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Hugh Acheson joins season nine of Top Chef as a series judge. A recent competitor on Top Chef Masters Season 3, 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, hit the bookshelves on October 18th, 2011 and won the award for Best Cookbook in the field of “American Cooking” by the James Beard Foundation. 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 (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) James Beard nominee and 2012 winner for Best Chef Southeast. In 2007, Hugh was named a Rising Star from StarChefs.com. 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, and Saveur.
In 2010 Hugh competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters: Season 3 and in 2011 he returned to the hit show as a judge Top Chef: Season 9.
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.