Augusta National is certainly not a bad place to be around this time of year. With the annual arrival of The Masters, members of the general public join golf enthusiasts and converge upon the famously pristine greens, eager to get an up-close glimpse of their favorite player as they possibly join the ranks of all who’ve worn the green jacket before them.
The experience is a throwback to Southern traditions that are harder, if not impossible, to find (good luck spending so little on lunch), but there’s good news in case you couldn’t make it to Augusta this year. You can eat and drink almost as if you were there, thanks to a little help from Southern Kitchen’s Recipe Tsar, Chef Jeffrey Gardner, who’s back to recommend a Masters-worthy setup just in time for the tee off.
"For out-of-towners who may not be familiar, the fabled $1.50 pimiento cheese sandwich is as much a part of The Masters as Magnolia Lane and Amen Corner," Chef Jeffrey (aka "Cheffrey") says, and that’s saying nothing about its deliciousness. "It also smacks of Southern hospitality to offer such a glorious deal to potential first-timers as well as locals." We assume of course that you won’t charge hungry houseguests who drop by to watch a few rounds with you, but be sure to include Chef Jeffrey's recipe for this Masters standard on your serving tray. "Your experience will end up in the rough without it," he advises.
A lesser known but equally heralded tradition at Augusta National is the annual Champions Dinner. Held on the Tuesday before the tournament begins, this dinner is open only to previous Masters winners, with a menu chosen by last year's reigning champion. Selections have ranged from honoring the champion's heritage -- Sandy Lyle paid tribute to his native Scotland by serving haggis -- to reflecting the culinary preferences of the winner, such as a 21-year-old Tiger Woods providing cheeseburgers and fries, much to the delight of elder statesmen like Byron Nelson. As part of his massive 2008 spread, Zach Johnson included a corn pudding, similar to this version contributed by Atlanta restaurant Wisteria.
Unfortunately, golf legend Arnold Palmer passed away in 2016, but his namesake beverage -- a blend of equal parts sweet tea and lemonade -- lives on. We're offering a more adult version with the addition of vodka and orange liqueur, but feel free to keep it friendly for all ages.
Chef Jeffrey Gardner is a native of Natchez, Miss., and a graduate of Millsaps College and Johnson & Wales University. He lives in Atlanta and has served as sous chef for popular restaurants South City Kitchen Midtown and Alma Cocina. In 2013 he became executive chef for East Cobb restaurant Common Quarter and was named one of ten “Next Generation of Chefs to Watch” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. He has appeared on TV shows including Food Network’s Chopped and Cooking Channel’s How to Live to 100, and also filmed a series of healthy cooking videos with retired pro wrestler and fitness guru Diamond Dallas Page. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling the world with his wife Wendy, watching game shows and “spending all his money on Bruce Springsteen concerts.”