Sit down with Executive Chef Thomas McKeown, of The Hyatt Regency Atlanta and not only will you be intrigued by his Irish accent but also with his unwavering dedication to procuring food locally. He has shopped at Peachtree Road Farmers Market for nine years and credits it for some of his best, local-crafted, cuisine finds.
“Something that is part of our philosophy [at The Hyatt Regency] is supporting local farmers– buying organic, in-season ingredients, designing our menus around seasonality, getting out and meeting the suppliers– knowing where they’re coming from, and looking for more humanely raised proteins,” Chef McKeown said.
In it’s thirteenth year, Peachtree Road Farmers Market remains one of the largest producer-only market in the state– with over 50 vendors each week and a strict Certified Organic or Certified Naturally Grown policy for farmers. Producer-only means that everything at the market has been grown, raised, or made by the seller. The market’s strict policies mirrors the philosophy Chef McKeown set over seven years ago.
Opened in 1967, The Hyatt Regency, Atlanta is best recognized by the blue dome-shaped structure that sits above the revolving restaurant and lounge, Polaris. The international hotel has thousands of guests each week from all corners of the world. It is located in the heart of Atlanta and is home to two unique restaurants and one ultra-hip gastrolounge. Read through Chef McKeown’s seasonally designed menus and you’ll find odes to the market on each page.
Fairywood Thicket Blackberry Jam adds a sweet-salute to summer in Polaris’ Blackberry Bourbon Sour, while hundreds of pounds of produce from Rodgers Greens and Roots are expertly prepared each week and used to accompany dishes like Sway’s Signature Meatloaf, and Polaris’ Fried Duck Leg Confreit. That’s just two of the local vendors that Chef McKeown was first introduced to at Peachtree Road Farmers Market.
Chef McKeown has foster strong relationships with many of the market’s weekly vendors including: Pine Street Market, Spotted Trotter, Banner Butter, Georgia Grinders, Georgia Sourdough Crackers, K-Teas, Indigo Bath and Body, King of Pops, and has used each of the market farmers at different times, many of which he has a running account with. You can find these vendor’s products in the restaurants, gift shop and gastrolounge at The Hyatt Regency.
He uses specialty crafted cutting boards handmade by Doc’s Woodturning, an artist at the market. He is always on the lookout for vendors selling quality products that can be sold at the hotel.
“We are working with K-Teas on a Polaris blend tea. We brought them in for dinner at Polaris to get the atmosphere and what its about and they’re developing a tea that will have dried blue flowers in the blend, for the blue dome. We are really excited about that,” said Chef McKeown.
With customers reaching up to a couple thousand each Saturday, and support from large properties like The Hyatt Regency, Peachtree Road Farmers is a high traffic market where customers a sure to find the freshest local food– just ask the farmer selling it to you.