Chef & Food Writer
HUGH ACHESON is a chef and food writer who lives in Athens, GA. He is the co-owner / partner of the Athens, Georgia, restaurants 5&10 and The National, Atlanta restaurant Empire State South, as well as Atlanta coffee shop Spiller Park Coffee. His cookbook, A NEW TURN in the SOUTH won the award for Best Cookbook in the field of “American Cooking” by the James Beard Foundation in 2012. His second cookbook PICK a PICKLE, and his third, THE BROAD FORK, was released in the spring of 2015. His fourth cookbook, THE CHEF & THE SLOW COOKER, was released in the fall of 2017. Food & Wine Magazine named him Best New Chef way back in 2002 and the James Beard Foundation awarded him Best Chef Southeast in 2012. Hugh competed in Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, Season 3 and starred as a judge on Top Chef, Seasons 9 thru 13. Hugh currently has his own podcast, Hugh Acheson Stirs the Pot. He sits down with food personalities, entertainers and activists in restaurants and at kitchen tables across the country to talk about what they’re eating and what’s eating them. The first episode dropped on February 6th of this year.
I am a chef and business person who cobbled together a career by making good food. Now I still do all of that but I also create restaurants for companies, produce two podcasts, write a lot of books, and opine about the world in my own self-deprecating way. I make things well.
I started working in restaurants at the age of 15. Coming from a very academic family, I was the lost black sheep with bad grades and an attention span of a lobster, and working in kitchens became a place of possibility.
I think the idea of hospitality has morphed into an embrace of making people feel comfortable and no longer hinges on being lavish. We can, and should, be offering hospitality at all levels of dining, from a coffee shop to the finest Michelin experience.
The challenges are economic these days. In an industry prone to failure we have had to lessen the cost involved across the board. Labor and occupancy costs are not really viable or possible to shave, hence the $14 carrot salad at all fine dining places.
As a leader in any field you need to be hiring people who are better and smarter than yourself. Learn how to harness their energy and intelligence and direct it to the betterment of the team.
Growth of smaller footprint business ideas, like Spiller Park Coffee, our fine coffee shop group. More and more consulting, and documenting our systems to be put into play in a panoply of operations.
We have had a lot of success by letting designers and PR firms go about things in a novel way that most clients will not give them permission to do. This has resulted in really new ideas coming up. And we also have no problem showing support for progressive politics and liberal viewpoints. It is good for us to show who we are.
Shutting places down that don’t make it. When to pull the plug is a difficult choice to make.
Just finished catering for VISA at the Masters and the authentic zeal for the food that the clients had was great. That is an ideal and replicable result from lots of hard work and solid technique and core hospitality.
By being authentic. By being empathetic. By doing all the jobs that they would do with a smile on my face. Lead by example of action.
Stop complaining: Leaders should be changing a problem scenario and not be complacent. And no wants to follow a person who whines.
I triage scenarios and figure out the immediate path to make things better.
When I am well rested and content with who I am and the leader I am.
To be a productive employer, to master technique, to learn something every day, and to constantly guide others.
Employing 300 people.
Not going broke.
Be you. If you are a jerk, fix thyself, and then be you.
Frank Stitt, chef. Jose Andres, chef.
Portugal, France, Athens GA.
My espresso machine (La Marzocco Linea Mini), and an old silver spoon that is beautiful for basting.
My Daily Thoughts:
Goal of the Day: Make an impact. Do what is not expected. Do more.
Thought of the Day: You never know what the random people you meet have been through. Be nice.
Action of the Day: Open doors, say thanks. Be authentic.
Deed of the Day: Give of yourself to all you meet.
Tip of the Day: Drink water.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City?
It is an artistic and academic hub.
Favorite breakfast meal?
Fruit, yogurt, boiled egg, toast and coffee.
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – waking up and making breakfast
10:00 AM – on calls. Organizing restaurants and projects.
12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch meal? Salad at home.
7:00 PM – emails and cooking dinner, hopefully for my daughters, who are always busy!
11:00 PM – sleeping.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
I love the Instagram account @MontagueProjects
What should everyone try at least once?
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
At my cottage.