Georgia Restaurant Association
GRA creates partnership between chefs, Georgia Grown program
The Georgia Restaurant Association evolved from the Georgia Restaurant Council. It began in early 2003 by a small group of prominent Georgia restaurateurs. The council was created in order to provide an independent restaurant association to represent Georgia’s restaurant industry which had previously been served by the Georgia Hospitality & Travel Association. Established in 1977, GHTA operated three hospitality associations under one – a hotel association, a restaurant association and a travel association.
With 23 board members and five staff members, GRA represents more than 3,000 restaurants in the industry. “We serve as a unified voice for an industry comprising over 16,000 foodservice and drinking places in the State of Georgia,” said Rachel Matthews, marketing and communications manager for GRA. “GRA’s mission is to promote three key issues for Georgia’s restaurant industry: advocacy, education and awareness,” Matthews said.
In an effort to promote the state of Georgia’s culinary abundance and to truly live out its mission, GRA teamed up with Georgia Grown on an initiative to increase awareness and the use of Georgia agricultural products among culinary professionals. Thus, the Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program was formed.
“Georgia’s restaurants are increasingly planning their menus around locally grown foods, so it made sense for GRA to support this outstanding program,” said GRA Executive Director Karen Bremer.
“We are proud to support Georgia Grown as an economic development program that helps connect restaurants with the state’s top producers. Participating restaurants can ensure that they are offering their customers top-quality food products, while supporting local growers and reducing their carbon footprint.”
The program recognizes four outstanding chefs as ambassadors to promote a better understanding of the availability and quality of Georgia products. Public school culinary education and school food nutrition programs are also a major part of the Executive Chef Program, offering training and recipe development.
“The new Georgia Grown Executive Chef program enables us to further promote and foster relationships between Georgia farmers and local chefs. Our state has a great deal of culinary talent – we need to use this talent for showcasing our locally grown produce and goods,” said Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black.
The four chefs for 2013 are Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Resurgens Hospitality in Atlanta; Chef David Synder of Halyards, Tramici Restaurant, and Halyards Catering in St. Simons; Chef Jennifer Hill Booker of Your Resident Gourmet, LLC in Atlanta; and Chef Ahmad Nourzad of Affairs to Remember Catering in Atlanta.