Meet General Manager Bobby Asare

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Bobby Asare is a part of the new generation of Buckhead Lifers and is excited to lead the Lobster Bar Sea Grille, Miami Beach team as the General Manager.  In addition to installing the beverage programs at two other highly successful Buckhead Life Restaurants in Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale, Bobby continues his long love affair of marrying food and wine in Miami.

  Asare’s earliest culinary memories are from his childhood in Ethiopia. His mother owned a café and bakery, instilling the sense of work ethic that he carries with him to this day. He and his siblings used to sneak in to the restaurant to watch her work.  He loved the scents wafting from the kitchen, the chatter of happy guests, and the chaotic joy of a restaurant.
 
At age 19, Asare and his family moved to the United States. He studied Aeronautical Science at Embry Riddle University in Daytona Beach, but it wasn’t long before he realized that his passion for restaurants had re-emerged. Just after college, he moved to Las Vegas to work at Mario Batali’s hot spot Enoteca Sanmarco. The restaurant’s strong wine culture introduced him to an entirely new aspect of the culinary experience. He soaked up the teachings of the well-known owners and, in a short period of time, was promoted to Jr. Sommelier.

  In 2011, Asare moved to Atlanta to help his mother open a restaurant next door to a Buckhead Life Restaurant. It only took one look at the restaurant’s expansive wine list for Asare to apply for a position. He worked as the Beverage Director there until 2014, when he moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Fl to help open Lobster Bar Sea Grille’s sister restaurant.

  When speaking of wine, Asare states, “Wine is the only beverage that tells you about itself without saying a word. You can taste where it came from, the soil it grew in, what the weather was like, how the grapes were handled. It is alive in the bottle. It’s a very human thing.”

 
Asare says the initial decision to move to Fort Lauderdale without any family was difficult for him, but he had a strong belief in Found and CEO, Pano Karratassos’, dream and passion for the dining experience. The move to Florida turned out to be the best move of his life.  He met the love of his life, Maggie, and had his beautiful son, Zane.

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What We’re Eating: Carta da Musica

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One of our favorite items on this month’s Regional Menu at Pricci is the Insalata of Blood Orange, Saved Fennel, Lolla Rossa Lettuce, Roasted Sardinian Olives, Carta da Musica, and Fiore Sardo Cheese.

It’s not just that this salad is terrifically seasonal- of course we love the top-of-season blood oranges and the crispy fennel bulb, but what we love most is that this dish is rooted in history. The literal translation for “Carta da Musica” is “Sheet Music”, named because the dough is supposed to be rolled so thin that one can read sheet music through the finished flat bread.

We didn’t have any sheet music lying around at our taste test, but the crisp, light-as-air bread was indeed thin enough to see through yet sturdy enough to hold the weight of the perfect bite: an olive, a blood orange, and a slice of fennel.

The bread is made simply with flour, semolina, salt, and warm water. Carta da Musica is intentionally unleavened for increased shelf life, as migrant farmers used to carry several pounds of Carta da Musica with them to round out the usually three or four ingredient meals they would eat while camping.

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Meet Pricci’s Private Dining Manager!

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Meet Vanessa Sanchez, Pricci’s new Private Dining Manager! We got to sit down with Vanessa to talk all things party planning. Check out her tips for first time hosts, sticking to a budget, and deciding on the perfect venue!

How far in advance should people start planning their event?

I always like to say the sooner, the better! If there is one issue I run into with booking events, it’s availability. Make sure to lock in your date and give us a call after doing so! If you’re the go with the flow, flexible type, two weeks in advance is an ample amount of time to finalize menu and event details.

What tips do you have for first time event hosts?  

Tell us what you’re looking for! This is key in planning an event. The more communication and painting of a picture you give us, the better the execution. Also, relax! It’s our job to tie together all of the loose ends and make it easy for you.

What tips do you have for selecting the perfect event space?

Get as close to your headcount as possible. You’ll notice that this often results in a couple of venue eliminations. Also, take a look at menu options. If you’re a foodie like myself, this is always a great place to start! Set a list of non-negotiables. This too will come with venue eliminations, leading you closer to your private space!

What tips do you have for sticking to a budget?

Don’t be afraid to talk numbers. I am fortunate enough to work with a Chef who is always willing to customize menus for clients. Breaking it down to a price per person is always effective.

What’s the biggest mistake people make in event planning?

The biggest mistake is assuming we cannot accommodate something! You’d be surprised at how above and beyond we are willing to go at Buckhead Life, so please, ask!

What’s the Golden Rule of Event Planning?

Communication! Many people often apologize for emailing or calling too much when in reality, they are following the golden rule. When in doubt, ask it out!

To Learn more about Private Dining at Pricci, CLICK HERE!

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Chef Sean Thompson

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We sat down with the Chef behind the gorgeous dishes at Chops Boca to talk about how his first night on the job, what he loves most about being a chef, and his biggest accomplishment yet.

How long have you been the Executive Chef of Chops Boca?

It’ll be 2 years in July.

What do you remember about your first night there?

I remember Pano introducing me as the new chef. I’m lucky that the staff embraced me as I embraced them.  I had a speech that probably came out completely different than what I had envisioned, but I do remember telling everybody that it was time to get to work, which is exactly what we’ve been doing ever since!

What’s your favorite Chops Boca memory?

That’s hard to say! We have a lot of fun here and we’ve had so many great memories that seem to just keep coming.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Every part of it. The fact that I get to wake up everyday and do what I love more than anything as a career is indescribable. I have the opportunity to make other people’s lives better w/ my passion for cooking. Words can’t describe.

What’s your proudest accomplishment at Chops Boca?

I think when you stop and take too much time to recognize accomplishments it puts an emphasis on a stopping point. Yes; we have accomplished a lot and I’m very proud of the work we have done, but I feel like Buckhead Life and Chops Lobster Bar is just getting started. Through our hard work and attention to detail, sky’s the limit.

Any notable celebrity sightings?

It’s a tie between Adam Sandler and Anthony Rizzo.

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Soft Shell Season

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Blue Crabs in the warm waters of Florida have started their annual molting process, thus kicking off one of our favorite times of the year: Soft Shell Season! When Blue Crabs outgrow their hard exterior shells they go through a process called molting where they shed their outer shell. It’s only a matter of hours before their replacement shells harden, so when it comes to Soft Shells timing is everything!  Most fisherman will catch Blue Crabs, keep them in saltwater tanks while they wait for the soft shells to molt, and then remove them from the salt water which keeps the new shell from hardening.

All of our Soft Shells are sustainably harvested in Citrus County, Florida and delivered live directly to Pano’s Market at the Atlanta Fish Market. Thanks to our relationships with fishermen, we’re serving the freshest {and first!} Soft Shells in the city.

Our Chefs are wild about these warm-water loving crustaceans because of their delicate texture and sweet flavor that lends itself to a wide variety of flavors and cooking techniques. From now through mid-June you so you can look forward to Soft Shell Specials from your favorite BLRG chefs! 

This weekend you can find soft shells at Buckhead Diner, Bistro Niko, and Chops Lobster Bar.
   

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How General Manager Mimi Cogan is Celebrating 10 Years of Chops Boca

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Chops’ General Manager Mimi Cogan has been with Chops since its opening in 2007, and here at Buckhead Life she’s something of a legend. Since the days of Pano’s & Paul’s she’s been charming guests and making sure everything in the restaurants runs smoothly.  She sat down with us to talk about the past ten years at Chops.


How long have you been with Buckhead Life?
I’ve been with Buckhead Life for  24 years! January ’81-May ’83 & March ’95-present.

What do you remember from the night Chops Boca opened?
It was such a long time ago but the main thing I can still remember is how nervous I was!

What’s one piece of advice about running a restaurant?
Details, details, details! It doesn’t take much for something to go wrong, so you have to be flexible and ready to problem solve at a moment’s notice!

Your favorite dish on the menu?
Every dish is great, but the Dover Sole prepared table side is my favorite.

How do you plan on celebrating 10 Years?
By recognizing the people who have been with me since the beginning. Marcell, Konstantin, Maria, Lona and Moe!!

What’s your favorite thing about living and working in Boca?
The opportunity to open a beautiful restaurant in an absolutely beautiful place.

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What We’re Eating: Culingionis Pasta

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Culingionis Pasta, Sardinia’s answer to ravioli, is a stuffed pasta shape that you’ll rarely find outside of Italy. Prized for its intricate shape (it takes serious skill to create pasta with the perfect pleats!) and versatility when it comes to filling, this pasta was once considered so precious that it was often given as a gift as a sign of friendship and respect.


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While the fillings and shapes vary throughout the region of Sardinia, all Culingionis pasta has one thing in common: its intricate seal. In fact, the ability to shape the pasta perfectly is a prized skill among chefs and every different seal is like a Chef’s signature- unique and identifiable. 

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Chef Piero’s Culingionis Pasta on this month’s Regional Menu is filled with fresh sweet peas, local ricotta, and Pecorino mousse and served with roasted tomato and Mediterranean shrimp.

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Hosting Tips from Atlanta Fish Market’s Private Dining Manager

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Brian Steiper, Atlanta Fish Market’s Private Dining Manager, is no stranger to event planning. Everyday he hosts parties large and small- from corporate lunches for some of the largest companies that call Atlanta home to intimate dinner parties where guests feel like they’re at home. We sat down with Brian to learn more about the art of planning the perfect event.

How far in advance should people start planning their event?


Usually it’s best to start as soon as you’ve picked the date. The availability of the venue is one of the key components to the whole process. When it comes to large family or business functions, it is very important to plan as early as possible, and I suggest anywhere from 6 months to a year is ideal because finding large space venues last minute could potentially be your biggest issue that arises.

What tips do you have for first time event hosts?


Ask a million questions! It’s our job to be here and make sure everything you envision can come to light! Whether you are curious about lighting and decor or you have a clear vision of the party’s  flow of service and staff, make sure you ask. I really prefer when a guest is thorough so I can make sure we’re on the same page, even if their requests seem challenging! Expectations are higher in the Private Events department of a restaurant, and they should be. By asking the questions, we can make sure you know what is about to happen step by step so there is never any worry or woe.

What tips do you have for selecting the perfect event space?


Find the perfect event space by finding the space that speaks to you. When you see a space, ideas and thoughts should immediately rush to your head.  I think this is the truest indicator that you have found what you are looking for. Just like an artist finding their muse, the space should be your blank canvas that you can paint with your own ideas.

What tips do you have for sticking to a budget?


Come to the table knowing what your restrictions are. Mock up a per-person cost that you can be happy with. As an event coordinator, I would prefer a client knows what they can spend because we can always work with that budget and ensure you are comfortable and can enjoy your event.

How important is it that hosts visit the potential event space?


It is crucial to visit a venue before the event. You should know the layout and every detail we provide such as the tables, chairs linens etc. This will make you better prepared for when you plan on decorating or how you’d like the  floor layout to be.  You can look at photos of a space all day, but there’s nothing like seeing it in person.

How do you create the perfect atmosphere?


That is the best part of my job! It is our job to awe you as a client. Attention to detail is key. Lighting and floral arrangements are two simple items that can completely transform any venue with minimal cost.  Having pristine linens on the tables is another easy trick. Utensils and plates set at the perfect positions. Even the smallest detail helps to create a perfect atmosphere because by paying attention to the every little thing, will make a client/guest know that this room and this event has been created for them.

What’s the biggest mistake people make in event planning?


Not utilizing what the venue can provide. Be sure to ask what a venue includes such as specialty linen, floral arrangements and decor. Work smart not hard when it comes to planning your events. If the venue can put the flowers you were going to buy on the table for you with the tealight candles you were already planning on, why not have them do that? It’s cost effective and it helps us set the perfect atmosphere before you even arrive. Let us take the stress out of some of the little things.

How should hosts choose Décor and Entertainment?


If you are not sure, ask us! We work day in and day out with  people in the entertainment and event design business. We know what works for us and what people enjoy. I’m always happy to connect clients with people I trust- ranging from musicians to magicians. That’s one of the great perks of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, everyone in the city has at some point worked with us.

What’s the Golden Rule of Event Planning?


Let your event venue work for you to create the most astonishing evening that your guests will want to talk about, not only the next day, but until you do it all over again.

CLICK TO SEE ATLANTA FISH MARKET’S PRIVATE DINING SPACES

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