The focus was on modern Southern small plates at the recent Meet the Chefs event at Georgia Institute of Technology. Southern food is more proud tradition than trend, and the cuisine has been getting a stronger and stronger spotlight not just in cities like Atlanta and Charleston, but across the whole country.

Last year’s event featured more global cuisine, but this year, the chefs wanted to bring it all “home,” specifically to the South, says Campus Executive Chef Eric Lee Reed. That meant a classic wedge salad with pickled celery and red onion; marinated shrimp with grapefruit ; grilled chicken with dried peach tamarind barbecue sauce and coastal-style Basmati rice; seared salmon with black-eyed pea relish over spicy mustard greens and chow chow; and for dessert, waffles dipped in chocolate and topped with maple-bacon ice cream; and a new take on panna cotta: strawberry green tea.

This second annual event was a chance for Georgia Tech chefs to showcase their know-how and creativity with Southern food, and also an opportunity to meet their customers.

“It’s more than just a ‘monotony breaker,’” Reed says. The interaction and also the restaurant experience made for a memorable meal for about 695 students who participated.

The event provided nourishment to those students during Georgia Tech’s “Dead Week,” the time when students get serious about studying for finals the following week. It was featured on both local TV and the Georgia Tech Cable Network.

“Watching the team collaborate and seeing everything come together was an example of the employees that work in Dining Services,” says Christine Kapurch, unit marketing director, Sodexo.