Gay Atlanta Chef Alexis Hernandez seduces us into autumn with warm, hearty recipes and homegrown flavors
By Mike Fleming

Don’t tell the intown-only loyalists, but several of their gay brethren are cheating on Midtown. We’re regularly venturing out, not quite OTP but brazenly close, to experience the culinary delights of Union Hill Kitchen and its head foodie Alexis Hernandez.

Far from repentant, we’re not sorry one bit. Taste the stick-to-your-ribs meals that Hernandez serves, and you’ll make the short trek to Chamblee a regular habit yourself.

Known for stints on The Next Food Network Star and Café CNN, Hernandez brings his Cuban-American heritage, culinary cred, and organic farming experience to the table at Union Hill. 

I feel passionate about understanding the compositional characteristics of ingredients and how they interact with each other when heat is applied to them in the kitchen,” Hernandez says.

His distinct combination of experiences and flavors creates fresh, hearty results that are home-cooking approachable. You can’t bring Hernandez home to cook it for you – sorry fellas, he’s already married – but you can bring some of his knowhow into your own kitchen.

“My goal is to educate and help people experience more confidence in the kitchen by making my cooking knowledge accessible to others, he says. 

With a few of Hernandez’s best recipes, here’s how you can make  a warm, gratifying dinner to wrap up a crisp fall day.

PorkPork Loin with Thyme & Onions 

If you don’t have anything to flavor your meat in your kitchen that you normally use, I invite you to try olive oil, salt and any herb you have in your kitchen. … This dish is very elegant if you cut it on a cutting board and set it on the table for people to enjoy family style.

1 ½ lb of pork tenderloin
½ tsp of kosher salt
½ tsp of freshly ground black pepper
Tbsp of dried thyme
Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Granny Smith apples, chopped
3 cups red onions, chopped
Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 425 FMix salt, pepper and thyme in a bowl. Rub oil mixture over entire pork tenderloin. In a bowl, toss sugar, thyme and onions. In a casserole dish, layer apples then onion and place tenderloin on topSprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt/thyme/sugar mixture over pork. Bake 15 minutes, then lower heat to 325 F. Cook for 35-45 minutes to internal temp of 150 F. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest before slicing.

SproutsBraised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon 

1/2 lb of brussels sprouts
6 strips of bacon
1 medium red onions chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
8oz can of chicken stock

Chop bacon into cubes and saute over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels. Leave 2 tablespoons bacon fat in pan, add olive oil and over medium high heat saute sprouts for 8-10 minutes allowing them to get crispy brown. Add stock, bring to boil, then simmer covered for 5-8 minutes until tender. Plate sprouts and sprinkle bacon bits. Serve immediately.

 

Cumin Scented Black Beans 

“Spice up your own from-dried black beans, or don’t be ashamed of the unseasoned canned variety.”

1 pound cooked or 2 cans unseasoned black beans
Tbsp olive oil
Tbsp dried oregano
chopped garlic cloves 
Tbsp cumin seeds
Tbsp soy sauce

Over medium-low heat, saute cumin seeds and olive oil for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Reduce heat, add oregano and garlic, cook 4 minutes. Add soy sauce and canned or cooked beans, bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Want to go?
What: Union Hill Kitchen
Where5336 Peachtree Road, Chamblee
When: Tuesdays through Saturdays, lunch and dinner
Info: Unionhillkitchen.com