1454 Walton Way
Like a sower of fine tastes, executive chef and international traveler Edward Mendoza operates as a porter of flavor, spreading seeds of culinary secrets from one region of the world to another.
Such was the case on a recent trip to Southeast Asia where Mendoza studied the art of Vietnamese and Thai cuisines. In turn, the student became the teacher, and the former Le Cordon Bleu instructor and Dallas chef taught classes in preparing authentic Texas barbecue. Politicians could learn something from that type of international trade.
An Augusta native, Mendoza, who has worked at renowned establishments across the country, relishes learning about indigenous foods, the preparation techniques and optimal accompaniments.
To sample the savory selections from those worldwide food explorations, stop by the nearly year-old Kitchen 1454, where he makes good on his goal to bring “five-star techniques to a casual atmosphere.” At the diner-style eatery, bedecked with a nod to UGA colors, Mendoza employs a farm-to-table philosophy with a haute cuisine edge. Since the commitment to using local growers means a commitment to a variable menu, new offerings appear daily on chalkboards hung above the open grill. And the majority of patrons have learned to “trust the board,” Mendoza says. There diners can find distinctive dishes of the day like fresh pan-seared Scottish salmon, a chicken taco basket and a smattering of freshly roasted vegetables.
For those yearning for more familiar fare, the printed menu still holds all the best-loved comfort foods: grilled cheese, burgers, salads, chicken, braised, blackened, fried or grilled, and pork, of the Coca-Cola pulled variety. Diners can also enjoy an expanded menu beginning this month when the restaurant adds dinner hours on Thursday through Saturday nights. And there may even be another local restaurant on the horizon.
But dining at Kitchen 1454 is only one side of the experience. Every Saturday morning, the chef turns the table on patrons seeking to prepare at home some of the eatery’s characteristic tastes. At the popular four-hour weekly classes, lessons range from homemade pastas to Parisian-inspired favorites.
Mendoza may have recently coined his own adage when asked about the restaurant’s success. “So far, so good.”
Seasonings from afar, unquestionably “so good.”