Farm-to-Table Eateries in ATL

We’re longing for warm outdoor shoots and green landscapes. Until we can shed the coats, I hope a look at some of the best farm-to-table restaurants in Atlanta–and the vibrant shots we took of them in much warmer weather–will help those fresh summer vegetables and patio dining feel more within reach! Our roundup includes eateries that are on a mission to improve our food and how we treat animals, and to source local, seasonal food because it simply tastes better. Eating fresher and supporting the local economy and environment while we’re at it is now downright easy in Atlanta…and we think that’s something to celebrate.

Al fresco dining at King + Duke

Al fresco dining at King + Duke

1. Kimball House

Kimball House in Decatur combines fine dining with a deep respect for fresh, seasonal, locally sourced food and the farms that provide it. The result is a daily-changing farm to table menu with unusual French panache. The owners passion for preservation and old fashioned hospitality comes through in the unique building, too: A former railroad station rehabilitated in the style of the Kimball House Hotel that once graced downtown Atlanta. The restaurant’s many accolades include being named one of Southern Living‘s Best New Restaurants last year.

2. Empire State South

At Empire State South on Peachtree, Hugh Acheson from Top Chef leads the culinary team in redefining Southern food as something much more–and much healthier–than the stereotypical fried chicken and barbecue. He believes in taking advantage of the agrarian landscape around us, and it shows in the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that draw heavily from Georgia farms and feature local yogurts and cheeses. ESS’s recipes have been printed in many national magazines and Acheson’s own veggie-centric cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen, has gotten lots of great press.

3. King + Duke 

The atmosphere at King + Duke in Buckhead is defined by a unique hearth, which also drives the menu: Locally sourced, seasonal ingredients cooked over an open fire. This direct-heat cooking is combined with sustainable, organic advocacy that extends to responsible butchering. And…Chef EJ Hodgkinson is now offering complimentary hushpuppies with housemade chili jam and aioli at the bar from 3 – 6 p.m. if you order a cocktail or glass of wine. Sweet!

4./5. Farm Burger and YEAH! BURGER 

I’ve grouped these because Farm Burger and YEAH! BURGER are among a growing number of area restaurants that are on a mission to show people you don’t need a fine dining budget to enjoy locally sourced, healthy food. They’re committed to improving fast food by sourcing from humane farmers who engage in sustainable, environmentally friendly practices (no harmful chemicals, no heavy processing). Farm Burger takes “local” seriously with all-natural buns, hormone-free cattle raised on Southeastern sweet grass and goat cheese from Georgia’s Decimal Place Farm. You can check out Farm Burger in either Dunwoody or Decatur; YEAH! BURGER has both West Midtown and ‎Virginia-Highland locations.

Thanks to the AJC for giving us the chance to learn about all of these great spots while shooting for their Living Intown magazine!

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TKE Leaders Return to Atlanta

We were thrilled that Tau Kappa Epsilon asked AEP to cover their regional leadership conference in Atlanta again this year. The TKE fraternity was started in the 1800s and has now grown to more 280 active chapters and colonies throughout North America. We love this organization because its mission and initiatives–aimed at making the world a better place–set a positive standard for fraternities. The leadership conference was a prime example of how they invest in developing leaders who will improve society.

Attendees got to choose from a big lineup of skill-building sessions, and they took the educational opportunities seriously. This year’s case study approach took concepts leaders in business are using to solve problems while applying them to the TKE experience.

One highlight of the regional banquet was keynote speaker Bob Barr, TKE’s Grand Prytanis, who originally joined the organization’s Beta-Sigma chapter at the University of South Carolina.

This year’s attendees were joined by TKE’s 2014 International Sweetheart, Heather Flynn, who represents the Xi-Omega Chapter at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. International Sweetheart nominees are chosen based on GPA, honors and awards, extracurricular activities, community service and involvement with their local TKE chapter. Each of the 59 winners to date has received a $500 academic scholarship from the TKE Educational Foundation.

Attendees enjoyed lots of networking time, including a new general session aimed to foster connection and a vendor fair.

Kudos to the TKE staff and to the team at Hyatt Regency Atlanta on a professional, well-organized event. Special thanks to Alex Baker for including us again!

Date Night Ideas — Valentine’s Day in Atlanta

It’s that time again! Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Once you’ve lined up a great date, the challenge is figuring out how to spend that special evening. It can be tough to think of something to top what you did last year, or to see beyond dinner at the usual place and a movie. That’s where I’m hoping I can lend a hand. I’m lucky as a photographer for AJC‘s Living Intown because I get to shoot many of the fun, quaint and quirky spots that make Atlanta unique. I’ve taken photographs highlighting some of the best places and sights in just about every metro neighborhood. One thing they all have in common: They’re amazing date destinations!

If you want to go the traditional route with a nice dinner for two, you don’t have to settle for boring. Check out Two Urban Licks, a warehouse turned funky restaurant with a sky high wine wall and floating chandeliers. The vibe gets sultry on Saturday nights with live blues. Or, what could be more romantic than sharing a superb meal and a breathtaking view? The Westin Sun Dial, a restaurant on top of the Westin Peachtree Plaza, actually revolves with an observatory level where you get a 360 degree view of the skyline.

Maybe a nice meal sounds great but you’d like to keep things a bit more casual. I recommend the Brick Store, a neighborhood pub in Decatur. The menu offers standard pub fare like burgers but also goes well beyond (like pan-seared rainbow trout with roasted butternut squash). Another gem is Chai Pani in Decatur, serving innovative but affordable Indian street food.  

After dinner, there are many options to take you and your date beyond the ordinary. The beauty of the Atlanta Botanical Garden is always a date magnet. At their “Valentines in the Garden” event you can stroll through tropical conservatories (orchid time!), dance to live music and enjoy cocktails and desserts from Atlanta caterers. Another option is Paris on Ponce‘s Luscious Love Valentine’s Weekend Event with vaudeville, cabaret dancing and circus entertainment. Or, if you’d rather keep things light, check out the Laughing Skull Lounge‘s show featuring comedy writer Emo Philips.

Atlanta also has plenty to offer if you want to step out of the ordinary with your sweetheart to experience some fine art, culture or history. There’s the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory, which is also having a special Valentine’s event with The Farmhouse at Serenbe. At the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead you can explore two historic homes, the huge Goizuetta Gardens and the Margaret Mitchell House (birthplace of one of the great romances of all time, Gone with the Wind). Let’s also not forget the High Museum for inspiring art and architecture, and the fabulous Fox Theatre, featuring a Pre-Valentine Weekend Celebration with Eric Benet on the 8th and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on Valentine’s Day.

If you’d like to make a full day of it, or a weekend getaway, try a treatment or two at Bliss at the new W Atlanta-Midtown before turning in at Urban Oasis B&B.

Even if these destinations don’t make it into your date night itinerary, be sure to add them to your list for 2015, as they’re some of the best Atlanta has to offer. Wishing you much love and happiness this Valentine’s season!

2014 in Review: Photo Highlights

As photographers we’re consumed by every event and wrapped up in every moment we have the good fortune of documenting for our clients. Closing the calendar on a year is a rare opportunity to take a moment to look back and relive all of the wonderful events we’ve shot and the fascinating people we’ve connected with along the way. Please join us in a review of 2014 the AEP way — in pictures, of course.

We are grateful for the incredible variety of experiences this year afforded us. We dined for a difference in support of Families First, watched special needs kids light up at the circus, and admired tired cyclists who pushed on to finish the Bike MS: Cox Atlanta Ride. Our hearts were warmed by the community-building efforts of corporate leaders like Cox Enterprises and by the good work of CHOA.

We saw people hard at work, celebrating the fruits of their dedication as well as the friendships and camaraderie that formed in the process. And we were thrilled to help celebrate and honor some of the hardest workers in our community–the public servants and military personnel who fearlessly protect us.

Our encounters with the design community, including Vern Yip, the Traditional Home team and a host of talented design bloggers, were a feast for our eyes and camera lenses.

This wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the sheer fun and excitement of photographing talented musicians like Sheryl Crow, Rascal Flatts and Darius Rucker. On more than a few occasions we had stars in our eyes–but managed not to miss the great shots.

Thank you to all of our clients for helping make 2014 a successful year for Atlanta Event Photography. And if you haven’t yet worked with us, we’d welcome the opportunity to help you capture the most meaningful moments at your organization’s events in the coming year. I’m looking forward to exploring all that 2015 has in store with our amazing, talented team–Lyndsey Wright, Jason Hales, Sara Edelstein, Brandon Andrews, Kevin Liles and Brandon Perry. Happy New Year!

Cox Conserves Heroes 2014 Winners

On November 19, we covered an uplifting event held at WSB-TV’s studios, where Channel 2’s own Jovita Moore and Craig Lucie named Bob Scott Atlanta’s 2014 Cox Conserves Hero.

The Cox Conserves Heroes program was created by Cox Enterprises in partnership with The Trust for Public Land to recognize local environmental volunteers. The program honors these heroes by making donations to the local nonprofits that matter most to them. Scott’s nonprofit of choice, South Fork Conservancy, will receive $10,000. His goal is to build an urban refuge in metro Atlanta and to encourage outdoor activity.

Joy Carter and Barry Henson were also lauded as finalists. Carter’s selected nonprofit, the Atlanta Audubon Society, will receive $2,500. Henson supports Go Outdoors USA, which will also receive a $2,500 donation from Cox Conserves Heroes.

The applause was big and genuine for Scott and the two finalists from an audience comprised of WSB-TV leaders, previous Cox Conserves Heroes and finalists, teams from local environmental nonprofits and leaders from The Trust for Public Land and Cox Enterprises. Channel 2 WSB-TV did their part by drawing public attention to the award and sharing the winners’ inspirational stories, all in the hope that viewers will realize everyone can make a difference and get involved like Bob, Joy and Barry.

The Cox Conserves Heroes program was made possible by the efforts of Cox Chairman Jim Kennedy, who launched the Cox Conserves national sustainability program in 2007. Cox Conserves focuses on reducing waste and energy consumption, as well as conserving water. The impact of the Cox Conserves Heroes program alone has been tremendous, with nearly $500,000 donated to environmental nonprofits since its inception. In addition to selecting Atlanta winners, the program has national reach and has awarded heroes in Arizona, Louisiana, San Diego, Orange County, Virginia, Santa Barbara and Western Washington.

One of the unique features of the program is that it engages and inspires the public in nominating and voting for volunteers. After the initial nominations, a panel of local environmental leaders selects finalists and videos are made about each of them and their efforts. The public then watches the videos and votes for their favorite. If you know someone who does amazing sustainability work–like park refurbishment, water conservation, public beautification, advocacy or community outreach–bookmark the Cox Conserves Heroes website (www.coxconservesheroes.com). Starting in mid-July, you can go online and nominate someone — or yourself!  

Cox’s Movember Kick-Off

One of our most memorable experiences of 2014 was covering Cox Enterprise‘s Movember kick-off event. During Movember, the month formerly known as November, men and women work together to raise awareness and funds to fight prostate cancer.

For 30 days men grow a Mo–that’s Aussie slang for moustache–and women support that growth. Mo Bros and Mo Sistas ask family and friends to donate to their efforts.

Cox’s Movember campaign kick-off was a powerful way to raise awareness in our own community and get people involved. The event attracted about 2,000 people and raised more than $2,500–an incredible level of participation that single-handedly crashed the Movember.com site!

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The massive turnout on the C-Tech lawn hints at how personal this cause is for the Cox community. Many have been touched by prostate cancer, including Jamie Kennedy’s father.

One of the coolest things about this campaign is that it combines doing good with having fun. The Cox team made it clear that wearing a ‘stache is really a blast! Lyndsey and I were thrilled to see so much support for Movember taking root at the kick-off.

Cox’s efforts are part of a movement that now spans more than 21 countries and five continents. Funds raised in the US go toward programs run by the Movember Foundation, often in partnership with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the LIVESTRONG Foundation and other organizations. Since the kick-off event we’ve learned just how incredible Cox’s contribution really was: Team Cox ultimately raised the most money in the world this year! The company matched employee contributions, donating nearly $1,600,000 to the cause.

Cox Bikes for MS

Last month we happily packed up our gear and headed for scenic Pine Mountain for our 7th year covering the Bike MS: Cox Atlanta Ride. Donations raised through the 2-day ride support the Georgia Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, whose programs, services and research make a huge difference to those fighting the devastating effects of MS.

This year’s event returned to the beautiful Callaway Gardens. Riders got to choose from three different scenic routes covering 30, 60 or 100 miles of scenic South Georgia roads.

Once the kick stands were down for the night, cyclists enjoyed great food, music, games and a massage tent. Entertainment was provided by indie rock band Iambic Underground and Grose, Worrell & Callahan.

None of this would be possible without generous corporate partners. Cox Enterprises showed their ongoing support by serving as the event’s Title sponsor. Sponsors KPMG, Coca-Cola, UPS, MS One to One, Genzyme, Callaway Blue Spring Water and Lockheed Martin were all instrumental in making this year’s ride possible as well.

We’re always honored to photograph the many amazing riders and volunteers who dedicate time and money to achieving the The National Multiple Sclerosis Society‘s vision: a world free of MS. Thank you, Tyrene Hodge, for including us again!