Chef Jennifer Booker Dishes on Georgia's Best Food

Sep 29, 2016

“100 Plates Locals Love” is a list of the best dishes served by Georgia restaurants, as voted on by people across the state.

My colleagues over at GPB TV’s "Georgia Traveler" traveled all over Georgia trying these plates.

Since I never want to be left out, I decided to bring a few plates into the studio to taste test.

Joining me is the list’s curator Atlanta-based Chef Jennifer Booker.

Jennifer Booker: Well thank you for having me Rickey.

Rickey Bevington: I should explain to listeners that we have like, delicious smelling food splayed out in front of us. Let's just get right into the poutine from The General Muir.  Tell me what we're looking at, and we're going to prepare it as you describe this dish. And why is it so delicious?

JB: This is one of my very favorites. So from General Muir, it's a poutine, which is a Canadian dish. Hand-cut deep-fried French fries covered with chicken gravy. Then we have cheese curd, a little fresh herbs, and my very favorite part is the crispy pastrami. I'm going to even go on a limb and say it's good for you.

RB: Chicken gravy. I don't know. I'm going to take a test here. This chicken gravy is looking especially delicious. Now cheese curds: Not something you often see on a menu in the United States.

JB: Now that is true I guess, unless you're in Wisconsin - which is known for their cheese. Here in Atlanta, you usually get like a nacho cheese sauce, but the cheese curds is what makes this dish so unique. It has better flavor. It's firmer. It's cheesier, if that's a word, and it makes it delicious.

RB: And it is delicious.

Alright, well let's put that aside now and move on to pizza. Not a Southern dish. This is the Margherita pizza from Antico Pizza which is right by the Georgia Tech campus on the west side of Midtown Atlanta.

People know this place. When I got there this this morning, there was already a line out the side of the building because people love Antico Pizza, and this is their classic. Everybody pretty much knows a Margherita pizza .Why don't you explain this to us as I eat?

JB: So Margherita pizza is a traditional Italian pie. There's a very thin crust. It has a smear of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. So the pizza has to stand on its own flavor. In the case of Antico, it's a wood fired oven. So you get that nice char and a good flavor.

RB: It's more than buzz. People don't stand out on the sidewalk for more than buzz.

JB: I agree with you. I know for a fact that it's the crust is blistered where it was super hot, and it's nice and crisp and crunchy and has a nice crust so you get that yeasty bite and chewy pull. And then of course you have the cheese and the fresh basil, and it's delicious. And hopefully I can take the rest home.

RB: This basil is  powerful.

JB: And it's so simple so simple to be this delicious.

RB: OK, so finally, from Leon's Full Service we have bacon and peanut butter. It just sounds perfect. There's really nothing that needs to be said about this, right?

JB: Well it's funny we were talking about bacon right before the interview, and I said I liked the soggy bacon. So this is like in between soggy and crisp so it's nice and chewy and smoky, and it's bacon. So we have some, what did you say, crunchy peanut butter?

RB: Yeah I'm going to take a little bite here. Definitely not a smooth - that's got little chunks of peanuts here. Is this sweet and salty, or is this salty and salty?

JB: I think it's salty, sweet, creamy? You wouldn't, you wouldn't guess... I would not put these two together, although I do know people who love a PB&J with bacon and potato chips. So maybe in the same family as that?

RB: Chef Jennifer Booker, thank you for joining me!