Hugh Acheson is the chef/partner of the Athens, Ga restaurants; Five & Ten, The National the Atlanta restaurant Empire State South, and the Savannah, Ga restaurant The Florence. 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 15, he began working in restaurants after school. Acheson's experience includes working under Chef Rob MacDonald 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. Most recently, in the early summer of 2014, Hugh brought The Florence to Savannah.
Hugh's cookbook titled A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen published by Clarkson Potter, hit the bookshelves on October 18th, 2011. In it, you’ll find libations, seasonal vegetables, salads and soups, Hugh's prized sides, fish and meats, turning Southern food on its head every step of the way. A New Turn in the South won the Jeames Beard Foundation award for Best Cookbook in the field of "American Cooking" in 2012.
In the Spring of 2014, Hugh partnered with Potter Style to publish his pickling swatchbook Pick a Pickle: 50 recipes for Pickles, Relishes, and Fermented Snacks. A handy kitchen resource for canning, pickling and preserving.
Acheson's fresh approach 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 six time James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southeast (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and winner of the award in 2012. He is also a 2007 Rising Star from StarChefs.com and won their Mentor Award in 2012. Chef Mario Batali chose Hugh as one of the 100 contemporary chefs in Phaidon Press' Coco: 10 World Leading Masters 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 In 2010 Hugh competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters: Season 3. He returned to the hit show as a judge on Top Chef: Seasons 9, 10, and 11. He is the host of Bravo’s online compliment to Top Chef Masters Season 5, Battle of the Sous Chefs, and continued his judging role on Top Chef Season 12, which premiered in October of 2014.
But that’s 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.