Dinner with Two Atlanta Food Critics at Peter Chang’s

In 2004, Atlanta Journal-Constitution food critic John Kessler wrote an article about me and my blog called “Welcome to Adam’s.” (You can read it here.)

At the time, food blogging was very, very new and Kessler was baffled and amused by my antics: “Why does this recent Emory law school grad record every meal he eats out — whether a lackluster slice at Johnny’s Pizza or an extravagant tasting menu at Per Se, the new Manhattan sibling to California’s French Laundry? Why does he post photos of everything?”

My, how things change.

Seven years have past and while Lizzie and I were in Atlanta for the cookbook, we joined Kessler (who, after a few years off, is back as the chief dining critic for the AJC) and Atlanta Magazine food critic Bill Addison (who I’d met earlier that day and really liked) for dinner at Peter Chang’s in Sandy Springs.

Remember that Calvin Trillin article in The New Yorker about the Chinese chef who cooks this amazing food but keeps moving from place to place, leaving his followers scrambling? That’s Peter Chang. And he’s set up shop in Sandy Springs in a very big restaurant that looks like something you might find at the Polynesian hotel in Disney World.

I’ll confess, Lizzie and I had just spent 8 hours cooking with chefs that day and traveling all around, so I wasn’t exactly as focused as I should’ve been when the food started to come. I remember loving these spicy tofu skins:


I can’t identify this meat, but I’m sure I liked it:


I definitely enjoyed the wine Bill Addison brought (the place was, back in January, B.Y.O.B. with a $10 corkage fee):


The highlight for me, though, wasn’t the food. (Sure enough Kessler only gave it two out of five stars; Bill Addison also gave it two stars.)

The highlight was watching Kessler and Addison whip out their cameras (phone cameras), just like I’d been doing seven years ago, to snap pictures of all the dishes. This strange activity, which Kessler found so notably peculiar back then, is now standard practice! (You can see it happening in the lead photo.)

Not only that, John Kessler has a food blog now too (on the AJC website.) Of course, he predicted all this after I’d moved to New York and I called him for career advice. I told him I wanted to break into mainstream food media and wanted to pitch myself to food magazines and newspaper sections.

“Stick to blogging,” he told me. “Everyone’s getting into blogging now. And you’re already there.”

Still, I’m really tickled by that lead picture. Food bloggers used to be the freaks who took pictures of every course at dinner; now all of us food people, including the profesional food critics, are freaks too.

[Thanks John & Bill for having us! It was a great night.]

Let's dish!

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