MEET PushStart: a locally-minded, intimately-crafted dinner experience
Most of us love a good meal. And an awesome dinner party at someones house? Hard to beat. That is the idea behind PushStart Kitchen, a kind of underground restaurant serving up goodness a few times a week at the Goat Farm. Not only do you get a delicious and hearty helping of local produce (grown on-site!) but you get to spend a night in Cristina and Zach’s wonderful loft with some soon-to-be friends. This couple team is supporting local agriculture and a new type of networking, one where strangers share an intimate experience to break down barriers. We visited their space and got a peek at what happens behind the scenes.
Tell us a little about what you do:
We serve weekly dinner parties for 16 people from our home kitchen at the Goat Farm. We focus on the organic overlap between the Latin American kitchen and the American Southeastern kitchen.
How did you get started with it?
We owned a restaurant in Costa Rica that we had to close in 2009 due to the economy’s poor performance. This was our attempt to renew our old life together while introducing ourselves to the Atlanta dining scene.
What inspires you to do this?
Food should always be about providing for and connecting with people. By inviting people into our home to experience a meal for us is a tremendous inspiration to us. There are a million amazing people in this city and we’re making it our goal to feed and meet all of them!
What challenges come with your work?
We started serving our meals in a 250 sq foot artists studio in a 130 year old factory, with no running water, partition walls, no heat/air and one electrical socket. All food was purchased at the grocery store, prepped off site and then hauled to the space where we would serve what was essentially a five course meal. Then all the dishes were packed up, driven back across town and washed by hand in our apartment sink. We hit a point where we were doing that 3 nights a week while also working our normal jobs. Honestly, the entire concept was written to be a challenge, and so far, together with the support of our diners, we’ve surmounted them, one by one.
We write all of our menus based on the produce that’s coming out of the ground in our own back yard at Fresh Roots Farm. We do the rest of our shopping for the dinners at the Buford Highway Farmers Market where Zach also teaches cooking classes twice a month. We always love to support the businesses that make ATL so special (The Spotted Trotter, Star Provisions, Cooks Warehouse).
What impact are you hoping to have on our Atlanta community?
Our biggest goal is to serve creative, artistic, conversation provoking food in an environment without pretense or stress. It’s important to us to show that food has always been about the hard work you put forth for the people you care about. Fostering the connections we make through our dinners is where I really feel like our success can be measured…and we want to make real tasty stuff.
Would you like to see the way you approach your work replicated?
We would always be honored to see our influence somehow carry over into someone’s work.
What kind of assistance do you need to keep this going?
If there’s no one interested in eating, we won’t be cooking
What are some of the biggest issues you see facing Atlanta?
Atlanta is a great place with a lot of diversity. I feel like it’s role in Southern culture puts it in a place to really shine. The American Southeast is quickly becoming a dining destination and with that comes a lot of responsibility placed on the shoulders of everyone involved in the business- from restaurant owners to farmers, independent food producers, etc. More than anything else I feel like we should focus on anticipating future problems as opposed to what’s wrong now.
What are some of your favorite things and organizations around town?
We absolutely love the Goat Farm and all of the groups involved with them. ScoutMob and Urban Daddy Atlanta have also been really great at promoting all of the great things this town has to offer (including us).
Where can interested readers find you?