Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

Blogger’s Brunch at Park 75

Written by Patti on May 24th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

This weekend I had the distinct honor of being invited to the first ever Blogger’s Brunch at Park 75, inside the incredibly glamorous Four Seasons Hotel, hosted by Marsha Middleton and Abby Moreland of M-Squared Public Relations.

Atlanta's Four Seasons Hotel

It has been quite awhile since I had last visited this famous hotel and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But what I found inside far surpassed my wildest expectations.

Once inside, the first thing I noticed was the stunning flower arrangement on the first landing.  Looking like it came directly from Alice In Wonderland, I was awestruck.  Of course, I photographed it, but the picture doesn’t come close to capturing the feeling I had upon seeing it.

An Explosion of Whimsical Spring Flora

Eric and I arrived promptly at 11 a.m., as the invitation stated and were ushered upstairs to the bar where we saw some familiar faces and met some new friends. We spent a good amount of time visiting with Pedro Soto from Foodie Atlanta, said hello to friends Broderick Smylie from Savory Exposure, Chris from Mele Cotte, Tami from Talking With Tami (Happy Birthday, Girl!), Shameeka Shy Ayers of The Broke Socialite and Marian Anderson from Haute Travels. When everyone was gathered, Marsha and Abby escorted us to the roof.  Chef Robert Gerstenecker and Sous Chef Bryan Beneke have installed an entire garden overlooking the skyline of Atlanta. Tres Chic!  There was every type of herb, along with hydroponically grown lettuces, which Sous Chef Bryan snipped for our brunch while Chef Robert discussed the garden, as we sipped passed mimosas.

Fragrant Lavender Set Against The Atlanta Skyline - So Unlikely!

There's Always Time For Thyme!

Chef Robert Gerstenecker Explains The Garden

While Sous Chef Bryan Beneke Snips Lettuces for Our Brunch

I loved that the chefs have carved out their own garden on the roof – now that’s what I call sustainable. But wait – there’s more.  What about dessert? You can’t grow dessert, of course, but you can keep bees for honey. This roof was a veritable garden of eden filled with earthly delights. And Chef Robert was there to show it all to us. He offered to let us pick up the boxes full of honey and bees, but I declined. I know they must have been heavy, as the bees are expected to produce over 150 pounds of honey by early Autumn. I was enthralled.

Chef Robert and His Bevy of Bees

And The Beekeeper's Hat We Insisted He Try On For Us - Chef Was A Very Good Sport!

Chris and Shameeka Tweet About The Bees From A Distance

While I would have been thrilled if that was all we were able to experience, there was so much more in store for us bloggers.  After enjoying Chef Robert’s passionate dissertation about his beloved bees, we headed to the restaurant to enjoy brunch.  And boy, did we enjoy ourselves!  Not only was a special menu formulated for this particular event, there were two huge screens set up so those who chose to twitter and facebook during the brunch could do so and read each other’s tweets and posts. I prefer to just enjoy the food and the company and then write about the experience later, but this is a new millenium, Darlings. Call me old fashioned, that’s cool.

The food? The cuisine enchanted me. Before the first course was served, bloody marys were offered.  They were precious, poured into mini mason jars, garnished with a pickled okra, Benton’s Bacon (a foodie favorite) and perfectly spiced.  I also loved the little cocktail spears with the Four Season logo – the details matter, y’all.

The Menu Especially Formulated for Me! Well, and The Other Lovely Bloggers, Too.

Fresh Butter With Even Fresher Honey Atop

The Four Seasons Bloody Mary

The table was set with silver woven placemats and more of those fantastic flowers. Each table was graced with homemade banana bread, homemade pickles and homemade pickled okra.  The best pickles I have ever eaten, truly.

This preamble was just a tease for what was to come.  First up, a plate of both Athens Benedict (heirloom tomato, sprouts, avocado, with herb hollandaise topping the perfectly poached egg), and Chicken & Waffle (roof top honey glazed southern fried chicken atop a crispy and cakey waffle).  I really appreciated that chef created this combo so both dishes didn’t contain bread. I had never had such a fresh, healthy interpretation of eggs benedict and can’t wait to have it again. The chicken and waffle was pure indulgence and again, I can’t wait to try it again.

My Handsome Eric

Athens Benedict Partnered With Chicken & Waffle

One would think that brunch would be finished at this point, but no, that was not the case. We are food bloggers, y’all, with nearly insatiable appetites for the next course and always hungry for more information. And with that in mind, may I present the next course? A just-right size portion of three tasty gifts from Chef Robert. Wood Grilled Waygu Skirt Steak (cooked on their pecan-fired wood burning stove at 800F) paired with the ridiculously tasty blue cheese potato salad (which converted me to official blue cheese lover).  Sharing the plate was the Tempura Squash Blossom stuffed with Split Creek Goat Cheese and deep fried (I could have eaten a dozen of these). One pristinely seared scallop served over spring vegetable risotto rounded out the dish.

The Main Attraction

By now, we were giddy and full. Almost.  Gosh, could there actually be more? After the plates were cleared and everyone was smiling, gorgeous Marsha Middleton, of M-Squared asked us all to check the back of our menus. Those with a special sticker were the very happy recipients of either a dinner at Park 75, a night at the Chef’s Table or a night’s stay at the Four Seasons. Lovely Vernetta, sitting right next to me won the Chef’s Table prize. Lucky lady!

Time to go home? Oh no you don’t. No yet. There’s dessert waiting – In The Kitchen! For the food obsessed, this is like winning the golden ticket to visit Willie Wonka’s factory. There is nothing like the privilege of visiting the kitchen. The kitchen was set up with a table laden with fresh baked glazed yeast donuts, boston cream mini donuts, cinnamon donut holes and a sorbet bar touting house made strawberry, mango and lemon sorbets topping darling little cones. The staff was sincerely gracious in letting this mob of camera-toting foodies descend in the middle of their workspace. We were let loose and were able to explore every nook and cranny, my favorite corner being that pecan wood fired stove that sears the meat.

The Most Gracious Line Chef, Watching the Action

Scrumptious Sorbets, All Iced Down and Ready For Service

Donut Heaven!

Foodie Bliss - The Chef's Table

Sous Chef Bryan Beneke Was So Kind To Show Eric & Me The Wood Burning Stove

As for that Chef’s Table – it is in my future. But alack and alas, after the charming Robert Graney, Jr., Director of Food & Beverage, checked for a Memorial Day weekend opening, we learned it was sold out. But that’s okay, we will make a reservation for another weekend. At $150 per person with wine pairings, I believe this to be the city’s best kept secret. Golly, I just let the cat out of the bag. But as you all are my darlings, I think I can share with you.

Chris and I Enjoy The Festivities

Broderick's Wicked Smile Sums Up The Entire Day - Delicious Decadence

Sweet Marian and I Pose Together

Marian, Pia,Tami and I Pause for A Hug and A Photo

All Excited To Meet The Man of the Hour - The Incredibly Talented Chef Robert Gerstenecker

Many thanks to Marsha and Abby of M-Squared, Robert Graney, Jr., Chef Robert Gerstenecker and Sous Chef Bryan Beneke. You all treated us like nobility and I had the most wonderful time. And really, I have got to find a date to snag the Chef’s Table.

xoxo, Patti


9 Comments so far ↓

  1. Wendy says:

    Looks like a great event, bummed to have missed it!

  2. Was this not one of the best times ever? The Four Seasons and MSquaredPR REALLY made this special. So good to you and the pictures are GORGEOUS (*kicking myself because I REALLY need to invest in a great camera*).

  3. Y-U-M! Strangely, I’ve been waiting eggs benedict lately! Everything looked scrumptious!

  4. Chris says:

    What an awesome day! It was so great to see you again, and to meet Eric!! Are you going to do a Chef’s Table?


  5. Pedro says:

    We certainly partied like rockstars!

    Btw, love the pic of the chef with the beekeeper’s hat!

  6. tammie reed says:

    What a tasty experience, nice to see yah!

  7. lucy says:

    i didn’t make it across the room to say ‘hi’ but i’ll do that here. Great blog!

  8. Patti says:

    Thanks, Lucy!

  9. Emily says:

    Y-U-M! Strangely, I’ve been waiting eggs benedict lately! Everything looked scrumptious!