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June 20, 2011 / John Edwards

Beyond the Column: Cheesecake Factory

Today, launched SeriousEats: Sweets.  Congrats to them on the new blog!

To christen the new blog, yours truly went to the Cheesecake Factory and sampled all 33 of their cheesecakes.  It is a truly epic piece, so I wrote it with a Dantean style, after my favorite epic poet. (At least, I did until I actually started writing about cheesecake. Dante didn’t do cheesecake.) I hope you enjoy it, and you can read it here.

I also have to say thank you to Maggie Hoffman, Carey Jones, and Christine Tsai, all of  Maggie is my Drinks and Sweets editor, and was with me on the trip.  Christine, the site’s main developer, is one of the best photographers on staff, and she is responsible for all the awesome photos.  Carey Jones is my main editor, and is responsible for a) making sure I get my columns in on time and b) making sure everything is spelled correctly.

I’ve been talking about this post with friends, and the reaction has been “How did you do that?” or “Did you eat anything else all day?” or “How long did it take you?”  So, I thought I’d answer some of the questions as part of my series, Beyond the Column.

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June 12, 2011 / John Edwards

Interview with Biscuitville’s CEO, Part 1: History, Footprint, Expansion

Let’s play word association.  I’ll say a word, and you think of the first thing that comes to your mind.  Ready?

Fast Food CEO.

What are you picturing?  Probably a man in a suit, mid 50′s, with a rather round figure.  At least, that’s what I had in mind of the archetype Quick Service Restaurant executive.

Burney Jennings, the CEO of Biscuitville, reminded me more of Lance Armstrong: slim and trim, with a big smile and a firm handshake.  I met him at the Biscuitville headquarters for an interview mid-week, and he had the presence and physique of someone who likes to run for 60 minutes a day.  Whether he does or not, I don’t know.  It never occurred to me to ask when I sat down to talk with him about his restaurants.  But I did have the time to learn more about Biscuitville, its corporate structure, and its operations.

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June 8, 2011 / John Edwards

Tony Atlas Shrugged: Taco Bell

A colleague in the media world, David Blend, reached out to me some months ago about Taco Bell.  He’s compiling 50 reasons he misses Texas, and one was that Taco Bell in the Lone Star State just tasted better.  They can be found at Tony Atlas Shrugged: 50 Things I miss about Dallas.

He solicited my opinion as a Fast Food guru, and I gave him my candid thoughts.  He elected not to edit them, and just post my email.  It’s a cool post, and a cool project that is definitely worth checking out. Here’s the link: Taco Bell tasting as good as I remember it.

May 29, 2011 / John Edwards

Introduction to Biscuitville

If I asked you to guess what type of restaurant Biscuitville was, I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to hazard a guess.  I had never heard of them, but a college friend recommended them to me.

If you’re not from North Carolina or Virginia, chances are you’ve never heard of them.  There are only 50 restaurants, all located in those two states, and all within a 2-hour driving radius of Greensboro, where the company is headquartered.  They focus mostly on breakfast, and most restaurants aren’t open after 2pm.  Believe me, they’re worth rising early for.

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May 25, 2011 / John Edwards

Beyond the Column: Cook-out in NC

Earlier this month, I covered Cook-Out, a North Carolina Chain for Cook-Out is a pretty cool chain that I had never been to.  True to the name, everything tastes like it was cooked in somebody’s backyard on a Weber.

As I was sitting in the parking lot of the strip mall adjacent to the restaurant, preparing my meal for photographing, a gentleman approached me:

“Listen, Mr. Photographer, any chance I could have like a dollar to get some Cook-Out?”

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May 15, 2011 / John Edwards

Slow Food: Crawfish Boil

Contrary to what you might think, I don’t spend every waking hour at a counter ordering burgers and fries, or sitting in the drive-thru line.  One of my favorite activities is being around the dinner table for extended periods of time. Who doesn’t love that?

I spent a week in North Carolina recently, visiting my friend, Will, and his family.  Though they live in North Carolina, my hosts, the Benjamins, are originally from New Orleans.  In my honor, they had crawfish shipped up from the Bayou, and we had a Crawfish Boil.

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May 8, 2011 / John Edwards

Eurotrip: Old World Fast Food

Photo courtesy Carey Jones,

My girlfriend, Carey, and I took a trip to London and Paris last month. Though our intent was to relax and step away from work, I couldn’t help but sample the local fast food.

Popular Wisdom among those who have traveled to Europe says that their fast food is of a higher quality than ours.  Ultimately, I think that isn’t true.

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