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Atlanta's Gunshow Brings A La Carte Dining to Hungry Diners

By S. Mathur

Gunshow started the new year right, making it to Eater magazine's list of Top 38 Essential Restaurants for 2016. The magazine described Gunshow as loud, bright and participatory, and "arguably the most creatively energized restaurant in the Southeast." Executive Chef Joey Ward says that his menus and recipes are inspired by the ingredients available.

"My creative process is ingredient-driven. I like to focus on an ingredient from a farmer or rancher that I'm excited about and determine where I want to go with it in terms of flavor and the emotions I want to evoke from diners. Emotions and the experiences we have surrounding food are so interconnected that I find you can really heighten a diner's experience by paying attention to the visual and other sensory cues that make food a whole body experience."

For example, "I recently did an Alaskan King Crab dish with toasted hay, honey vinegar and wood sorrel. I was inspired by the theme of opposites on the plate together and wanted to form a cohesive flavor with sweet crab from the sea and earthy, toasted hay from the farm. I infused toasted hay into local cream and then lightly whipped it to create a nutty complement to the sweet crab. This dish was definitely way out there for a lot of diners, but it worked beautiful and hopefully created some lasting memories for our guests."

The Gunshow experience is based on Chinese dim sum and Brazilian churrascaria-style dining. Chefs bring their creations to the diners on carts and trays and Ward says that even the "cocktails are shaken or stirred tableside- one even involves fire!" Weekly menus are posted on the restaurant's Facebook page. Diners interact with the chefs, and watch the food being cooked, Ward adds: "Besides our delicious food, the "show" is our bread and butter.

Our concept is truly built around getting diners inside the kitchen and letting them experience something you cannot get anywhere else in Atlanta. Our kitchen is entirely open, so guests are literally sitting in the kitchen and seeing the chefs prepare food before they bring it directly to tables. This makes for a bit of theater and creates an intimate relationship between the chefs and diners because they have the opportunity to interact with who made the dish and ask questions."

The changing menu is popular with diners, who look forward to the surprises Ward says, "Because of what we do at Gunshow, you eat with your eyes first. We present dishes at the table so the visual element is very important in my process. I like for dishes to not only be striking, but to also offer an element of surprise, like a recent dish I did where I poured soup table-side to totally transform what had already been a beautifully plated dish. This surprise could even be through making a seemingly simple ingredient more exciting by helping a diner experience it in an entirely new way."

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