Today’s story from 1910 Public House comes in two parts. Part 1 is from my conversation with Christy McCullers, General Manager, and Part 2 is from Christian Speigal, Executive Chef. 1910 Public House is located on Main Street in Lilburn, Georgia.
Part 1: Christy McCullers, General Manager
Christy: “I was a theater major. I went to school to act and be a theater teacher. But my dad got sick and went through some stuff. He lost his wife and kind of spiraled down in a really bad direction. He just needed somebody, somebody to help him. So I left school and started helping him. I can’t say that I’m a saint. I was going through my own troubles, you know. Typical college stuff, relationships, bad decisions. I was spiraling too. So I left school, and dad and I walked through that time together and we were both able to move on.
When you’ve come through something, people expect you to talk about it. Talk about where you’ve come from, tell your testimony. But there’s also shame attached to that, a kind of stigma in society. It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is. There’s a fine balance. I have to remind my wife of that. Her school administrators know us and we received gifts for our wedding and are accepted at the school. But the parents… that’s different. You have to choose your battles, but at one point we going to say, “Enough is enough.” You know, I’m no different than anyone else’s spouse. I’m no different, so why should I be treated different? We are tip toeing that line a little bit. We’re getting there.
When I talk to certain people, like an old timer, I won’t mention my wife. I’ll just talk about a different story where she’s not involved. I’m not going to avoid saying “wife” but I’ll just avoid the whole conversation. I don’t address it or talk about it. It’s unfortunate, but I think it’s something you have to do. I’m not going to talk politics with just anyone. I won’t talk politics with my regulars because I might upset them, and they won’t come back because our politics don’t align. I just keep it easy breezy fun, where we just have a good time.”
Part 2: Christian Speigal, Executive Chef
Christian: “I’m originally from England. In England I went to college to be an engineer, and then about 6 months after I graduated my dad got transferred. He worked for the U.S. Air Force and he got stationed to Oklahoma. So we all moved to a town that was so small. I was an engineer who worked on airplanes like small tankers, but there was nobody who needed work at the airport. So that’s when I started working in a restaurant. And I just fell in love with it. I didn’t think of it as a career in England because it would only be birthdays and certain holidays that you would go out and splurge for a meal. But in the States people go out every night. So when I started cooking I discovered that I really enjoyed it. I lived in Oklahoma for about a year before I moved to Atlanta. A year was plenty. It was so boring there! When I got to Atlanta I thought, “I’m going to continue with this new career I’ve chosen because I really love it.” And I’ve been doing it for 20 years now.
My parents were supportive of everything I did. We cooked at home all the time so they knew I had a passion for it. My mom passed away two years ago, and she taught me a lot. Between her and my grandmother they taught me a lot especially with baking… but I don’t love really love baking. There’s too much science involved in it! Back over in England, every Sunday we would be having the Sunday roast. I would be helping my my mom and grandmother in the kitchen. Peeling carrots and potatoes and getting the roast in the oven. I definitely learned a lot off my grandmother. As kids my brothers and I would go out into the field and pick gooseberries. Then my grandmother and I would use the berries to make a lot of preserves and jams.
Now my brother and I cook Christmas dinner for everybody. It’s not only my immediate family, but everybody comes over and it’s this huge thing. We always make brussels sprouts. We shred the brussels sprouts and add bacon, chicken stock, and garlic. And everybody loves it. The family says, “You have to make this every year whether you like it or not.” Pretty much every holiday we are relegated to cooking! And Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two days that the restaurants are closed, but I still have to cook! It’s a good thing I enjoy it.”
Chef Christian is constantly creating in the kitchen. Read about his recipes, and the stories behind them HERE.