New York may be a culinary mecca, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of food talent. And as such, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight celebrity, notable, or otherwise up-and-coming chefs you should know about across the country.
Whether you’re taking a trip to Louisville and looking for a great place to eat (
Ed Lee’s restaurant, duh), or are a Charlottesville local who wants to know which chefs you can defend to the self-righteous hometown death (particularly if they secure a spot on Top Chef or Chopped), we’re here to give you the heads up on which chefs you need to know in your city — and why.
This week’s edition?
Top 10 Chefs You Should Know: Atlanta.
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Hugh Acheson skyrocketed to Bravolebrity-dom after a spot on Top Chef Masters turned into a permanent judging position on the the non-famous-person version of the show. But he's also the winner of a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast, has penned a James Beard Award-winning cookbook entitled A New Turn In the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented For Your Kitchen, and runs no less than three restaurants in Georgia, including Five and Ten and The National in Athens and Empire State South in ATL. He is also in possession of the world's most charming unibrow.
Who's that guy and why does he bear such a strong resemblance to
? Just kidding! Ubiquitous chef fauxhawks aside, everybody knows that is Atlanta's darling (and Jen Biesty ), Padma's own personal underdog hero Richard Blais. He first appeared on Top Chef in Season 4, and after TOTALLY choking in the finale, returned for Top Chef: All-Stars and snagged the winning title. He also runs newly-opened resto The Spence in Atlanta, along with HD-1 and two Flip locations. For those of you out of range, you can look forward to having Blais return to your screens on a regular basis after next week's season premiere of Life After Top Chef, which will follow Richard, among other Top Chef alums, as he works towards opening The Spence.
Kevin Gillespie was nominated Top Chef fan favorite for Season 6, but he's continues to be remembered fondly among judges (both Gail Simmons and recalled him as one of their all-time faves from the past 10 seasons). He was also a semi-finalist for Padma Lakshmi 2009 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year, and named a 2010 Top 5 Rising Chef in the US by the Gayot Guide. You can descend upon Kevin's porkly decadence at Woodfire Grill in Atlanta, and we suggest that you do, just to get a peek at the meat sleeve.
A not-yet Bravolebrity,
Anthony Gray will be hitting up Top Chef for the upcoming Season 10, hopefully doing the aforementioned legacy proud. He's currently the executive chef of Art Smith's Southern Art & Bourbon Bar. BOOM. Pedigree thrown down. Challenge accepted. Are we sensing a pattern, here, that would suggest Atlanta's probably a halfway decent host city option for Top Chef? Just throwing that out there...
Atlanta mainstay and owner of
Rathbun's, Kevin Rathbun Steak, Krog Bar, and KR Steakbar, Kevin Rathbun is a chef not to be overlooked on your Atlanta food crawl. He was a 1994 nominee for a James Beard Rising Star Chef Award, and, in 2008, competed on Iron Chef. Sure, he's technically not a hometown boy (Kevin is originally from Kansas City, MO), but the Atlanta restaurant scene has embraced him as a transplant, and you should, too.
Her (Indian!) restaurant
Cardamom Hill was named among Bon Appetit's Top 50 Best New Restaurants of 2012. Apparently, she started cooking to encourage return customers at a spa she ran. Need we say more? Go there.
( Photo: ) Indian Food Rocks
Billy Allin is the chef behind Cakes and Ale, a local Atlanta favorite that nabbed a spot on Bon Appetit's Top 50 Best New Restaurants in 2009. Allin also received a nod from Food & Wine as a People's Best New Chef: Southeast nominee in 2011. Frankly, he's constantly up for local Atlanta awards, which makes us think this dude's getting it right. Check him out!
The lunch chef at
Cakes and Ale's new bakery edition, David Sweeney scored bossman Billy Allin another spot on Bon Appetit's Top 50 Best New Restaurants list this year with the expansion. Bonus: veg-centric. Aww, yeah!
Best New Chef 2009 by Food & Wine, Linton Hopkins is freakin' constantly nominated for James Beard Awards. Those are our official research stats: Freaking. Constantly. He's been up against Hugh Acheson for Best Chef: Southeast the past five years running, and, in 2012, they finally tied to both take home the award. He runs Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta. Eat there and congratulate him for us.
Top Chef Season 9 contender Whitney Otawka is the former sous chef of Hugh Acheson's Five and Ten, former chef de partie of Linton Hopkins' Restaurant Eugene, and she's staged at Le Bernardin and Per Se. Insanity. Our pedigree rankings are off the charts with this girl. She was also named a 2012 Atlanta Rising Star by Star Chefs. You can find her running the show at Farm 255 in Athens.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments. And send your nominations for future editions to
This story was originally published on November 13, 2012.