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)
Warm Salad of Brussels Sprouts, Parsnip Puree, Charred Apple Vinaigrette, Manchego
Serves four as a first course
For the charred apple vinaigrette:
1 local apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp stone ground mustard
3 tbsp honey
salt and pepper
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a medium sauté pan until lightly smoking. Add chunks of apple and leave untouched until apple begins to char and get a very deep brown color. Deglaze the pan with cider vinegar and reduce heat to medium. Cook until apples are very soft. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. In a blender, puree apples and vinegar. Add mustard and honey. With motor running, slowly drizzle in remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.
For parsnip puree:
3 to 4 medium parsnips peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons butter
kosher salt and pepper
In a medium pot, cover parsnips in cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until parsnips are very tender. Transfer parsnips to blender, reserving the cooking liquid. Blend parsnips and add butter while motor is running. To adjust thickness, add parsnip cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and cool.
For the Brussels sprouts:
32 medium Brussels sprouts
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
one piece of Manchego or any salty cheese for shaving
Fill a small bowl and a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil. While it heats, trim the woody stem off of each sprout. Peel off and reserve outer leaves. When water comes to a boil, add cleaned sprouts. Blanch until a sharp knife can be inserted and easily slid out. Transfer sprouts to large bowl of ice water to stop cooking. While water is still boiling, add trimmed outer leaves. Submerge in the boiling water and immediately transfer to small bowl of ice water. Cut each sprout in half through the stem. In a large saute pan, heat canola oil until lightly smoking. Liberally season sprouts with salt and pepper and add cut side down to the pan. Cook on one side until deep brown color is achieved. Remove from heat and while warm, toss in charred apple vinaigrette.
Dress each plate with parsnip puree. Top with dressed Brussels sprouts, and garnish with blanched outer leaves. Shave strips of Manchego on top.