Twice a year in Atlanta, the Americas Mart trade show takes place. During this time, there are seminars, classes and cooking demos. The Americas Mart people recruit top talent for these events. One such event included top Atlanta chef, Ford Fry, who owns some of the hottest restaurants in Atlanta.
Ford Fry studied at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. He worked his way up in fine dining restaurants in Florida, Colorado, California, and Georgia. In January 2007, he based himself in Atlanta and opened his first restaurant, JCT. Kitchen & Bar in Midtown’s westside.
Ford Fry was demonstrating a couple different dishes served at his restaurants around the area. The newest restaurant, King + Duke, he said, has a crab on crouton starter which he prepared for us. The second “dish” was actually a side, chef Fry’s signature mashed potatoes, available at JCT Kitchen. He actually had a huge dish of butter which he added into the mixer of mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes are especially popular during Sunday Night suppers at JCT Kitchen. During this evening, guests are served family style. May guests come for the signature fried chicken which is made until they are sold out.
Chef Ford Fry Cooking Tips:
- When cooking any root vegetable, start with cold water and then bring to a boil, adding the vegetables when the water is cold.
- With green vegetables, wait until the water is hot before adding them.
- Use salted butter for meats, unsalted for seafood
Here are some secrets that Chef Ford Fry revealed during his cooking demo in Atlanta:
So what is the secret to Ford’s fried chicken? He never uses frozen chicken. But the secret is really in the brine. Soak the chicken in a gallon water and a 1 cup of salt. Fry recommends soaking it and letting it sit overnight before you cook it.
And how do you make the crab topped crouton from King + Duke? Simple: mix up several lemons, salt to taste and EVOO with a pound of crab and serve on top of FRESH (read: not even remotely close to going stale) bread that has been toasted.
Here’s a brief overview of Ford Fry’s Atlanta restaurants:
JCT Kitchen and Bar (southern restaurant and Ford Fry’s first in Atlanta)
You could say that JCT Kitchen and Bar is Ford Fry’s flagship restaurant. The first in Atlanta, it features southern food favorites like fried chicken and shrimp and grits. But there’s also a terrific patio upstairs that has a separate menu of terrific cocktails and food. Plus, many events feature live music. Check out JCT’s bar menu and more here.
Marcel (Fancy steakhouse with a delicious burger)
Though I’ve never had dinner at Marcel, Ford Fry’s answer to a steakhouse, I imagine it is fabulous. I have, had the burger there, and I can tell you, it is outstanding. It used to only be offered at night after 10 pm, but now you can get it any day at lunch, and I highly recommend you do that, along with a boozy milkshake to wash it down.
St. Cecilia (Mediterranean / Italian fancy spot in Buckhead)
Arguably one of the most beautifully decorated restaurants in Atlanta, St. Cecilia, is that perfect special date restaurant. With a lovely wine list, small share plates and impeccable service, everyone will leave this Ford Fry restaurant happy. Insider tip: take advantage of the afternoon patio menu when available. When you do this, you’ll be able to sample a ton of inexpensive drinks and share plates, all while taking advantage of the Buckhead patio.
No. 246 (Ford Fry’s modern take on Italian)
Not to let one of the most popular cuisines slip away, Fry opened up No. 246 in Decatur. The restaurant offers incredible modern Italian cuisine for lunch, brunch and dinner. If you are celebrating a special occasion book the chef’s table. Reasonably priced, you will be entertained and satiated. Pictured above are some of the fabulous brunch options at No. 246.
Superica (upscale Mexican restaurant in Krog Street Market and in Buckhead)
Though most Ford Fry restaurants are in freestanding buildings, you will find the first Superica, a Mexican restaurant, located inside Krog Street Market, one of Atlanta’s most popular food halls. You can’t go wrong with the mole chicken (pictured above).
King + Duke (Upscale southern dining in Buckhead)
Optimist (Oyster Bar and one of the best seafood restaurants in Atlanta)
The light, beachy decor of this restaurant makes you forget we are in land locked Atlanta. From the moment it opened Ford Fry’s seafood restaurant was a hit, including being named best restaurant in the country by Esquire magazine. Service is flawless and it is a great spot for an anniversary or birthday dinner for seafood lovers. At lunch, definitely order the lobster roll!
Beetlecat (Ford Fry’s sister restaurant to the Optimist)
If it’s a trendy neighborhood, you can definitely expect a Ford Fry restaurant. And Inman Park is definitely a hot spot and dining mecca right now. Beetlecat really is two different spots. Downstairs you’ll find the more casual area for sipping on cocktails and hanging out (it feels like you are in someone’s basement). Upstairs is way more beautiful and posh. Similar to the Optimist, you’ll find delicious oysters.
The El Felix (Tex Mex restaurant located The Battery Atlanta and in Avalon Alpharetta)
Though some would argue with me, I think the El Felix brand and Superica brand are nearly one in the same. The only difference being one brand is located ITP (inside the perimeter) and the other is located OTP (outside the perimeter). Both Tex Mex style restaurants feature their owns salsas and bold Mexican decor.