The "Dishing with Donna" Show is Atlanta's Only Celebrity Food, Wine and Restaurant Radio Program. Listen every Saturday @ 4:00pm on WGKA Talk 920am to hear Donna entertain listeners with celebrity interviews such as Paula Deen, Guy Fieri, or Ted Allen - as well as the exclusive inside scoop into Atlanta's very own restaurant scene.

Listen "Live" Every Saturday at 4:00pm on WGKA 920am

Email Donna Directly @

God Bless Each and Every One of You!

Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, February 26, 2010

Personal Training is Golden

So today I had my very first ever personal training session over at Gold's Gym in Roswell.  Yep!  Down with the detox ... hello personal training!  (don't worry, I won't write about this as much as I wrote about my detox.)  But let me just put it out there -- I am announcing a challenge for myself!  30lbs in 3 months.  That's my goal.  According to my new personal trainer, Scott - the GM of Gold's,  30 lbs in 3 months is definitely do-able for me and my body type, although I'll be satisfied if I lost 20!  Let me give a warm 'thank you' to all the incredible Atlanta chefs who have generously contributed to my newfound weight gain since starting DwD.   (that was sarcastic)  Although the endless food has been DIVINE .... my love handles have gone from a Mini Cooper to a dang Cadillac!   And since I was born with a round face already (like my dad's) ... my cheeks have filled out so much that instead of looking like a cute little cheeky chipmunk,  I am now lovingly referred to as "Basketball Head".     (- love ya Dan!)
So!  Gearing up for the summer,  and all the exciting DwD events we have coming up ... it is high time to de-chef my love handles.  I'm not going to write too much about it,  because quite frankly -- I'm still a girl so it's a little embarrassing to talk about my body issues with thousands of strangers.  But!  Say a little prayer for me instead.  30 lbs in 3 months.  It's the official DWD CHALLENGE!!  

......  is it odd that on my very first day of personal training,  I worked on a different pair of cheeks???
(now if THOSE cheeks could look like little basketballs instead of one big pancake,  then we're GOLDen.)

Thank you to Scott at Golds Gym.  My milk drinking nazi trainer.   :-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's 180 Degrees!

Have you ever felt an urge, or even a curiosity, to go and volunteer and truly feel as though you are giving and helping and making an effort ..... but just have no idea where to go or what to do??  People often battle with wanting to help  vs.  actually taking action to help.  We can think about it all we want and tell ourselves,  "I need to remember to find a place to volunteer!", "Don't forget to ask MaryLou Freebush where she volunteers at", "I should really get involved doing something,  hmmmm, I'll figure that one out tomorrow" .... etc ... but no matter how many times I tell myself this,  I still never seem to get my feet to follow my heart.  I guess I'm best at volunteering my procrastination.  -- Thankfully, I have an inspirational friend named Shannon Alderman  (wickedly talented free lance writer, if you're interested!)  and she joyfully volunteers all over downtown whenever she can.  Which is usually a couple times per week!   Every stinkin week.  - It blows my mind.   Watching her find happiness in putting others first makes me feel about one inch tall.   She is my new inspiration!

A while back, I decided I would throw myself into the MAKE A WISH Foundation, volunteering.  My whole family did it together.  But for some unexplainable reason ... I just never got attached to the program emotionally.  - I didn't understand why my heart wasn't responding,  and yet my mother and sister and aunt all fully and naturally connected to the Make a Wish organization.  I was the odd one out.  -- and I was disappointed,  until . . . . . .  . . . until only a month or so later,  my childhood youth minister popped back up into my life after a million years, and when he heard what I now do for a living -- Food Radio -- he was so excited to tell me about a place called  180 Degree Kitchen.   Well,  actually - my computer doesn't have a "degree" symbol,  but technically it looks like this:  180* Kitchen.  (that's the closest I could get-)
    My friends,  please read.  This is so cool and so incredibly enriching that you will also now understand why maybe my heart wasn't wrapped around Make A Wish ...  although I am so proud of my family who are very involved  (-you ladies are love in action!)  .... but I think it was because God matched my heart with something else more tailored to my identity.  And my heart melted when I discovered 180* Kitchen!   I knew that is a place where I can truly devote my volunteering time and energy into.  If you are a foodie, like I am, then you may want to check this out!
The City of Refuge is an entire "village", if you will, right in the most dangerous part of the state in the projects of Atlanta ... a city within a city,  City of Refuge is a huge living complex for homeless women and children - rehabilitating them, educating them, providing medical needs and private living arrangements, countless programs for the children, job placement, church, social functions, therapy, and so so so much more to give these homeless women and struggling addicted women a chance to save their life.  To regain responsibility and dignity.  To offer love and a future to their children.  To find purpose and spirit within.  - It's deep.  And amazing.
  ----- What's MORE amazing is the part where we can come in.  Within this structured living environment, there is a separate program called  180* Kitchen.  It is actually a Culinary School where troubled and struggling kids ages 16-25 can come and get off the streets, and make a future for themselves!  They enroll in culinary school.  FOR FREE.   It's incredible!!  At the end of their schooling, (which is the real deal!)  the 180* Kitchen will actually place these students into a restaurant with an entry level job!  And the best part is ... on Tuesdays and Thursdays, anyone is welcome to come and watch the students prepare gourmet lessoned meals for the Homeless.    IT   IS   SO  COOL.    Homeless people are lined up from all over to come and eat this free meal twice a week.   And we, as volunteers, simply set the tables and bring out plates of food to the homeless men and women and children sitting there restaurant style, and then help close everything up after.  Quick quick.  It's so simple ... and yet so internally rewarding.  I highly recommend you joining me in volunteering any week!  I am committing myself to becoming more involved.
Bruce Deel operates the entire operation and is a man who wears many hats.  He has been highly recognized for his passionate steadfast work with City of Refuge, and still continues to grow and grow and grow in public visibility and utter blessings.   Listen to me dish with Bruce, plus the Executive Chef and Culinary Director, Chef Alex - coming up this Saturday on DwD at 2:00pm.

Your heart is going to feel warm and fuzzy ... because we're cranking it up to 180 Degrees!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hector Santiago ... Representing!

"Lovin' Latin Food"
Saludos!  Bienvenidos!  I had a great radio show this weekend.  I themed it:  "Lovin Latin Food",  focusing on my own culture, Puerto Rico.   My spotlight guest was Hector Santiago of Top Chef, Season 6, and also a Puerto Rico native.   I went to eat at Pura Vida, his restaurant in the cozy Virginia Highlands, the night before our interview and was salivating over the tapas that we ordered.  (pictures are coming)  We got to speak with Hector that night, and I'm not going to lie -- I was a little nervous about him coming on to the radio program because he seemed so quiet and passive and ... a man of few words.  Now - I'm in radio.  It's all about bringing a huge personality to life to satisfy listeners over the airwaves!  So since Hector seemed quite passive and potentially shy,  I completely over-compensated in my preparation!  I knew I needed substantially more content to talk about in order to keep the conversation alive the next day on air. 

Luckily,  I was WRONG.
Hector came into the studios ready to rock n roll!!  He brought a fantastic dynamic onto air - because he was enjoyable, he was likeable, we laughed alot - talked candidly about his personal experiences and opinions about being on Top Chef .....

Hector gave away a couple free dinners at Pura Vida to some lucky callers,  talked about some great food of course, and found out some personal secrets as to what makes Hector Santiago,  Hector Santiago!


Have I mentioned yet how much I love my job??
I also had on the "Lovin Latin Food" show an intriguing Puerto Rican woman named Eris Garriga.  She is a multi-international-award winning cookbook author and just finished her new editions of both an English version and a Spanish version of her cookbook called "Homestyle Puerto Rican Cooking".  She is so warm and so lovely and so lively.  We had an enlightening discussion about latin cuisines in comparison to mexican food, and specific ingredients and spices which make the extreme differentiation.   It was delicious conversation!
This episode of "Dishing With Donna" brought a sweet and spicy recipe to radio!  I was so hungry by the end of this taping that I was immediately inspired to go home and try another round of Asopao  (a traditional puerto rican soup/stew dish).   The last time I tried to make this was during the SuperBowl,  and got so sidetracked with the game, that I screwed up my Asopao and let all the water boil out.   (go see my previous Superbowl blog!)

And of course, we can't leave out my wonderful sponsor - We Sell Restaurants - the nations largest restaurant brokerage firm, right here in Atlanta.   The presidents are Eric and Robin Gagnon ... who I'm enjoying more and more as every month goes by.

All the guests together:  Robin and Eric Gagnon, Eris Garriga, and HECTOR SANTIAGO.

In case you wonder what I'm always saying to close my show,  it's "Buen Provecho".  Which is the same thing as Bon Apetit.  (if I even spelled that right)  - but in Spanish.  I actually started saying Buen Provecho when I lived in Miami and was spending a lot of time learning the culture, the language, and the food from my Puerto Rican family there.   And in the spanish culture ....  everyone is family!!   
 So to you, all my listening family .....  BUEN PROVECHO!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Heart Dogwood

I just want to say a very warm THANK YOU to Shane Touhy of Dogwood Restaurant in downtown, and to all his team and staff.  My Valentines Day dinner was superb.  It was beautiful, it was romantic, it was delicious, it was divine.  - From the flight of grits, to the sweet lobster fricassee, to the succulent dish of quail ... I was impressed with every bite.  Thank you for the dining experience, and thank you so much for all your special generosity that evening to help make my own special night one to remember.

Treat yourself to a dinner gift certificate to Dogwood, simply by clicking below
 $50 Gift Certificate for only $25 - click here

Dogwood Restaurant - click here for website

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saturday the Great

This past Saturday was an all around great day!  I know I haven't blogged in one whole week,  and to the blogger world - that's like a century long,  but I have to admit ... it was a quiet week.  My business partner and I  (hi Dan!) spent a lot of long hours working "behind the scenes", so I wasn't out and about doing anything interesting enough to blog about.  -- Well, unless you want to hear about my sudden newfound fascination with old movies.  (This past week alone I found time late at nights watching Finian's Rainbow, Play Misty for Me, and Send Me Flowers.)  But other than that .... it was all work work work. 

Until now!
What a fabulous weekend it was!  It was Valentines Day you know.  On Friday I stayed in and fell asleep before your grandmother did, loving every minute of it.  And then Saturday afternoon was my newly LIVE radio show.  It was a special Valentine's Day show with the Sun Dial's Executive Chef, Russell Sleight, who is technically even more than that.  He's the executive chef of the entire Westin Peachtree Hotel.  - Which is open again and even revolving now!  Congratulations Sun Dial.  - We even gave away a free romantic dinner for 2 to one lucky caller!  
Also on the show was newcomer segment sponsor, Worthy Connections, who comes every other week to tell you about one restaurant industry person who is offering their time and energy to greater causes for charity.  This week they brought Tom Murphy to the Dishing With Donna Show.  Tom works with Open Hand organization and it was all around a great show.

We also gave away free dinners to Varasano's Pizzeria in Buckhead and a gift certificate to Gabriel's Desserts in Marietta, a restaurant owned and operated by Paula Deen's cousin, Johnnie Gabriel.  
--- Take a listen every Saturday for constant incredible giveaways!

Then on Saturday night, I was treated like a queen for an early Valentines Jump Start.  I was taken to Cafe Efendi in Alpharetta ... which just happens to be a restaurant that I crave off and on .... (check out my tv appearance down below on this blog to watch me review Cafe Efendi on NBC) ... it was almost too much fun.  I ate the one dish that I dream about, which is Iskender Kabob.  Tried a new dish, Stuffed Cabbage over meaty rice - yum!  I salivated over my Bachlava.  Sipped on wine all night, clapped and cheered for the bellydancers, had the traditional hookah, and never stopped smiling from ear to ear!   - Well.  Except when my mouth was shoveling down food like a needy garbage disposal.  Even my heartburn had a smile.

(no, that's not me dancing with the bellydancer.
But that lady was shakin' it out!)

If you like Greek food ... you will love this authentic Turkish restaurant, Cafe Efendi!  Ask for Hal, the owner.  He'll be your new best friend!!

click here for website

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Live and Alive!!

Yesterday I aired my very first One Full Hour hour radio show  (was 30 minutes for this past year).  And in case you didn't know, I've always been a pre-recorded show.  And this Saturday -- I was LIVE for the first time.  It was completely different!  And although I admit I was crazy nervous at first -- I ended up and somehow felt like I had already been doing it for years!  It was so natural.  So comfortable.  I'm going to go ahead and just put it on out there ..... I felt like I was doing exactly what I was meant to do.  I'm not sure what the future holds in way of entertainment - not exactly sure if I'll stay in radio, stay in food,  go to tv, etc.....  But I AM doing exactly what I went to college for  (which is so unique these days!)  and I AM doing exactly what I love  (which is rare!)  and I AM doing exactly what exactly what I am good at.   Need I say - I walked out of the studio feeling . . . BLESSED!
So I'll just ahead and give God a shout out for that one.

I had a fabulous Super Bowl Special to kick off our new era of The "Dishing With Donna" Show.  My special Guest Co-Host was Atlanta's one and only TODD RUSHING, of the Concentrics Restaurant Group - and let me just tell you ... he was so good he could be a radio host himself!!  I'm so thankful he was a part of it with me from start to finish.  We also spoke with one of his Executive Chefs, Nick Melvin from Parish Restaurant -- a New Orleans cuisine restaurant in Inman Park.  Absolutely superb!!  (So that was representing the New Orleans Saints.)  Nick also did a fantastic job on air.  We learned about the history of New Orleans cuisine and enjoyed interesting conversation.  Also included was Robb Dillon from the incredible NY Butcher Shoppe off Roswell Road, and Robb was our expert on all things MEAT both in general and for Super Bowl foodie ideas.  He is a maticulously educated butcher and no matter where you live in Atlanta,  it is definitely worth a visit!  (tell them you heard about it from DwD!)  :-)   And then of course, we checked in with my sponsors for the local inside scoop,  We Sell Restaurants.  I get to dish with Robin and Eric every week on my show.  It's been a lot of dark and early fun mornings together in the studio!  I consider knowing them and having them work with me also a blessing. 
The best part about the show was when we had extreme Giveaways!!!  I had 4 different amazing giveaways to offer callers - including a free dinner for 4 at One Midtown Kitchen.  Mardi Gras party tickets.  Not to mention free steaks and full dinners from NY Butcher Shoppe as well.   I had a blast!  -- Keep calling in!

I gotta tell you,  I'm not trying to brag or sound egotistical,  so forgive me if that's the impression you're about to get . . . . but let's just be candid here . .. . .  I HAVE A GREAT SHOW!!!!!

I am blessed.  It feels very humbling.   And as I sit here on my laptop and the Super Bowl is on tv right in front of me,  all I can think about is how I can't wait for next Saturday to hurry up and get here so I can do it all over again.    - -  So you better tune in and listen!!   Thank you to all of those who are helping make DwD a success. 
Too bad there's not a Radio Bowl.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Judging the S.Pellegrino ALMOST FAMOUS CHEF Competition

Wow.  I was honored to be asked to participate as a judge for this competition.  Along with Eli Kirshtein from Top Chef and Meridith Ford from the Atlanta Journal & Constitution (esteemed food critic) and with some other great people,  we spent all afternoon watching 8 competitors battle it out for the coveted "Almost Famous Chef" title - and the winner we chose would then compete nationally in Napa Valley - representing the southeast.  The finalist chefs were from all over the southeast and came here to the Art Institute of Atlanta Culinary School to see who was the best of the best.
All afternoon the judges watched carefully as all 8 competitors nervously prepared their dishes by themselves within a 90 minute time frame.  It was so cool to watch!!  I was a "media judge" which meant I was specifically focusing on their presence and composure and delivery.  I had to ask them questions about their inspiration behind their dishes and even their lives, and had to judge them according to their communication skills and composure.  In the end,  a deliciously talented young guy named Timothy DeVore is on his way to Napa!  He was my top pick from the beginning.  The winning dish picture is below:  Sumac seared duck breast, braised duck leg, parsnip puree, and bull’s blood microgreens.  (yep. bull's blood.)

It's funny,  I'm not a chef  (like Eli)   I'm not a food critic (like Meridith) and I don't run restaurants (like a couple other judges)  .....  I interview all those people instead.  So to be a Judge for an important culinary competition was definitely a new element for me to experience.  It didn't help that something happened to my registration info and I was the only judge at the official table with a hand-written name tag thingy.    Yeah.  That was professional.  But since I recieved a fabulous knife set as my parting gift .... I guess I'll forgive S.Pellegrino.

Lastly,  just want to give a shout out to Cris Martinez of CBS, Eat It Atlanta blogger, Aaron at Sotto Sotto, Sean at McCrady's, Robert of Charleston, and of course the lovely Meridith of AJC and Eli Kirshtein of Top Chef. 

-- This was at the end of a long day.  Me, Meridith Ford, and Cris Martinez.
And it's a wrap!!