Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada Hugh started cooking at a young age and decided to make it his career. At age 15, he began working in restaurants after school and learning as much as possible. Today, Hugh'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 as well as 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.
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. Hugh went on to open The National, with fellow chef Peter Dale, in 2007. His Atlanta-based restaurant Empire State South opened in 2010 and most recently, in 2014; Hugh opened both Cinco y Diez, in Athens, and The Florence in Savannah.
Hugh's fresh approach to Southern food has earned him a great deal of recognition including Food & Wine's Best New Chef (2002), the AJC Restaurant of the Year (2007), a 2007 Rising Star from StarChefs.com and winner of their Mentor Award in 2012, and a six-time James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southeast (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012) and winner in 2012. Chef Mario Batali chose Hugh as one of the 100 contemporary chefs in Phaidon Press' Coco: 10 World Leading Master Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs.