Chef Kevin Rathbun  |  RATHBUN'S

"One of the Top New Restaurants in the United States", "One of the Best Steakhouses in America", "Best Overall Restaurant in Atlanta". These are just a few of the phrases critics have used to describe Kevin Rathbun's phenomenal and award winning restaurants. After 30 years in the restaurant business working and learning from other great chefs and restaurateurs such as Bradley Ogden, Emeril Legasse and Stephen Pyles, in 2004 Kevin Rathbun opened his namesake restaurant, Rathbun's, then Krog Bar (2005), Kevin Rathbun Steak (2007) and the newest addition to his fleet KR SteakBar (2013). In February 2008 Kevin and his brother, fellow chef Kent Rathbun, defeated Chef Bobby Flay for the Iron Chef America Elk Cook-off. Since opening his very first restaurant Kevin has received accolades from publications such as Creative Loafing, Details Magazine, Gayot Online, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, has been featured on shows like The Early Show, TODAY SHOW, Good Morning America, CNN and Food Network, and print media such as Food & Wine, Wall Street Journal, O the Oprah Magazine and Southern Living. No matter the venue Kevin continues to be a pivotal and driving force in the local and national restaurant scene.

Chef Gerry Klaskala  |  ARIA

Gerry Klaskala is the chef and owner of Aria, the award-winning Buckhead restaurant known for its modern take on fine American cuisine. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and is the co-owner of Canoe, one of Atlanta's most celebrated dining establishments located on the Chattahoochee River. Prior to his time at Aria and Canoe, Klaskala served as the executive chef at The Buckhead Diner and also spent 10 years in the culinary division of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation in Boston and Savannah. His top-notch, sophisticated cuisine has been featured in highly acclaimed publications like Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Esquire, Food & Wine, The New York Times, Southern Living, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Zagat. Klaskala frequently donates his time to culinary events to benefit organizations such as the Atlanta Community Food Bank, American Cancer Society, Georgia Organics, High Museum of Art, Open Hand and Share Our Strength.

2018 Main Event Chefs
Chef Shaun Doty  |  THE FEDERAL

Chef Shaun Doty's career has spanned the globe, but his passion lies in creating simply prepared contemporary fare in Atlanta. His extensive culinary experience is the driving force behind his newest concepts, Bantam + Biddy and Chick-a-Biddy, fast-casual chicken restaurants featuring local free-range and pastured chicken.

In May 2010, Doty founded YEAH! BURGER, an eco-friendly eatery serving customizable burger combinations in Atlanta's West Midtown and Virginia-Highland neighborhoods. Two years later, he sold his interest in YEAH! Burger to partner with Lance Gummere to open Bantam + Biddy at Ansley Mall in October 2012. The restaurant serves a mixture of regional, free-range pastured chickens. In July, Doty opened Chick-a-Biddy in Atlantic Station, a modern diner with farm-fresh chicken, creative cocktails and fresh-pressed juices and smoothies. Both Bantam + Biddy and Chick-a-Biddy offer a number of gluten-free items as well as dishes that can easily be modified for guests with other food allergies.

When he's not in the kitchen, Doty is actively involved in fundraising for causes relating to Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. He is a member of several local organizations and charities, including Southern Foodways Alliance, Wholesome Wave, Project Open Hand, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Georgia Organics and Georgians for Pastured Poultry. Doty also serves on the advisory council of the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival.

Chef Gary Donlick  |  BISTRO NIKO

As a Buckhead Life Restaurant Group native, Executive Chef Gary Donlick's classic French training and passion for time-honored cooking techniques continually molds the creative menu of Bistro Niko. After graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Donlick worked closely with French Master Chef Girard Vulien for five years. After, Donlick moved to Atlanta and started working for Buckhead Life at Chops Lobster Bar, Pano's and Paul's and 103 West before his career at Bistro Niko. Donlick's passion for French food stems from the long history of culinary techniques being integrated into French culture. He describes his personal style as classic French charm with a modern Parisian Twist, using more American ingredients. Donlick participates in many civic and charitable events as part of his commitment to the industry and the community. He and his wife, Kim, reside in Alpharetta with their eight-year-old daughter, Katelynn. In his leisure time he enjoys organic gardening and managing a family horse farm in Athens, GA.

Chefs Jonathan and Justin Fox  |  FOX BROS. BBQ

Growing up in Texas, pitmasters and twin brothers Jonathan and Justin Fox were inspired by the open sky, the Texas heat and the Southwestern spice. Though not professionally trained, the identical twin brothers developed an early passion for cooking, testing recipes on family and friends. In high school, while their peers were hosting keg parties, the Fox brothers were inviting their friends over for seated dinners.

It wasn't until Jonathan moved to Atlanta in early 1998 that he began taking his hobby more seriously. Justin followed shortly after, joining his brother in Atlanta in 2000. Frustrated with what they perceived as a lack of good, Texas-style barbecue in Atlanta, Jonathan and Justin began to experiment with making their own through a "trial and error" approach. After many failed kitchen experiments, they decided to unveil their barbecue to their friends and neighbors at a friendly backyard gathering. The successful party became an annual event, growing larger each year, until they were cooking for more than 200 people. In 2004 the brothers were introduced to Dan & Beau Nolen and Mike Reeves of Smith's Olde Bar. The Fox brothers went from barbecuing in the parking lot of Smith's to having their own menu at the legendary venue, eventually cooking seven days a week. Even without a brick and mortar place of their own, the Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q began creating a lot of buzz in Atlanta - even being named runner up for "Best Overall Bar-B-Q" in the city by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It was around this time that Jonathan was laid off from his corporate day job. This turned out to be a blessing and the brothers teamed up with Reeves and the Nolens to take their catering gig to the next level and open a restaurant of their own.

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q was opened in 2007 and rapidly became a staple for Atlanta natives and out of town visitors. The restaurant has been featured on The Weather Channel, TLC, Fox News, and The Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives". It has earned top spots on national barbecue rankings from top publications including Eater, USA Today, Southern Living, and Maxim Magazine. In 2014 and 2015, Jonathan and Justin were invited to bring their 'cue to the big city as guest chefs at the prestigious James Beard House. Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q is the "Official Barbecue of the Atlanta Falcons" and, in 2015, they began serving barbecue to fans inside the Georgia Dome.

Chef Chris Hall  |  LOCAL THREE

Chris is both chef and managing partner at Local Three, which is why he has the least hair of the three partners. A self-taught cook, Chris worked in kitchens from Philadelphia's Le Bec Fin to Atlanta's Canoe and 4th & Swift. He grew up around the corner on Peachtree Battle Avenue and thus really is a local. Chris now lives in Smyrna with his wife Julie, who you'll see in the restaurant frequently. An avid Georgia Tech fan, Hall considers home game Saturdays religious ceremonies.

Chef Peter Kaiser  |  KAISER'S CHOPHOUSE

Chef Peter Kaiser has been part of the Atlanta dining scene for over 30 years, working at some of the top rated restaurant groups and with the best chefs in the city. Growing up in Liechtenstein, Kaiser grew up with strong ties to the food community, with his family owning a popular cafe and grocery. It was natural for Kaiser to carry on a passion for the culinary arts.

In 2017, Kaiser is fulfilling the lifelong dream of opening a restaurant with his own namesake, Kaiser's Chophouse, in collaboration with friend of over 20 years and esteemed chef, Kevin Rathbun. Located in the heart of Sandy Springs, the restaurant focuses on sourcing the highest quality and freshest ingredients served to guests in a luxurious, yet comfortable environment. At Kaiser's Chophouse, guests can expect to indulge in a delicious meal prepared with superior ingredients and receive hospitality from a service team that goes above and beyond to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. Kaiser's culinary expertise has led to numerous television and radio appearances. He is an active volunteer with local food non-profits like Project Open Hand, the Atlanta Community Food Bank and Meals on Wheels. In his free time, Kaiser enjoys running, hiking, kayaking and being outdoors. He enjoys quality time with his wife, Valerie, and their two grown children, daughter Danielle and son Christian.

Chef Matthew Ridgway  |  COOKS & SOLIDERS

Matthew Ridgway brings more than 22 years of experience in the culinary industry to his role as executive chef at Cooks & Soldiers. From working in fine dining restaurants across the U.S. and France to running his own charcuterie business, Ridgway boasts an extensive background and unique perspective to the team.

After training at Johnson & Wales in Providence, R.I., Ridgway started his career at The Fountain Room in Philadelphia's Four Seasons Hotel, where was mentored by chef Jean-Marie Lacroix. Under Lacroix's guidance, he rose through the ranks to become chef de cuisine and chef de restaurant at Lacroix at The Rittenhouse Hotel, named Esquire's "Restaurant of the Year." In 2001, Lacroix sent Ridgway to France to hone his skills at George V, a three Michelin star restaurant in Paris and Le Relais Sainte-Victoire in Aix-en-Provence. Ridgway returned to the U.S. to work under James Beard Award winning chef Joel Antunes at Joel Restaurant in Atlanta and as chef de cuisine at New York's acclaimed Oak Room.

In 2009, Ridgway founded PorcSalt, a small charcuterie business focused on producing local, sustainable and artisanal products from pasture-raised duck. Ridgway went on to become owner and chef of The Pass, a neo-French "roadhouse" in Rosemont, N.J., which opened to critical acclaim from The New York Times and was quickly and consistently recognized as one of the state's finest restaurants.

Ridgway returned to Atlanta in 2015 and became executive chef of Gypsy Kitchen and Southern Gentleman, located at The Shops at Buckhead Atlanta. In August 2017, he returned to his upscale, fine dining roots at Cooks & Soldiers. In his spare time, Ridgway enjoys exploring new flavors, ingredients and techniques. He currently resides in southwest Atlanta.

Chef Eddie Hernandez  |  TAQUERIA DEL SOL

Eddie Hernandez was born in Monterey, Mexico. As a child, Eddie learned to cook from his grandmother in her restaurants in Mexico. At age 16, he moved to the United States to pursue his dreams of becoming a famous drummer. After deciding it was not the life he wanted to live, he moved to Atlanta in 1989 and found work at a Mexican restaurant south of Atlanta.

He quickly made his mark in the kitchen, laying the groundwork for his business partnership with Taqueria del Sol CEO Mike Klank. They opened the first Taqueria del Sol on Atlanta's Westside in 2000, creating a menu inspired by Hernandez's native country and Klank's experiences in the American Southwest. Along the way, Hernandez was introduced to traditional Southern ingredients.

Today, Eddie's spicy Turnip Greens, Memphis Pork Barbecue Tacos, and Blue Plate Specials draw crowds stretching to the sidewalks at three locations in Atlanta and their newest venue in Athens. These recipes have garnered him recognition in publications including Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, Every Day With Rachael Ray, Forbes and many others. He and Klank have been named semi-finalists in the James Beard Foundation Awards for Excellence's Outstanding Restaurateur category for three years in a row.

For more information on chef Eddie and Taqueria del Sol, visit Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Chefs Fuyuhiko and Lisa Ito  |  UMI

With more than 28 years of culinary experience in both traditional Japanese and classic French restaurants, Tokyo-born chef and partner Fuyuhiko Ito leads the culinary team at Umi, a new sushi concept located in Atlanta's bustling Buckhead neighborhood. Umi embraces Ito's heritage along with his unwavering passion for high quality ingredients and offers a diverse menu with international influences and both classic and progressive approaches to Asian fare.

Ito began his restaurant career at the age of 17 at Chateau Lion in Tokyo where he handled fresh fish from the Tsukiji Fish Market daily. Over the next several years, Ito worked under master chef Kono in the United States and a top Yakitori chef at Toriyoshi in Nishiazabu, Tokyo. Throughout his culinary profession, Ito developed a great passion for his knives. Each day, he carefully fine tunes each to maintain its maximum performance by using at least three different grit sharpening stones. In addition, Ito only uses non-oxidizing knives enabling him to avoid oxidation while cutting the finest sushi ingredients, creating a new standard in sushi cuisine.

In 2007, Ito met his wife and Umi pastry chef, Lisa Ito. The couple now lives together in Roswell, Georgia, with their six children.

Chef Philippe Haddad  |  CAPE DUTCH

Philippe Haddad brings 37 years of global, culinary and hospitality experience to Cape Dutch and the Company, offering his innovative cooking techniques and recipe creations along with his life-of-the party character and passion for food and wine.

Prior to joining the Cape Dutch team, Haddad starred as guest consulting chef of a different concept from restaurateur Justin Anthony, Yebo, for the restaurant's Sunday brunch series, in addition to leading the kitchen at F&B Atlanta as executive chef for three years. A Bruges, Belgium native, Haddad began his culinary journey as a teenager, when he exhibited more than a passing interest in the culinary arts. At a young age, Haddad was accepted to the most renowned hotel institute in Belgium, Hotel School Ter Duinen after enrolling in a preliminary cooking school at age 14. Haddad's passion and elite training allowed him to find work in a myriad of regions and countries such as Belgium, the south of France, the United Kingdom, Bermuda, the West Indies, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the United States. Along the way, Haddad gained insight into the many customs and cultures that surround each country's culinary traditions.

Richard Tang  |  CHAR

Chef Steven Herman  |  ARNETTE'S CHOP SHOP

With a passion for cooking and an innovative approach to modern American cuisine, Chef Stephen delights locals with a haven for extraordinary cuisine. Herman has been a part of the celebrated culinary team since the restaurant's grand opening in 2003, and became a partner 2012. His focus is on locally sourced and seasonal food products that affords him the creative ability to blend American cooking with southern influences. Growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, Stephen would watch in awe as his mother, an exceptional baker, would spend hours in the kitchen. This sparked Stephen's love for cooking at a young age, and he has never looked back. Inspired by his mother, Herman decided to pursue a culinary career.

Chef Jamie Adams  |  IL GIALLO

After years of being enamored by virtually every aspect of Italian culture, Jamie Adams spent nearly five years honing his craft at some of the finest restaurants in Italy. While there, he learned from many highly acclaimed chefs (as well as Italian Grandmothers!) not only the nuts and bolts of the cooking, but more importantly about the culture, the people and the traditions behind the flavors.

Upon returning to Atlanta, Chef Adams began his twenty-year relationship with the prestigious Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and Pano Karatassos, where Adams achieved the reputation as one of Atlanta's preeminent Italian Chefs. In 2000 at the age of 41, Adams became, as he refers to it, "the lucky recipient of 4 Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts (CABG), fondly referred to as "Cabbage" aka, quadruple bypass. Faced with such a life altering (or ending...) event, Adams paid attention to the "wake-up" call and began a new life of healthy diet and exercise, primarily in the form of road cycling. It also rekindled in him the desire for a new platform to express his many influences, from the beautifully hand crafted pastas learned in Piemonte and Emilia-Romanga, to the wonderful variety of the Italian coast from Venice to Genoa.

Chef Tony Manns, Jr.  |  LITTLE ALLEY STEAK

Tony Manns Jr. was born to be a chef. Growing up in Atlanta, he loved hanging out in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother as a child, watching them prepare a feast every Sunday. Some of his fondest memories are sitting at the family dinner table. After graduating with an associate's degree from Le Cordon Bleu, he worked at top local restaurants including C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar and Veni Vidi Vici. Today he is culinary director of F&H Food Trading Group and oversees Little Alley Steak, (Buckhead and Roswell) listed as one of the best steakhouses in America according to Forbes. The restaurant is one of only a handful in the country serving 100% Black Angus Beef. Tony donates much of his time to charitable culinary events including Open Hand. He also coaches little league football. When he isn't working he loves spending time with his wife and children.

Chef Andy Tran  |  MURPHY'S

Chef Andy Tran was raised in the American South by his Vietnamese parents and Grandmothers. From a young age his parents were role models for hard work and he grew up helping his Grandmothers cook for the family. He learned then that food can communicate comfort, family and tradition. His childhood and heritage has been the source for his philosophy that "actions and food speak louder than words."

Andy began in the hospitality industry as a server, soon realizing that he would prefer to create the food that he was serving and connect with people through that food. Cooking professionally also gave Chef Andy an outlet for his creativity and he was mentored and encouraged by local Atlanta Chefs Joe Truex, Mihoko Obunai, Nanh Le and the late Angus Brown. Chef Andy was motivated by Chef Angus and Nanh to start Ramen Crush, a Ramen pop up that received critical acclaim and quite the following in Atlanta.

In February of this year, Chef Andy became the Executive Chef at Murphy's in the Virginia Highland area of Atlanta. The creativity and innovation he brings has been a compliment to the Atlanta landmark. He has found a community and philosophy alongside the owner, Tom Murphy, their common goal being one of respecting tradition, hard work and the evolution of Classic American Fare.

Chef Eric Sell  |  OSTERIA MATTONE

Sell's professional experience includes 17 years in New York City and Upstate New York. While working at Brooklyn's No. 7 in 2009, it was named to Bon Appetit's list of the best new restaurants in America. His last job was serving as executive chef at of Creo' in Albany, N.Y. The Osteria Mattone team cites Sell's "extensive travels" and "passion for making pasta" has reasons why he's the right fit at the Italian restaurant.

Chef Doug Turbush  |  SEED KITCHEN AND BAR

Doug Turbush is carving out a niche for himself within the East Cobb community, creating approachable neighborhood restaurants that feature local ingredients prepared simply and elegantly. The acclaimed chef opened Marietta's Seed Kitchen & Bar in 2011, serving chef-driven, modern American cuisine. He followed that with Stem Wine Bar in 2013, featuring European small plates and a variety of Old World and New World wines. Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar was added to the roster in 2016.

His menus reflect the flair of an international traveler who has lived and worked in Bangkok, Thailand, and has traveled extensively to bring bold and exciting tastes to his tables. Experience, and particularly his tenure at Bluepointe, helped hone the commitment to high-quality ingredients that has become a hallmark of the menus at all three of his restaurants.

"The driving force has always been quality," he says of his career. "I never let my guard down as far as my standards and what we let in the back door of the kitchen. As a chef, you can have the greatest menu in the world, but it doesn't mean a thing if you don't have the very best ingredients. Making sure we have that commitment to local sourcing and local ingredients is my top priority."


Joy Jessup and Rebecca Weil  |  SUGAR SPUN FUN

While working as the Pastry Chef of Kevin Rathbun Steak, Joy's creations helped create a loyal following of guests for items like the Caramel Bon Bons & the Peanut Butter Baked Alaska. Joy's training and experience has included training at the French Valrhona Ecole du Grand Chocolate in France, stints as the Executive Pastry Chef of the Renaissance Arts and Renaissance Pere Marquette in New Orleans, She was previously the Executive Pastry Chef at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, as well as an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America in St Helena, California.

Joy says, "The excitement by our restaurant friends and the support by family members helped make our transition easy. We are excited to take our pastries to other parts of the city and look forward to creating a new brand of Sugar Spun Fun products that will be sold in local restaurants and markets."

In 2004, Rebecca walked into Rathbun's and was hired as the Assistant Pastry Chef and never looked back. Several years into it, Rebecca became the Pastry Chef for Rathbun's and continued until late in 2016. While working along Pastry Chef & Co-Owner Kirk Parks, Rebecca created thousands of desserts including the mini desserts, artisan breads, and was instrumental in training and development of all of the Assistant Pastry Chefs.

Rebecca says, "I have worked for years at one of the most recognized restaurants in Atlanta and although it has been worrysome to go out on my own, the planning and excitement makes me realize that there are endless opportunities out there for me. Taking this step is the first day of the rest of my life."

Madeline Leonard   |  HENRI'S BAKERY

An icon of Atlanta, Henri's Bakery was founded in 1929 by Henri Fiscus, a chef and native of France. His Southern adaptations of European delicacies became an instant hit and a permanent standard for every item created by the Henri's bakers today. Henri's Bakery has been a Buckhead fixture since locating to its current home on Irby Avenue in 1969. Its cheese straws are required eating for exclusive Buckhead cocktail parties, and cakes produced there have graced countless celebrations.

So what's the secret to its diverse appeal? "We have been here for so long and have maintained the same quality," said Madeline Leonard, the oldest of Fiscus' four grandchildren. She directs the family operation. "It's kind of a happening, too. You see people come in here and they meet their friends."


After nearly 20 years in professional kitchens, High Road Craft Ice Cream Founder and CEO Keith Schroeder took his culinary prowess into the laboratory, where he crafts exquisite ice cream, gelato & sorbet for luxury retailers and fine restaurants throughout the nation. Schroeder completed his Executive MBA at Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University in 2010, earning a spot in the prestigious honor society Beta Gamma Sigma. While at Coles, Schroeder and partner Hunter Thornton won the 2010 International New Ventures Competition at the University of Nebraska, earning sufficient seed capital to open High Road Craft Ice Cream.

Since launching the company in October 2010, Schroeder has led the company's rapid growth, seeing High Road Craft Ice Cream onto the shelves of retailers like Whole Foods Markets, Dean & Deluca, The Fresh Market, and Harris Teeter. High Road's products are quickly becoming staples at finer restaurants, resorts, and hotels around the world, and at sea as well. Schroeder is a dedicated and unconventional leader, who always shares his passion for food, culture, entrepreneurship, personal development, and life well lived.


Lauren Fernandez and
Kay Lynne Mitchell

Lauren and Kay Lynne are affectionately known as the "Atlanta Chicks" of Chicken Salad Chick, each owning and operating restaurants independently in the Atlanta area. Lauren is the president and co-founder of Origin Development Group, with Chicken Salad Chick locations in Buckhead, Alpharetta, Roswell, Kennesaw and Peachtree City. She has also expanded into Augusta and Athens with plans to double her footprint in Georgia. For Lauren, being a "Chick" is an opportunity to serve and lead others, and she catapulted Chicken Salad Chick into the hearts and appetites of Atlantans with a heart for quality southern fare. A passionate advocate for the fight against hunger, Lauren serves on the advisory board for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. If forced to choose a favorite menu item, Lauren is partial to the outstanding pimento cheese.

Kay Lynne owns the Chicken Salad Chick in Marietta. For Kay Lynn, being a "Chick" is a family affair. She is the aunt of Chicken Salad Chick's co-founder, Stacy Brown, and her restaurant has become a favorite in East Cobb. But you won't just find Kay Lynne in her restaurant, you'll also find her name as one of the popular flavors of chicken salad on the menu. With her fire-cracker personality and fiery red hair, she was the inspiration for Kickin' Kay Lynne, a chicken salad made with a bold combination of buffalo sauce, jalapenos, bacon, ranch, cheese and sriracha. As Stacy puts it "Kay Lynne has a way of lighting up a room and making everyone in it feel just wonderful!"

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