Thursday, August 14, 2008

Woodfire Grill & Chef Michael Tuohy

Chef Michael Tuohy gazes at the wood fired grill before his last service at Woodfire Grill on Tuesday. Photo: Marcus Yam, AJC

Woodfire Grill has been one of my favorite restaurants to visit in Atlanta. I say that like I've been there numerous times. Actually, I've only been thrice. The first time was with Liv in the Fall of 2002. We had started dating more seriously at the time and it must have been only a few months since the restaurant had opened. She lived in the area and I had driven by Woodfire Grill and noticed the dark wood and brushed aluminum signage and smelled the wood smoke. It seemed like my kind of place. When we got there we were a few minutes early so we took a seat at the bar and ordered a couple cocktails and snacked on the Spanish almonds. I think we both had Woodford Reserve on the rocks... who was this girl that kept ordering straight bourbon? Anyway, we were eventually seated and had a great dinner. We ordered a salmon Carpaccio appetizer and split a Rocky free range chicken with steel pan greens. There was a bottle of Pinot Noir in there somewhere too. I know I had a 3 course cheese plate for dessert, but I'm not quite sure what Liv had... my memory must be fuzzy. Liv and I ate there two more times, once on New Year's Eve a year or 2 later and once with Lauren, Kevin, Dad, and Marilyn.

The reason I'm posting this is because this past Tuesday, August 12th was Chef Michael Tuohy's last night as executive chef and owner at Woodfire Grill. He is moving back to his native California to accept a position as the executive chef at The Grange restaurant inside the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento. He has been in the Atlanta area for the past 20+ years but seemingly came into his own while at Woodfire Grill. He gained attention and admiration in the Atlanta area and throughout the Southeast because he promoted and practiced using fresh, local, organic, seasonal produce and meats (aka: farm-to-table) whenever possible. I know there are countless chefs and home cooks including myself, who watched Chef Tuohy and have been inspired by his mantra and seek out these ingredients whenever possible.

Woodfire Grill will continue to live on with new owners and a new executive chef Kevin Gillespie, promoted from within, but it is sad to see Tuohy leave Atlanta. I wish I could have had one last dinner there with him at the helm, but I'm glad I got to experience his cuisine more than once while he was still here. With that said, Atlanta says goodbye. Go buy yourself a local free range chicken, fire up your charcoal grill and open a crisp bottle of sauvignon blanc to celebrate the upcoming weekend. Thanks for the great meals and memories! Good luck to Chef Tuohy.


michael tuohy said...

Great Blog! and Very touching comments, thank you.
I hope that you and Liv will come out to Sacramento for a visit after Grange at The Citizen opens.
Please let me know when you are coming. I look forward to cooking for you again soon!

Drew Kleinhans said...

Thanks for commenting Michael - it's nice to know that you read my post!