The Chew: Mary Mac’s Tea Room
ABC’s cooking talk show The Chew is eating its way across America, and the first stop on its tour is Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta, Georgia. That’s where The Chew’s Jason Roberts went to sample Southern cuisine in person, including Mary Mac’s Tea Room Sweet Potato Souffle.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room boasts a three-hour wait and serves 2,000 meals daily. The Atlanta restaurant has been feeding Southerners for more than 60 years. Jason Roberts said locals call it “Atlanta’s dining room.”
Mary Mac’s Tea Room: Atlanta’s Dining Room
A survey of patrons finds that it reminds them of classic Southern style cooking. Director of Operations Matt Thompson explained that the restaurant was started in 1945 by Mary Mackenzie, who called it a tea room because at that time it was improper for women to own restaurants.
More recently, Mary Mac’s was officially christened Atlanta’s Dining Room by the George House of Representatives, thanks to iconic dishes like Mary Mac’s Tea Room Sweet Potato Souffle.
Celebrities love the Southern cooking. The Dalai Lama and Richard Gere once shared lunch at Mary Mac’s. James Brown, Hillary Clinton, President Jimmy Carter, and countless other famous faces have passed through the dining room over the years.
Jo Carter’s official title at the restaurant is Goodwill Ambassador, and she explained that her duties include rubbing customers’ backs, “spreading the love.” That is truly unique Southern hospitality.
Executive Chef Tes Solomon explained the restaurant’s Southern menu, which they try to do just a little better than grandma. Fried chicken, barbecue ribs, smothered chicken, fried catfish, tomato pie, and other Southern staples make up the beloved menu.
The Chew: Sweet Potato Souffle Recipe
“The thing about Southern cooking is, not all of it is necessarily good for you, but it’s great to you,” Tes Solomon explained. Mary Mac’s Tea Room Sweet Potato Souffle is a shining example of this philosophy.
Mary Mac’s goes through about 75 pounds of sweet potatoes a day, thanks to its beloved Sweet Potato Souffle, a rich side dish that could also make a great dessert. You might need a backrub after eating this decadent dish.
- 1 pound Sweet Potatoes
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- Nutmeg & Cinnamon, to taste
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 4 tablespoons salted Butter, soft
- Evaporated Milk
- 6 tablespoons Sugar
- 2 cups miniature Marshmallows
- In a stock pot, boil sweet potatoes on medium-high.
- Simmer for one hour, until soft.
- Drain and cool.
- Peel potatoes and mash them in a large mixing bowl.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Prepare a baking dish with butter.
- Add remaining ingredients (except Eggs & Marshmallows) to sweet potatoes.
- Mix eggs and add more sugar if desired.
- Pour into baking dish, baking about 30-40 minutes.
- Heat oven to 475.
- Spread marshmallows on souffle, baking about five minutes until browned.
Carla Hall: Atlanta Superfan
Carla Hall was contributing her Peach Pie recipe to today’s Dixieland Dishes episode of Coast to Coast Cooking week. Carla’s catch phrase, “Hootie hoo,” was not complete, because she had a sign that said “Hootie,” but someone in the audience had the “hoo” sign under their seat. Carla invited the woman to help her make Peach Pie.