Home for Dinner: Ford Fry, chef and mega-restaurateur

Where does the owner of 10 Atlanta restaurants go for date night? Mr. Taco, of course.
Home For Dinner Ford Fry

Photograph by Raymond McCrea Jones

“People send me things to try out all the time,” says Ford Fry, 48, the closest thing Atlanta has to a restaurant magnate. “Usually that’s olive oils, vinegars, sea salts, or cuts of meat for Marcel.” Tonight Fry is testing a porterhouse steak so big it feeds three, and he’s serving it alongside field peas simmered in stock with lemon peels and onions. He swiped peaches, avocados, and tomatoes from JCT’s walk-in refrigerator to make a salad. (The benefits of having full-time access to a professional kitchen, eh?) Fry sears halibut for his wife, Stacy, who doesn’t eat red meat, but their sons Austin, 20, and Anders, 17, most definitely do. The chef may not actually be cooking at his restaurants anymore—he’s essentially the businessman now—but at home in Roswell, he mans the grill. The family dines together about three times a week; Thursdays, though, are for date night with Stacy. “Honestly, we usually end up at Mr. Taco,” Stacy admits. “No one knows me at Mr. Taco,” says Fry, who is often stopped by other chefs in town to talk shop. “If I go anywhere else, it’s like work.”

The grill
“I love cooking over a live fire,” says Fry. His stainless steel Grillworks grill, which he had built into the kitchen’s chimney, comes with a crank wheel for adjusting height, so he can get that porterhouse as close to the hickory and oak wood smoke as he wants.

The music
Willie Nelson’s “Moment of Forever,” on vinyl.

The dogs
Bella and Boomer, black and yellow labs, respectively, are not welcome at—or even underneath—the dinner table. “In your place,” says Stacy, pointing at their beds.

After dinner
“We usually go on a walk,” says Stacy, who still misses the Colorado trails they hiked when they worked at the Ritz-Carlton in Aspen. “Then Ford plays the guitar.”

This article originally appeared in our September 2017 issue.