Atlanta is one of the busiest cities in the US and a transport hub. With its large population, it harbors tons of different culinary individuals ready and eager to win people’s minds. But, even among the long line of decent and finest chefs, some can stay at the top of the list.
Hence, I had to research on my own and visit their restaurants in Atlanta to find out five of the most famous chefs in Atlanta. They are quite influential to even other chefs around and own so many accolades to prove their worthiness. So, without further talking, let’s get to the list.
Hugh Acheson- Judge on Many Popular TV Shows
One of the people one will surely hear about as a chef in the city is Hugh Acheson. With his appearance in multiple tv shows, including a Iron Chef Canada and Top Chef’s guest, he is also famous outside.
Before University, Acheson worked at different restaurants in Ottawa, Canada. Later, he dropped out of university and started devoting himself to cooking art. Then, in 1990, he moved to Georgia to help his wife graduate from the University of Georgia.
After working for some time in restaurant Mecca, he moved to Athens and opened Five & Ten, his first eatery.
Restaurants in Atlanta-
While Hugh Acheson owns four total restaurants, three are in Georgia now. Among them, by George and Empire State South are located in Atlanta.
These restaurants can give you a European flavor mixed with a southern one. Especially many love to attend his Empire State South.
Food & Wine magazine dubbed him One of the Best Chefs in the United States in 2002.
Hugh Acheson wrote several cookbooks which gained high popularity. One of them that I recommend is the Sous Vide: Better Home Cooking: A Cookbook.
Pinky Cole- Vegan Chef and Actress
If you are a vegan and want to attend one of the city’s best vegan restaurants, go for Slutty Vegan, owned by Pinky Cole. It is known for its vegan dishes. Cole is a funny individual, and her restaurant is the go-to place for many celebrities.
Cole herself turned vegetarian in 2007 and vegan in 2014. Aside from her fame as a chef, her primary popularity comes from her acting career. She also worked as a casting director for different shows.
She is also known for her philanthropy. For instance, she paid the tuition of 30 seniors in 2019.
Pinky Cole’s signature restaurant is Slutty Vegan. Before it, she had another restaurant named Pinky’s Jamaican and American Restaurant, but it was closed in 2016 following an incident.
In Slutty Vegan, you can find all types of vegan hamburgers, chick’n tender, shrimp, and such products. Don’t get surprised if you see celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Taraji P. Henson, Jermaine Dupri, or Tyler Perry in the waiting line.
Pinky Cole won the Top Champion Award from Atlanta Urban League.
Ford Fry- The Restaurant Tycoon
In order to gather inspiration and training, Ford Fry went to various places. He has been fully committed to the life of a chef from an early age and has so many restaurants currently. His first culinary institute was the New England Culinary Institute. Before he opened his own restaurants, he worked in several ones in Florida, California, Colorado, and Georgia.
Born in Texas, Ford Fry is settled in Georgia with his family.
Fry is one of the most influential restaurateurs in Atlanta. He has 20 eateries in total, 13 of which is in Georgia. Some of his restaurants that I suggest you try are the Optimist, Little Rey, St. Cecilia, and Marcel.
Of course, because of his vast knowledge and skill in cuisine from different American states, you can expect extensive and vivid menus in his eateries.
Awards and Accolades-
Ford Fry won many achievements and awards thanks to his success with restaurants. Some are-
- ‘Outstanding Restauranteur Award’ semifinalist by James Beard Foundation from 2013 to 2017 consecutively.
- The title ‘Empire Builder of the Year’ by Eater Atlanta.
- ‘Best New Restaurant of the Year’ on Optimist from Esquire in 2012. Also, his King + Duke got the same award in 2013.
- Bon Appetit got the ‘#7 Best New Restaurant in America of 2013’ by Bon Appetit magazine.
Linton Hopkins- Adapted at So Many Cuisines and Styles
Not everyone wants foreign tastes when they are in Atlanta; some crave the local flavors too. That is where Linton Hopkins comes to help. You can’t go wrong in visiting a restaurant with one James Beard Award winner owner and one executive chef. Both Linton Hopkins and Jen Yes got this accolade to show off.
Hopkins is a native Atlanta resident who entered the culinary world at 15. However, he went off-track a bit and went to medical school. But later returned as a chef in his own restaurant Eugene.
Hopkins’ signature restaurant is Eugene, which is also his first one and is named after his grandfather. He runs it with his wife, Gina. Later, he opened others named Holeman & Finch Public House, F&H Burger, and C. Ellet’s steakhouse.
All his restaurants in Atlanta serve local food with local bounty and ingredients.
- Linton Hopkins won the ‘Best Chef: Southeast’ from the James Beard Foundation.
- Food & Wine called him ‘Best New Chef’ in 2008.
Leslie Cohen- Best Pizza in Town
Leslie Cohen is another native Atlantan, and her pizzas are the best in the city, according to me and many others. Like some top chefs around the US, her culinary study took place at Johnson & Wales University. She is not just a pizza chef but a cooking innovator. Hence, new and unique foods are constantly included in her restaurant’s menu.
Working under renowned Richard Blais did wonders as she is thriving in the culinary scene of Atlanta and is still growing in her business.
Cohen owns the popular restaurant Firepit Pizza Tavern, located on Memorial Drive. Of course, you can expect some of the greatest pizza types on the menu.
Meanwhile, she is also the general manager of her family-owned restaurant, Roasters, for over 16 years.
Awards and Achievements-
Leslie Cohen won the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen competition.
It seems like Cohen didn’t write any cookbooks, which I would love to read. But if my readers want to ace their pizza preparations, I recommend The Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani.
Atlanta’s unique and vivid restaurants and diners are the workplaces of some of the best chefs I have seen. Favored and respected by celebrities, tourists, and residents alike, these individuals can compete against chefs from NYC or such.
Of course, there are more people that are equally famous, but I couldn’t include them all. Some honorable mentions are Scott Conant, Kevin Gillespie, Gerry Klaskala, and Todd Ginsberg.