Erika Preval - Simply Put

Category: Partners

Spread Love: Banner Butter’s Elizabeth & Drew McBath


Banner Butter, a Charm partner, is elevating our thinking about one of the most traditional foods. Butter in its purest form has one ingredient: cream. Yet, it’s the approach that a couple in Decatur, Georgia, is taking in the processing of that cream, that’s making a difference that your palate can’t help but notice and crave.

The history of butter suggests that its creation may have been the accidental result of a Nomad having tied a pouch of milk around his horse’s neck during travel. Elizabeth and Drew McBath, however, have been more intentional with the making of their butters. Launched in 2013, this husband and wife began selling their compound butters at local farmers markets. Although the recipes for the compounds (like Balsamic Fig & Caramelized Onion and Cinnamon, Cardamom & Ginger) belonged to Banner Butter, the butter itself was sourced from a nearby farm. After touring France’s best butters, including those belonging to the Brittany region, the foodies returned home; compelled to purchase their first churn. Elizabeth and Drew began selling their own churned butter in April 2014. Their goal was to “get back to the art of butter” by recapturing the old method of churning in small batches.

What’s the difference between Banner Butter and others? It’s the care that they’ve taken with butter’s key ingredient. The pasteurization process kills both good and bad bacteria. Industrial scale butters have been rushed through a process of using unripened cream, and then later adding “natural” flavor so that it has the butter taste that you’ve come to recognize. Banner Butter is made the old-fashioned way, although that means a longer wait. They add a mixture of bacterial cultures – carefully selected to optimize taste and texture, and allow the cream to ripen for hours. Good cultures then return to the cream, allowing it to taste like the butter our great-grandmothers knew. No added butter flavoring; packaged by hand.


Banner Butter is quite a success, as you can find it in far more places than neighborhood farmers markets (they’re still there, too). These delicious butters are up in the air aboard Delta Airlines international flights, and all around Atlanta at four Whole Foods Market locations, and restaurants like the newly opened hotspot: Atlas at The St. Regis, Watershed and The Cafe at Linton’s in the Garden . They’re also available nationwide via Scoutmob Shoppe – whew!

Elizabeth’s sound advice for sustaining a successful business is to “surround yourself with positive, excited people who believe in what you’re doing, and make it a real team effort.” I’m certainly excited about what these entrepreneurs have done in such a short amount of time, and am most proud to have Banner Butter atop our table and as a partner.


  3731 Northcrest Road | Atlanta, GA 30340 | 404.401.3735

Martha McMillin: Preserving Place

One thing that’s been consistent, since meeting Martha McMillin, is that I’ve always left her Westside Provisions storefront wishing I’d had more time. Our conversations at Preserving Place flow seamlessly through a variety of topics that could range anywhere from our love of entrepreneurship to shared childhood memories of exploring the World Book encyclopedias within our homes. Though she’s been a Charm partner for years, I recently realized that she’d not yet shared what prompted her leap from a 30-year career as a corporate attorney to selling beautiful preserves and artisanal goods. I hardly expected her journey to begin in Scotland, but stories like this make Martha the perfect guest at a cocktail party, as her sister suggests.

Though Martha’s family originated in Scotland, they entered America through Philadelphia and settled along the Appalachian Mountains. She grew up hearing stories about the Revolutionary War from her Aunt Peggy, the family historian. In fact, her Great-Great Grandmother was a spy. After the war, the family was afforded a land grant in South Carolina for their military service. “Land was good for my family. It felt like it was a part of the family,” Martha shared.

The McMillin’s lived off of their land, owning a gristmill, cotton mill and farm with produce and what we’d consider organic, grass fed cattle. Her mother, now 95 years old, was an excellent cook, and the family ate what was in season or had been preserved. “My cousins were getting after me about learning recipes…and my mother kept saying food doesn’t taste as good as it used to.”


Martha started shopping at Morningside Farmer’s Market and found that the produce there tasted like the varieties she grew up with. Not only that, she found herself happier when driving to the market. It was a place that reminded her of her childhood, when the conversations were driven by land, weather and bugs.

This was part of the recipe that prompted the 2013 launch of Preserving Place: a space that honors Martha’s mother and father by preserving their sense of place and honoring the land. She wanted the store to look and feel comfortable and hospitable, with a farm table to gather around and a pretty kitchen that would ensure its students left with the feeling, “Now, I know how to do it!” She’s done just that and more, with popular chef-led cooking classes, and Preserving Place artisanal products being featured by Chef Linton Hopkins on various international Delta Airlines flights.

You can also find Preserving Place goodies at H & F Bread, 3 Parks Wine and Atlanta farmers markets. Classes, like Canning 101 and Southern Put-Ups, are updated regularly online. Be sure to stop by the storefront to sample what’s in season and sit for a spell with Martha!

Guest Post: Must Make Basil Simple Syrup Lemonade

Through Charm, I’ve been able to partner with some of the most talented entrepreneurs in Atlanta. See what fun my friend Kate and I had making basil simple syrup and get the yummy recipe to make at home. It’s what’s cooking at Camp Rock Paper Scissors!

Via Kate Byars, Kate Byars Photography

What fun! I joined Manners Maven, Erika Preval, who has made a name in Atlanta teaching etiquette to kids, for a fun afternoon of making her Homemade Basil Lemonade – a refreshing and sophistocated summer bev for the little ones.

Now you may have had a restaurant cocktail or two with some delicious herbal simple syrups in it (I know I have!), but it is quite the Lovely Southern Hostess thing to have this on hand to dash here and there into drinks of all sorts, you feel like it.

In fact, Erika is doing this fun kitchen activity in her upcoming Camp Rock Paper Scissors, where kids will take the blend home to parents to sample. Camp occurs on June 19+20th at the Georgian Terrace and the Westside Provisions District. She has a spot or two, if you would like to be one of the last sign ups!


Want to know how to do this recipe at home?

Let’s get to it! All you need is basil, water, sugar and a whole lotta lemons.


First, make the simple syrup.  All you need is equal parts water and sugar. If you want to be sassy, you can match your cup to your dress, as Erika has. Boil equal parts water and sugar, and then let it cool. It’s really pretty easy to do, and a lovely kitchen staple to have on hand. But, if you are worried about this bit, read a guide to simple syrup-making, like this one, on a post by Stir and Garnish. I may add, also, that with the leftover simple syrup, you can easily add sweetness to other bevs and … drumroll please, to morning iced coffees – which are a soon to be MUST in Hotlanta!



After you take the simple syrup off the heat, add a handful of basil. Remember, use fresh basil, and pinch off individual leaves, one at a time. Basil stems do not make for tasty syrup!


With kids, this is a fun time to talk about gardening and where our food comes from … even if it is the delicious and sweet kind!


Steep the basil for 3 minutes and then strain out the leaves.

Then, slice the lemons and make yourself a yummy lemonade while the simple syrup cools. Easy peasy. I recommend making homemade lemonade, using a recipe like this one.… which, as it turns out, also uses simple syrup!  Did I say it would be awesome to have on hand, or what? (Or … cheat, and buy some at the store. Just make sure you buy a high quality, mostly juice recipe).


Add a dash of basil simple syrup to a glass of your lovely lemonade, garnish with more fresh basil, and serve with ice (mommas and daddies can also add a little sumpin’ sumpin’ to the mixture for an, ahem, Big Kid basil lemonade).

But wait, there’s more! Jar the basil simple syrup for up to 3 refrigerated weeks. AND, make a few extras as gifts for your friends. Or, party favors for kids at the next birthday party. Tie them up with a cute bow or a tag, distribute and you, my friend, will be the talk of all of Pinterestdom for the rest of the week. Or, at least the kids summer activities circle. Or, the cocktail club. Whichever. You decide. =)




If you liked this story and want to read more about Atlanta Moms, check our Every Mom Home Tour.


A Catered Coincidence – The Hungry Peach

Conor Hubbard and Chef Suzanne Viezethann (l to r) Owners of The Hungry Peach Cafe

Conor Hubbard & Chef Suzanne Vizethann (l to r) Owners of The Hungry Peach Cafe

The older I get, the less I believe that things happen by happenstance. Life events that seem to come about serendipitously, in hindsight all have an order – a larger purpose. Such has been my experience with the first Charm Etiquette restaurant partnership: The Hungry Peach Café. I’m not certain what lead me to The Peach beyond random Google search results of a restaurant I’d not yet tried, but I was compelled to head over. Located within the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (a space I’d never before visited) I stopped by, unannounced, and spoke with owner Conor Hubbard. During the first proposal of many, Conor unknowingly taught me the “it” factor that I’d seek when choosing future partnerships, while giving me the assurance of knowing my modern approach to teaching social skills was both a viable and welcomed one. But enough about me, let’s explore the “happenstance” of how a little café in Buckhead came to be.

It was in chemistry class that The Hungry Peach owners Conor and Suzanne Vizethann would become friends. The two were Juniors at Riverwood High School in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. Suzanne, in fact, had just transferred to Riverwood from another school. Their passions would lead them in different directions, then as now. I spoke to Conor recently from her part-time home in Boston. She shed light on the beginnings of The Hungry Peach.

After high school, Conor attended Georgia Southern University, receiving her BS in Public Relations. She segued those skills into shaping the Wedding Design Team for The Cloister on Sea Island. She learned much about intuitive service working at the resort, but with no days off and the expired thrill of island life, (things get very small, very quickly) Conor moved back to Atlanta and began her time with Added Touch Catering.

“Sandra Banks was one of those people that oozes creativity in such an easy way, “ Conor says of the owner of Added Touch. Though she’d left a position with over 2000 employees to join the boutique catering company of 5, Added Touch enhanced Conor’s portfolio with the finesse of event planning – artistic food and hospitality. Ingredients that would come to make all the difference.

Where was Suzanne during all of this? Oh, she was Conor’s Atlanta roommate! Suzanne (now a certified Personal Chef and Certified Culinarian) and Conor would lay around on Sunday nights and kick around ideas for a business of their own. They needed a tangible product, however, so the brainstorming continued for a year until a friend happened to mentioned to Conor that the café at ADAC was closing and suggested a visit. Conor toured the space and knew right away that it was a perfect fit!


The two wanted a name that was local and incorporated Georgia, so the café was christened The Hungry Peach. They first saw the space in June. Within 1-2 weeks, their business plan was approved by ADAC, beating out three other would-be takers. Conor cashed in her 401k for start up money; family and friends pitched in to pull the space together, and the cafe opened its doors on August 3, 2009. “We didn’t have time to think – it was pure adrenaline!”

Chef Suzanne created the menu for the Café. It was during a conversation with dear friends who frequented the Masters, that the suggestion to include pimento cheese sandwiches on the menu was made. Through trial and error, Chef Suzanne created the infamous Mastered Pimento Cheese. In fact, The Peach was the first to offer pimento cheese stuffed eggs.

Added exposure from Chef Suzanne’s win on Food Network’s Chopped brought in business from the local community. The Hungry Peach has a very popular following for catering. Whether hosting dinner parties for 6 guests or corporate events of 100 guests within many Fortune 500 corporations in Atlanta, clients are drawn to the consistency of their presentation, quality of food, and punctuality; their delivery process and on-site set up is phenomenal. The Peach is known for going one step further with their customer service, drawing on Conor’s experiences on Sea Island and with Added Touch. “Food has nothing to do with the purpose of the [event], but sure can add a lot of stress if it’s not right,” explains Conor.


Charm Etiquette Unbirthday Party at The Peach

In fact, you can take a break from the kitchen this holiday season by taking advantage of the a la carte menu offered by The Hungry Peach. The menu allows for flexibility of items to either bring to a potluck dinner or to create a full holiday spread. Though the taste is over the top, the offerings are familiar. Says Conor, “You just don’t mess with the holidays – stick with classics, make it really delicious and build it to fit the need.”

So, back to passions leading these two in different directions: Conor will be tying the knot this summer and relocating permanently to Boston, while Chef Suzanne has over a year under her belt at her popular restaurant, Buttermilk Kitchen (also a Charm partner). With Conor miles away, it lead me to the question of what will come of the Café? “We are personally and emotionally attached to The Hungry Peach, but also want to make a sound financial decision, with no regrets,” she explains. Certainly, this is a personal chapter for the two, and so their story is to be continued. Whether they choose to expand the catering business or the Café, I’m certain that what happens next will be wonderful and just as it is supposed to be. Fortunately, we’ll have their yummy pimento cheese to nosh on their while awaiting the details of their next chapter!


Two’s Company – The Boxcar Grocer


Alison and Alphonzo Cross – Owners of The Boxcar Grocer

Southerners love a good story. An unanticipated summer breeze, accompanied by a tall glass of iced tea (sweetened, of course) and the equally sweet conversation of friends are things we treasure on porches throughout the South. Little did I know, my partners at The Boxcar Grocer would provide such a conversation during my recent visit. Though the sweet tea and porch were missing, I was in for a great story of how this convenient market came to be.

Alison and Alphonzo Cross always wanted to work together. In fact, the two have been close since childhood; the siblings are only a year apart in age. Their interests, however, were quite different. Alphonzo studied communications, earning his masters in film and video, while his little sister pursued a  degree in architecture from Barnard. Though their paths were different, the skill sets garnered within both school and their previous careers were complimentary. So, what was the impetus for these two moving across the country to Atlanta from San Francisco to open a corner market? Farmland! Wait. What?

Though they were raised in both California and Texas, Georgia wasn’t foreign territory for the siblings. Their father’s family owned 165 acres of farmland in Swainsboro, so they’d visited the state often for family gatherings. Time on the farmland fostered their deep sense of respect for land. Unfortunately, after the loss of their father, the siblings were unable to prevent the 2009 sale of the farmland that had been within the family for generations. The Boxcar Grocer is their reaction to that emotional loss – a way of reconnecting to land and showing respect to the earth that provides the food we eat and, in turn, facilitates the lives we live.


Alison and Alphonzo adopted the railroad as a theme, and included the iconic Pullman porter within branding of The Boxcar Grocer. Located in Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill community, theirs is a nearly 100 year-old building within a neighborhood of mostly African-American owned businesses. Since 2011, the bright and welcoming market has featured locally sourced organic foods and products in an urban area where one might not expect such options to be easily accessible. Much like the railroad, it serves as a connector.

Though healthy food options abound within the market, the two let me know their personal cheats. For Alison, it’s Nona Rose’s Gingerbread Pizzelles crumbled atop High Road Craft Ice Cream. Alphonzo prefers to indulge in Homemade Joy’s Chocolate Walnut Wonderful Cookies. All of are made locally in Atlanta.

The siblings’ goal of connecting the community with nutritious foods and education has been quite successful. In fact, they will be opening another market location by the end of the year, and have partnered with Kollective South to offer a co-working and communi-tech center next door to their current space. Classes with Om Point Yoga and, of course, etiquette and leadership training with Charm Etiquette are also offered within the convenience market.


Alphonzo proudly wearing his name tag during Charm First Impressions event.

July is National Ice Cream Month. Celebrate with a visit to The Boxcar Grocer, where you’ll receive a discount of 10% off any Honeysuckle Gelato or High Road Craft Ice Cream purchase by simply mentioning this post. Both are perfect additions to your next front porch conversation!

The Boxcar Grocer | 249 Peters Street SW | Atlanta, GA 30313 | 404.883.3608

just add honey – The Perfect Blend



There’s a lot that goes into the branding of a business. Anyone who’s gone through the branding process, likely employing the assistance of a graphic designer, will certainly walk away with a newfound awareness and appreciation of font names and Pantone colors. There’s something particularly special about the branding of Charm Partner just add honey, however. You see, the “J” in just add honey is the catalyst for its owner, Brandi Shelton, turning a hobby into a thriving local business.

The  just add honey “J” is much more than a letter – it’s a symbol. Brandi lost her mother to breast cancer in 2005. Her mother, Jean, signed her name with the “J” that adorns each container of Brandi’s specially blended teas. Describing her mother as the B. Smith or Martha Stewart of their family, Brandi chose to use the “J” in her branding so that she’d have a part of her mother with her wherever she went.

Brandi moved to Atlanta from her native New Orleans during the week of the 1996 Olympics – the same week her husband made his way here from Massachusetts, though they’d not meet for four years. Although she earned a degree in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Tech, it was during Brandi’s time as an exchange student in Europe that her interest in tea blossomed. While there, she developed the hobby of blending different varieties of tea, which continued after her return to the United States. Years later,  those skills would be honed while attending courses at the Specialty Tea Institute. In fact, Brandi will be speaking at World Tea East in Atlanta this October.


just add honey berries! tea is a favorite at Charm events

June is National Iced Tea Month, and Brandi has been celebrating by introducing a new just add honey tea blend each week. The soon-to-be mother of three (the latest addition to the family arrives in July) currently has a pitcher containing a blend of berries! and mango rose in her fridge.  Surely, your fridge could use the charm of just add honey tea. I’ve snagged Brandi’s sangria recipe for you – perfect for these warm summer days. You can find just add honey tea online,  at many retail locations in Atlanta, including Charm Partners The Boxcar Grocer and Le Petit Marche, or being sipped through paper straws during a Charm Etiquette event!