Jeff Graham

Welcome to the interview series where I discuss food with citizens of Atlanta who are prominent for non-food-related reasons. Let’s get to know our most high-profile residents a little more personally, shall we? For this installment, I spoke to Jeff Graham, Executive Director of the LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality.

How do you like your eggs cooked?
Sunny-side up, just like my attitude about politics.

What are your two favorite things to put in mac and cheese, other than the mac and the cheese?
Mushrooms and Lobster, though not together.

What are some of your favorite spots for brunch?
Apres Diem is great to meet friends at. We love to take our dog walking along the beltline and then have a late brunch at Park Tavern or Across the Street on Highland Avenue. The Georgia Equality offices are in the same building as Radial Cafe, so it’s the perfect spot for breakfast or brunch if I need to discuss business.

What’s your favorite food city, other than Atlanta?
Washington, DC. It’s the first major city I visited as a kid and I was amazed to find out there was more to life than meat and potatoes.

Are you any good at gardening?
I fantasize about being good at gardening, but the tomato plants I struggle to keep alive each year would probably argue with that notion.

Wine and beer, or the hard stuff, or none at all?
White wine at a benefit, so I don’t have to worry if I spill. Otherwise it’s either bourbon or tequila.

What is your guilty pleasure snack food? Favorite food for a tailgate?
Popcorn is the guilty pleasure. Peel and eat shrimp or veggie hot dogs for a tailgate.

What are your feelings about red velvet cake?
It’s all a plot to sell red food coloring to the unsuspecting!

Is there any food so disgusting to you that you just won’t eat it?
I’m pescatarian, but I draw the line at Rocky Mountain Oysters!

Who does most of the cooking in your house? Who cooked while you were growing up?
I cook and my husband does the laundry. We divided those duties when we first moved in together 27 years ago. Back then, I was working at a costume shop and he worked at a deli, so we wanted to make sure the chores at home differed from the chores at work. My folks divorced when I was young, so I grew up with both of my parents cooking. Living with single parents, I also learned how to chip in and fix dinner by the time I was in my teens.

Part of your job is to attend a great many fundraising dinners. What is the most memorable food-related story you’ve got from your time with Georgia Equality?
The most memorable fundraiser I ever attended was when the catering staff went on strike a couple of hours before the benefit started. The employees for the charity helped to prepare and serve the meal to the attendees. Naturally there was a very long delay from the time we were seated until the food arrived. It was an awards banquet and the guest of honor had too much to drink and gave a rambling speech that seemed to go on forever. Luckily all of the guests were very understanding when there was not enough food or utensils for everyone and we all had to share family style! I heard that the hotel ended up refunding all of the costs, so it ended up being the most profitable event that group had ever had.

Megan Volpert

Megan Volpert is the author or editor of over a dozen books on popular culture, including two Lambda Literary Award finalists and an American Library Association honoree.