What's Cooking

Chefs share inspiration, in and out of the kitchen

We asked a few of our favorite chefs in the area to tell us about what they will be cooking this autumn season and where they found inspiration for a favorite dish. And, since a good restaurant is about more than just a talented chef, we also asked them to share how their team and family lifted them up over these challenging months.

Chef Michaelle Tell and co-owner Alisa Tanner-Wall
Cherry Street Brewpub at Halcyon

Chef Michaelle Tell:  For me, Autumn is the time of year full of color changes and I like those Autumnal colors to show through in my food. We will be putting out a delicious braised lamb shank entrée with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and a root vegetable medley all smothered in our house demi-glace. We will also be presenting our blackened salmon entrée with a pumpkin risotto and our roasted butternut squash hummus appetizer. For most of my dishes a lot of inspiration comes from my southern Georgia roots infused with a Middle Eastern flair.

Alisa Tanner-Wall, co-owner: As hard and challenging as the last six months have been for us, I would not have been able to get through without my entire team and my brother, who is also my business partner. Our culture is a very family-driven atmosphere. If you work with us, you are considered family. We have all helped, taking care of eachother to make sure we have mentally and financially thrived in these current hardships. Our efforts are as small as having a shoulder to cry on or providing free meals for the team each day to ensure they are eating when money was getting tight. Every day, I remind myself of how blessed I am to have such a supportive team. I especially want to thank my small COVID Crew for helping us to make ends meet. The COVID Crew worked every position in the restaurant - bar tending, cleaning, dishing, cooking, prepping - so we could run with a very tight crew to stay afloat and serve the community. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our wonderful community and the Forsyth Chamber for all their efforts to support local businesses.

Dine-in with limited seating, take out/curbside, online ordering

Chef Ricardo Soto

For this season, I’m going be featuring one of my favorite fish specials, which is a barramundi with an herb-pecan crust served over a pumpkin ravioli, spiced apples with broccolini and a brown butter cream. The inspiration comes from all the delicious sweets we are used to eating during the fall: pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake, cinnamon cookies – all flavors and aromas I love (I’m the guy that always lights a pumpkin candle in the house during fall) - so it became my mission to transform those ingredients into a savory dish that can be enjoyed before digging into the pie. Also one of the things I enjoy the most is making the crust and the smell of the rosemary, which reminds me of a Christmas tree and memories from when I was a kid, knowing that Christmas was around the corner.

I believe that a chef is very comparable to a coach, a maestro or captain, where he is only as good as the team behind him and one can’t succeed without the other. These have certainly been challenging times. When you have an entire team who believes in you, it gives you confidence to face any problem that could arise. Facing a crisis that is so far out of your control and knowing you could leave your team in a vulnerable position is an awful feeling of helplessness and makes you work harder. They look up to you, and you don’t want to fail them.  I have a very strong team and we weren’t going down without a fight! We did everything in our power to maintain the kitchen, working efficiently, and we adapted quickly to different situations. I’m very fortunate to have an amazing team, that despite the long hours and many challenges, didn’t lose optimism. That’s the definition of success. 

Sugo is open Tuesday through Sunday for both dine-in and takeout with social distancing and additional safety measures in place.

Chef Josh Lee
Lake & Oak Neighborhood BBQ 
2358 Hosea L. Williams Drive Northeast, Atlanta

We’ll be serving up Brunswick Stew this autumn here at Lake & Oak Neighborhood BBQ. It’s got a Southern base with some Chicago flair from my business partner Chef Todd Richards. At home, my wife loves to make hearty chili to warm us all up. Our kids also love pumpkin seeds so expect lots of those in our oven.

My wife, Saara, is the backbone of my success. She keeps our family balanced and focused so I can support Lake & Oak while I’m here and her and our kids while at home.  Serving carry-out and limited in-person patio seating. (We included this intown restaurant since it's in our editor's backyard! The brisket is epic.)

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