Kevin Gillespie

Top Chef's Kevin GillespieFood writer and Atlanta native Danny Bonvissuto recently attended one of the ongoing Southern Chefs Series workshops at Serenbe, a modern eco-community 30 miles outside of Atlanta. The weekend's guest chef was Top Chef fan favorite Kevin Gillespie. She shares her takeaway:

As if his Mr. Nice Guy celebrity personality hadn’t already endeared him to the masses, Gillespie showed up with his knives, a big bag of pork cracklings and a sorghum-and-mustard-glazed pork shoulder that had already spent 16 hours cooking sous vide.

Gillespie was there to show me and 11 others some of his best recipes and kitchen tricks. He passed out recipes but made it clear that they were only to be used as guides. Instead, he had us listen to the sound of the Vita-Prep as it chopped its way through protein pockets while making tarragon mayonnaise for the poached chicken salad; he had us look at the way the custard for the warm banana pudding stood up on his finger.

Gillepsie firmly believes there’s no such thing as too much pork. Bacon grease and pork cracklings were in the cornbread. Country ham and smoked bacon were in the tomato-braised collards. Heck, there was even bacon in the mixed lettuce salad with pecan-raisin croutons and creamy cider dressing, which Gillespie called “a light lunch.”

Future guest teachers at Serenbe’s Southern Chefs Series include chef and cookbook author Nathalie Dupree (April 25–26); Atlanta’s JCT Kitchen chef Ford Fry (July date TBD); chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis (October 24–25); Hugh Acheson, chef of 5&10 in Athens, Georgia, in 2011; and return engagements TBD for chefs Linton Hopkins and Gillespie. $425 includes the Sunday/Monday workshop, meals with wine and overnight accommodations at Serenbe (770-463-2610 or