Mimi Maumus is an Athens chef hailing from New Orleans, who takes her roots and her Southern culture and blends them in fascinating ways to create the menu at home.made. In the words of Mimi, when it comes to her friends also in Athens food and beverage, she says there’s a good mix of “diversity and innovation.” “As chefs, we stretch to create thoughtful and nuanced food rather than relying on replicating standards. There is no shortage of curious, clever, and skilled chefs in Athens.” Some of those she admires most include Shae and Ryan Sims, owners of the beloved Dinner Party, soon-to-be reimagined into Bar Bruno, and Homero Elizalde, whom she works alongside at home.made when he’s not hosting his Friday night food pop-ups at Authentic Brewery that Mimi says, “can’t be missed.”
What she loves about Athens and it’s food scene:
I love that at the end of the day it’s a small town but that there's a lot going on. It feels progressive. There's a lot of art, there's a lot of music, there’s a lot of food, there's a lot of small businesses and the community supports that. I like that everyone's kind of doing their own thing. I think that people in general are recognizing and reconnecting with nostalgic foods for themselves and that seems to be the driving force behind a lot of menus, and I see so many directions with that are really exciting especially for such a small town
If Athens was a meal:
Obviously southern. I have cooked with acorns from the Tree that Owns Itself, but most people don’t really want to eat acorns so I’m not sure I’d make that its meal. The town seems to driven by football it seems like it would have to have some sort of nod to that, like incorporate pig skins.
Favorite thing on her menu to eat and to cook:
That changes a lot. I get really excited about seasonality and I’m very into foraged foods. I’m always curious about “is that edible?” I’m definitely driven by curiosity and creativity, that is my driving force, and it just happens to manifest itself with food. I don’t think I have a favorite. I get really excited about playing with new things. Right now, this particular day, it’s peach blossoms.
We’re starting a dish that's creamed corn with pork belly with a pork sauce reduction that we made from the trotters and some roasted bones that I put grilled corn cobs in and then we’re finishing it with peach blossoms. So currently I’m really excited about that.
What she loves about cooking:
My father loved cooking and I didn’t really have a whole lot of dad time, and the time that I did have with him that’s just a very fond memory was in the kitchen. He loved New Orleans food. We would often eat at New Orleans restaurants and have traditional dishes, and then he loved to come home and tinker in the kitchen and recreate those things or put his own little spin on them. It was fun, the music was on in the kitchen, the vibes were chill, and I think it was the best bonding experience with my family. And then at the end of it you sit down and have this meal.
I think from a young age I was very drawn to that energy. I tended more towards not trying to replicate things or imitate things. I have just always been a “what if what if what if” kind of thinker. That’s just always been in me
Mimi’s favorite spots for the Athens visitor:
Where to eat like a local:
Depending on what food mood they’re in, we have something for just about any craving. If they’re looking for keeping it flip-flops appropriate, I would recommend Cali & Tito’s for fish tacos or Cubans, Taco Stand tofu mega burrito with a side of cheese dip, Pulaski Heights BBQ protein of choice with smoked cauliflower and kimchi, Clocked for classic burgers and tater tots, Mannaweenta for whatever sounds good to them or Hi-Lo for shockingly tasty food from a tiny bar kitchen. Oh, and Viva Argentina – the steak and chimichurri sandwich is crazy good, plus the patio is a fantastic place to enjoy taking in some good Athens vibes.
If we’re going table service, then I would say The National, Seabear, and ZZ & Simone’s play heaviest into my rotation. You can always expect delicious food, great cocktails, and knowledgeable service.
Where to indulge in something sweet:
Condor Chocolates. Truffles, gelato, salted brownies (oh my!). I have not yet had their hot chocolate, but from the looks of social media customer posts I would not regret that decision.
Where to go for a specialty cocktail:
I don’t drink alcohol and am happy to drink water or soda with lime & bitters, but if I want a craft mocktail that delivers then I head to The National. The same level of thought is apparent on their alcohol-free beverage list which makes drinking a balanced and creative cocktail everything that it should be (without the buzz…or hangover!).