Hugh Acheson: My Atlanta

There are a bunch of reasons to trust Hugh Acheson’s opinions. Not just about food, but about Atlanta in general. The James Beard winner heads up four Georgia restaurants. He’s also a ‘Top Chef’ judge, author, self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, music lover, appreciator of fine clothing, and has quite the rep for being a legitimately nice human being. (He even has a guide to 50 pickle recipes — the guy knows things!)

But more than any other reason, Hugh is really plugged in to the greater Atlanta scene at the community level. As chef/partner at 5&10, The National, Empire State South, and The Florence, he tries to keep all of his business dealings as local as possible “… not because we have to, not because we want to co-opt the term of local, but because we just want to invest in the people around us.”

From vinyl, to baristas, to what he dubs “the United Nations of Atlanta,” these are Hugh’s local favorites.

Buford Highway Farmers Market

Hugh: “This is kind of like the United Nations of Atlanta. You go in there and the entire world is represented. It’s run by an amazing guy who’s really forward thinking in how he’s managed to cater to all these cultures and embrace them all at the same time. It is what Atlanta is, which is this beautiful mishmash of cultures right now, which reminds me of Toronto. It’s an awesome time.”

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Fantasy Land Records

Hugh: “I like records and I like music a lot, so I’ll go to Fantasyland Records up in Buckhead. It’s an old-school record shop that’s great, in the local sphere … we have to support those guys. I don’t know how they’re still around. As LPs and vinyl come back, you owe these guys a nod of support for just hanging in there for the last 20 years as they get trampled by non-local stuff.”

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Octane Coffee

Hugh: “Octane is doing a phenomenal job. Getting a cappuccino by someone who really knows what they’re doing with coffee that’s amazingly well roasted … beautifully crafted stuff. They’re great at service and authenticity, and authenticity is the one thing that nobody can fake. They’ve got 3-4 shops now. Great baristas, great coffee culture. I’m really into coffee.”

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Empire State South

Hugh: “Empire State of the South is the old nickname of Georgia. Post Civil War, it was a marketing campaign that really was meant to launch Georgia into the future by trying to be the epicenter of the arts and financing culture of the South. And I think that Atlanta really is positioned to do that. So the restaurants have always looked internally into Georgia and Atlanta history to procure stuff.”

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Tweeds

Hugh: “Tweeds is just great. Thomas was in Athens awhile, then moved back home to Atlanta. The most important thing is finding the little places that sell the good stuff. I think we are all interested these days in finding things that last forever.”

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R. Wood Studio Ceramics

Hugh: “A lot of our pottery and our plateware is from local people such as Rebecca Wood, who has a company named R. Wood in Athens.”

“This one woman who makes these beautiful koozies that we put on ball jars for our iced coffees … she also makes all these tapestries and stuff for covering tables. All these tables were made by a local guy in Athens Georgia named Doug Bewer, and they’re beautiful metalsmiths and tables. That’s the idea. Figuring out how we can get all that stuff to be as local as possible, not because we have to, not because we want to co-opt the term of local, but because we just want to invest in the people around us.”

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