Joe Truex, the executive chef at Watershed on Peachtree, hails from Mansura, Louisiana—the heart of food-obsessed, French-speaking Cajun country. The youngest of seven kids in a Catholic family, Truex was weaned on crawfish bisque, coush-coush, and gumbo served alongside a baked sweet potato.
Duane Nutter, executive chef, One Flew South, was eight years old when he and his mother left Morgan City, Louisiana—a town of 12,000 built on the petroleum and shrimping industries, about an hour’s drive west of New Orleans—for Seattle, Washington.
Justin Burdett, chef de cuisine at Miller Union, was rarely exposed to fresh seafood until he began cooking in high-end restaurants in Athens, Asheville, and Atlanta. But he's eaten plenty of salmon cakes made from canned fish throughout his lifetime, and to this day it's still how he prefers to get his omega-3s.
s a child, King’s military family was always on the move. But wherever they lived—Virginia, Missouri, Hawaii—her grandmother, Mildred King, came for extended visits, bringing the flavors of Georgia with her. “Ganky” (as King called her) was revered for her layer cakes and pecan tassies. But the dessert that King most remembers is a simple, delicate coconut custard.
Long before Roberts learned how to toy with foie gras under Guenter Seeger, another mentor showed him moves in the kitchen: his mom, Jean Roberts. Today, some of her best creations—like her creamy macaroni and cheese—are signatures at Community Q.
A native of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Evans moved to Atlanta to helm the kitchen at Buckhead’s now-defunct Craftbar. His focus at the Optimist is seafood, but he still craves the earthier Southern comfort foods of home: his mom’s biscuits and gravy, his grandmother’s chicken and dumplings, and most of all, North Alabama chicken stew.