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Food - The inside scoop

Five high-profile chefs give us the skinny on their forthcoming Ponce City Market eateries

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LINTON HOPKINS

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James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Linton Hopkins (Restaurant Eugene, Holeman and Finch Public House, H&F Burger, The Café at Linton's) has helped define Atlanta's thriving restaurant scene since opening Restaurant Eugene more than 10 years ago. His famed double-patty burgers have been named among the best in the city, leading to the addition of three H&F Burger locations throughout Turner Field and another slated for Ponce City Market. In addition to bringing H&F Burger to PCM, the mogul will also introduce his new fried chicken stand, Hop's Chicken. We're pretty familiar with the H&F Burger concept, so we asked Hopkins to give us the skinny on this fried chicken business.

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How did Hop's Chicken come to be?

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Hop's came about while thinking of a bread concept. We thought let's have a little fried chicken place. Gina came up with the name. ... When I first heard about PCM, I thought, 'This is going to be great!' I had to go to City Hall to get my liquor license for Holeman and Finch. I just think it is so important that we didn't tear it down. When Jamestown asked me about being included, my initial reaction was, 'Sounds great.' It was perfect timing. I love what they did at Chelsea Market. The whole aggregate building ... I just wanted to be a part of it.

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You seem very enthusiastic about being at Ponce City Market.

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I really believe in being an active part of making Atlanta great. PCM recaptures an identity. The building is an Atlanta landmark now. I love being a part of a big aggregate ... building a collaborative space together. And I love that these food icons involved (Sean Brock, Anne Quatrano) don't want to chef it up too much.

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You have strong roots in this city.

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The first Hopkins in Atlanta came right after the Civil War. Peachtree Road was a dirt road when my grandfather was a boy. I have always felt a sense of responsibility to make Atlanta better. Atlanta is just a great city. I consider myself one of Martin Luther King's children. If we are not going to take care of our city, who is?

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What kind of grub can we expect from Hop's Chicken?

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It's pure fun. Baked fresh biscuits on site, breaded white meat for sandwiches on H&F bread, chicken by the piece, buckets of fried chicken, classic country-style mac and cheese, champagne, Arnold Palmers. The retail side will have our ketchup, mustard, pickles, buns, and maybe biscuit mix.

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At this point, Ponce City Market has been delayed numerous times. What is your opening timeline?

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We are gunning for August. The only sort of setback was to be expected — Jamestown realizing the size of the project. They have been making sure they were ready before we were ready with the things most don't think of: trash, exhaust, recycling, composting ... I am glad they gave us time. You only get to open once.



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SEAN BROCK

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Virginia native Sean Brock (Husk, McCrady's, Minero) hit the ground running after culinary school, quickly becoming executive chef at Charleston's McCrady's before opening two more restaurants: Husk and Minero. Brock's newest concept, Minero, highlights Mexican dishes in the form of street-style foods. The Ponce City Market location, only the second Minero and Brock's first Atlanta venture, will have a retail component as well. We recently caught up with the James Beard Award winner to chat about the eatery and why he chose Atlanta.

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What inspired you to open Minero in Charleston?

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I am a very obsessive person who gets addicted easily. When we moved Husk to Nashville I found a row of taco places. I have been dreaming of them, craving them. I couldn't get my fix at home.

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Can we expect your trademark heirloom ingredients at Minero ATL?

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Absolutely. We will continue to use the corn we use (Anson Mills, Geechie Boy Mill, and Macienda) but with everything else, expect as much local as possible. The menu will have its own personality using ingredients found locally.

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How do you come up with new dishes?

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I have always had a theory I call the "pie theory." I need intense forms of discipline and structure. Products inspire ideas. Ideas create the plate. My job is to create execution. P-I-E.

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Describe Minero's menu.

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We made those dishes over and over. A lot of hard work and thought went into it. Learning to make tortillas was one of the hardest things I have ever learned. Eventually we will let the space talk ... allow it to become its own thing. The cool thing about Mexican food is energy. It will have a lot of this.

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Cool. What inspired you to open a joint in Atlanta?

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David Howard, our managing partner, lives here. We have always had our eye on Atlanta. It makes sense for us. I am really excited to have a new town.

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Why'd you pick Ponce City Market?

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No way I wouldn't be a part of it. With the restoration of this amazing building, it is getting the respect it deserves. Atlanta gets a central place with so many options. When I am in San Francisco the Ferry Building is my first stop. When I am in New York, I love going to Chelsea Market. It's a Disneyland of exploration and discovery.

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Opening timeline?

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A touch earlier than fall. Our corn grinder is already in Atlanta.



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HECTOR SANTIAGO

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Fans have been missing chef Hector Santiago's inventive, Latin American-inspired food since his well-remembered Pura Vida, Super Pan, and El Burro Pollo shuttered three years ago. In recent months, Santiago has teased us with various pop-ups and farmers market appearances. Now, he is gearing up to resurrect his much-missed sandwich shop El Super Pan at Ponce City Market. We caught up with the lively chef ahead of the revival:

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Let's talk inspiration.

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I wanted to bring back ... Super Pan and PCM is the perfect spot to do that with its old urban looks and city feel. The inspiration for El Super Pan is a cross between the bodegas of New York, Chicago, and Miami and the Spanish bakeries of San Juan and the Spanish Caribbean.

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Are you a fan of food halls in general?

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Yes, I've always been a big fan of mercados del pueblo (village markets) since my youth in Puerto Rico. That is where we bought groceries and stopped in the food stands for a bite or two. They are my favorite way to experience a city every time I travel.

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Tell us something we may not know about Super Pan.

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The original Super Pan was a sit-com super hero in a comedy show called "El Barrio Cuatro Calles" in Puerto Rico when I was growing up.

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What can we expect from the menu at Super Pan? Will it include any Pura Vida signatures such as the Apio, Apio, Apio celery ceviche?

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El Super Pan will have a core menu of sandwiches all day and will be complemented by a small seasonal Menu del Dia in the later hours of the day. From time to time I plan to have items from Pura Vida making cameos. Apio, Apio, Apio will definitely make it in.

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How do you come up with new dishes?

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For El Super Pan we start with the pan bread. Me and El Super Pan chef and baker Pedro Matos start by recreating ... old Latino bakery classics and playing with them. Then we start filling them with goodness. Some of our sandwiches are classics through our lens, others have taken on a life of their own like our steamed coconut buns. Sometimes it may start from the inside out but always keeping the pan in the forefront of what we do. FYI not every item is pan-based. We will have a "Chicagorican" classic El Jibarito where fried tostones are substituted for the pan as a gluten free option.

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Why go with PCM instead of a stand-alone restaurant?

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I have enjoyed both Chelsea Market in New York City and San Francisco's Embarcadero. The energy they bring together by creating a space where people can work, purchase goods, eat, and drink in one space brings that high energy city feel that I crave.

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Have there been setbacks during this process?

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The only setback has been the scope of the Ponce City Market project. It's huge in there so something is always bound to happen, but it will be soon ... coming fall 2015!



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ANNE QUATRANO

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Chef and restaurateur Anne Quatrano (Bacchanalia, Floataway Café, Star Provisions, Little Bacch) is one of the founders of Atlanta's local food movement, advocating farm-to-table practices in her restaurants for nearly two decades. The James Beard Award winner plans to wade into more casual waters with her forthcoming Ponce City Market eatery W.H. (aka Dub's) Fish Camp, overseen by chef Daniel Chance. Quatrano filled us in on what Atlanta diners can expect from Dub's:

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What's the story behind the name?

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W.H. Stiles was my great, great, great, great grandfather and we currently live on the property he procured in 1840.

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Why Ponce City Market?

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I always look forward to the tasteful re-use/re-build of historic buildings. I respect how Jamestown curates tenants and look forward to being neighbors with so many of our esteemed culinary colleagues.

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Describe the menu.

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Casual, fresh seafood prepared hopefully quickly and definitely deliciously. ... The space will be clean, comforting, nostalgic, but very current.

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How do you craft a new dish? Will Chef Chance have a lot of menu input?

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We look at fresh flavors and interesting combinations, Daniel Chance has been with us for a while, we have very compatible palates and, yes, he will have a lot of input.

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Tell us something really neat about Dub's.

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We will make our own interesting sodas.

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Have you checked out other food halls as research?

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Yes, our fast casual fish camp is somewhat liberating as part of a food hall. We are not obliged to serve burgers or grilled chicken or tacos – all of that will be available next door. We can concentrate our menu around fresh seafood.



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HUGH ACHESON

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Chef/restaurateur/TV personality Hugh Acheson (Empire State South, Five and Ten, The National, The Florence, Spiller Park) has tackled many of the world's cuisines at his numerous restaurants — Southern, Mediterranean, Italian, and Mexican. The James Beard Award winner goes where he hasn't before with Spiller Park Coffee at PCM's Central Food Hall. Acheson shared a few words about the new concept.

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"Spiller Park is a coffee shop. Just a coffee shop, but one done right. It is an extension of the work we have put into Empire State South's coffee program and is a way to grow that wonderful community that we call our friends. With some really stellar, yet simple, vittles, and superbly baked doughnuts from Sublime supporting the curated coffee program by the super-caffeinated Dale Donchey, we feel like we will be an all-day hangout for people who appreciate a well-pulled shot of espresso or a perfectly brewed iced tea. Suffice to say we are pretty psyched to be in Ponce City Market and just wowed by the neighbors in the project, like Sean Brock, Hector Santiago, Ann Quatrano, Hannah Chung, Linton Hopkins, Guy Wong, and Meherwan Irani. Ponce City Market is a game changer for urban Atlanta."



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