This time, the topic is travel. And by travel chef Linton Hopkins and barman Greg Best mean the perfect eggs Benedict and the original Hemingway daiquiri, because no matter where the conversation starts, when “Feed Radio” is on the air it always gets back to food and drink.
Working in a cramped studio at radio station AM 1690 in Midtown, Hopkins and Best let their imaginations run free, conjuring images of Paris cafes, Manhattan bars, meals, cocktails, flavors and feelings.
“There’s something about poached eggs and rosé at 9 in the morning that’s just like, ‘Yeah. That’s how to live life,’” Best observes at one point.
But for all the exalted Proustian reveries they’re apt to record for their biweekly broadcasts, there’s an easygoing rapport between Hopkins and Best that feels more like eavesdropping on a couple of good friends having a chat — even if their culinary curiosity sometimes borders on the obsessive.
Hopkins, executive chef and co-owner of Restaurant Eugene, won the James Beard Foundation best chef Southeast award in 2012. Best was a Beard Foundation semifinalist for outstanding bar program in 2013.
Together, Hopkins and Best have helped build one of Atlanta’s most prominent food and drink businesses, Resurgens Hospitality Group, which includes Holeman & Finch Public House, H&F Bread Co., H&F Bottle Shop and the new H&F Burger stands at Turner Field.
“It’s really an organic process,” Best said when asked how he and Hopkins decide what to talk about on the radio. “Take this show. We were both just back from traveling. Linton was in Paris and I was in New York. And then we found ourselves at the office talking about our trips. Other times, it’s a topic we know we want to talk about.”
“We like to bring in guests,” Hopkins said. “Atlanta chefs, like Joe Truex, and barmen, like Paul Calvert, and even poets, like Kevin Young, to have a conversation through the voice of food and beverage.”
AM 1690 Program Director Max Arbes, who is producer-engineer of “Feed Radio,” had the idea for the show after interviewing Hopkins at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival in 2012. “It was hearing the way he talked about food,” Arbes said. “You want to hear the excited utterances, and that kind geeking out usually turns out to be the best stuff.”
The 45-minute program is a sort of mashup of Bob Dylan’s “Theme Time Radio Hour” and American Public Radio’s “The Splendid Table.” Right now, there are are 12 “Feed Radio” episodes available online. And Hopkins and Best will be at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival June 2 to tape a new episode of the show.
Besides talking, Hopkins and Best love to play music. The funky-cool shuffle of “Pass the Wine (Sophia Loren)” by the Rolling Stones kicks off the show. “Have Love Will Travel” by proto-punk band the Sonics sets the day’s theme. Jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux evokes the magic of Paris. And the Velvet Underground brings it back to the gritty streets of New York.
“We believe everything inspires everything,” Best said. “You realize more and more that everything around you influences who you are and what you do professionally. So it’s about exploring in a way that opens the curtain to the guests of our restaurants and the radio listeners. From the beginning, we always wanted to let people in and show them our world.”
The shows are divided into segments. Hopkins teaches techniques for making Hollandaise. Best runs down the history of Hemingway’s cocktail creations. They have a back-and-forth on the most delicious way to butter a piece of toast. And the “luminary” section celebrates inspirational figures.
“There has to be a take-away for someone listening,” Hopkins said. “We don’t want it to just be us pontificating and going down a rabbit hole on every subject. But sometimes where you find truth is in speaking in detail about something. We had a really fun conversation about ice one day.”
And what’s the take-away for Hopkins and Best? “Feed Radio” mirrors what they do in their multiple businesses, they said.
“We don’t want you to look at us as a chef and a bartender as much as see that these are roles and creative expressions for us,” Hopkins said. “The food world is more than the game that’s being trumpeted out there in the mass media.”
“Feed Radio” airs the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 7 p.m. on AM 1690. Podcasts of previous shows are at http://1690wmlb.com/feed-radio. The program will tape live at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival at 1 p.m. June 2, with guest Mike Lata, chef-owner of Charleston restaurants FIG and the Ordinary.