Oct 19

Second annual Good Taste Gwinnett brings together food, friends and fun


By: Isabel Hughes

Published: October 19, 2018

Watching as her classmate flipped the scallops that sizzled in a pan beside her, Gwinnett Technical College Culinary Arts student Chanae Robinson turned to the audience in front of her, which was closely watching the chefs-in-training.

“We’ve placed the scallop in a hot pan with just a little oil — just enough to cover the pan,” Robinson said. “We’re going to sear it for about a minute and a half on one side to get it to that golden sear. To make sure it’s cooked correctly, you want to see that sear about a fourth of a way up that scallop and then flip it to the other side. Just kiss the pan with (the other side), because it’s already cooked and you don’t want an overcooked scallop.”

Though she is still in training, Robinson commanded the stage at the Infinite Energy Forum Thursday evening as part of the Daily Post’s Good Taste Gwinnett, an annual event that brings together area restaurants — and residents — for a night of dinner, drinks and demonstrations.

One of more than a half dozen cooking demonstrations, Gwinnett Tech’s seared scallops with butternut squash were a hit, something Robinson said is the goal of every dish she makes.

“It’s the act of (cooking) and the love you put into it that I really enjoy,” she said. “But then seeing people’s reactions to what you made is really the best. It’s almost like birthing a baby — it’s something you’ve (created). Chefs are artists, so at the end of the day, we’re looking for (feedback) because this is our final piece and we want to know, ‘what do you think about it?’”

The chefs at Thursday’s event — 15 restaurants, as well as Dark Horse Wine and Terrapin Beer Co. were featured at this year’s Good Taste Gwinnett — didn’t have to ask for feedback, though; the attendees’ approval was apparent in the long lines and repeat tasters that flocked to the restaurants’ tables.

Though “Taste of” events are not new, Gwinnett’s is unique for several reasons, said Noreen Brantner, director of events for Southern Community Newspapers Inc., the Daily Post’s parent company.

“Yes, you have to pay to get in, but it’s more than just a tasting event,” Brantner said. “It’s an evening of entertainment and other vendors besides (the restaurants) so people can shop. It’s just an event for attendees to come and enjoy the evening; whether you’ve brought your friends or you’re having a date night or you’ve got your family, it’s (enjoyable).”

New to this year’s event were beer and wine tasting options, something Brantner said were a hit.

“Last year we did liquor tastings and it wasn’t fantastic because it was hard liquor and people didn’t really like it,” she said. “This year we lined up Dark Horse Wine and Terrapin Beer and it’s been a wonderful addition. Another thing we did was focus on more variety with the foods, because last year, we kind of went to streamline places, so we pushed more taste (options) and more variety this year.”

That variety included restaurants such as Luciano’s, Uncle Jack’s Meat House, Bahama Breeze Island Grill, Senor Buddha Global Grill, Proof of the Pudding, Caribbean Fiesta, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Graft and more than a half a dozen other restaurants.

It also included chefs from all over, including James Beard Award semifinalist Eddie Hernandez, who spoke about his new cookbook, “Turnip Greens and Tortillas,” and the ease of cooking.

“(Cooking) really doesn’t require a lot of skill,” Hernandez said. “A lot of times, people are intimidated by recipes, but it can be really easy. You can do a lot of good stuff really easily; I mean, I have a recipe for muffins in (my cookbook) that you can make in seven minutes, and you can do anything with them, like add bacon or cheese. A lot of the things that you can do at home can be really good.”

The cooking demonstrations, which, in addition to the seared scallops, included shrimp cocktails, spinach tortelloni, pan seared Chilean sea bass, spoke exactly to Hernandez’s point — that good food doesn’t have to be particularly complicated.

Peter Scouris, a Peachtree Corners resident who attended Good Taste Gwinnett with his wife, said the demonstrations made the event unique.

“This is great,” Scouris said. “My wife and I did the Taste of Buckhead last month and while (Good Taste Gwinnett) is a little smaller than that one was, (Taste of Buckhead) didn’t have any demonstrations, which I think are really cool. Plus, there are so many good (Gwinnett) restaurants that I would think would want to sign on once they hear about this event — it has great (potential).”

Brantner said while she didn’t have the exact totals from Thursday’s event, this year’s Good Taste Gwinnett, which is only the Daily Post’s second annual, already surpassed last’s in pre-sale tickets.

“Coming into tonight, we had over 1,100 tickets sold, so we came into the evening knowing we were already above last year,” she said. “I’m feeling like we’re even above 1,200 and the response has been nothing but positive.”