MW of the Month // February 3, 2015 

Walking distance from my condo is the cutest little bakery. I pass by it every time I take my dog for a walk. I’m always so tempted to go inside and buy one of those 3 tiered cakes that they have on display in the window. I remembered that once upon a time I was a pastry chef and I could probably make that cake myself. Yup, like most 80's kids I used to whip up the finest of delicacies in my Easy Bake Oven. I’ve come a long way from my little amateur oven, but I’m sure I can still make sugary magic in the kitchen. I’m 26 years old, I can bake a cake. I mean, it can’t be that hard, right?

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Truth is, it is hard to bake cakes. It takes an immense amount of patience, attention to detail and culinary skill to pull off creating those beautiful and tasty things. As the Executive Pastry Chef for Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in Atlanta, Chef Kathleen Miliotis not only bakes cakes, but she kicks all kinds of ass in the kitchen as the woman in charge of one of Atlanta’s premier Italian restaurants. She oversees the entire production of pastries and desserts, including creation and execution, recipe and menu creation, supervising, training, managing the pastry staff, and community involvement. She has been in the pastry game for over 10 years and received national recognition for her work, including The New York Times naming Miliotis as “a rising star, her French dessert so venerable they belong in the Louvre." We were stoked to get to chat with Chef Kathy about culinary school, her career as a pastry chef and one of our favorite topics, CAKE!

Jasmin Martin: Why did you want to become a pastry chef? Did you bake a lot when you were growing up?

Kathleen Miliotis: I wanted to be a culinary chef but my sophomore year at Johnson and Wales I took a class on intro to baking which introduced me to the world of artistic baking and pastry, such as how to blow sugar. Not just making your typical pies or donuts! I learned about sugar artistry, chocolate and so much more. It changed my course..I had to take two extra years to get my bachelors degree in baking and pastry!

JM: Can you talk a little bit about your training? Where did you go to culinary school?

KM: I attended Johnson and Wales in Providence, Rhode Island… was a very intense program with strong teachers. Before I got there, I thought I already knew everything but there was so much too learn. Pastry is an art it’s not just a hobby…it’s a career so you have to take it seriously. My first chef job was at the Jarrod Coffin House in Nantucket. I was the pastry chef there in 1998 and I was only 21 years old. It was all hands on deck. I made cobblers cheesecakes, country style…it was great experience. I had to learn and teach myself what the guests were asking for. I made my first wedding cake using rice paper, it was a very vintage wedding. 

JM: In recent years people have become more familiar with pastry chefs thanks to reality TV shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes. It seems like there is a lot of stress in the kitchen! What is the most difficult thing about being a pastry chef?

KM: The most difficult is time management and getting stuff done on time. Everything is dependent upon time in the kitchen. Pastry is chemistry, you can’t rush it. Everything has to be precise. It’s really is a science.

JM: As the executive pastry chef for Davio’s what is a typical day like for you? How big is your staff?

KM: Walk in, see what my day entails – bread production first, then pastry production based on what parties we have that evening or the next day. We make everything in house – from our breads, buns, tart dough, everything is made from scratch in our kitchen by four people including myself.

JM: What inspires you as a chef? How do you make your desserts stand out?

KM: Staying on the trends. What our guests enjoy, seasonal, bold flavors… Sometimes you see something beautifully plate but there is no flavor. I am big on flavor and taste and keeping it simple yet beautiful.

JM: As a female pastry chef, do you feel like you’re a minority in your field? 

KM: Maybe two years ago yes but once I became a Les dames I realized that there are so many powerful and strong woman who are in this industry that stand together – I see more female chefs in the kitchen now and it’s very a powerful thing.

JM: When you dine at other restaurants, what are you looking for in their dishes? And desserts?

KM: What’s in season, unique ideas, sauces or something I’ve never heard of before. I think of myself as a risk taker. My key ingredients to any dessert are crunch, salt and sweetness and its very important how they are used. I love dining out and seeing what my competition is and the creativity out there, it makes me a better chef!

JM: What is your favorite dessert to make and why?

KM: My rendition of a Kit Kat Bar using peanut butter and chocolate I love recreating childhood favorites like my ice cream sandwiches which were a big hit…and of course our adult flavored popsicles for the summer!

JM: What do you do to stay on top of industry trends?

KM: I think its really important to look at other menus, cookbooks and even some from ten years ago which are still relevant. I love researching by looking at magazines, top ten restaurants in the US and what are their chefs making or trying to do differently. I get inspired by new media like Pinterest or Instagram, they are great tools for fun ideas.

JM: I’m sure one of the most difficult things to create as a pastry chef is a wedding cake. As much as we love to look at them, we know that pastry chefs must have a love/hate relationship with crafting them. Do you enjoy creating wedding cakes?

KM: YES… You're making the bride’s dream come true. A wedding cake is a piece of artwork. It’s very time consuming and they are many steps involved including many intricate details from fondant work to airbrushing but the final product is worth it!

JM: What’s next for you as a pastry chef?

KM: The Food Network! Another dream of mine is to someday own a café or brasserie and to be an Entrepreneur.

I'm still not much of a pastry chef. I admit, I burn cookies every time I bake them. But if you’re ever in the ATL and your sweet tooth won't let up, drop in to Davios Northern Italian Kitchen for a little something special from Chef Kathy.

Published in Business

30 Days of Made // April 3, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

Why do I love “Good Sam?” So many reasons, I don’t even know where to start! The Good Samaritan Health Center is a healthcare home dedicated to providing affordable comprehensive medical, dental, mental health and health education services for underserved individuals and families in Atlanta. It was formed in 1998 after Dr. Bill Warren left his private pediatric practice in Sandy Springs to fulfill a calling; he wanted to serve those in Atlanta without access to healthcare or insurance.

The Center started off with a staff of eight and a handful of volunteers in downtown Atlanta. Today, a full-time staff of 40 and 400 volunteers work together to provide high quality medical care to individuals and families in Atlanta that could not otherwise afford it. In 2013, The Good Samaritan Health Center provided 28,000 patient visits for primary healthcare services, health education, and community outreach through its urban farm and special days of service.

Working as the Health Education Coordinator for Good Sam, I get to witness the direct impact that The Center makes on people’s lives every day. I coordinate our health education programs including Diabetes Management, Kidney Smart, Healthy Cooking/Nutrition and Environmental Education. There isn’t a day that goes by without a patient personally thanking one of our staff or volunteers for serving them with dignity and respect--regardless of income, religion or ethnicity. Restoring the smile of a woman searching for a new job, watching a young woman regain her health and confidence after a 100lb weight loss, or providing a prosthetic leg to a homeless amputee: these are just a few of the experiences I’ve had that make Good Sam an exciting place to serve. This isn’t some sterile medical center, it’s a place where lives are changed and communities grow.

The project that has me the most excited right now is The Center’s growing urban farm. Located in the heart of the city, the urban farm is one acre of organic crops including kale, tomatoes, root vegetables, berries and fruit trees available to both patients of The Center and members of the community. The Center is located on Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy in the highly underserved Bankhead neighborhood. Low food security and few grocery stores within walking distance make access to fresh, healthy produce a challenge for the community. Produce from the farm will provide a valuable resource to both community members and patients who need healthy food. The urban farm is just the latest way that The Good Samaritan Health Center is working to provide people in need with the resources necessary to thrive.

How YOU can get involved!

The Good Samaritan Health Center is a non-profit organization that operates solely on donations. Gifts will go to support healthcare, health education and outreach like our food prescription program. The food prescription program will allow doctors and nurse practitioners to write a prescription for fresh produce from the farm to patients who are in need. There are many chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity that can be managed with the help of a healthy diet. The food prescription program will allow healthcare providers to treat these issues with healthy food.

If you love the mission of The Center and want to donate a monetary gift, then visit the website and give online.  The Good Samaritan Health Center can also use your donation of unexpired, unopened medications, newborn infant supplies, travel-size hygiene products, family first aid kit items and certain healthcare supplies. For more information please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

You can also use the buttons below to show your support! Or tweet at them at @atlantagoodsam!

Published in Current
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 07:19

30 Days of Made I Day 2: Global Soap Project

30 Days of Made // April 2, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

I’m sure most of you have stayed overnight in a hotel somewhere. Whether the Ritz Carlton or the Holiday Inn, we’re all familiar with hotels having housekeeping services and we often take those amenities for granted - like the soap we use in the shower.

To accommodate their guests, hotels will provide personal hygiene products such as mouthwash or shampoo for use during their stay. Shampoo and mouthwash get replenished when they’re empty, but other amenities like soap are a one-time use. After a bar of soap gets used, housekeepers will discard the used soap into the trash and replace it with a fresh, newly-wrapped bar. That’s a lot of wasted soap for a single-use shower, approximately 2.6 million bars daily in the United States. There has to be a better way to repurpose that soap so it isn’t just tossed away, creating more waste. Enter the Global Soap Project.

The Global Soap Project is a non-profit out of Atlanta, GA that partners with leading hotel brands to receive partially used and discarded soap to recycle it. The new bars they create are distributed to those in need around the world. That’s great, but what can a bar of soap do? Actually, it can do a lot -- even save lives. Surprisingly, the leading cause of death for children in underdeveloped countries are hygiene-related illnesses. A staggering 1.6 million children die each year from poor hygiene, accounting for nearly one-third of all child deaths. Although vaccines, clean water initiatives and medications can help fight the diseases, the best way to effectively prevent illness is by hand washing with soap. So by repurposing soap, The Global Soap Project is eliminating waste and saving lives. Not only are their efforts servicing those abroad (reaching 32 countries on four continents), but they also work in collaboration with health organizations like the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and Partners in Health to aid those domestically. The Global Soap Projects aims to ensure that all who lack access to soap receive it as well as receive an education on why soap is important.

The Global Soap Project :30 PSA from Gregory Miller Pictures on Vimeo.

The Global Soap Project Process

Once hotels release the discarded soap to The Global Soap Project, a thorough recycling process has to occur before the soap is ready for use:

1. Sorting: Once the soap is collected and received into the warehouse, it is sorted into boxes for the designated hotel. Each hotel brand is distinct with their own soap ingredients, so The Global Soap Project does not mix soap.

2. Sanitizing: Soap only holds bacteria when it’s wet, which is how the dried soap is able to be reused. To eliminate any bacterial remnants, the top layer of the soap is scraped off before the soap gets heated and filtered through an extremely fine mesh screen to remove any excess dirt or particles. After cleaning the soap, it is then melted and molded into finished bars. The soap is then cut into individual bars and ready for verification.

3. Verification: After the sanitation process, a third-party laboratory test is used to screen for pathogen samples from each batch of soap before it gets packaged and ready to ship.

4. Packaging/Shipment: A packaged box holds 120 four oz. bars and weighs 30 pounds. One pallet is 50 boxes totaling 6,000 bars. Those boxes are then shipped via non-governmental organizations (NGO's) to assist their intended populations.

I’ve been a supporter and volunteer for The Global Soap Project for two years. I love that they aren’t just giving away soap to help people (even though that’s awesome!), but that they are also encouraging better hygiene practices through education on how and why soap is crucial. I also love that they’re encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health and hygiene by not just relying on free soap, but also implementing what they now know into their lives as a lifestyle change. If giving someone soap to wash their hands or body is all we need to do save a life, I’m on board for making sure they have those resources.

Love the Global Soap Project? Give Back!

If you love the mission of the Global Soap Project show your support! Just click the buttons below or Tweet at them @globalsoap!

Published in Current