In the Kitchen with Chef Jeffrey Gardner

Readers may recognize Jeffrey Gardner from the Food Network show “Chopped,” or as the executive chef of Common Quarter in Marietta, or maybe just from seeing him around the Smyrna community he calls home.

A native of Natchez, Mississippi, Gardner grew up learning how to navigate a kitchen from his grandparents. He’s been in Atlanta for the past 10 years, working with Fifth Group Restaurants before joining Common Quarter in 2013.

Common Quarter specializes in coastal Southern cuisine and offers guests a warm and inviting atmosphere. When he’s not at Common Quarter, he can be found at his home in Smyrna with his “way cooler and more beautiful” wife Wendy. Vinings Lifestyle caught up with Gardner to chat about all things food.

VL: What type of food do you cook at home?

Gardner: I cook healthier food when I’m at home. A lot of veggies! I try to make things I can make a large pot of and eat off of throughout the week, like a ratatouille. Wendy likes it any time I make a pasta, especially pasta with prosciutto and peas.

VL: What is your “must have” kitchen appliance or tool?

Gardner: The internet is helpful when I need help with a recipe. Otherwise, a microplane. I use a lot of citrus zest and it’s great for grating nuts or hard cheeses.

VL: Where are your favorite spots to dine out?

Gardner: I love Taco Veloz (specifically the chili relleno), Muss & Turners (I was eating there way before I worked for the restaurant group) and Porch Light Latin Kitchen.

VL: What is your one “must make” dish around the holidays?

Gardner: Cornbread and Hopping John with collard greens. It’s a New Year’s tradition for Wendy and I, we make it every year.

VL: When you cook at home, is your kitchen a mess?

Gardner: I’m very neat in the kitchen. I don’t cook with any complexity, but the one thing I bring home with me is working clean and efficiently in the kitchen.

VL: What’s your go-to cookbook?

Gardner: I don’t use cookbooks often, but I love “Flour + Water: Pasta” by Thomas McNaughton. Why? Because it’s all pasta and there’s something for every season.