Angel Brown Touwsma on Cucumber Cocktails, Taste of Atlanta 2013, and On-The-Job Training

Meet Angel Brown Touwsma, the new head honcho over at TofA.

Imagine getting hired for a position in which you only have 3 weeks to learn everything you can and prepare for the one event that defines your job. Talk about pressure. Then talk to the awesome and easy-going Angel Brown Touwsma, the new director for Taste of Atlanta. We had the opportunity to sit down with her and talk about her favorite Atlanta restos, the behind the scenes of Taste of Atlanta, and being thrown head first into the foodie mix.
Explain to us a little bit about your background, how you became involved with Taste of Atlanta, and your core responsibilities as the new director?
Wow! My background seems to be getting more diverse the older I get – YIKES! I worked in Higher Education for 10 years with my last job being Assistant Dean of Students at Florida State University. I left there to follow my love (my husband David who was just my boyfriend back then) to Atlanta and decided I wanted to get into Event Planning as I was creating and executing so many big events at FSU and I really loved it and thought I was good at it too. I accepted a job at Jezebel Magazine as their Vice President of Marketing and Events and from the rest is history! I had a ball planning so many fabulous parties, grand openings, balls, etc and at this position I met Dale DeSena (Gordon back then and I was Brown as neither of us were married or had children) when Taste was at it’s first year or so. Anyway, I left the event planning world because I opened retail gift stores (Limetree, we had 6 in Atlanta) and unfortunately after 8 successful years we closed our doors. The economy just got the best of us but it was a GREAT run. When that happened this summer I decided I wanted to get back into event planning and I reached out to a few folks and heard Dale was looking for a new Director position. Because I knew Dale from my younger days, I reached out to her and hear I am. It really is a perfect fit for both of us. She would like to pass on some of her day to day duties to me so she can focus on growing the Festival. I really am excited to for this weekend to happen so I can see it first hand and be ready to start next week on planning Taste of Atlanta 2013.
What can we expect differently from this year’s Taste of Atlanta, and as new director was there anything special you wanted to implement?
Unfortunately I jumped in just three weeks ago and because the festival is happening now there was really no time for me to implement anything or even get trained. They just threw me right in! I am loving it though and just asking tons of questions to any comments I hear in the hallway or ask to sit in on any meetings, etc. We will be planning a lot of new things for next year I promise! But this year they did plan the Kitchen Workshop which is new to Taste. It’s a hands-on cooking experience offering patrons the opportunity to learn how to create delicious dishes in their own kitchen. It’s really going to be cool to just cook right there at your own station with Atlanta’s top chefs.
Atlanta has slowly become the culinary mecca of the South over the years, for Taste of Atlanta which 3 restaurants do you think scream “Atlanta”?
WOW! There are so many restaurants here in Atlanta – how can I choose. We have over 90 involved with us this year – NINETY! I even started making a list of restaurants I must try and the list is so long! I am in love with The Optimist, Local Three, and No 246. And JCT! And….yikes too many to narrow to three. That is not nice of you to make me just have three.
When you’re not trying one of the 80+ restaurants that will be in attendance at Taste of Atlanta, what dishes are you making at home?
To be honest I like to eat out more than cooking at home and with 2 young girls that is fun but difficult too! The good thing is they are foodies too and love to try anything – well one of them is more daring than the other. My husband is really an excellent cook so I am his assistant and I don’t mind that at all but he makes me do the dishes if he cooks. We love to eat a lot of fish – grilled and blackend and curry is a favorite spice of ours. Also, love a good bone in ribeye on the grill – Pittsburgh style. We really love trying new things and try not to make the same thing over an over.
And last but not least, what’s your guilty pleasure? After a long day coordinating chefs, restaurants, and plans for the big day, what dish and cocktail do you reach for?
Really love a good vodka cucumber cocktail (I always ask the bartender if he has something special he can make me with those ingredients) and if not, a cold glass of Pinot Grigio (Luna Nuda is a favorite). I love a good shrimp and grits entrée. Yummy! I want that right now!
We’re looking forward to everything in store for Taste of Atlanta 2012, and can’t wait to see the big things Angel has planned for 2013. Be sure to say hello and wish her luck if you see her running around the food-laden streets near Tech Square.
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Chris is the Editor-in-Chief at eat. drink. repeat. If we could describe him in one word, it would be "awesome"...he's told us as much. An avid lover of sweets and all things beer, he's a social concierge to the masses and the go-to guy for the latest on upcoming Atlanta food and drink events.
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