Celebrity Chefs: The Cherries On Top of Atlanta's Restaurant Scene

Chow down with Atlanta celebrity chefs.
  • Chef Kevin Gillespie, a finalist on "Top Chef," runs two Atlanta-area restaurants.
    Chef Kevin Gillespie, a finalist on "Top Chef," runs two Atlanta-area restaurants.
  • Another fan favorite, Hector Santiago, runs two Latin-inspired restaurants in Atlanta.
    Another fan favorite, Hector Santiago, runs two Latin-inspired restaurants in Atlanta.
  • Kevin Rathbun runs several well-known restaurants, including Kevin Rathbun Steak.
    Kevin Rathbun runs several well-known restaurants, including Kevin Rathbun Steak.

Atlanta is a hot spot for movie and television production, with such fan favorites as "Baby Driver," "Guardian of the Galaxy 2," "The Walking Dead," "Atlanta," "A Wrinkle in Time," "Fast and Furious" and "Spider Man: Homecoming" all shot in metro Atlanta. But the area is not just home to Hollywood stars. Atlanta has an number of stars who gained their fame in the kitchen.

Here are some of our favorite celebrity chefs and tips on where you can see and – better yet – taste their creations.

  • Hugh Acheson is the author of James Beard Foundation award-winning cookbooks, “A New Turn in the South,” “Southern Flavors” and “Pick a Pickle." He owns restaurants in Athens and Savannah as well as the critically acclaimed Empire State South in Midtown and Spiller Park Coffee. He competed in Bravo’s "Top Chef Masters" Season 3, and is a judge on "Top Chef."

  • Richard Blais, the winner of Bravo’s "Top Chef All-Stars" and runner-up on Season 4 of "Top Chef," is a successful chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and television personality. In Atlanta he is known for designing and operating FLIP Burger Boutique. His book, “So Good: 100 Recipes from my Kitchen to Yours” was recently released.

  • Ford Fry continues to build his empire in Atlanta as chef-owner of Atlanta’s JCT. Kitchen & Bar, No. 246, The Optimist and Oyster Bar, King + Duke, St. Cecilia, and founder of Ford Fry Restaurants including The El Felix, Superica, Marcel, State of Grace and BeetleCat. The award-winning chef has plenty of accolades, but the food speaks for itself. The Optimist restaurant was selected one of the best new restaurants in America by Esquire, Condé Nast Traveler and Bon Appetit magazines. Esquire magazine also named King + Duke restaurant as one of the best new restaurants of 2013.

  • Kevin Gillespie’s pure passion is serving fresh, organic and sustainable ingredients, and he does it to international acclaim at Gunshow in the Glenwood Park neighborhood in Atlanta. A finalist on Season 6 of "Top Chef," Gillespie also opened Revival in Decatur, where he offers a Southern family-style dining experience harking back to his youth.

  • Linton Hopkins has certainly captured the interest and respect from the culinary world. He appears regularly in such cooking magazines as Food & Wine, as well as appearing on the Food Network’s "Iron Chef America." He is the owner and executive chef of Restaurant Eugene, which frequently makes the list of Atlanta’s top 10 restaurants. He also operates Holman and Finch, Longleaf Restaurant at Atlanta Botanical Garden, H&F Burger and The Bread Box.

  • Anne Quatrano is the grande dame of the Atlanta cuisine scene. Her restaurant, Bacchanalia, has been one of the city’s best restaurants since 1993. She and her husband currently run (in addition to Bacchanalia) Floataway Cafe, Star Provisions, Little Star and W.H. Stiles Fish Camp.

  • Kevin Rathbun is among Atlanta’s most successful and popular restaurateurs. He currently owns and operates Rathbun’s, Kevin Rathbun Steak, KR Steak and Krog Bar. He was an "Iron Chef" winner against Bobby Flay and he won "Chopped."

  • Hector Santiago is the winner of StarChefs.com Rising Star Chef award, Santé's  Innovative Cuisine award, a contestant on Season 6 of "Top Chef," and he is a three-time James Beard nominee for Best Chef of the Southeast. A native of Puerto Rico, he is the owner and chef El Super Pan, a sandwich bar at Ponce City Market.

 In addition, you might recognize:

  • Tregaye Fraser, who is a winner of "Cutthroat Kitchen" and now runs a catering company, Chef Tregaye N Company.

  • Alexis Hernandez, who was a finalist on the "Next Food Network Star" Season 6 and is a frequent guest on "Cafe CNN En Espanol." Chef Hernandez operates Union Hill Kitchen in Chamblee, which is about 15 miles outside Atlanta.

  • Jernard Wells was the runner-up on Season 12 of "Food Network Star" and scored multiple wins on "Cutthroat Kitchen." Dubbed the “Chef of Love,” he also is chef to celebrities including Steve Harvey, Lady Antebellum and Tyler Perry, and he operates Le Chef Amours Haute Cuisine, a manufacturing company that makes sauces. Wells opened and consults for East Wave Asian Fusion in downtown Atlanta.

Journalist Mary Welch writes business and lifestyle stories for local and national publications.

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