- Posted February 3, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
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"Drink Art Restaurant": The new home for Chef Shandon Anderson
The concept for a vegan-focused restaurant was born in 2010 by owner Shandon Anderson. More than 20 years ago Anderson became a vegetarian and eventually he began moving toward a vegetarian lifestyle eating, eating fish and chicken on occasion. An Atlanta native, Anderson started his NBA professional career when he was selected by Utah Jazz (2ⁿᵈ round (54ᵗʰ pick) by the Utah Jazz) in the 1996 NBA draft. During his professional career as he also played for the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. In 2006, he won an NBA championship with the Miami Heat and soon thereafter he retired.
After retiring from the NBA, Anderson recognized that there were only a handful of restaurants that catered to his vegan lifestyle. Anderson attended the Living Light Culinary Institute in Fort Bragg, California in 2010 and from 2012-2013, he also attended the Natural Gourmet Institute in NY. A lover of art and food, Anderson wanted a way to combine the two and the vision of “Drink Art” was created. Making sure that his dishes remained true to vegan taste and gave that artistic presence, Anderson hired Phinit na Sangkhamanee (Alex) as the Executive Chef of “Drink Art” restaurant.
Chef Alex, was born and raised in Thailand first became interested in cooking at a very young age. Chef Alex grew up learning how to prepare and serve traditional Thai food. His grandmother cooked for many years for the distinguished royalty in Thailand. After completing High School, he decided to attend Oxford University and received his degree in Education. After completing at Oxford University continue in the culinary field and enrolled at Themes Valley University where he learned the fundamental skills about cooking and baking. Chef Alex has worked in many five star hotels and restaurants in Europe and Thailand including Nahm hotel and Nobu hotel in London. He is also a member of the Thai and British Chef Association and is the youngest to receive the Master Chef of Thailand designation. Chef Alex is helping revive the traditional Thai cuisine and advance the acceptance of vegan food in Atlanta.
With Shandon and Chef Alex, Vegan and Thai food is making is making a new life and home in Atlana, and this interview will give you alittle more insight and information ……
From Basketball to Chef, what made you take off your jersey and enter the gates of entrepreneurship?
“I needed a change, he said. I told myself that my last year in the NBA, was to win a championship and after I did that, I knew it was time to try something new.” After leaving basketball, he later realized that he could not prepare a proper dish for himself at home, and most traditional restaurants did not serve the kind of food that he wanted, so he went into survival mode and went to school to learn how to cook. Anderson attended the Living Light Culinary Institute, Raw Cooking School, Natural Gourmet Institute, and completed an internship at Candle 79, NYC’s premiere vegan oasis.
In addition to all of his formal training, and learning, Shandon credits basketball for giving him the first-hand knowledge on how to manage and what makes a great team, how to establish team goals, and how to make a dream come to life, so all he had to do was network with the right people. Candle 79 showed his the ropes of management to food ordering so by the time he made it back to Atlanta, he was ready for business.
What inspired you to become a vegan? And can you see the benefits of practicing the vegan lifestyle?
He has never been a big meat eater, so vegan was not a hard transition for him. He shared a story with me, “I am the youngest of 5 kids and when I was about 11, my brothers use to go out and grill steaks. I later tried to grill me a piece of steak, first having trouble with the grill, I finally got it to work. I ate 2 bites of the steaks laid down and later rushed to the hospital. I had to get my stomach pumped and was diagnosed with food poisoning. After that point, I never looked at meat the same.” With traveling the world and visiting countries like Singapore, Thailand, and Bangkok, he found a love for the vegan.
The benefits of being vegan, in his opinion, are hard to say because everyone is different, everyone’s body is different, and vegan is something you have to learn and research. But for him, vegan gave him the ability to maintain his energy, he does not get sleepy after eating, and it is naturally healthy for you and your digestive system.
Drink Art restaurant is a unique concept, what motivated you to do Thai and vegan? And can vegans eat Thai food?
While living in Castleberry Hills for about 15 years, he traveled through the art districts, looking at paintings, enjoying the scenery and just loving life. With all of his travels throughout his basketball career and beyond, that experience motivated him to create his restaurant, “Drink Art”. The whole concept of Drink Art is about the arts, you will not only enjoy great food, but view the art gallery, receiving seminars or lessons about certain health issues.
Yes, blending Thai and Vegan together enhances the flavor in the food and makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
Do you have any plans to expand this concept outside of Atlanta?
Yes!!!! “I would love to share this food with not only vegan lovers, but with others who are open to new ideas, food, and just loves to explore,” he stated. I was surprised when he told me that 60% of his clientele are not vegan, because I just assumed that people who love meat would not find a thing on a vegan menu, but vegan is in and I must go down to Atlanta to get a taste of his tasty dishes.
Now that you’ve started the Drink Art restaurant what’s next for you in this adventure we call life?
He says, “Just being in the kitchen and watching people enjoy the taste our food.” He can remember watching his mother and godmother cooking in the kitchen, and later watching people in the living room taking bites with such enjoyment on their face because of such great cooking
He plans to continue that vision by using his restaurant and the love of food to make others happy.
Do you have plans to share some of your recipes in a cookbook?
“Yes, a cookbook is on the rise. Don’t be surprised if you see it this Summer,” he says. He also plans to travel around the world with his food and do a TV show that further showcases what he does at “Drink Art”.
Will you ever return to Basketball, or is that chapter closed?
He made it clear that his relationship with basketball is done. He loves what basketball has taught him and how it prepared him to now do what he loves, but right now his love is in the kitchen, with his clientele, and having the ability to make others smile.
Basketball gave me the ability to travel and I am looking for food to do the same thing.
Drink Art is located at:
199 Walker Street
Atlanta, GA 30313
The hours of operation are:
Tuesday - Thursday 5pm -10pm
Friday - Saturday 5pm – 11pm