Saturday, March 24, 2012

Kitchen, Chef and Food!

We have spent countless hours redoing the kitchen floors. We ripped up all of the old many layers of linoleum, built completely new floor joists, poured concrete footers, put up new siding and interior walls and finally was able to put in the new FRP for the very clean, white walls now! We will have a spic and span kitchen where Blake and I feel confident that our guests will be proud to see how and where we cook and prepare. The last element to be put in, which is going in this week, is the epoxy flooring, for a durable, washable, impermeable surface that will work great for us.
Speaking of the kitchen....I have found my amazing counterpart to help in the actual creativity, management and most importantly, in cooking and preparing all the foods and pairings....BLAKE HARGRODER! He will be graft's executive chef. He comes from several well known Atlanta restaurant kitchens, and has worked with such names as Richard Blais, Scott Serpas and Kevin Gillespie. He is passionate about culinary excellence and truly believes, like Seth and I, that we are to be good stewards of the earth. Therefore, it makes most sense to eat fresh, seasonally and beautifully. We will insure you that the foods prepared will come from the most reliable and most local, as best we can get close to home, sources. I have been creating many vendor and farmer relationships over the last several months to make sure that we as a team will be able to deliver the most fresh foods, and WE WILL! It has been so fun to actually meet the farmers and see the facilities where we will be purchasing our fresh seafood, fish, meats, vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, grains, etc. It's so important to me that I know the standards and beliefs behind all the companies that I am working with in order to confirm that we truly are giving you the best foods.
For example, Mr. Steve Whitmire, owner of
Brasstown Beef in North Georgia, raises awesome
grass-fed cattle. He humanely rotates his heifers in different pastures and even uses ultrasound on the cows to look at the size and quality of the rib-eye in the cow before any heifer is considered ready. He is a great man and runs a brilliant operation.
These are the kind of people who I believe in their philosophy and want to support, and their products are truly delicious!
The other day Blake and I went to one of our local fish vendors where we toured their facility and saw the fresh fish in tanks that were flown in that day from South Carolina, the Gulf, and other nearby areas. I had asked them to fillet some of their just-in seasonal porgy for us to cook later. I know porgy is extremely sustainable and is a great mild, flaky fish; and it is! While we were working at graft the other day, we were hand delivered "gourmet to-go" lunch from our wonderful chef! Blake sauteed the porgy and served it over a reduced lobster stock with a concasse of red and yellow tomatoes, black trumpet mushrooms, fresh spring peas with a little watercress drizzled with fresh lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt to top. Is your mouth open yet? OH....also, he made a light blood orange-shallot vinaigrette to serve over a local hydroponically grown red oak lettuce (farmer is from Hartwell) salad with creamy blue cheese chunks, fresh bacon bits and toasted walnuts. Now are you getting a sense of what you will soon be able to enjoy and dine over? We want your experience at graft to test your palate of what simple, fresh, seasonal foods should actually taste like, including giving you an opportunity to always try a new variety of wine that may lend you to find your new favorite!

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