I'm so excited about this post because Souper Jenny! is my favorite place to eat in All. Of. Atlanta. To give you an idea of how deep my admiration is for this heavenly place, the first time I met the owner & founder, Jenny Levison, my face turned red & I turned into a bumbling idiot. I have interviewed Sarah Palin, talked to tons of musical artists, come within inches from Josh Lucas (sigh)...never got that nervous...ever. Embarrassing moment documented here. :-)
Not only is the food creative & fun but the passion that Jenny & the rest of the staff has for arts, for people, for giving, for creating...it spills over into every inch of that restaurant & leaves you nothing less than inspired.
And hopefully you'll be inspired by these great tips from Marcie, the general manager of Souper Jenny! I was able to sit down & ask her a few questions the other week & she has some great summer entertaining tips that are charming, easy & affordable.
Marcie, tell us more about you...
Well, I'm a professional actress. I've been acting since I was 3 years old. I've performed in every
theater in the city, except for the GA Shakespeare theater. I love animals. I volunteer at FurKids
which is a no-kill cat shelter & I clean the cages at Petsmart once a week.
How long ago did you start working at Souper Jenny?
I've been here 9 years after I met Jenny while doing a [theatrical] show together. I was a server for 4 years. When Souper Jenny started getting bigger than they could handle, Jenny moved me into management. Since then, it continues to grow. Since I've been the general manager, we've published a cookbook, been on the Today show 4 times, been on every local morning show, most radio programs, started a food truck (see below) & started an underground supper club.
For a woman that wanted to sell soup in the South, we're doin okay.
What's the underground supper club?
We try to do 4 a year. It's a secret dinner that 25 are chosen to participate. We have over 300 people
asking for an invitation right now. We choose a unique venue & a well-known chef & the guests
don't find out where they're going until that morning. Some of the chefs we've had have been Jerry
Klaskala from Aria, Linton Hopkins from Restaurant Eugene, Richard Blais. We've done a supper on Halloween night at Oakland Cemetary. We had one at Antico Pizza based on the movie Big Night with Stanley Tucci. The whole movie is based around a meal so we recreated that meal.
Sounds like you guys know how to throw a party. Since it's the middle of summer what are some must-have menu items for a summer party?
Jenny is the ultimate hostess. I'm the detail person. Jenny comes to me with an idea & I can run with it.
For a summer party, I love sliced watermelon & feta. Drizzle with olive oil, fresh mint or basil & sprinkle
with a little sea salt. I also love an heirloom tomato open-faced sandwich with real mayo & argumato
(Marcie explained that this is lemon olive oil). Serve it on Ezekiel bread or another thick bread. Put
a little basil on top.
Any other simple, easy appetizer ideas?
Take fresh figs, slice enough to create a hinge. Take a spoonful of goat cheese & put it inside then add a
sprig of basil on top of the goat cheese. These keep really well & look beautiful.
Good hummus with homemade pita chips is really easy & there are some great store bought brands.
Publix has some great ones.
Since it is summer, I love a fruit salad or sesame noodle salad. Add a little peanut butter, julienne
carrots, ginger & scallions. You can put it in the fridge the day before & it's great.
One question that I always wrestle with when I throw parties is How Much Food Should I Estimate? Is there a formula based on the amount of people?
There isn't really a formula. It does help if you know who's coming. Are they a picker? A big eater?
(Here's what Marcie goes by)
Salad/fruit salad/couscous - plan on 8 oz/per person
Sandwiches - 1/per person
Soup - bowl/per person or if it's a cocktail affair cup/per person
If I'm doing a big catering job, like we have one we're doing for 200 people or so, I split the salads in half. If we're serving a fruit salad, I'll do it for 100 people & a green salad for 100-125 people. If there is a big crowd & people are walking around with a plate, they're not going to mound the food.
What are some tips for staging a food display?
Levels are very important
I stack books that platters can rest on. You could also cover them with a cloth napkin.
In between the levels, I'll put whole pieces of fruit or clip hydrangeas. I've even gotten stems of monkey grass & tufted them in between the levels or ivy. Just becareful of bugs when pulling things from the yard. Place a few tea lights around the table & you're set to go.
Thank you so much, Marcie, for taking time out of your busy day to give us great tips!
Marcie is such a beautiful person on the outside, as well as on the inside. You can tell from her love of animals & people. If you'd like to visit Souper Jenny! just click here to go to their website. A heads up, they do close for the month of August (I think that's such a great idea to give the employees a break) but you can catch them at my wedding reception August 20th. Yes...they're catering it & I'm so freakin excited! :p Jenny also just opened Cafe Jonah & the Magical Attic. It's a coffee, breakfast & lunch cafe. I just ate there yesterday & it never disappoints.
Here are some more pics I couldn't squeeze in above...
Outdoor patio area
At any given moment, the staff...like Eric...may break out in song! They're all soo creative & talented.
Such a simple solution & yet adds such character!
I have never tried anything from Souper Jenny! that I didn't love!!
They serve special house dressing with all their salads that has become my all-time favorite. I bought Jenny's cookbook so I could make it & now I don't use any other salad dressing.
These soups don't exactly look appetizing...but I promise you they are famous for their soups! They make you wish it was 40 degrees outside. ;p
That little girl was so cute! I'm gonna train my children in the way they should eat, too! :p
I think everyone should have a sign somewhere in their house that says this! :-) Where? Wherever your heart desires! :p
Regarding the interview, I had to condense a little so while most every word was exactly what Marcie said...for the sake of shortening it, I altered it slightly. 98% of this interview was verbatim. I just wanted to clarify that. :-)
Thanks again to everyone at Souper Jenny! that allowed me to snap pics & steal Marcie away for a bit. I want to be like Jenny & the rest of the staff when I grow up! :p
What did you think of the tips? Did they sound easy to you? Do you have any more questions you wished I had asked? Thanks for stopping by!
10 days until I leave for my wedding ceremony & honeymoon (don't worry I asked a friend to post the week I am gone...and you are going to love it!) & 31 days until my backyard wedding reception...oh man...I can't wait to show you guys! :-)