Biscuits and Conversation with the Southern Belle of Breakfast
By: Daniel Dubuisson
As the warm, golden summer sun rises over Atlanta’s well-known Buckhead neighborhood, award-winning chef Suzanne Vizethann and her dedicated team have already been hard at work at her restaurant, Buttermilk Kitchen, waiting to welcome their fellow early risers and breakfast lovers. The unmistakable aroma of freshly brewed coffee, fresh-from-the-oven biscuits, and other sunrise staples waft in from the kitchen, kickstarting comfort food cravings.
Some people may struggle to get out of bed and get motivated this early in the morning, but not Suzanne. She has always appreciated the tranquil peace that only comes with daybreak, especially her childhood memories of early mornings spent with her family gathered around the table enjoying a warm, home-cooked meal. Those moments have stuck with her through every step of her trailblazing career.
“As a little kid, it was my favorite thing in the world when my mom would do breakfast or even breakfast for dinner,” Suzanne remembers. “I know a lot of other people had similar moments at home, but I stayed super passionate about it all and wondered why no one was doing it when I was coming up after culinary school.”
So, when she first opened the doors to Buttermilk Kitchen in 2012, an all-breakfast concept was fairly bold for the restaurant industry. Now, 10 years later, Suzanne’s beloved brainchild is often referenced as a blueprint for successful dining options that don’t offer dinner service.
“I found a great niche for myself to settle in and be happy, successful, and creative,” Suzanne says. “Food like ours is an afterthought to a lot of chefs. They see it as an obligation and usually send in their B-team with boxed mixes and things like that.”
But Buttermilk Kitchen is different. Suzanne and her devoted employees enjoy breakfast just as much as their guests, and she was correct in thinking it would become a big draw for people; there is a steady stream of regulars coming back day after day.
“You can taste the difference,” she says. “We’re a scratch-made kitchen, and we put care and thought into everything on your plate. Everything you taste truly is made fresh each day, and it sets us apart.”
And taste you should. The menu is chock-full with recognizable classic dishes and modern, inventive creations. Standout options like the fried chicken- and pepper jelly-stuffed buttermilk biscuit, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, and gravy-smothered biscuits come to mind, but don’t rule out other delicious choices like the sesame bagel topped with beet-cured salmon or the grits bowl packed with spinach, eggs, and tomato.
That’s not all, though. Part of Buttermilk Kitchen’s magic is the ability to elevate simple recipes while also keeping them familiar and welcoming. One of them, which we are thrilled to share with you, is Suzanne’s recipe for Coconut-Curry Kale Greens, which is right at home in your go-to cast-iron skillet.
“They’re one of the signature items at the restaurant,” Suzanne explains. “They came about because of my love for the bold, rich flavors of a traditional curry. They’re great as a simple side, but they’re excellent poured over a steaming bowl of grits. Their savory combination is both comforting and homey, even though it isn’t something that is traditional down here [in the South].”
Although Suzanne considers herself to be a Southerner, she was fortunate to have other cultural influences creep into the kitchen at a young age. Those influences shaped her and still sneak into her recipes today, and Buttermilk Kitchen is better for it.
“My dad is half Italian,” she says. “We also had a German woman who helped my mom and dad raise us—she actually taught me how to cook. So, here I am with this eclectic food upbringing that I love to tap into because I think Southern food can be so much more than what people outside of the region perceive it to be.”
But no matter the cuisine, one regional ideal that will always stick with her is having a well-seasoned cast-iron pan on hand.
“It’s just one of those kitchen items that everyone should have if they don’t already,” she says. “There aren’t many things you can say that about, but it’s true—you need it. The versatility is definitely a leading factor, but [cast iron] can last forever and be useful for just about anything you could cook.”
And when you want to use your cast iron to bring a helping of Suzanne’s most popular dishes to your own home, take a flip through the pages of her debut cookbook, appropriately named Welcome to Buttermilk Kitchen. It hit stores and shelves right around the time that the United States first shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It certainly wasn’t how Suzanne had envisioned the book’s launch, but silver linings have a way of showing themselves in situations like that.
“It was disappointing at first,” she says. “But it ended up being a blessing in disguise because everyone was at home with nothing to do but cook and bake. We’ve shipped that cookbook all over the country at this point, and now, people have the recipes for a few of their favorite meals from Buttermilk.”
As she looks to the future, Suzanne plans to open the doors to a new on-site extension of the restaurant. Dubbed The Pantry by Buttermilk, it’s not only a place for guests to buy provisions while they’re waiting to be seated, but it can serve as an event space for private breakfasts and brunches with a residential-style kitchen that can host cooking and baking classes.
There’s no slowing down Suzanne, our Southern belle of breakfast. Much more is to come from her creative, entrepreneurial mind, so keep your eye out—you’ll want to be the first to know what she’s cooking up next.