One of the best parts of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for me was attending the “Pork Awesomeness” class taught by the talented and hilarious Chef Kevin Gillespie. Cookbook author, owner of Atlanta’s provocative Gunshow restaurant, and a finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef, Gillespie could not be more personable or down-to-earth.
During his class, he taught us all how to make his version of a dish called “Bacon Explosion.” Basically, it involves homemade sausage, fried bacon pieces, shredded cheese and charred jalapenos all wrapped into a giant latticework of bacon, smothered in barbecue sauce and smoked. I’ll admit I was skeptical to try this much pork at once, but the Bacon Explosion was nothing short of divine. So much so that revered Atlanta food writer, Christiane Lauterbach, said it reminded her of a fine French galantine and told me it was one of the best things she had tasted at the festival. High praise indeed!
Kevin served up his masterpiece to us sliced and sandwiched in between a buttered biscuit (where all self-respecting pork should end up). My photo of it doesn’t really do it justice, but the one below it, from Kevin’s cookbook, “Pure Pork Awesomeness,” displays its true beauty and splendor. (The full recipe can also be found in the book.)
If this wasn’t enough, Kevin also entertained us relentlessly during the class with tons of useful advice on cooking pork, as well as a deluge of one-liners that had me cracking up the entire time. My favorite comment of his was, “I love spicy food, although my butt doesn’t like it.” Not sure if Kevin wanted the whole world to know that, but it’s too funny to keep to myself.
Kevin also answered questions from the audience about his two restaurants. He shed more light on soon-to-open Revival in Decatur, Georgia, saying that it will be different from his flagship, dim sum style restaurant, Gunshow, in that it will be more “proper Southern cooking.” He also talked about some of the more outrageous dishes he has served on the ever-changing menu at Gunshow, including a dish called “Breakfast in the Everglades,” featuring alligator sausage, as well as the “Closed-on-Sunday Chicken Sandwich,” which is a riff on the Chick fil A menu staple.
As the smell of bacon wafted through the air and I sat there talking to Kevin Gillespie and Christiane Lauterbach, I could not get over how lucky I was to be there. The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival did a great job with these intimate classes, making festival guests feel more like food industry insiders versus just spectators.
After dropping much knowledge, delicious food and stand-up quality humor on us for an hour, Kevin was nice enough to also do a book signing right after his class. He took time to chat one-on-one with everyone who got their book signed, and also let me get this sweet pic with him.
If you plan to attend the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival next year, I highly recommend that you participate in a class to get the true festival experience. And if you ever get the chance to meet Chef Kevin Gillespie, definitely take it!Tags: Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Atlanta Restaurants, Bacon Explosion, Gunshow, Kevin Gillespie, Pork Awesomeness, Top Chef