Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.
The ultimate hero worship of the food world. As food reality shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef America get more popular, so do the celebrities they create. Atlanta’s food scene continues to get nods from the producers of these shows. This was especially true in Top Chef season six, which included three Atlanta chefs.
So here is your guide to the celebrity chef scene in Atlanta. After dining at these joints, you’ll have all the snobbery necessary for a suburban foodie. You’ll be able to name drop at your next dinner party. And if you’ve got gall, you could become your own Tom Colicchio, finding the slightest fault with Kevin Gillespie’s Sonoma artisan duck breast.
Blais first appeared in television during season three of Iron Chef America. He spared with Mario Batali in battle chickpea (don’t you just love the ominous names of these battles?) Later he was a contestant on season four of Top Chef, finishing in the runner up spot.
Blais’ cooking included a lot of very modern techniques, which was always fun to watch on the show. He continues to have a close relationship with the show, returning in subsequent seasons.
Currently in Atlanta, he is consulting with the restaurant Flip Burger Boutique. They feature some over-the-top burgers and milk shakes made with liquid nitrogen. Prior to Flip he bounced around between half a dozen restaurants.
The first of three Atlantans on season six of Top Chef. The Puerto Rican-born chef got booted from the show way too early in my opinion. Today he runs Pure Vida, a Latin tapas restaurant off Ponce in Atlanta.
Kirshtein was Richard Blais’ sous chef on Iron Chef. No surprise then that they are friends. He appeared on season six of Top Chef and went pretty far, nearly making the finals. In my opinion, he went four or five episodes farther than he should have. He didn’t come across as competent as the skilled competition in this season. But perhaps it was how the show was edited.
Kirchtein runs Eno Restaurant and Wine Bar in Midtown but has announced he is leaving this month. He will work a temporary gig in New York City and hopes to return to Atlanta afterward.
By far the fan favorite on season six of Top Chef. Gillespie was a big teddy bear of a chef who showcased his Georgia roots. The man is a master of pork, so much so that he’s tattooed a humongous pig on his arm. He made it to the finals before being eliminated.
Back home he runs Woodfire Grill. His menu changes frequently and features locally grown, organic and sustainable foods. And from what I’ve read, a reservation at this joint is hard to come by these days.
This guy, along with his brother, defeated Bobby Flay on Iron Chef. And to top it off, they beat him in battle elk, an ingredient I would expect Bobby Flay to knock out of the park.
Top Chef host and judge extraordinaire. It is hard to not know who this guy is. Unlike most of the younger reality show contestants mentioned above, Colicchio is a serious and accomplished restaurateur. He recently opened his Atlanta location of Craft in trendy Buckhead.
I really don’t know this guy, other than being one of several snooty Frenchmen to guest judge on Top Chef. His vast restaurant empire includes the Asian fusion joint Spice Market in the W hotel in Midtown.
An Atlanta celebrity chef has-been. Atlanta holds the distinction of being the only place Emeril has ever closed a restaurant.