Atlanta Gets a Zero-Waste Restaurant with Southern Flair
Chef Joey Ward’s Southern Belle turns ingredient scraps into garnishes and nourishing meals for the surrounding neighborhood.
After six years of running the kitchen at Kevin Gillespie’s beloved Atlanta restaurant Gunshow, chef Joey Ward’s first solo venture into the city’s dining scene has officially opened. Southern Belle will celebrate modern Southern cooking with a zero-waste approach, an ethos Ward says he sees many chefs in East Coast cities like New York and Philadelphia readily adapting, but has been slow to come to the South.
Ward says he’s especially excited to work with Goodr, a new app that gives surplus food from restaurants back to local communities through a collection process that runs several times per week. “I got into the job to feed people, so it makes sense,” he says. Goodr will turn scraps from Southern Belle’s menu into nourishing, accessible meals for the surrounding area.
One of the dishes on Southern Belle’s menu that exemplifies his zero-waste approach is the chicharrones, which Ward intends to construct from puréed vegetable skins and scraps. “We put all of that in a glass Ziploc bag and serve it alongside two shakers of different seasonings which are kind of a riff on Cool Ranch Dorito seasoning and BBQ cheddar,” he says. On the cocktail menu, ingredients from dinner will be dehydrated, preserved, and reutilized as garnishes, and there’s also a special emphasis on biodynamic wines.
Innovation is clearly at the core of Ward’s vision for Southern Belle, but his menu also boasts some distinctly classic touchpoints, like beef short rib braised in Dr. Pepper and crispy Brussels sprouts served with ‘Bama white sauce, chicken ham, and fried chicken skins. Even the building’s original tin roof still stands.
While the restaurant won't accept reservations, seats for Georgia Boy, an intimate sixteen-seat ten-course tasting experience hidden just past a bookshelf disguising a door, will open a month in advance. Though details about the prix-fixe experience are still scarce, it’s clear that Ward intends to channel some of Gunshow’s whimsy.
“In our neighborhood, there’s not really much farm-to-table dining," says Ward, "so we’ve gotten really great response from folks so far."