Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shop like a Chef...

Shop like a Chef - 8 Atlanta pros share where they shop for groceries.  

View full Creative Loafing article here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lowcountry Field Feast 2013

We had the opportunity to cook with our good friends, Two Boroughs Larder, out at John's Island (just outside of Charleston, SC) at an farm called Walnut Hill for Lowcountry Field Feast 2013. We hope our guests had as much fun as we did!  Proceeds went to support Lowcountry Local First.  Buy local.  Eat local.

Dirt Works Incubator Farm video by Tom Laffay can be viewed here.
Photos by Brennen Wesley and can be viewed in total here.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hey, LAWeekly! Thanks!

Hey LAWeekly!  Thanks for the mention! 

Can Chefs Change the World?  Roy Choi on Social Responsibility.  Read article here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ryan Update 9/24/13

Dearest Staplehouse Friends!

Some time has past since our last update and we have much to share with you... stories from the winding road of life if you will.  Let's start with a bit of introspection. 

You hear the term "roller coaster" as it relates to emotions quite frequently.  We're not sure we've ever really understood what that meant, or at least we couldn't identify with the term up until these last 9 months.  It's a challenge and a privilege to be able to take this walk, and we owe all of you a debt of gratitude for pushing us uphill when we needed it, carrying us when we could not take another step and simply offering a smile and a hand on our back so that we never feel alone.  Imagine the worst and imagine the best that life can be, then mash them into a 9 month span of time.

Take a deep breath.  Now open your eyes.  Thank you all for taking this journey with us.

Since the last update on Ryan's health, treatment has been up and down.  His spirit and positivity haven't changed, although hindered at times, but the realization of how precious this life is is ever present.  The last major public update (in July) provided news of a bumpier road and increased tumor markers every week.  Since then, we traveled through weeks of uncertainty when we realized the chemo drugs were no longer working in the same capacity as they had in the past. The road did indeed get bumpier.

We tried several different types of IV and oral drugs to seize growth and after a total of 10 weeks, knew that we had to make a radical chemo change.   After a tremendous amount of follow up with numerous doctors and research from other gallbladder patients across the country, we embark now on a new chemo path and feel confident in it.  We will know more mid-October and gauge progress then.

Onto more exciting things...

Most of you have come to know us through our supper club series, Prelude to Staplehouse.  For the last five years we have been hard at work cooking, marketing, organizing and planning our dream restaurant.  Cancer was a roadblock that at first seemed insurmountable.  Through the efforts of so many of you, we are thrilled to say that we are back on track.   

Staplehouse is due to open early 2014!

We couldn't be more proud of this project and the new purpose that drives it.  We will miss our quaint dinners out of our home, but you can expect the same forward-thinking honest fare and genuine hospitality that has always been at our core.  By simply dining at our O4W restaurant, guests are creating a sustainable source of funding for The Giving Kitchen (TGK), a 501c(3) that strives to provide charitable contributions to members of the Atlanta's restaurant community facing unanticipated hardships of their own.

Here's a couple fun ways to hang out and support TGK and Staplehouse in October...

First up is Atlanta Eats Live! on October 6th.  Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, a venue that houses the likes of musical acts from the Rolling Stones to Tony Bennett, will play host to this event.  Attendees will eat and drink from over 30 handpicked restaurants that have been featured in Atlanta Eats’ first two seasons, enjoy great live & local music, and take part in honoring two of Atlanta’s culinary legends as well as debuting a short film of TGK's trip to Woodford Reserve in bourbon country of Kentucky.  We made a trip up to the mother land to do a barrel tasting and blend a special one-of-a-kind batch of Woodford to be sold in select Atlanta restaurants.  A portion of proceeds from Atlanta Eats Live! benefit TGK!  Get your tickets here.

Second up is the Atlanta Cheese Festival on October 11th!  Held at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park from 5PM-11PM, the festival will feature over 50 of the most recognized cheese & artisan food producers from all over the world.  All of the producers will be sampling their famous cheeses & products.  For those guests that find cheese euphoria, cheese & additional product will be available for purchase.  By attending the Atlanta Cheese Festival, you will support TGK as a portion of proceeds go to support the cause!  For tickets, click here.

Thanking you, our biggest supporters.
Ryan + Jen

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Creative Loafing Best Of

Thank you to Creative Loafing for honoring TGK with Best Of - Show of Support for the Restaurant Community!  For the full piece, click here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Creative Mornings Talks to Watch
June 2013

Video by Lux Eve Media
Photo Gallery by August & Jean

Ryan Update July 2013

Today is a reminder, that everyday we need to take a second to remember how special this life is. It's easy to get sidetracked and there are many obstructions that can cloud the path.  Stop.  Take a deep breath and look around!  What an amazing opportunity we have… to be alive right now and be human.  It's really pretty cool!

The last 8 weeks have been hectic between Staplehouse & The Giving Kitchen planning, a family vacation and a big PET scan to see where we stand with the battle.  We have been doing well and are constantly reminded that this journey can be a bit of a roller coaster ride. You just have to trust that when the ride is over, everything will be as it should.

Our PET scan results are in and it appears as though the road is about to get a little bumpier.  We enter this next stage calm and mentally prepared for whatever is thrown at us.  The cancer has shown no signs of growth, but is also not decreasing any further.  Tumor markers did rise, but we will test again next week to know for sure where we stand.  Our team at CTCA and consulting oncology team at MDAnderson said that this is pretty common that the cancer would eventually "stable" out, and then we would need to adjust the path.  It appears we may be reaching that point.  At this time we are going to reevaluate any and all options out there and move forward in the coming weeks.

You will never know how much we appreciate all the well wishes, emails and little gifts we have received over the last 6 months, it's truly changed our lives in a profound way.  We have a favor to ask, for those who have set an alarm on your phone at noon to send strength our way, we'd like to redirect that energy a little…

Please take a moment each day to think about yourselves, your families, friends and loved ones that might be going through something.  Reach out to an old friend you have been thinking about or simply take a deep breath and look around for a few minutes. You might be surprised what you see and how it changes you.

You all are amazing people and I hope this note finds you well. We will be back in touch with an update soon and thank you again for all the support!

Creative Mornings - Photos & Video
If you missed Ryan at Creative Mornings on June 28th, not to worry, you can see it all here!

Video by Lux Eve Media
Photo Gallery by August & Jean

Dinner & A Cause Card
20% off at your favorite restaurants from July 1 to August 31.

20% off at Atlanta's favorite restaurants for the entire month of July and August.  Discount applies to entire table, every time you visit any participating restaurant.

Card cost: $40

Participating restaurants include: Abattoir, Agave, Antica Posta, Chicken & the Egg, Dark Horse Tavern, Double Zero, Fritti, JCT Kitchen, King + Duke, Local Three, Muss & Turner's, No Mas! Cantina, No. 246, Publik Draft House, Seven Lamps, The Iberian Pig, The Optimist and over 80 more!
For full list, click here.

100% of proceeds benefit The Giving Kitchen Initiative (a 501c3 helping members of the local restaurant industry with unanticipated hardship) and Children of Conservation (a 501c3 helping African children of wildlife sanctuary workers to school).


The Giving Kitchen is now accepting donations!  Please visit for more details.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ryan Update 5/8/13

photo courtesy of gregory miller photography

Ryan had his third PET scan on Monday 5/6/13 and results were yesterday 5/7/13. We got into our room and waited patiently to meet with our Oncologist.  A few minutes later, one by one, each member of our Oncology team came into the room.  Usually only one team member is in at a time, so to see 10 people huddle up tight in one tiny room was pushing us over the edge of cliff with excitement.  

We've known for the past few weeks (with the obvious drop in tumor marker counts and good blood tests) that we could expect some good news today, but what landed in our laps was OUTSTANDING and nothing short of a MIRACLE.  

Our Oncologist sat down and with a smile said, "we have very good news" and the entire room burst into cheers, laughter and screams. He showed us the scan and we compared that side-by-side to the scan we did 8 weeks ago.


Liver: A decrease in (all) tumors by 90%.
Lung: A decrease in tumor by more than half. 
Tumor Markers: From 21,800 on 3/12/13 to 1400 on 5/6/13.   
Blood Counts: All good.  Every count in good to green flag range.

We are duplicating the treatment we just ended and are now headed into another 8 weeks of chemo. 

We still have a long road ahead as any of this could change at any point.  We maitian focus and positivity!  This is definitely a BATTLE WON!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ryan Update & Exciting Developments

The treatment is exhausting, and doesn't come without complications, but we are thrilled over all.  You have heard that the tumor markers in the blood continue to drop, and while these are small victories, they are good indicators of the activity of the tumors. This is a war, not a battle andwe remain focused on each step, knowing that we have most of the fighting still to come.  The next PET scan will be in three weeks, this is the true test of our success thus far and tend to be slightly stressful days anticipating the results.  We are positive minded, strongly focused and full of determination and love!

Next up, Staplehouse and The Giving Kitchen!  Last week we started to leak out that we are moving forward with the restaurant...we are now happy to relay to all of you that you have heard correctly.  Monday evening the 15th, we gathered a group of 100 Staplehouse friends and family to share the news, show a documentary that we have been working on since diagnosis and explain the new direction of Staplehouse as it relates to our foundation.  Staplehouse is the flagship to The GivingKitchen whereafter year end distributions have been made, the remaining profits will roll into the foundation.  The Giving Kitchen is a 501c3 status pending entity that exists to help provide Atlanta's restaurant and hospitality employees financial relief from medical or other unanticipated hardships.

After experiencing the amazing love and support the city of Atlanta has shown for Ryan, it is now our mission to give back.  Since the Team Hidi event put on for Ryan we have attended and spoken at several functions put on for members of our restaurant and hospitality family and made donations to ease their burden. We hope to evolve the program over time and dive into other ways that the restaurant community can improve the overall quality of life for Atlantans.

There are so many events and Industry nights happening all over the city that are donating partial proceeds for The Giving Kitchen.  We hope that you continue to check out our Team Hidi events page to partake!

We are also thrilled to announce the rest of the team!  Ryan Smith (Executive chef of Empire State South) and Kara Hidinger (GM of Abattoir) will round out our daily operations while Ryan Turner, Chris Hall and Todd Mussman of Muss & Turner’s/Local Three will act as consulting partners.  We couldn't be more excited about the potential of both the restaurant and the foundation under the guidance of this team.

Fundraising to build Staplehouse is currently underway.  We have put organized an Indiegogo campaign to help us raise the money we will need to make this dream come true.  Donations can be made in any increment, including $100 for a limited edition founder T-shirt and bumper sticker, all the way up to $15,000 for your name engraved on a plaque and mounted on the best seat in the house – The Chef’s Table!  We are heading into a lease on a space that will house both the restaurant and the foundation.  Ironically it happens to be the very first space we looked at almost 4 years ago. A cozy two story brick building in the Old 4th Ward with a private courtyard and an open floor plan that invites friends to feel a part of the experience. The spirit of this neighborhood and its development into an entertainment and multicultural hub only strengthens our joy to be a part of it.

The food and drink menu will be ever changing based on the bounty of our dear friends (the hardest working people we know), farmers, ranchers, cheese mongers and fishers. We will be sourcing and working closely with them to develop a menu that is innovative, comforting and always true to the season.  A menu designed for sharing, allowing you to enjoy several different completions of how the kitchen and bar are feeling that day.

We will be back with more as things develop and as always, thank you all for your amazing support!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Eater Atlanta

Ryan Hidinger shares details on Staplehouse!  Thank you Eater!  For the whole article click here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Atlanta Magazine - Covered Dish

Thank you Covered Dish for the write up today.  Thrilled to making this announcement that our Team is growing.  Click here for the full article.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ryan Update - Small Victories

We must all celebrate small victories...

There is no doubt in our minds the noon good vibes and prayers, along with the new treatment regiment Ryan is on, have started to work.  You heard me right, WORK!  Ryan's tumor markers have started to lower.  This is a huge victory for us, one that followed with tears of joy and intense thankfulness.  Our CTCA Doctors and Nurses celebrated with us with hugs and handshakes all around.  
We needed to celebrate this with all of you, you deserve to share in the good news too!

Round One CA19-9 Markers: 3600
Round Two CA19-9 Markers: 5600
Round Three CA19-9 Markers: 17,000
Round Four CA19-9 Markers: 21,800
Round Five CA19-9 Markers: 9610

We continue to need your help in passing on the energy, we truly believe that it not only helps us, but works.  Ryan has felt great fatigue and has been reacting to one of the chemo drugs in the form of a rash, but other than those two things, we continue to do well!

Until next time...
Jen + Ryan

Monday, March 25, 2013

AJC Food and More

Thank you to AJC Food and More for the write up today.  We are honored to be talking publicly about the Giving Kitchen.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ryan Update 3/19/13

Where we are in the fight.... in war, not every battle is won.

Friday (3/8/13) was the first major scan since diagnosis that determined our next steps.  Ryan has undergone (like a champion I might add) two full cycles of chemotherapy that resulted in a dead end.  The unfortunate circumstances show growth in his tumors and a significant rise in CA19-9 tumor markers.  We have made a change in his chemo treatment plan and have now started a new weekly cycle.  We wait... with determination, poise and humility.

All in all, we are doing great, looking at each day as a new start with fresh perspective.  We owe much of our strength to all of you for the well wishes and constant support you give.  We received a package in the mail a couple weeks ago from an Atlanta based first grade classroom with letters to Ryan on how to "feel better".  If I didn't know better, I'd go out and buy a Nintendo DSI, a giant teddy bear and a bag of gummy bears and call it a day.  We had another little girl write a story about Chef Ryan and his arch-cooking-contest-enemy Harris Cancer Muddball and sold bound copies for $5 each!  She made a killing!  From these letters to your generous donations and bountiful energy, we are fueled and immensely grateful.

Atlanta, you have rallied behind us and in a big, big way and now we are motivated to give back.  As some of you have witnessed at other events around town over the last few weeks (with Charlotte's Web and Bring Back Zach), we have started a foundation called The Giving Kitchen Initiative. You all get a sneak peek into this project and as we are ready to go live, more details will come!  We couldn't be more excited about the opportunity this will bring to help others in situations such as Ryan's. Through the tragedy of cancer we see hope, and with the help of all of you we will build this foundation with pride. Thank you all for the inspiration to push forward when times are hard and the courage to see through the veil of an illness to better days.

The Giving Kitchen Initiative supports the metro Atlanta restaurant community by lending a helping hand to industry members impacted by medical or other unanticipated hardship.  The Giving Kitchen Initiative also supports other charitable, scientific and educational projects to which restaurant industry members are in a unique position to contribute such as nutritional education for community schools or providing food to people in need.

We also have chosen to document our journey.  Along with an amazing production crew, we are capturing every moment we can through video, photography and story telling.  We felt compelled to gather Ryan's treatment, our daily life, meetings for The Giving Kitchen and more and share it with all of you.  We will keep you all updated on when the documentary is ready.  Below are a couple photos from last weekend.

To finish up, I sent out an update to our family and very close friends about a week ago and asked for a favor, something I do not do very often.  I asked for a "Prayer/Good Vibe" sequence chain to start.  At noon each day, please set your watch, smartphone, computer and brain to Pray for Ryan's Healing.  Whether it's a simple pleasant thought, an in depth prayer or a smile exchanged from you to another, that will supply us the energy we need to continue everyday with grace, fresh perspective and peace.  It doesn't hurt to ask you all, our Staplehouse friends too.

We continue down this path with you all by our side and appreciate every minute of what these days hold.  We will send out another update as things progress.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Team HIDI Store Live! + Support Charlotte's Web



Team HIDI Store Now Live!

That’s right!  Get all of your Team HIDI merch right here.  Mens and Ladies t-shirts, koozies, wristbands and bumper stickers are now available.  All proceeds go directly to Team HIDI.  Click on the store link here and start shoppin!


At SweetWater Brewery

Cancer touches us all.  Join in on February 26 to support our friend Charlotte.  Friends, Family and Chefs from around the region are coming together on February 26 at SweetWater Brewery. From 6-10 p.m. Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q will host 16 of the South’s top chefs, live music from Moontower, and a silent auction, all to rally in support of fellow Chef and Friend, Charlotte Nelson.  As some of you already know, Charlotte lost her battle early Saturday evening, February 9th. She was only 37.  All proceeds from the event will go to the Breast Cancer Research FoundationTickets for this event are $50 and can be purchased here.

Ryan and I have been asked to speak at this event.  We will do so proudly.  Just as you have done for us, come out and show your support for another community member.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ryan Update 2/12/13

We are entering the first week of the second cycle of treatment and all is going well.  So far no side effects!  I guess you could call this the calm before the storm.  We are getting so much energy from cards and emails that continue to pour in.  The TeamHIDI fundraiser was easily the most amazing thing we have ever experienced.  We felt that somehow this city seemed new in that moment.   Never before have we felt such unity and love from the Atlanta restaurant scene and that we could be a part of it was an honor.  Our only regret is that Ryan's current diet prohibited him from eating and drinking the amazing spread!

We tried to make it around to everyone for a visit but we know we missed most of you. To those we didn't get a chance to visit with, thank you so much for being a part of the evening and we love you!  We are in a good spot for perspective right now.  In the twilight of a cancer diagnosis you can make out very little.  It's a strange landscape with little in the way of comforting textures and sounds.  But as the dawn light slowly leaks in, you find your pulse and you gather your courage.  We have had all the time we need to find our "north" and gear up for the journey.  It would be crazy to say we know what to expect, but we are now equipped with a renewed faith and a point on the horizon with which to keep us on course.
We have a tremendous team behind us at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and are working closely with them to make sure that Ryan's body is responding to the treatment path we have chosen.  
Keep an eye out for Staplehouse news as we talk about the next course of action with the restaurant... a dream of ours.  We are looking forward to getting back into a rhythm and seeing faces around our table!
 Thanks again to everyone for the support.  We hope to see you soon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ryan Update 1/21/13

14 days since our last update.  Here’s what we’ve been up to.

A blur, is an understatement.  We are narrowing down treatment options with only one more hospital to visit, MDAnderson in Houston, TX (we leave today).  Last week was extremely fast paced as we had a 3-day consult with the staff at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Newnan, GA and directly after that headed to The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  At this point, we have received more than a handful of opinions from Doctors all over the country (including Emory, City of Hope, UC San Diego and several Alternative Doctors too) and feel that our path is becoming more clear and that is something we are grateful for.  Clarity.  

We have had a lot of family come in and visit for a few days at a time.  They helped us research and most importantly lent a helping hand.

We anticipate starting treatment by weeks end and plan on attacking the cancer on many fronts.  With a foundation of chemotherapy, we will also layer in a supplement regiment with a strict diet.  It’s important to understand that this pursuit is a war and not just one battle.  Once we see results (and we know we will) from our initial efforts we will then go into a 2nd phase of treatments.  Our goal… stabilize, reduce and hope for surgery. 

Our spirits continue to be high and we are fueled largely in part to your support, love, well wishes and prayers.  Thank you for everything you are doing.  The cards and emails.  The phone calls and notes on  The donations.  The meals.  The gifts.  The hugs.

A charity hike, ‘Hike for Hidi’, occurred on Saturday the 19th in San Francisco by great friends Ray & Bridget of Primal Fitness.  Even Ryan’s younger brother who lives in Sacramento, made the trip to SF to be part of the experience.  There are other events happening all over the country from, California to Indiana and here at home (all events can be found on  We are amazed and honored to be this fortunate.  

We will close this 'Ryan Update' with a letter that he wrote to his M&T family.  It puts a lot into perspective.

I’ve leaned some interesting things about the human race over the last few weeks.  My heart is speechless from your generosity.

Jen and I just spent the last few moments reflecting, and crying. We are now in the final moments before our treatment path embarks, and are realizing how big of a fight, and how big the odds are stacked against us.

Over the last three weeks, it has been easy to push the fear down inside. With the barrage of doctor appointments, blood and urine tests, family in town to help with treatment planning sessions, tons of letters of support, dietitian meetings, reading countless documents to make sure we know all we can, and then the last little bits of the quiet evening before sleep when Jen and I just stare at each other... minds racing.
It all comes to a head in the coming week.

The wave of love, prayers, contributions and well wishes is so warming to our souls, that I feel I've already won... I've already won guys.
I've already won.

My thanks, and gratitude is eternal, I'll carry it through whatever time God sees fit for me to have on this planet and into whatever is next.  But fight like hell I will. I take into battle the energy of a thousand people who have reached out over that last few weeks. I'm ready for this challenge, and a great part of that preparedness I owe to you!

On behalf of Jen and I, thank you from the bottom of our hearts M&T family!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dare All and Prevail

Be firm and be faithful.  Desert not the right.  The brave become braver the darker the night.  Then up and be doing though others may fail. Thy duty pursuing.  Dare all and prevail.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

maple bacon jam - 2013 style

1 pound sliced bacon
1 sweet onion
1 cup strong coffee
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brunoise parsnìp
1/2 cup brunoise carrot
2 sprigs thyme
pinch of all spice
pinch of black pepper
pinch of salt

cook sliced bacon in oven at 35OF until completely crispy, let drain on paper towels. dice onion and sauté in pan using a teaspoon of reserved bacon fat til translucent, then add brown sugar, thyme, all spice, black pepper and salt, allowing sugar to melt into onions. next, add sherry vinegar, maple syrup and coffee and allow mixture to cook over medium heat til thickened and syrupy. crumble bacon into mixture, bring to a boil and pull off heat and transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse til just  combined. put mixture back in pan and add carrots and parsnips and bring back up to a boil. pull off of heat when carrots are al dente. when cool, jam is ready to eat. maple bacon jam will be thick and pasty and is great with anything from simple bread and butter to garnishing a cheese plate to topping vanilla ice cream!