June 20th, 2012
Hugh Acheson is the chef/partner of Five & Ten and The National located in Athens, GA and Empire State South in Atlanta, GA. Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada he started cooking at a young age and decided to make it his career after taking a very long time to realize that academics weren’t his thing. At age 15, he began working in restaurants after school and learning as much as possible. Today, Acheson's experience includes working under Chef Rob MacDonald where he learned stylized French cuisine, wine and etiquette at the renowned Henri Burger restaurant in Ottawa, and in San Francisco as the chef de cuisine with Chef Mike Fennelly at Mecca, and later as opening sous chef with famed Chef Gary Danko at his namesake restaurant, where he found a love of the simple, pure and disciplined.
Taking these experiences, Hugh developed a style of his own forging together the beauty of the South with the flavors of Europe and opening the critically acclaimed Athens, GA restaurant Five & Ten in March of 2000.
In 2007, Acheson opened The National with fellow chef Peter Dale. Adding to his list of dining establishments, Hugh opened Atlanta based restaurant, Empire State South in the summer of 2010.
Hugh's cookbook titled A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen published by Clarkson Potter, will hit the bookshelves on October 18th, 2011. In A New Turn in the South, you’ll find libations, seasonal vegetables that take a prominent role, salads and soups, Hugh's prized sides, and fish and meats, turning Southern food on its head every step of the way. With inviting and surprising photography, full of Hugh’s personality, and pages layered with his own quirky writing and sketches, he invites you into his community and his very creative world of food— to add new favorites to your repertoire.
Acheson's fresh approach to Southern food has earned him a great deal of recognition including Food & Wine’s Best New Chef (2002), the Atlanta Journal Constitution Restaurant of the Year (2007), a five time James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southeast (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) and a 2007 Rising Star from StarChefs.com. Chef Mario Batali chose Hugh as one of the 100 contemporary chefs in Phaidon Press' Coco: 10 World Leading Master Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs. Hugh has also been in Bon Appetit, the New York Times, Garden & Gun, Fine Living, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Southern Living, Saveur and competed in Bravo’s Top Chef Masters: Season 3.
Hugh will appear as a Judge on Bravo’s Top Chef: Season 9, airing in fall 2011.
But that is to everyone outside of Athens. To Athens, he is the guy who owns those restaurants, has one eyebrow, a wife far better looking than he is and two young children who are the apple of his eye.