On the Friday before Christmas of 2012, a day that some people predicted to be the end of the world, chef Robert Phalen invited about a dozen chefs into his restaurant, One Eared Stag, to prepare an apocalyptic-sized feast. There is nothing convenient or simple about inviting 12 knife-wielding control freaks into a space built for one; conventional wisdom tells us what to expect from too many cooks in the kitchen. Logistics and proverbs be damned, Phalen and company expanded his cozy neighborhood kitchen into a sprawling makeshift cookery that included a storage room transformed into a banquet table for cold plating, a sidewalk commandeered for tabletop Binchotan charcoal grilling, a trailer-sized smoker parked outside the back door, and a kitchen line that turned over like a well-oiled revolving door. The kitchen worked late into the night, the world did not end, and, at some point, I realized that I had spent the last year worrying about Atlanta, about the past, and about the South in general. But by the end of the evening, I had also decided that I wasn't as worried about those questions anymore.
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