A Beat Bobby Flay contender-turned-winner. A visionary. A culinary artist. Chef. Restaurateur. These are a few ways to describe Joey Ward, chef and owner of not one, but two new, highly anticipated Atlanta restaurants—Southern Belle and Georgia Boy.
Ward is the first to admit (proudly) his transformation from culinary student to respected chef and restaurateur didn’t happen overnight.
Ward has been strategic and patient with his career moves. During his own self-exploration, he moved around to different fields of the culinary industry—from country clubs, to hotels and ultimately to private restaurants, where he discovered his true passion.
“I am grateful for the journey, but it took sincere patience and time to learn multiple disciplines and grow from my collective experiences,” recounted Ward. “Because of this journey, I am prepared and confident to take my next step as the owner of Southern Belle and Georgia Boy.”
Both slated to open in November 2019, Ward’s Atlanta-based restaurants are highly anticipated, yet very different in concept.
Southern Belle, a no-reservation, cocktail-forward, Southern-rooted restaurant (and nod to his wife and co-owner, Emily), seats 45 guests inside and 40 outdoors. Serving small plates, which change frequently depending on availability of local crops, Southern Belle features a robust, curated cocktail list celebrating southern distilleries.
“ Whenever you’re able to purée something, to make it smoother than you even imagined, it opens a world of possibilities,” he said. “Like making hydrocolloids, for example, which only activate at certain temperatures. ”
Concealed inside Southern Belle is Georgia Boy, a restaurant inspired by Ward’s grandad, a major influence in his life. At Georgia Boy, guests can experience the nostalgia and whimsy of a classic speakeasy, hidden from plain sight and disguised as a library. Upon entering a secret passageway (via the hidden bookshelf door), guests are taken on a prohibition-era style dining adventure.
Seating just 16 diners at a time, the minimalist restaurant features a chef’s table vibe and a modern, sleek style; it’s an interesting juxtaposition from the old-world feeling of Southern Belle. Ward will serve two 16-course tasting menus—one of which is plant based.
Ward explained, “Even if you’re not vegan, after tasting this menu, you wouldn’t miss the meat.”
In addition to offering plant-based options, Ward is dedicated to running sustainable restaurants, focusing on eliminating food waste through new and unique recipes. How?
“We can use innovative tools like Vitamix to apply new techniques and experiment with new ways of thinking to transform food scraps into a delicious, crunchy snack, hopefully reducing food waste at the same time," said Ward.
“ My Vita-Prep makes my life easier because you can put ingredients in the container to heat and blend to the perfect temperature. ”
“We’ll be using our Vitamix Vita-Prep to turn our zero-food-waste vision into a reality at both Southern Belle and Georgia Boy,” he continued. “We’ll serve a variety of crispy bar snacks, like veggie chicharrones, using leftover peels, which we cook down and puree with tapioca starch to make a dough to fry.”
Ward, who uses Vitamix blenders in various applications, raves about the precision, consistency, power and freedom that they afford him in the kitchen.
“Whenever you’re able to purée something, to make it smoother than you even imagined, it opens a world of possibilities,” he said. “Like making hydrocolloids, for example, which only activate at certain temperatures."
The ease-of-use of a Vitamix machine is also crucial to Ward.
“My Vita-Prep makes my life easier because you can put ingredients in the container to heat and blend to the perfect temperature,” he added. “You just have to let it run and get hot. That’s it. Plus, it’s tactile and easier to understand and use than other blenders.”
Ultimately, even with the best tools and staff at hand, Ward has his work cut out for him as he opens two new restaurants. Thankfully, he continues to practice patience in and out of the kitchen, urging others to, simply, “Give it a little more time.”
To experience his thoughtfully curated, Southern-inspired menu, visit Georgia Boy or Southern Belle starting this November. Or, visit vitamix.com to learn more about how our commercial equipment like the Vita-Prep or Vita-Prep 3 can help perfect your own custom menu.