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Eat Peeps:

July 15, 2011

Attack of the Killer Tomato Snags Bon Appetit Food Critic Andrew Knowlton!

An exclusive Q&A with Knowlton, who headlines ATL’s third annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Fest Sunday July 17, at JCT Kitchen

By Nancy Staab

  • Portrait courtesy of Andrew Knowlton

Read on for the Bon Appétit editor, Iron Chef judge and Atlanta native’s dish on his current food obsessions, top tomato recipe and favorite local haunts.Then check out the Attack of the Killer Tomato fest, featuring dozens of Atlanta’s top chefs and mixologists, with Knowlton as a guest judge. Craving more ‘maters? There’s two other local tomato fests coming this summer for fans of this fleshy, red fruit.

Bon Appétit editor and  Atlanta native Andrew Knowlton Bon Appétit editor and Atlanta native Andrew Knowlton

Strongest Southern craving when in the Big Apple:

Hospitality and graciousness. Seriously, for better or worse, you can get most Southern food faves in New York City these days. It doesn’t mean they’re created equal, but they’re out there: pimento cheese, boiled peanuts, pickled okra, biscuits, grits, chow-chow. However, the accent of the person serving it is just a bit different than what I grew up with.

Favorite tomato recipe in honor of Attack of the Killer Tomato fest:

Tomato sandwiches. I could live off them during the summer. Warm tomatoes, good pullman bread, and Duke’s mayonnaise. Don’t overthink it. But the tomato pie with a buttermilk crust in the August issue is also killer. [Link to recipe provided below.]

Favorite Atlanta haunts:

Can I say Clermont Lounge? I haven't been in a few years but it was always fun. It usually meant you'd drank too much and ended up there! And I love Manuel's Tavern. It makes me feel like a proud Atlantan.

Food trend I am so over:

The bacon crutch that so many chefs lean on.

What's in my fridge:

Always Duke's Mayo, Texas Pete's pickled okra, pepper jelly, Gjeost (a brown cheese from Norway, where my wife is from), saucisson sec from one of America's new band of salumi-makers. Love the stuff [artisan meats] they're doing at Pine Street Market in Atlanta.

Nostalgic restaurants from my Atlanta childhood:

Szechuan Garden on Buford Highway (the building is still there but ownership has changed hands several times). Also Ristorante Torino at Buford Highway and Clairmont. The owners were Cuban-Italians (Rudy Santamaria) and served a great baked fettucine. They made a foil swan for the leftovers. I loved it as a kid. There was a place called The Bistro. It was on East Andrews and the owner/chef was Jim Brown. We always got sautéed veal chops. Others I went to lots as a kid: Georgia Grille on Peachtree, Monterey on Buford Highway, Sundown Café on Cheshire Bridge Road before they went all tacos, and Calcutta on Peachtree. I fear many of these are now out of business.

Best magazine assignment:

Each year for the September issue we name the top 10 best new spots in the country. I'm lucky enough to be charged with traveling around the U.S. to scout  new spots for this issue. There’s so much great food out there these days....and not just in NYC and San Francisco.

Rock star chef currently on my radar:

I love what Sean Brock is doing at Husk in Charleston, South Carolina, right now and Danny Bowien at Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco Also, there's a spot in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, called Travail Kitchen and Amusements that people should check out.


Click here for three of Andrew Knowlton’s Southern-inspired personal recipes:

(including his grandmother’s prize pimento cheese, his mom’s potted chicken liver paté and a top-notch tomato cheddar pie.)


 Pimento Cheese Recipe:


Chicken Liver Paté Recipe:


Tomato and Cheddar Pie Recipe


Three Local Food Fetes Devoted to Tomato Love:

Attack of The Killer Tomato Festival

When: Sunday, July17, 1-5PM

Where: JCT. Kitchen and Westside Provision District bridge

What: Over 4 dozen of Atlanta’s top chefs and mixologists will create and serve tomato-based bites and swills in a competition judged by Knowlton and other national press food critics, plus two chef-driven bands will perform.

For list of participants click here:

Cause:  The event benefits Georgia Organics

Tickets: $70 per person,


La Tavola Trattoria’s TomatoFeast

When:  July 27-Aug. 6

Where: La Tavola Trattoria

What:  Seasonally-inspired Italian dishes by executive chef Craig Richards focused on locally-grown heirloom tomatoes. The menu includes tomato and cantaloupe gazpacho with burrata and mint; ravioli filled with charred sungold tomatoes, ricotta, marjoram, smoked shrimp; and grilled skirt steak with tomato cucumber and bread salad, tomato mostarda and Parmigiana. See the full menu at:


Food 101’s Tomato Summer Crop Dinner

When:  Thursday, August 18

Where:  Food 101

What:  Chef Justin Keith will create a five-course dinner menu centered around summer ripened tomatoes.  Menu items include: the Ultimate BLT with Benton’s smoked bacon, chilled lobster, beefsteak tomato, Bibb lettuce and Duke’s mayo; pan-roasted Alaskan halibut with pickled heirloom cherry tomato and asparagus salad  and herb lemon oil; tomato tart tatin with lemon verbena cream.

Reservations:  The dinner is $45 per person including tax and gratuity. Add wine pairings for an additional $15.  For more information: 770.497.9700 and