Stella Dillard started Dandelion Food & Goods, formerly Stella’s House of Weird Casseroles, after the pandemic hit and led to a loss of work and security for Stella and many of her restaurant family.

Stella Dillard (Credit: Jenna Shea Photojournalism)

She began making soups, salads, and casseroles based on the kitchen concept of “family meal” and continued out of necessity to care for her community. Three years later, Dandelion Food & Goods is flourishing as a small business serving up big seasonal flavors and supporting the local community in an impactful way with her local sourcing practices. 

In fact, Stella is sourcing so many ingredients locally that she was recently recognized as a Gold Tier Farmer Champion by Georgia Organics. She is honored to support local agriculture: “Farmers bring so much to their communities: jobs, industry, leadership, and of course food so good that working with it feels like cheating. We live in a system built by large organizations for large organizations, and there are precious few ways that individuals…can counteract that system. But eating locally is one, and we’re so fortunate in Atlanta to have thriving markets that allow us that opportunity.” Stella also notes: “And of course, in more aesthetic terms, it’s just plain fun as a chef to cook food that is so fresh, so delicious, so only a product of this time, this place, and the people who bring it to us.” 

Dillard at East Atlanta Village Farmers Market (Credit: Dandelion Food and Goods)

With over 15 years in the industry, Stella has worked with many talented chefs who value and promote local agriculture. She’s been on the team of Holeman & Finch, Farm Burger, Storico Fresco, and Empire State South and gained experience in sourcing local ingredients here. The key, Stella explains, seems to be in 1) networking to make connections/establish relationships with your growers and food producers, 2) the organization of planning ahead, and 3) flexibility. If the farmer has a bounty of a veggie that they need to move, Stella can make accommodations and tweak her menu to reduce food waste, create income for the farmer, and create delicious meals for Atlantans that challenge their “palate fatigue,” as she calls it. 

Stella’s meals are sold fresh and frozen at the Okahurst and Grant Park Farmers Market. She is also part of the chef line-up for Lady Locavores 2023.

On her website, you can order for delivery or pick-up. Follow her on Instagram @dandelionfoodstore to get menu updates.