Noted Buckhead chef and restaurateur Linton Hopkins follows a basic rule in giving back to the community.
"You can have a big impact with small little things," said Hopkins, who grew up in Brookwood Hills and comes from a family that has been in Buckhead for four generations.
Hopkins as an parent started a nutrition program at the school along with his wife, Gina. They created a wellness plan, helped teach the children about the importance of good nutrition and began a community garden.
The Culinary Kids Club teaches the children about cooking, eating well and the agricultural origins of food. The owner of , ,. and H&F Bottle Shop said he's following the path set by California organic food pioneer Alice Waters.
Also an adviser for APS' wellness committee, Hopkins said his purpose is to introduce inexpensive, nutritious and tasty school meals such as roast chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes and reduce junk food.
Introducing students to vegetables with which they might not be familiar has been a treat, he said. He said some of the kids "didn't even know apple juice came from an apple. They're not even exposed to fresh fruits and vegetables." The youngsters learn to squeeze fresh orange juice and apple juice. "It's inspiring," he said, especially when the kids grow their own produce in an organic garden at school.
Hopkins also started the Peachtree Road Farmers Market, which begins its sixth season Saturday, April 14, from 8:30 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of the Families traditionally went shopping at a farmers market on Saturdays for Sunday dinner, and "I wanted that in my neighborhood," Hopkins said. The growth of the farmers market as a Buckhead institution "has really been amazing," he says. "It shows how great our neighborhood really is."
From six booths, the market has steadily grown and now includes chef demonstrations and other special events and has a "real economic impact," he said.
A book lover who like many longtime Buckhead residents remembers the old Oxford Bookstores, Hopkins celebrates literature at a monthly author's lecture, with a special book-themed meal, at Restaurant Eugene. Such gatherings matching culture with food and drink are an essential part of human life, he said. He said that agriculture allows people "to gather together."
"Anyplace where that is going on, I want to be involved and supporting that," he said.
Involved in celebrating Southern food, Hopkins pointed out that the region's cuisine continues to be revitalized by new cultures, such as Vietnamese shrimp fishermen in Louisiana and Korean neigbhorhoods, mixing new dishes with familiar staples like country ham, sorghum and grits.
He sums up his community belief. "Frankly, it's about being engaged."