Food on the Fly
Airport fare ascends at Atlanta's One Flew South
I write these words on a flight bound for Memphis, Tennessee. At the moment, I’m eyeing lunch. It sits on the seat beside me like an orphaned companion: a sandwich of beige turkey and green tomato, trapped in gummy brown bread, sealed in a plastic sarcophagus, purchased at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Today, I failed to pack my briefcase with an honest wedge of cheese and a heel of good bread. And so, when I made my midday connection in Atlanta, I turned to one of those grab-and-go airport kiosks that pretend to be purveyors of fresh food, but vend, instead, insults to palates both rough and refined.
Small defeats like this have always hurt. Of late, they hurt more. That’s because on two recent trips, I managed to work in a meal at One Flew South, an oasis of dusky white marble walls and verdant faux-forest scenes, serving Japanese-inflected haute Southern cookery in the scurrying midst of Hartsfield-Jackson. At One Flew South, Asia and the land beneath the line marked by Mason and Dixon coexist and complement, and the airport meal is redeemed.
The chef at the helm is Duane Nutter. A native of Louisiana, who won a national reputation as a stand-up comedian before pledging his troth to the kitchen, he’s one of the few African Americans leading a high-concept restaurant in the South. Nutter travels in a pack of three that includes Todd Richards, consulting chef, and Jerry Slater, beverage director and bourbon fetishist. Previously, the team worked the grand Oakroom in Louisville, Kentucky, where they stood Southern cookery on its head, dishing bold feints like curry-spiced fried chicken with collard green gelée.