VanTrece’s wife han­dles cock­tail menu

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

At Chef Deb­o­rah VanTrece’s first restau­rant in East At­lanta, there was a salad called the Twisted Soul. Nearly two decades and two res­tau­rants later, the con­cept in­spired VanTrece’s lat­est culi­nary cre­ation. Her third restau­rant, Twisted Soul Cook­house & Pours, opened for busi­ness Dec. 3.

“She’s just al­ways en­joyed pre­par­ing foods that make peo­ple feel good,” said Lor­raine Lane, VanTrece’s wife and bar and bev­er­age di­rec­tor for Twisted Soul. “There’s noth­ing re­ally sim­ple about Deb­o­rah’s food, but it’s def­i­nitely good.”

The recipes on VanTrece’s menu com­bine the com­fort foods South­ern­ers crave with fla­vors in­spired from her global trav­els. There’s flash-fried chicken wings with co­conut gravy, sweet tea baby back ribs, duck con­fit with sweet po­tato dumplings and peach cob­bler par­fait. For the less car­niv­o­rous, Twisted Soul of­fers a pasta bowl of spaghetti squash and charred toma­toes. And of course, the restau­rant’s name­sake is on the salad menu – yel­low toma­toes, green beans, sprouts and pe­can-crusted goat cheese are some of the key in­gre­di­ents.

Neigh­bors counted down days to re­open­ing

Mia Per­tilla and Tay­lor Woody, who work at Tu La 2 Nail Sa­lon & Com­pany nearby, first tried Twisted Soul when VanTrece cooked up a menu for the sa­lon.

“It was de­li­cious so we were like, ‘Okay, we can’t wait.’ We’ve been count­ing down the days,” Per­tilla said.

And the hours, Woody added. The day of the open­ing, both women tried to come early to beat the crowd, but found the doors didn’t open un­til 5 p.m. —Chef Jen­nifer Booker on the re­open­ing of Deb­o­rah VanTrece’s Twisted Soul

Per­tilla had the fried chicken dish with col­lard greens and sweet pota­toes.

“It’s like all the tra­di­tional soul food, but it has the twist on it. The col­lard greens are in a roll … I think the sweet pota­toes were like a chut­ney,” she said. “It’s clas­sic food, but it’s dif­fer­ent.”

Wil­liam and Ni­cole Rhodes, who live around the cor­ner from Twisted Soul, also praised the fried chicken.

“It was re­ally good,” Wil­liam Rhodes said. “One of the hall­marks for me, if it’s pre­pared re­ally well, is if you can have a breast or any white meat and it’s still moist. I found all of the chicken to be very moist and re­ally ten­der.”

The two had their eye on the restau­rant for weeks, pa­tiently wait­ing un­til it opened.

“We wanted to sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses and ab­so­lutely wanted to come and try it out,” Ni­cole Rhodes said. “I got the ox tail and it was great. The ox was ex­tremely ten­der, which is also a good sign. Ex­tremely fla­vor­ful; well-sea­soned. The pap­pardelle [pasta] was a nice pair­ing with it, ac­tu­ally. It was cooked re­ally well.”

She even got sec­onds – not of the ox tail, but an en­tire sec­ond dish. The server brought out a pip­ing hot bowl of gumbo, gar­nished with a snow crab leg, once her en­trée was fin­ished.

VanTrece spent most of open­ing night in the kitchen, her sig­na­ture cat-eye glasses keep­ing an eye on the back-of-house staff. It was ev­i­dent her 20 years in the culi­nary

De­cem­ber 9, 2016

in­dus­try paid off with this “third time’s a charm” eatery. Her first restau­rant in At­lanta was Ed­i­ble Art Café, fol­lowed by the orig­i­nal Twisted Soul in De­catur.

“De­catur, it was a good op­por­tu­nity for us, but she wanted to branch out and have her own cre­ative free­doms,” Lane said.

The busi­ness part­ner­ship ended last De­cem­ber, but it wasn’t long be­fore prepa­ra­tions kicked off for Twisted Soul No. 2.

The new restau­rant, which seam­lessly blends vi­brant veg­eta­bles and flow­ers rem­i­nis­cent of Ge­or­gia’s 12-month grow­ing sea­son with rus­tic, darker el­e­ments of wood pan­el­ing and cast iron dé­cor, has an open at­mos­phere where the bar takes cen­ter stage. That’s Lane’s do­main, where her hand-in­fused ma­son jars of moon­shine hold a place of honor on the shelves.

Lane be­came VanTrece’s right-hand woman in the restau­rant in­dus­try af­ter the two met on an on­line dat­ing site. Though Lane claims the culi­nary world is all her wife’s, she said VanTrece chal­lenged her to be more of what she was ca­pa­ble of. That’s how she wound up ex­pand­ing her bar­tend­ing ex­pe­ri­ence into

By DAL­LAS DUN­CAN “I’m just very ex­cited that she has her space and her dream re­al­ized. Ev­ery chef I’ve ever met, we want our own spot, be it a food truck, a walk-up or a restau­rant. For her to have her own space, to me, is huge.”

full-on menu pair­ings and drink de­vel­op­ment for Twisted Soul. The moon­shine se­lec­tion is Lane’s sig­na­ture. “We use Amer­i­can Born Moon­shine, White Light­ning, then I in­fuse it with var­i­ous fla­vors. This sum­mer we played around with a gin­ger-in­fused moon­shine. We have one called the ‘gin­ger moon.’ That’s our new­est one,” she said.

She of­fers a moon­shine flight of four fla­vors: le­mon-basil, spicy wa­ter­melon, pineap­ple and gin­ger. Lane is also proud of Twisted Soul’s sig­na­ture cock­tail of­fer­ings – though she wouldn’t give out any trade se­crets, she ad­vises new din­ers to try the New Old Fash­ioned, which has “just a hint of sherry.”

Fam­ily, friends and At­lanta restau­rant elite came out to cel­e­brate with Lane and VanTrece on the rainy Satur­day night. Chef Jen­nifer Booker, At­lanta-based cook­book au­thor and owner of Your Res­i­dent Gourmet, was among the crowd.

VanTrece came to Sa­van­nah to sup­port Booker’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in a cook­ing event called Black Hand in the Pot, so Booker wanted to re­turn the fa­vor by com­ing out for the restau­rant grand open­ing.

“I’m just very ex­cited that she has her space and her dream re­al­ized,” Booker said. “Ev­ery chef I’ve ever met, we want our own spot, be it a food truck, a walk-up or a restau­rant. For her to have her own space, to me, is huge.”

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