May 31st, 2013
04:30 PM ET
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Atlanta chef Ryan Hidinger passed away in January after a year-long battle with cancer that inspired a non-profit dedicated to supporting members of Atlanta’s hospitality industry. Over the years, Eatocracy had the good fortune of spending time Ryan and Jen Hidinger through their culinary endeavors; first, in their Grant Park home for their Staplehouse supper club; and in 2013, when the Hidingers launched the Giving Kitchen, a non-profit that supports members of the culinary community who encounter unexpected financial hardship.

The Giving Kitchen will be funded in part by a brick-and-mortar restaurant slated to open in 2014.

Ryan and Jen Hidinger have welcomed hundreds of strangers into their Atlanta home, 10 people at a time, for the supper club inaugurated as Staplehouse in 2009.

With each five-course meal, the husband-wife team built a devoted and diverse fanbase while Ryan Hidinger, a chef by trade, honed his skills in the kitchen and Jen Hidinger got a crash course in restaurant management.

Four years and nearly 200 meals later, the Hidingers are one step closer to their dream of opening a restaurant. They finally have a space in Atlanta’s Old 4th Ward, just a few blocks from the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They also have a unique model that guarantees they’ll never get rich off the venture. Instead, 100% of profits from Staplehouse restaurant will go to a non-profit the couple started that supports members of the culinary community who encounter unexpected financial hardship.
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Filed under: Charity • Favorites • News • Restaurants • Underground


Rescue group brings relief in the form of barbecue
May 23rd, 2013
06:00 PM ET
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For most people, a barbecue emergency would entail running out of buns or over-charring the chicken wings. For the men and women of Operation BBQ Relief, that means it's time to drive into a disaster zone, fire up their smokers and serve hot meals to people on worst day of their lives.

There is something about barbecue that brings out the best in humankind. It's an inherently generous undertaking. No one makes just enough for a couple of plates; the time and effort just wouldn't be worth it. A giant hunk of meat - a shoulder, brisket, slab or ribs or even a whole, delicious beast - is cause for celebration and camaraderie.

It also presents a built-in invitation in the form of a smoky, meaty scent that acts as a homing beacon to your backyard. If you 'cue it up, they will come.

But after tornadoes laid waste to the town of Moore, Oklahoma, earlier this week, many residents were left without a backyard to call their own - let alone a smoker, tongs or even a plate from which to eat. That's when Operation BBQ Relief rolled in.
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Chefs with Issues: 'People hurt, we feed.'
May 22nd, 2013
11:15 AM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Allison Robicelli is the co-owner (with her husband Matt) of Robicelli's, an award-winning cupcake business in New York City, and author of the upcoming "Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes." Follow her on Twitter @robicellis.

My husband and I lost our first business in the fall of 2009. There were a billion contributing factors: a collapsing economy, a rent hike, a horrific family tragedy and a crumbling marriage that needed to be saved. Talking about it four years later seems like a trivial footnote in our story - some sort of inciting plot device that occurred offstage, scarcely remembered by the time the curtains closed. They hustled, they persevered, they became Q-list food celebrities and they all lived happily ever after.

No matter how far into the story we get, like a broken bone that never quite heals, I can still feel those initial moments of fallout as if they were yesterday: the fear of truly having lost it all; the jarring realization that in an instant, everything we had built may be gone forever and we might not not be strong enough to rebuild. I recall looking at my children and wondering how we let this happen, if we could have prevented it and how we can protect them when we couldn’t even protect ourselves.

It was worse than terror; it was a life without hope. A life I thought of ending more than once.

While we survived, I have been unable to purge the memory of what I felt in those months. The feeling rose again and turned into empathy in the days after Superstorm Sandy, and again this week watching a tornado destroy Moore, Oklahoma.
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Finding my gateway bug
May 15th, 2013
11:45 AM ET
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I ate bugs for lunch. This time it was on purpose.

By some experts' estimates, the average person inadvertently downs about one pound of insect parts a year, in foods as varied as chocolate (which can contain 60 insect components per 100 grams by law in the United States), peanut butter (30 insect parts per 100 grams) and fruit juice (up to five fruitfly eggs and one to two larvae for every 250 milliliters).

In light of the United Nations' recent plea for increased insect consumption, I decided to take the insects by the antennae and join the 2 billion people worldwide who deliberately make creepy, crawly creatures a part of their regular or special occasion diet.
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Barbecue loses a legend
May 8th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. SFA filmmaker Joe York wrote this remembrance of pitmaster Ricky Parker after attending Parker's funeral on Wednesday, May 1, in Lexington, Tennessee.

They buried Ricky Parker yesterday. A few miles down the road from the cinder block pits where he cooked whole hogs for more than half his life, from the sliding glass window where he sold sandwiches, from the creosote-stained door where he hung the “SOLD OUT” sign every afternoon to let the latecomers know not to bother, they gathered to say they were sorry, to say goodbye, to say that they didn’t know what to say.

They dressed him as he dressed himself. In blue Dickies, a tan work shirt with a pack of Swisher Sweets peeking from the breast pocket, and his burgundy and brown ball cap resting on the ledge of coffin, he went to his reward. The only thing missing was his greasy apron. I imagine it hangs on a nail somewhere back by the pits where he left it.
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Filed under: Barbecue • Barbecue Digest • Bite • Content Partner • Favorites • Meat • Rituals • Southern Foodways Alliance


The waitress, the autistic girl and the broken hamburger
March 26th, 2013
08:00 PM ET
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Last Sunday was just an average morning for Anna Kaye MacLean. Her sister, 7-year-old Arianna, had slept over at her house the night before and seemed to have woken up in a good mood - which is not always a given for a child with autism.

After determining that Arianna’s mood was stable enough for a day of fun activities outside the home, MacLean and her husband decided to take Arianna out to lunch, with a bonus visit to the Easter Bunny afterward. They decided to eat lunch at the Chili’s Bar and Grill in Midvale, Utah, where a beautiful thing happened - and went viral.
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March 22nd, 2013
08:17 PM ET
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Plenty of traditional foods pack an emotional whallop, but few of them back it up with a sensory punch as strong as horseradish's. The pungent root is a key part of a Passover Seder plate (along with salt water-dipped vegetables, a shank bone, a hard boiled egg, a sweet paste of apples and nuts called charoset, and a bitter vegetable - often lettuce) and symbolizes the harsh lives of the Israelites before they were delivered from slavery in Egypt.
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Eat This List: 5 ways to complain effectively in a restaurant
March 6th, 2013
12:00 PM ET
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This is the ninth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about. Today's contributor is the pseudonymous "Manuel T. Waiter." He's the author of the wildly popular blog Well Done Fillet, and works as a waiter at an undisclosed restaurant in Belfast, Ireland. He'll be right with you.

Complaints, eh.

Complaints are magical little moments that allow you, as a waiter, to look deep into the soul of the guest and see what makes them tick. You see beyond the well-dressed (or otherwise) exterior and deep down into their insecurities and paranoid psychosis. Or something, not that I want to over-think things. Sometimes a steak is just an overcooked piece of meat and not the start of a mental breakdown.

But quite often when a customer complains it's less about you or your restaurant's inability to sling three appetizing courses over two hours down onto a table, and more about the punter and their state of mind. Honestly some days I know they're only one overcooked tuna away from a William "D‑Fens" Foster moment.
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Bagel shop rises after Hurricane Sandy
February 22nd, 2013
01:00 PM ET
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On a cold, rainy day, people lined up around the block for supplies from a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Far Rockaway, Queens, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.

More than 100 days after Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, leaving power lines, houses, family heirlooms and human lives decimated in its wake, it's a clear sign residents are still figuring out how to cope.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the recent storm would cost New York State alone nearly $42 billion. Despite the odds, the recent reopening of small businesses, like a tiny, neighborhood bagel shop, indicates a new day is dawning.

From midtown Manhattan, the trip to Far Rockaway takes a little more than two hours. That’s because there is still no subway service past John F. Kennedy Airport. To access the Rockaways, riders have to transfer to a shuttle bus, then back onto a fare free shuttle train, which only started service in late November. It’s a couple more transfers than residents are used to, but it’s better than the lack of transportation they were saddled with for quite some time.
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