Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Curious Garden...Horticulture Meets Art

If you're like I was, you might not immediately know what "The Curious Garden" is about,what it represents, what its intention is. Well, intent aside, this Atlanta Botanical Garden exhibition is absolutely fantastic! 

The 11 site-specific installations were created to not only help tell the story of the Garden's plant collections and conservation efforts, it's intended to provoke discussions and questions about nature...and it does exactly that, along with mesmerizing one with bold color, clever displays, and quite a few "curious" discoveries.


"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

"dilating pupils" is my personal favorite of the 11 installations. For the first time since the the Canopy Walk opened in 2010, Garden visitors are akin to NYC tourists gazing at skyscrapers...all eyes up! And they're my favorite color, a stunning contrast to the surrounding ocean of green leaves.

The question this display begs is, "How deep and wide do the roots of these trees extend as water fuels their highest branch and leaf?" Ponder that knowing that these are some of Atlanta's oldest hardwoods.

The approximately two dozen discs and ovals in this display range in diameter from 4 feet to 15 feet...they're huge, and yet the float.


"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

"chalices" is stunning! I first thought these bright, shining cylinders were made of various colors of acrylic or some other synthetic material, but they're tubes filled with colored water! Knowing that, this installation's name makes total sense, and makes it even more exquisitely elegant.

You'll find "chalices" in the Low Elevation Orchid Display House in the Fuqua Orchid Center. Be sure to meander through the entirety of this space...the orchids and other plantings are marvels in and of themselves.


"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

"totems", a collection of approximately 40 purple columns, are interspersed throughout the Anne Cox Chambers Flower Walk that leads to the new Robinson Gazebo, which overlooks the new Skyline Garden. They're reflective of the Atlanta skyline, seen in the not-too-far distance.


"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The new Skyline Garden is mind-blowing spectacular! I've been visiting the Atlanta Botanical Garden since 1987, two years before the Conservatory opened. This transformation is absolutely remarkable. I think you'll find this garden as stunning as I do, even if you didn't see what it was before, which was great, but this is grand!

"floating fiddlehead" is an abstraction of fiddlehead ferns (which are edible) manifest as a French parterre garden, quietly floating on the Aquatic Plant Pond. This is only one of the stunning attributes of the new Skyline Garden, an area that once was an oft-missed part of the Garden today is a destination.  


"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

"flora lab" is a rainbow of glass labware and plants that speak to the Garden's conservation efforts. Did you know that the Garden is deeply involved in orchid conservation, as well as amphibian conservation? Some of the plant species are so precious and rare that they're not on display. It's quite fascinating what goes on behind the scenes. 

If you're interested in learning more, about getting involved, volunteering is a great way to do just that! I volunteered here for 4.5 years as a docent and will forever cherish the connection to the Garden that experience afforded me.

Cocktails in the Garden is back!

For the last two summers, the Garden hosted "brilliant" exhibitions including a Chihuly exhibition marking the Garden's 40th anniversary last year. They were on display nearly every evening of the week. 

I've missed Cocktail in the Garden—Atlanta's favorite garden party—especially as a member...members get to attend Cocktails in the Garden free! It's a wonderful and fun way to explore our "oasis in the city" on a more frequent basis.

Never been to Cocktails in the Garden? You're missing out! Come to one soon because I'd bet that you'll want to come again (and again) before the end of October. 

What do you get? 

You get to see "The Curious Garden" during twilight, sunset, and after dark—the displays are dramatically lit! There is live music, cash bars, and games for grown-ups! And Longleaf, the Garden's onsite restaurant open only to Garden visitors, is serving a special dinner menu during Cocktails in the Garden. Reservations are recommended.

Come out and play Thursdays 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. It's free for members!


"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

"the spirited bosk" is an installation that spans from the Fern Dell to The Great Lawn! You'll enjoy about 100 trees painted the colors of ice cream, some of them "planted" in rather surprising places.

Guest artist and designer of "The Curious Garden", Adam Schwerner is director of Disneyland Resort Horticulture & Resort Enhancement. He was previously director of the Chicago Park District's Department of Cultural and Natural Resources. As a person who spearheaded initiatives to increase the presence of art in city parks, he's an obvious natural for this year's spring/summer exhibition.

In a statement, Adam said, "All my life I have pursued my dual loves of art and horticulture. With this series of site-specific art installations and the gardens, there is a coming together of these two great pursuits."  


"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

"antebellum aerophyte" is a multifaceted display that honors the agrarian South, at a time when "nature has won the battle". Again, the eyes are drawn skyward exploring the vast collection of crystal chandeliers overtaken by plant life.Located in the Fuqua Orchid Center's lobby, spend time here exploring...and ask questions! 


"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

"sunflowers" is a field of neck-bending sunflowers planted in the Edible Garden, appropriately so. No matter what your favorite flower is, you can't deny an attention-worthy crop of sunflowers and you can't help but feel even a little joy at their sight. 

This installation is about the "sustainable South", which is awesome, but for me it's about bright, engaging color. It's about a more-than-strong connection with nature. I don't think even this year's rare total solar eclipse can dampen these bright, beautiful, sun-loving gems!


"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

"the white garden" is a transformed Levy Parterre, where the famed blue Chihuly has called home and posed for an infinite number of photographs since 2004. This garden pays homage to the famed white garden at Sissinghurst Castle in England. I'm in love with the GIANT planters used in this display! 

This installation is nearly 100 percent white-flowering plants and complimentary foliage in varying shades of green, white, gray and silver. The plants on display will be refreshed twice per month during the run of the show, a nod to the Garden's conservation efforts.


"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"The Curious Garden" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

"the mountain flows/the river sits" is another of my favorite installations. You will see an astounding collection of 1,200 painted gourds, all of them glossy red! They cover a generous portion of the rolling terrain of Storza Woods.

This installation is a nod to the art of painted gourds, common in the South. I've seen some incredibly elaborate painted gourds in my time, but I've never, ever seen so many!

There you go...a peek at this year's Atlanta Botanical Garden's must-see spring/summer exhibition. "The Curious Garden" will be on display through Sunday, October 29, 2017, including Thursday nights during Cocktails in the Garden!

You're curious now, aren't you?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" - Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House

This month Nikki and I visited the Grant Park location of Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House. We'd both been here before, and to its location West Midtown, but it was a wholly new experience dining here for our "By the Numbers" series.

Welcome back to our Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", a monthly series by wanderlust ATLANTA and super-popular food Instagramer atlantafoodie! Our sixth stop on this 10 restaurant tour was Six Feet Under, at its Grant Park location across the street from Historic Oakland Cemetery.

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!


Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

We started with house specialty cocktails, many of them cleverly themed after Historic Oakland Cemetery, across the street, and some of its "residents".

I had the Tombstone Tea, made with vodka, gin, rum, triple sec, black raspberry liquor (the ingredient that drew me to this one) and sweet and sour. Like a traditional Long Island Iced Tea, this one goes down easy, but it has a delightful sweetness. I'd totally have this again!

It was exciting to rediscover Six Feet Under. I had stuck in my mind that it was a pub that offered almost exclusively fried or deep fried foods. There's nothing wrong with that, in moderation, but I like variety.  

It turns out that Six Feet Under has quite a varied menu! Yes, there are fried foods, but they also offer raw bar options, steamed shellfish, baked dishes, awesome appetizers, salads, platters, vegetarian options, gluten-free options, and some decadent fish dishes, just to name a few! There's something for everyone! We were too full to make it to dessert, but next time...    


Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: atlantafoodie
Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: atlantafoodie

There's an extensive appetizer menu, but we were immediately drawn to the...

Sweet Mouse Toes - Baked sweet peppers wrapped in crispy bacon. Comes with a side of bacon vinaigrette. 

Spicy Rat Toes - Baked jalapenos stuffed with shrimp and wrapped in crispy bacon! Comes with a side of cooling Ranch Dressing.

Extra Spicy Dragon Toes - Baked habaneros stuffed with scallops and wrapped with crispy bacon! Comes with a side of cooling Ranch Dressing.

We ultimately opted for the Toe Jam, which is one each of the above named Toes! Delicious all around! You've never had so much fun eating toes!

Next time I'm sure I'll have a second order of the Toe Jam or maybe an extra order of the Extra Spicy Dragon Toes!

Nikki had wanted their Specialty Oysters, but they'd temporarily run out. Must have been really, really good! Those are next on her Six Feet Under list. Our server told us that her favorite is the Oysters Rockefeller


Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: atlantafoodie
Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: atlantafoodie

Nikki started with the Pushin' Up Daisies made with Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka, simple syrup, fresh basil, club soda and lime over cucumber ice cubes. Nikki said that the cucumber ice cubes made this house special cocktail a unique experience...you can't miss that fresh cucumber taste!

I don't know what it is about their veggie-infused giant ice cubes, but next time I'm going to have a libation with those...they just look like so much fun! I was definitely feeling ice cube envy!


Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I wanted an appetizer, but then found their Gumbo on the soups menu. This sausage, shrimp and chicken gumbo has an excellent flavor! I added hot sauce to mine to turn up the heat...I love dishes that are big on flavor and spicy at the same time!

The gumbo is accompanied with whole fried okra—took me back to my childhood when I loved my mother's fried okra—and a totally delicious Jalapeno Hush Puppy! Have you ever wondered why they're called hush puppies?


Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

There are mermaids EVERYWHERE! 

At first, I was like, "What's with the weird fascination with mermaids?" Then my brain kicked on. "Pub & Fish House"...you get the fish from the waters where mermaids live! I'm sure most people will not be as dense as I was on that particular feature in this restaurant. Even before I made the connection, I was already enjoying them. Having served in the U.S. Navy, of course I have an interest in sea creatures, mermaids included! 


Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: atlantafoodie
Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: atlantafoodie

Nikki enjoyed a trio of tacos as her entree...look at how wonderfully over-stuffed they are! 

Nikki "almost" couldn't finish the whole dish, but those of us who know and love her know that there's rarely a plate she can't conquer. Food waste should be criminal, right?!

Their are four tacos to choose from or you can get the Taco Combo, which is what Nikki did. She had the:

Fried Calamari Taco - made with cotija cheese, fresh spinach, cucumber, sweet onion relish, fried jalapenos and ranch dressing.

Catfish Taco - made with grilled basa, mixed cheese, jalapeno, tomatoes, cabbage and a drizzle of cucumber-wasabi sauce.

Blackened Shrimp Taco - made with fresh spinach, cucumber, sweet onion relish, mixed cheese, a drizzle of cucumber-wasabi sauce and topped with fried leeks!

All the tacos come with a side of salsa verde.


Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Nikki got a side of Whole Fried Okra with her tacos. Yum! Yum! That's not a side dish you see very often, which is a shame because these were perfectly crispy and seriously delicious! Try them with a side of Ranch Dressing to add even another layer of flavor!


Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The Southerner in me drew me directly to the Blackened Shrimp n' Grits.

Composed with cotija cheese, asparagus, red pepper, fried leeks, scallions and drizzled with a sweet n' spicy vinaigrette, this dish is generous, but disappeared much too quickly...I hope no one was watching! I loved the bounty of ingredients...every bite was different but had some of the perfected creamy grits!   

If you're visiting the South for the first time and want to try grits for the first time, these are a delicious and memorable way to enjoy that first-time experience! Many Southern cooks have their own favorite grits recipe. I make mine with lots of butter and lots of black pepper, diced jalapeno, and a generous portion of sharp cheddar cheese! Always serve hot! 


Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I know the word "Pub" is in this destination's name, but we were having great fun with the house specialty cocktails and stuck with them for our second libation. 

I had the Bobby Jones (foreground) made with Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka and Six Feet Under's homemade lemonade. If you like a boozy Arnold Palmer beverage, I think you're going to love this one! I sure did! That we were sitting within view of where the great golf legend from Atlanta was laid to rest added a certain coolness to the beverage. 

Cheers to Bobby Jones and the prestige he bought to Georgia through the game of golf!

Nikki had the Georgia Peach Martini (background). Did you know that Nikki is a Georgia Peach herself? That's right, born and raised not far from Atlanta! 

The restaurant's Georgia Peach Martini is made with Deep Eddy peach vodka, white peach puree, a splash of Sprite and a peach slice. Nikki asked for club soda instead of Sprite, to cut some of the sweetness.

If you're a beer person, they have practically everything—local and not-so-local—so we think you'll be happy there, too! And, of course, they have a wine selection. There's a libation for everyone!


Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Six Feet Under | "By the Numbers" | Photo: Travis S. Taylor


We were very impressed with the service. China was very pleasant and was the one who seated us. We weren't her table, though...turns out the servers help each other. We were impressed, especially given that they were pretty busy. 

Our server Sheriah (I hope I spelled that right!) was beyond amazing! She was very attentive, laughed with us, knows the menu like an expert...she took excellent care of us! "Thank you, Sheriah!"

There are any number of things you'll enjoy about your Six Feet Under experience, some of which might include, stunning views of the Atlanta skyline and gorgeous, serene views of Historic Oakland Cemetery; the nostalgia of the early Atlanta decor; the rooftop, dining room or sports bar dining options; as well as their delicious, varied menu. 

It's a relaxed, casual pub, but it's so much more! It's a unique experience, not to be missed.

THINGS TO KNOW before going to Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House:

  • There is free parking behind Six Feet Under, but the lot fills quickly. If parking in the neighborhood, be mindful of signs designating parking times or no parking.
  • On the rooftop dining and bar area, there are sections of it that are covered, handy for when we might have an afternoon pop-up rain shower.
  • Immediately across the street, Historic Oakland Cemetery, a beautiful example of the "rural garden" cemetery movement of the 19the Century, offers tours, events and even a lovely stroll, ideal for pre- or post-dinner excursions. 
  • Most days, Six Feet Under is open until 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m., but the kitchen closes at midnight.
OF NOTE: Check out this Atlanta Eats video about Six Feet Under to get a good feel for this casual, fun, delicious dining destination!

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
437 Memorial Drive, SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

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

8ARM
710 Ponce de Leon Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

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!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Atlanta Movie Tours' "Best of Atlanta" Tour

What was I thinking?! 

I've been on the majority of Atlanta Movie Tours tours, some of them multiple times, but I had shied away from their "Best of Atlanta" tour thinking that it would be about a lot of movies that I knew nothing of. 

I was sooooooo wrong! Best tour EVER!


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I had the awesome pleasure of having actor friend Jonathan Horne join me. Jonathan is accomplished in stage, television and film, so this was totally in his bailiwick. It was a great way to catch up, too! 

The photo above is perhaps the most photographed view of the Atlanta skyline! It's from the Jackson Street Bridge, made super-famous by a scene in Season 1 of The Walking Dead, which is filmed in Atlanta and surrounding areas. 


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

If you remember Merle being handcuffed on the roof of a building, you'll get to see that film site before you even get on the bus! 


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The film location for a number of movies, Miller's Rexall Drugs didn't add the "Run Devil Run" to its awning until after it appeared on Paul McCartney's Run Devil Run album cover. Someone made a photo years ago and did the equivalent of PhotoShopping "Run Devil Run" onto the awning. The store sells a line of "Run Devil Run" products, and so much more!

We were handed over to the store owner for a guided tour of much more than meets the eye! He's highly entertaining and super nice and you're going to learn so very much about a little store that you probably didn't even know existed. Prepare to be fascinated! 


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

"Help me!"

If you like a good horror flick, you're going to love this film site! This is in the basement of Miller's Rexall Drugs—creepy already, isn't it?—and it's one of the film sites for Rings. Creepy, creepy, creepy...yet, totally exciting at the same time!


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I had no idea that Atlanta even had a store like this...it's like something right out of the movies! Literally. 

In addition to being a film site for a number of movies, the store is also a movie-making destination for movie props of the voodoo, hoodoo and mystic arts variety.


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

You might learn something about Captain America while you're traveling the world...I mean while you're on your Atlanta Movie Tours tour.


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I once saw Captain America in front of this building...and, of course, in the movie Captain America: Civil War

We didn't see Captain America on our Best of Atlanta tour, but I do know that you may be able to book him for a custom tour! There are several "celebrity guests" you can book for a custom tour...just ask your Atlanta Movie Tours sales rep for details.


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I love, love, love the Pitch Perfect movies! Pitch Perfect 3, slated to open in December 2017, was partially filmed in Atlanta! Looking forward to seeing some familiar sites in that one! 

Most of the Atlanta Movie Tours tours have a stop along the way, to heed calls of nature, to grab a coffee and/or a snack, check your messages, respond to texts, get to know your fellow tourees, etc. On this tour our stop was at Drip, an awesome coffee shop in lovely Glenwood Park.


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The "alien rib cage" elevators at Atlanta Marriott Marquis have been used in a number of movies, for obvious reason...they're spectacular! 


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta Tour | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

One of the things that I love about going on Atlanta Move Tours tours is that you discover that you've been in or by film sites of famous movie scenes a bazillion times, but didn't realize the significance of where you were. I find those discoveries fascinating!

I don't recommend being under this glass dome during take-off. You'll have to go on the tour to find out what that means, of course, and it's totally worth it!


Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta tour | At Jackson Street Bridge
Atlanta Movie Tours | Best of Atlanta tour | At Jackson Street Bridge

Included in the price of your tour is a souvenir group photo at one of the sites along your tour. You may make all the photos you like, unless otherwise noted by your tour guide, but I can't recall a time when we couldn't, so definitely bring your camera!

I think we covered every movie ever filmed in Atlanta—it certainly felt like it—a lot of them that you've seen, but didn't realize were filmed here. This is a super-fun tour and I highly recommend it!

Our tour guide Clyde was totally awesome! He's been the tour guide on other Atlanta Movie Tours tours that I've been on and he's always fantastic. "Thank you, Clyde!

I'd also like to give a huge "Thank you!" to my Atlanta Movie Tours friends Patti, Anna, and Carrie for hosting us...it was a totally awesome and fantastic day!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"How to Use a Knife" is Top Notch!

Any way you slice it, "How to Use a Knife" is top notch entertainment! Okay, okay...but you have to admit, the title begs for cleaver, I mean clever, wordplay.

This brilliant, timely play is absolutely hilarious! It's also an exploration of the human condition. In the beginning—and for a great while—it pokes fun at some of the hilarity that happens in a typical restaurant kitchen (I know, I've been there.), then it moves on to explore mentoring, friendship, compassion, disaster and more laughs, leaving you with "Wow! That was powerful...and funny!"  

This is the final week to see "How to Use a Knife" at Horizon Theatre, the closing night performance being Sunday, June 25!


How to Use a Knife | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Britt Else
How to Use a Knife | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Britt Else

Executive Chef George (Brian Kurlander) comes in blazing! A recovering alcoholic/drug addict, this is his first job after sobering up. On the way to discovering what tragic circumstance sent him to such depths, you'll see George's influence on others' careers, his understanding and compassion, as well as his remorseless dislike of bull*hit. 

Steve (LaParee Young) transitions from a hardworking and mysterious dishwasher to a heartbroken and resolute patriot he's been for most of his life. You don't see it coming, because he hides the atrocities of his past so well, but you're going to feel it when it hits. 

Brian and LaParee are superb, accomplished actors. With an amazing supporting cast, they're the stars of this dark-comedy political-thriller that gifts bushels of laughs and so much more.

The set design and props are amazing! I was convinced that the dishwasher was a working dishwasher, but later learned that there's a "smoke" machine inside. It's one of the most convincing prop effects I've seen in ages...absolutely brilliant!


How to Use a Knife | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Britt Else
How to Use a Knife | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Britt Else

The line cooks will keep you laughing throughout your time in the kitchen, leaving your funny bone fully satisfied. 

Carlos (Tony Gurrero) is the character that had me laughing the most. Not only from what he was saying, but—and this takes great talent—from his expressions...you can read his face like a book and it's reading one joke after another and another and another. Listen to his lines as closely as you watch his expressions and give in to laughter. 

I had the pleasure of talking with Tony during the Opening Night reception after the show. He's super nice and incredibly busy! His acting experience is extensive and he has several projects coming to stage/screens very soon, including Atlanta-filmed Pitch Perfect 3. I was already impressed—and mesmerized—by his acting...and then I found out that he was in X-Men: First Class. I totally geeked-out! 

Miguel (Orlando Carbajal Rebollar) has some of the funniest lines in the show, but I didn't understand any of them! Nearly 100% of his lines are spoken in Spanish. I speak some Greek and know a little American Sign Language, but zero Spanish. Orlando's acting is so brilliant that you don't have to know the words to understand the hilarity he's spewing! 

Orlando also has, in addition to wonderful acting talent, a most remarkable operatic singing voice! This is not a musical, but the audience is treated to Orlando's singing on multiple occasions...delicious dessert for your ears! 

Restaurant Owner Michael (Brad Brinkley) is cocky, arrogant, sexist...he's one of those characters that you just hate. Of course, that tells you that Brad's acting is fantastic! 


How to Use a Knife | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Britt Else
How to Use a Knife | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Britt Else

Jack (Jeremiah Parker Hobbs) wants to be a writer, not a busboy. I've done both so I totally connected with this character. The 'waiter life' is fast and furious, sometimes not leaving much time to reflect and ponder, let alone act on planning, one's future. Jack's life is that, but he discovers inspiration along the way.

I've seen Jeremiah in a number of plays and have always enjoyed his work, but especially so in this performance. 

When I saw that Carolyn Cook, whom I've seen perform on numerous occasions, was directing this play I knew then and there that it would be magnificent, and she doesn't disappoint. 

I'm a huge Carolyn Cook fan! I've known for years that she's a marvelous actress and now I know that she's a brilliant director, which I also heard from some of the cast. I can hardly wait to see what she does next!


How to Use a Knife | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Britt Else
How to Use a Knife | Horizon Theatre | Photo: Britt Else

Kim (Cynthia D. Barker) plays an Immigration officer on an unforgiving, wholly determined hunt for a war criminal and she takes her job—and search for justice—serious! She gives us some laughs along the way, but is resolute in tracking down her murderous suspect. She also has a keen sense of style!

If "How to Use a Knife" is your first Will Snider-written play, I'm sure it won't be your last. I for one will be seeking out this multiple, prestigious award-winning playwright's work!

This one-act play is 1 hour 45 minutes with no intermission, but you're so enraptured with the story and character's lives that you barely notice the passage of time. Be sure to arrive a little early to get your concessions...I recommend one of the big-as-your-head cookies! 

If just thinking about this play is making you hungry, enjoy one of these neighborhood restaurants before or after the show. El Bandido is a personal favorite.

This restaurant is about to close! Make your reservations (get your tickets) and see "How to Use a Knife" at Horizon Theatre by this Sunday, June 25. 

NOTE: This play contains "spicy" language and is not intended for children. Equivalent to PG-14.