Executive Chef Zach Meloy is a native Georgian with experience cooking in Latin America and throughout the American Southeast. After studying Art and Spanish at Birmingham, Alabama’s Samford University, Zach attended Johnson & Wales culinary school in Denver, Colorado. He spent time learning under some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs, including Sean Yontz in Denver; Gerry Klaskala, and Jay Swift in Atlanta. Zach then honed his technique in kitchens throughout Costa Rica, where he met Cristina.
In keeping with their passion for connecting people through food, Zach and Cristina launched underground supper club PushStart Kitchen in 2011. Each dinner was served in a 130-year-old room at Atlanta’s historic Goat Farm Arts Center around a communal table. Operating out of a tiny kitchen, Zach prepared the complex, multi-course dinners and then assembled and served dishes to guests tableside. The suppers gained a loyal following with multiple soldout seatings nearly every week. Recognizing the need for additional space, Zach and Cristina began exploring the idea of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. They initiated a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise capital and received an outpouring of support through guests of PushStart. In December 2013, Zach and Cristina opened BETTER HALF, “the restaurant Atlanta built.” (photos and bio courtesy of Blue Hominy PR)
Poached Chicken with Pear Marmalade, Charred Onion, and Shaved Hakurei Turnip
Serves four as a light entree
For the pear marmalade:
4 firm pears, peeled and diced
1 small white onion finely diced
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tbsp cold butter
In a small pot, combine pear, onion, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer until most of the liquid has reduced and has become syrupy. Stir in cold butter and cracked pepper. Set aside to cool.
For the charred onion:
1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into 1″ thick slabs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp cider vinegar
kosher salt and pepper
Liberally season both sides of the onion slabs with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan heat oil to smoking. Add onion slabs and cook until completely charred and black. Flip and cook other sides until charred. Transfer onions to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Onions will steam while they cool. When they are room temperature, transfer to food processor and chop until very fine. Add honey and vinegar and adjust seasoning. Reserve.
For the poached chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup apple cider
1 cup cider vinegar
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 split serrano chile
2 hakurei turnips
In a large pot, combine chicken broth, cider, cider vinegar, garlic, cinnamon and serrano. Bring to a boil. Liberally season with salt. Add chicken breast and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until meat is very firm (about 10 minutes). Remove from liquid and allow to rest for five minutes.
On each plate, spoon a little of both charred onion relish and pear marmalade. Slice chicken and lightly salt, then plate. Thinly shave hakurei turnips and use to garnish.
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