Above: Taste of Atlanta founder Dale Gordon DeSena’s next venture is Food That Rocks in Sandy Springs.

Jaffe’s Jewish Jive

One of Atlanta’s mainstays behind the entertainment scene, Dale Gordon DeSena, will head to Hammond Park in Sandy Springs on Saturday, May 14, for the first Food That Rocks, a celebration of decade-old city.

DeSena, a Savannah native and marketing guru, has secured the soccer field (under a huge tent for all weather conditions) to line up over 20 favorite restaurants to supply yummy and varied dining experiences endemic to Sandy Springs.

Jaffe: Why Sandy Springs?

DeSena: I live and work here, and I’ve seen Sandy Springs mature into a fantastic dining market. It’s no longer just fast food on Roswell Road.

Jaffe: How did you get involved in these types of events?

DeSena: After the University of Florida, I came to Atlanta, where I began my career in advertising and publishing. In 1993 I published the official Chastain Park concert program for Alex Cooley and Peter Conlon. I then got into festival sponsorship sales and marketing with the original Music Midtown, which then led to the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, to name a few. Ten years later, after I got experience doing everyone else’s festival, I started Taste of Atlanta.

Jaffe: Yes, I was at the first Taste of Atlanta you coordinated in 2002.

DeSena: Yes, you were. And this year we will celebrate our 15th year. Atlanta has evolved (to an extent like Manhattan) into choice neighborhoods with unique dining experiences. Atlantans also decide where to eat by geography — if they are in the mood to dress up to go to the symphony or picking up Korean hot pots on Buford Highway. Our neighborhoods are very important to our cities — thus, the reason I want to do smaller VIP events in outlying cities and neighborhoods around Atlanta.

Jaffe: You also tie into charities?

DeSena: Yes, every event I do has one or more charitable partners. Food That Rocks is working with Second Helpings, based out of Temple Sinai, where I’m a member, to recover food that can be donated to people in need. I like to volunteer with my son to show him how we can help our community. They’re always looking for more helpers; join us. Our other partners are Ian’s Friends Foundation and Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

Jaffe: What’s the price point for your Food That Rocks event?

DeSena: This all-inclusive party with a purpose is $55 in advance, $65 at the door if tickets are available. We will have food, wine, beer and cocktail tastes on Saturday, May 14, from 7 to 11 p.m. Go to FoodThatRocks.org for specifics. We will also have live local music by Tony Levitas and the Helpers, Tommy Dean Trio, and Ed Roland & the Sweet Tea Project. This event is sure to be the best party Sandy Springs has ever seen. Some of the restaurants participating are il Giallo Osteria & Bar, Maya Steaks & Seafood, Cibo E Beve, Under the Cork Tree, Buttermilk Sky, just to name a few.

Jaffe: Everything sounds so delicious! I think I won’t eat for 24 hours prior to May 14 to gear up for this smorgasbord.

What: Food That Rocks

Where: Hammond Park, 705 Hammond Drive, Sandy Springs

When: 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, May 14

Tickets: $55 in advance, $65 at the door (ages 21 and older); www.foodthatrocks.org