance! Especially amazing because he was the music composer for Mother of God, one of the three official selections for the 2nd Annual Atlanta Theatre Musical Festival, which was staged during the run of Blackberry Daze. That kind of energy for me seems like a distant memory, but I never had Christian's amazing talent.

Christy Clark (Ginny/Annie May/Hester) also is magnificently brilliant. Her transition from character to character is remarkably seamless, giving each a masterful, unique performance. Her characters are not in-your-face, but would leave a void, would be missed, if not in the story.


Blackberry Daze | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Greg Mooney
Blackberry Daze | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Greg Mooney

I had the great pleasure of meeting Ruth P. Watsonthe author of Blackberry Days of Summerthe book on which Blackberry Daze is based. She's also the co-playwright of the stage musical. Perhaps one day she'll be the co-screenwriter for a silver screen version. 

I'm not sure if it was at every performance, but when I went, during intermission, she was autographing copies of her book. Of course I got one and enjoyed a lovely chat with Ruth.

In an interview, Ruth said, "...Most all the characters remind me of somebody I do know from my community in Lynchburg, Virginia. Maybe somebody around the corner I knew. Maybe a lady two streets over, but it remdinds me of somebody that I ran into in my life." 

I can hardly wait to finish the book! AND it's part of a series, so there's more to this story!


Blackberry Daze | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Greg Mooney
Blackberry Daze | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Greg Mooney

If you've never seen Naomi Lavette (Mae Lou) onstage before, after seeing this show you'll never want to miss another of her shows! 

I'm not a parent, but Mae Lou's love for her daughter comes through loud and clear. The heartbreak her husband brings her (I've had more than a couple of step-fathers, so I got this part) breaks your heart. Mae Lou is a quietly complex woman, wise beyond her years.

So, who shot the that womanizing bastard Herman? I'm not one to spoil the ending, so I'll just invite you to see the show or read the book. I think you'll be grateful and delighted for either...or both!

Blackberry Daze is playing at Horizon Theatre through Sunday, August 27. This show has consistently sold out and is sold out for the remainder of the run, but if you've not seen it, I encourage your to contact the box office to ask about the waiting list. And do check out their upcoming plays!

Allow me, please, to leave you with a video trailer of Blackberry Daze... 




Thursday, August 10, 2017

Robin Hood is a Zippy, Heroic Outlaw

Ronin Hood, now playing at Serenbe Playhouse, part of their Family Series, will be showing through Saturday, August 27, an extension made only weeks into the show when it was realized that demand for this delightful, fast-paced, super-fun show was overwhelming!

Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

If you've been to a Serenbe Playhouse performance, you know to expect the unexpected, to expect the resplendent! This tale of Robin Hood has the renegade knight, and others in this 14th Century tale (with roots perhaps as far back as the 12th Century) zip-lining through The Farmer's Market Hideaway in Serenbe—for the run of this performance known a Sherwood Forest.

This show is as magnificent as the first action 3D film you ever saw! Traipsing through woodland, swashbuckling on platforms, quarterstaff dueling across bridges in the sky, engaging in sword fights, an archery competition, and zipping through the trees, Robin Hood wins the heart of Maid Marian.

Jordan Patrick (Robin Hood) is as energetic as he is handsome, as charming as he is talented. Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he shared with I and a fellow theatre-goer that he's very much enjoying his first play in the Atlanta area and excited to be a member of the 2017-2018 Apprentice Company with Serenbe Playhouse.

Casey Shuler (Maid Marian) is as splendid an actress as she is gorgeous, as as brilliant as she is a gifted thespian. A native or Louisville, Kentucky, Casey is also new to Atlanta and is excitedly a member of the 2017-2018 Apprentice Company with Serenbe Playhouse.


Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

"Robin Hood is going to be our most immersive family series to date,” says Playhouse Founder and Artistic/Executive Director Brian Clowdus. "With a set in the air, actors will be zip lining above the audience in a hidden Sherwood Forest in the most breathtaking of Serenbe landscapes."

With the assistance of a wooden crate, the towering Sheriff of Nottingham (Kenny Tran) is forceful in stating the law of the land, and the comic relief when enforcing it. He's absolutely delightful, for one wielding a sword against a hero—the one we know to steal from the rich and give to the poor!

Brady Dunn (Little John), who's not 7-feet in stature but is in charm and personality, is fantastic! The hilarious costume-change sequence with Kendra Johnson (Scarlet Will) had all the kids laughing and giggling. And Madison Welch (Captain of the Guard), who had perhaps the most 'serious' role in this production, performed brilliantly!

I highly recommend watching the acting careers of all the members of this cast...they're leaving the forest and going places! 


Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

While I've not read every story or seen every production or film of "Robin Hood", I've seen a number, and I believe this one to be an amalgamation of the original story and at least a few the films...a smart move for the modern day audience, don't you think?

In this new adaptation by Serenbe collaborator Rachel Teagle and under the direction of Broadway's Paul McGill (who was in Broadway's Spider-Man musical!), characters will "fly through Serenbe's magnificent forest on a zip line, redistributing wealth as they go!"


Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

This under-an-hour production is high-spirited, super-fun for kids and us grownups who are kids of many ages. There's a seating area up front for the little tykes. For the best viewing, arrive early and get a seat up front. Otherwise you'll see all the platform, bridge, and aerial performance just fine. And a fine performance it is! 

PERK ALERT: If you've been to a Serenbe Playhouse performance, you know that they're often more immersive than expected. The same goes for "Robin Hood"...theatre-goers have the opportunity to play games, engage in (safe) sword fights, and even have a chance to zip line themselves! How's that for awesomeness!


Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus
Robin Hood | Serenbe Playhouse | Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus

Patrick Jordan (Robin Hood), Casey Shuler (Maid Marian), and Kendra Johnson (Scarlet Will) are all members of the 2017-2018 Apprentice Company with Serenbe Playhouse. They were also cast and crew at the recent Serenbe Playhouse blockbuster "Macbeth". 

AND all six cast members of "Robin Hood" are in the highly anticipated, currently running Serenbe Playhouse show "Cabaret" starring Serenbe Playhouse Founder & Executive/Artistic Director Brian Clowdus!

Remember, Ronin Hood is playing at Serenbe Playhouse, part of their Family Series, through Saturday, August 27...you'll want to take the youngsters in your life to see it and those of us who are kids at heart will enjoy it, too! I certainly did.

Get your super-reasonably priced tickets here: TICKETS!

Serenbe Playhouse notes a few of their favorite renditions of Robin Hood in the program. Allow me this opportunity to share with you some trailers/clips of those incredibly diverse versions of Robin Hood. Enjoy...

Walt Disney's "Robin Hood" (1973)




Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights starring starring Cary Elwes.




Kermit the Frog as Robin Hood on a 1979 episode of "The Muppet Show".





Don't miss Robin Hood at Serenbe Playhouse!






Sunday, July 30, 2017

Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" - Seven Lamps

This month Nikki and I visited Seven Lamps. I'd never been, but she had been a few years ago. Located in the Shops Around Lenox, adjacent to Lenox Square, it's conveniently located in the heart of bustling Buckhead. It was an awesome dining experience!

Welcome back to our Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", a monthly series by wanderlust ATLANTA and super-popular food Instagramer atlantafoodie! Our seventh stop on this 10 restaurant tour was Seven Lamps, a restaurant I've heard of for years, but had not yet tried.

What we believe is a unique spin on 'Top 10' lists, we're not counting down, but instead we're showcasing some of Atlanta's restaurants with numbers in their names! Some we've been to before and others will be a first-time experience. We're going to make all of them FUN!


Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

We're going to start this post a little differently...we're starting with dessert

You've heard the tidbit of wisdom "Eat dessert first!" haven't you? Well, that's not what we did—although I have on numerous dining occasions—but I was so excited they had cinnamon ice cream that I felt compelled to start with that experience.

The dessert menu doesn't have so many options that it takes forever to find something you want, and it's varied enough that you'll definitely find something you like. And they offer dessert wines, dessert cocktails and even a root beer float!

The best restaurant ice cream I've ever had in my whole life was a cinnamon ice cream, so with wishes of reliving that nostalgic experience (Cinnamon ice cream is rare on menus!), I ordered the Cinnamon Ice Cream (photo above), a triple scoop on top of brown butter graham! It's topped with almond macaroons!

I was so full from our meal, but that didn't deter me from enjoying every last bite of the cinnamon ice cream. This dish elevates a simple ice cream dessert to a whole other magical experience! I'd have it again, and probably again and again. The rustic robin's egg blue bowl added to the nostalgic sensory experience. That's one of my favorite colors, too! 


Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie on Instagram
Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie

Nikki had the Eclair! They're topped with a kaffir lime mousse and white chocolate "pearls" and accompanied by blueberry, lime and basil compote

You already know that Nikki isn't a big sweets person, but she very much enjoyed this dish! She said, "It's very light and fluffy and the basil is mild and it's not too sugary." She too was stuffed, so took half of her eclair dessert home to her husband Dan, whom you met in the first of the "By the Numbers" series. 

Of Italian descent, Dan knows good food! Nikki told me later... Hesitantly, he sniffed the eclair and ... then it was gone!  He too liked it as much as Nikki had! That, my friends, tells you that this was another delicious dessert! Now I wish I'd had a bite when Nikki offered!

Whether you order dessert first or wait to savor it at the end of your meal, save room so that you can do just that...then, relax into it, get to know it, and enjoy the time you have together. Make dessert the wonderful experience these truly were! 


Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie on Instagram
Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie

We enjoyed two dishes from the Savouries menu and two from the Small Plates menu.

I enjoyed everything we had that evening, but my personal favorite was the Roasted Garlic Panisse. I love garlic, but the name didn't grab me ... at first. 

Our server Sean explained what it is—Panisse is made from chick pea powder, it has a crispy exterior and a creamy interior, similar to polenta. The accompaniments are generous dollops of black garlic and lemon aioli.  

We immediately ordered it. And upon arrival to our table, we immediately devoured it. I'll definitely have this again, if it's on the menu. If it does leave the menu, don't be surprised if you see me begging Chef Drew for the black garlic and lemon aioli recipes!

NOTE: The menu at Seven Lamps evolves, sometimes changing daily. The menus on the website might not be up-to-date, so know that going in. The good news is that whatever you order, it will be seasonal and fresh!


Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

We were dining alfresco. Inside the restaurant things were quite lively and it looked like great fun, but we opted for the lovely outside seating—where the lighting was excellent for photographs and where it's considerably quieter.

Being a number of weeks into summer, it was a warm evening, but not uncomfortable. A lighter dish was in order. Looking over the menu, the Local Lettuces Salad sounded light, but it was what's on/in the salad that locked me in. 

The butter lettuce, cherries, and vanilla granola all sounded wonderful, but it was the buttermilk vinaigrette that I was most looking forward to. I'm not a fan of plain buttermilk, but my grandmother made the best buttermilk biscuits in the world...in the world! The buttermilk vinaigrette on this salad was absolutely lovely and the lightness I was looking for!


Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie on Instagram
Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie

The Stuffed Banana Pepper was huge...HUGE, I tell you! It delivers heat on multiple levels. It comes out of the kitchen hot! And its flavor profile offers plenty of spicy hot! 

I like spicy hot dishes, as does Nikki but she evidently got a super spicy bite. It wasn't a deterrent, mind you, it just became a topic of conversation as the pepper gradually disappeared from the rustic blue plate, a dinner size plate. That pepper was HUGE! And the plates come out warm, to help keep your food warm longer. A nice touch that you don't see everywhere.

The pepper is stuffed with carolina gold rice, roasted summer peppers, corn, and asiago, then it's tempura fried. Wholly delicious!


Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The Chacuterie and the Artisan Cheeses come in 1, 3 or 5 selection options. We had one charcuterie and one cheese. The accompaniments are plentiful! On our visit, we enjoyed 420 beer mustard, pickles, pickled grapes, a pumpkin seed/pecan brittle, and grilled baguette. 

This was a fun and flavorful board...we both loved it!


Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Summer in Atlanta, sitting outside, of course we started with cold libations! Or I should say cold hand-crafted cocktails.

From their Signature Cocktails menu I had the SCARLETT GINGER (pictured above), made with vodka, lime, pomegranate, and ginger. You can tell from the ice shards that it was refreshing, and it was flavorful, too. I thought with this combination of flavors it would have to be good. It was great!

Nikki enjoyed THE IRRATIONAL (pictured below), made with Bellringer Gin, chilies, grapefruit, lime, bitters, and mint. She liked it because, "It was spicy and not too sweet." 

We both love a good martini, but we've noticed that in the craft cocktail world, there seem to be fewer too-sweet drinks out there, a very good thing from where we're sitting. I don't know if this is a new trend or one that we're just now noticing. Whichever it is, we're grateful to have a wider range of craft cocktail options! 


Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie on Instagram
Seven Lamps | "By the Numbers" | Photo: @atlantafoodie

The young lady who seated us was pleasant, but evidently didn't tell the manager and chef that we were there on a story assignment, which I shared with her upon our arrival. The good thing about that is that we received the same service, food and drinks that any other dining guest would have. And it was excellent...FIVE STARS! 

Our server Sean was fantastic! Throughout the whole of the evening, he was attentive, took time to answer all of our questions and in a fashion that was relaxed and made us feel like we were 'friends' of the restaurant, like we were valued guests. Seriously, when you go, if you get Sean's section, you're in for an awesome experience! "Thank you, Sean!" 

And a big "Thank you!" to Carl, the manager on duty that evening, with whom we shared some delightful post-dinner conversation.

Seven Lamps got its name from an extended essay (book-length) by English art critic John Ruskin titled "The Seven Lamps of Architecture", published in 1849. 

The "lamps" refer to the seven principles of architecture: Sacrifice, Truth, Power, Beauty, Life, Memory, and Obedience. Co-owner and Executive Chef Drew Van Leuvan recognized that these principles are also applicable in the kithen, thus Seven Lamps' unique name.

Much like the varied skills required of an executive chef and to produce an interesting, enticing regularly changing menu, in addition to being an art patron and the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, John Ruskin was skilled in a number of other disciplines including being a draughtsman, a watercolorist, a prominent social thinker, a theorist, and a philanthropist. He would be an excellent answer to the "If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead...?" question.

THINGS TO KNOW before going to Seven Lamps:
  • All tables are communal—a great way to meet new people!
  • Parking is free, in their shared lot in front of the restaurant.
  • If you're visiting Seven Lamps during the holidays, know that parking takes time and patience. 
  • There's a fire-pit in the outdoor dining area.
  • If you're making a reservation for 12 or more guests, please call the restaurant.
OF NOTE: Consider the Cook's Table. It seats eight, but you don't have to have a party of eight to enjoy this experience. This one also is a communal table, so if there are fewer than eight in your Cook's Table party, you'll be sitting with strangers, which could be great fun! There are 3, 5, and 8 course experiences offered and wine and cocktail menus are available for each menu. I think we'll try this next time!

Thank you to staff, service, and chefs for a wonderful dining experience at Seven Lamps! We'll be back.

Here's our planned Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", one per month in 2017:

ONE midtown kitchen
599 Dutch Valley Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30324

TWO urban licks
820 Ralph McGill Boulevard, NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Local Three Kitchen & Bar
3290 Northside Parkway, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327

Bar Margot at Four Seasons
75 14th Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

5Church Atlanta
1197 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30361

Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House
437 Memorial Drive, SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Seven Lamps
3400 Around Lenox Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30326


Eight Sushi Lounge
930 Howell Mill Road, NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Nine Mile Station
675 Ponce de Leon Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

10th & Piedmont
991 Piedmont Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

Disclaimer: If you live in Atlanta or visit on a regular basis, you know how quickly the Atlanta restaurant scene can change. Our lineup is subject to change based on the Atlanta restaurant landscape over the first 10 months of 2017. Also, all opinions are our own and not at all influenced by the restaurant owners, staff or PR firms, whether we treated ourselves or were hosted by the said restaurant.

If you're enjoying this series, please follow:

atlantafoodie on Instagram
wanderlust ATLANTA on Facebook Twitter Instagram

Thank you for coming along on what we think will be a FUN food journey over 10 months in 2017. Our selection of restaurants is a subjective choice of what we think will be an exciting new way to experience Atlanta restaurants: "By the Numbers". Please, tell your friends and family what we're doing and invite them to also come along for the taste tour!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

From Crepe Pan to 'Every Excuse to Cook'

More than two decades ago, a despondent search for a crepe pan, throughout Manhattan, ended with eventual success at the mother ship of all things kitchenware—a retail repository of every cooking utensil, pot, pan and gadget a cook or chef could dream of, and substantially more.

Today, that kindred pot-of-gold in Atlanta is The Cook's Warehouse.


Mary Moore | The Cook's Warehouse | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Mary Moore | The Cook's Warehouse | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to interview Mary Moore, founder of The Cook's Warehouse. We talked about her "Founder's Story", which I've heard regaled by others many times over the years, but lucky me—and now lucky you—got to hear the story in greater detail from Mary herself. Enjoy...

The CATALYST

In November of 1993, Mary Moore and fellow young chef Scott Peacock were to be leading a cooking demonstration at Greenmarket in Union Square in Manhattan, New York City—Mary's first visit to NYC as an adult. The plan was to make crepes with cooked apples.

They needed a crepe pan.

An exhaustive search of many stores left them empty-handed. But Scott knew of a place where they might meet with success. They went to Bridge Kitchenware, a warehouse packed to the gills with all things kitchen and cookware. 

They indeed found a crepe pan and conducted the cooking demonstration with splendid results.

Bridge Kitchenware, founded by the late-Fred Bridge in 1964, relocated outside of New York so that the second generation owners—Fred's son and his wife—could spend more time with their family. Greenmarket, founded in 1976, continues to be a staple in NYC.

Unbeknownst to others for a time, while shopping that fateful day at Bridge Kitchenware—the holy grail for New York City cooks and chefs—Mary decided, "I'm going to open a store like this in Atlanta." 

The PLAN

During a Labor Day Weekend at the beach in 1994, Mary's friends asked, "What are you going to do next?" Mary shared her idea for a cookware treasure trove of a store.

In the next six months, Mary wrote a business plan, met with numerous banks, and talked with investors. At first, the banks were a challenge... 

Then, a friend put Mary in touch with a small bank that granted her a loan, which her grandmother co-signed. With that loan and loans from three other friends (who have long since been paid back), Mary was able to see her dream come to fruition.

The BUILD

The funding for the store had been secured, but it still had to be built. 

At the time, Mary was working at Harry's Farmers Market. Her boss, Harry Blazer, was wholly supportive of Mary's dream and agreed to let Mary work only four days a week at Harry's and she spent the other three days of the week working on her dream store.

Mary had grown up on a farm between nearby Douglasville and Hiram, so she immediately connected with the organic, farm-fresh concept that Harry's was offering—a concept ahead of its time. Blazer took the company public in 1993 and in 2001 it was purchased by Whole Foods.

Mary's store was built with determination, motivation and the generous help of family and friends. Although incredibly hard work, Mary carries fond memories of her friends helping her build and paint the store walls—and so much more—and her mother bringing them lunch every day.

With a skyline view, the first location of The Cook's Warehouse opened its doors on March 14, 1995, on Amsterdam Avenue in the bustling neighborhood of Midtown, adjacent to Morningside where Mary's parents grew up. 

That first store at 2,400 square feet showcased 1,500 square feet of retail space and 900 square feet of stockroom (Yes, she's learned a few tricks about space management since then...). From the beginning, The Cook's Warehouse carried kitchen essentials, as well as luxury cookwares.

Mary's concept, unlike Bridge, included offering cooking classes. Within two or three weeks of the store opening, it hosted its first cooking class. Mary still has the one-page schedule from those first classes. Keep reading to learn just how much those classes have grown!

The MILESTONES

Continuing to create milestones, these are some of the significant ones to date:
  • 1993 - November, Mary visits NYC to cook at the Greenmarket in Union Square; can't find a crepe pan; eventually finds one at Bridge Kitchenware; decides to open a similar store in Atlanta
  • 1994 - Following Labor Day Weekend, Mary writes business plan, secures loans, finds sales reps and products, builds-out first store; family and friends help with the build-out
  • 1995 - March 14, opens first location of The Cook's Warehouse on Amsterdam Avenue in Midtown Atlanta with 1.5 employees; becomes profitable after 3 years
  • 1998 - Launched The Cook's Warehouse website
  • 2002 - April, opens the Brookhaven store
  • 2005 - Labor Day Weekend, opens the Decatur store
  • 2006 - Spring, launched e-commerce on The Cook's Warehouse website
  • 2009 - October, moved the Amsterdam Avenue store to Ansley Mall, which continues to be the flagship store
  • 2011 - September, opened the East Cobb location of The Cook's Warehouse
  • 2015 - April, closed the Brookhaven location due to poor parking, bad ingress/egress, not the right tenant mix; intent to return to the area was steadfast
  • 2017 - February, closed Decatur store due to rent and tax increases
  • 2017 - August, Peachtree Station store in Chamblee slated to open, a mere two miles from the former Brookhaven location
The Cook's Warehouse TODAY

Today, The Cook's Warehouse is a destination for locals and visitors alike.

The stores offer more cookware and accessories than ever before—more than 15,000 products—including feature brands of All-Clad, Big Green Egg, Capresso, Cuisinart, Jura, Zwilling J.A. Henckels, KitchenAid, Le Creuset, Shun, Woll, Wusthof, and others. 

They're the largest distributor of Big Green Egg grills, selling more than any other store in Atlanta! A significant perk of shopping for gourmet cookwares at The Cook's Warehouse is the offering of "test runs" before purchase.

The Cook's Warehouse operates the largest avocational cooking school in the Southeast conducting more than 800 classes yearly, often taught by local chefs. The most popular class continues to be "Knife Skills". 

Mary still owns that very same crepe pan that she purchased in Manhattan in 1993 and it's the same brand—de Buyer—that she sells in her stores today. She's made it abundantly clear to the store's inventory buyer that they're never to run out of that pan. In my personal experience, I've not known them to ever be out of anything!

The Cook's Warehouse is a partner with virtually every major cooking event and gourmet association in Atlanta. Mary is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier International - Atlanta Chapter and The Cook's Warehouse won the organization's "Global Innovator Award" 2007-2008. Mary serves on the Advisory Board for the International Housewares Association and is the Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Mary jokingly calls The Cook's Warehouse her "22 year hobby" because she loves it, but anyone who has started and sustained a business knows that it's a lot of hard work. What she has brought to the community and given back to the community, along with her enthusiasm, charm and bright disposition, has won her the hearts of every Atlantan I know who knows her.  

The NEWEST STORE

The newest location of The Cook's Warehouse is slated to open at Peachtree Station in the Atlanta neighborhood of Chamblee in early August! 

The new store will feature all the wonderful aspects that fans of The Cook's Warehouse love and look forward to, including featured brands, cookbook signings, grilling demonstrations, and their super-popular cooking classes.

Now a tradition at The Cook's Warehouse, local chef and food stylist Gloria Smiley will conduct the first cooking class at the Peachtree Station store. Gloria was the hosting chef at the first cooking class at the Ansley Mall store and the East Cobb store. Gloria is a founding member of Les Dames d'Escoffier International - Atlanta Chapter (LDEI), of which Mary is also a founding member. That first class is slated to happen very shortly after opening.

While to store will have a soft opening in the coming days, the official Grand Opening is set for late August. 

On Thursday, August 24, there will be a benefit event, with the executive chef from Wusthof as a guest of honor. The evening's proceed will benefit the Culinary Futures scholarship from LDEI.

Friday, August 25 is the Grand Opening which will be open to the public, a spectacle not to be missed. There will also be special events throughout that weekend.

Nestled in a foodie paradise, the new store is next to a Whole Foods (see how that came full circle?), multiple restaurants, and it's conveniently surrounded by several bustling neighborhoods, and it's a very short distance from Interstate-85 (*hint, hint* to those visiting from out-of-town).

Read more about the Peachtree Station store in one of my previous stories.

The CREPES!

Unbeknownst to Mary, I returned to the store in Ansley Mall after our interview to buy my own crepe pan. I've enjoyed crepes in many restaurants, but I'd never made them myself, which is surprising given how much I love to cook—I've been cooking since I could reach the stove!

I could hardly wait to use my new crepe pan! 

I turned to Julia Child—an inspiration to Mary, me, as well as many of you, I'm sure—for the crepe recipeI referenced fellow foodie, baker and travel writer Foodie Baker for her step-by-step blog post—a huge assist! And I got a few tips from my chef friend Cameron.

Inspired by Mary's "Founder's Story", I decided to make crepes with cooked apples, like she did in New York City...the catalyst for her starting The Cook's Warehouse was my inspiration to make crepes for the first time!

Making crepes was as much a learning experience as it was fun. 

A few things I gleaned in the process...

  • Do make the crepe batter with enough time to let it chill for at least two hours or overnight. I made mine the day before.
  • Do have patience! When you start cooking the crepes, much like when you're making risotto, your attention must be wholly on the crepes. 
  • Do allow some batter to be used for finessing your pan heat and the thickness of your batter. Adjust in small increments.
  • Have fun!
I love cooking from scratch and that's exactly what I did for every component!

Cooking the crepes...I worked quickly and learned quickly!

Crepes, Julia Child's recipe | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Crepes, Julia Child's recipe | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The cooked crepes! The next to last one split—I got too anxious—but the rest were perfect!

Crepes, Julia Child's recipe | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Crepes, Julia Child's recipe | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The cinnamon cooked apples were super easy! I used LOTS of cinnamon!

Cooked Apples

And candied walnuts are super-duper easy, too!

Candied Walnuts

Yes, I heard "crepes with cooked apples", but I got creative, as I often do in the kitchen.

And, voila! The finished dish... Crepes with Cooked Apples!

Crepes with cooked apples | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Crepes with cooked apples | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I do love to cook! And I get the feeling that I'll be using my new crepe pan for LOTS of different kinds of crepes. Next, I'm going savory!

The EXCUSE

A desperate search for a crepe pan in New York City led to what has become a destination in Atlanta. The Cook's Warehouse is the place to go for cooks, chefs, culinary students, cooking enthusiasts, as well as out-of-towners.

I've shared with Mary that every time I visit the store, I always find what I'm looking for AND I always find something I didn't know I needed—it's one of my favorite stores to browse and shop. 

If you're visiting Atlanta, look to The Cook's Warehouse for your wishlist kitchenwares and souvenirs for friends and family! 

It delightfully lives up to its tagline. The Cook's Warehouse will indeed give you "Every Excuse to Cook".