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Hugh Acheson
Chef 
 Head Start Ambassador
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Hugh Acheson
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Food & Wine’s ‘Best Chef,’ winner of two James Beard Foundation Awards, and local-food advocate Hugh Acheson brings a fresh perspective on how we grow, cook, and shop for food. Acheson helps rebuild communities from the ground up, raising awareness about sustainable farming, shopping local, and creating healthier schools and homes. Hugh’s local food initiatives have grown nationally, integrating healthy, sustainable, and local flavors into the menus and concessions of schools, communities, and Live Nation events.

In 2017, Acheson partnered with National Head Start Association (NHSA) as their Healthy Living Ambassador, where he speaks to families of Head Start about the importance of nutritious meals, while raising funds for gardens at Head Start centers around the country. 

Hugh’s foundation, Seed Life Skills, is a contemporary approach to home economics, teaching skills not usually taught in schools, from cooking and gardening, to conscious consumer economics, home finance, and D.I.Y. design principles.

Before Hugh began encouraging others to cook with the flavors grown in their own backyards, he himself learned how to cook, working under established chefs, studying traditional French wine, cuisine, and etiquette. Hugh has since reinvented southern cooking, merging staples of the South with the flavors of Europe into his signature style of pure, honest food.

Hugh’s cuisine can be tasted in four restaurants across Georgia, including 5 & 10 and The National in Athens, The Florence in Savannah, and Empire State South and coffee shop Spiller Park Coffee in Atlanta, opened in 2015.

His first cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen, won the 2012 James Beard Foundation Book Award for “American Cooking.” In his fourth cookbook, The Chef and the Slow Cooker, Hugh is out to prove in 100 recipes that high-level cooking can emerge from a crock-pot. It is due out in October 2017.

In his efforts to ensure that local farming is both sustainable and certified organic, he has worked with Georgia school systems, lobbied congress, and spoke on the matter at the Building a Healthier Future Summit, which was keynoted by First Lady Michelle Obama. He is partnered with Live Nation in their commitment to serving locally sourced produce, responsibly raised meats, and vegetarian options at venues.

A frequent judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, Hugh has appeared in The New York TimesFood and WineBon AppetitThe Wall Street JournalGQSouthern Living, and Gourmet.  

Full Bio >
Videos
  • Hugh Acheson at the Colorado Restaurant Show
  • Acheson on Healthy eats and Live Nation
  • Hugh Acheson Cooks on TODAY
    Hugh Acheson Cooks on TODAY
  • Slow Food with a Twist
    Hugh Acheson - Slow Food with a Twist
  • Top Chef: Meet Hugh Acheson
    Top Chef: Meet Hugh Acheson
  • Acheson at Google: "Seed Life Skills" (2016)
  • Hugh Acheson Talks to Imbibe & Inspire
  • Chefs@Google Presents Hugh Acheson
  • Acheson hosts Bravo's Battle of the Sous Chefs
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Speaking Topics
Growing Healthy and Sustainable Citizens

Hugh Acheson believes in bringing life back to basics. Starting in his own back yard, he’s working to revive home economics across the country to help teach today’s youth practical skills like how to can and preserve, sew a button, and balance a checkbook. Additionally, Chef Acheson’s focus on smart dietary choices that include lots of local fruit and veggies is vital to our future generations. His overall vision aims to instill community development along with skill building to yield healthy, productive members of society. Using his own personal and professional experience, Chef Acheson discusses how small steps will help achieve this big goal and encourage stronger, smarter citizens of the world.

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Inside Top Chef

Having made his through the ranks in the kitchen, Hugh Acheson moved on to be a fan-favorite contestant and judge on Bravo’s Top Chef. Currently the host of Top Chef: Battle of Sous Chefs and Bravo’s official Food Blogger, Hugh shares stories from his well-rounded career in the kitchen, his rise to Top Chef, and the full flavor of his talent and passion.

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Leadership Lessons from the Kitchen: Turning Employees into Teammates

At Hugh Acheson’s restaurant 5 &10, there are no managers; every employee takes equal responsibility for customer experience and the restaurant’s success. As the visionary force behind the restaurant, Chef Acheson worked to build a trustworthy team, carefully staffing and training each position to encourage ownership and authenticity. By empowering people and aligning your vision with the wants, aspirations and attitudes of your teammates, you respect them, and they give it back. Emphasizing the importance of teamwork, Chef Acheson explains his unique approach to management and how it can help you.

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Keeping it Local: Sustaining your Community

Hugh Acheson’s mantra is: local first, sustainable second, organic third. He believes that food is the key to improving one’s community and making it sustainable. Chef Acheson advocates that taking small steps like shopping at your area farmer’s market, frequenting independent restaurants, learning to garden, and meeting the people who grow your food will make the world a better place, one community at a time.

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The Art of Southern Cooking: Bringing Culture & Traditions to the Table

A Canadian transplant living in the South, Hugh Acheson has made a conscious effort to immerse himself in all things Southern. Chef Acheson has learned all about the culture, lifestyle, and traditions behind his favorite recipes and values the time-honored history associated with the South and its cuisine.

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Tasty Bytes: Blogging from the Culinary Frontlines

If you can’t stand the heat then stay out of the kitchen. Hugh Acheson knows this better than anyone. As he moved up the Top Chef ranks, from contestant to judge to host, he’s learned a thing or two about what makes a great chef and a functional kitchen. And he’s ready to share it with the rest of us.
 
The official Food Blogger for Bravo, Acheson dishes out the behind-the-scenes turmoil and success of TV’s most exciting cooking contests. Writing about food, health, and the cultural significance of various dishes, Hugh unwraps more than just a few ingredients on his blog. In this speech, he examines what it takes to become a top chef on TV and at home by using the right foods, and how he brings this message from the table to your tablet.

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Starts at Home: How to Bring Home Ec Into the 21st Century

Houses don’t operate the way they did in the 1950s, so why are we still teaching home ec that way? Young people across the world deserve a curriculum that prepares them for the domestic challenges of the 21st century, and Hugh Acheson can’t wait to show it to you.

Hugh has made a name for himself by re-invigorating the kitchen with fresh, local flavors that impact the community and the dinner table. But food is just the first step. Along with a team of Local Family and Consumer Science professionals, Hugh is developing an interactive multimedia curriculum to meet the needs of modern families. He wants to teach middle schoolers basic life skills, from cooking to banking and home maintenance to health, and give teachers the materials and resources they need to make lessons relevant to today’s students.

To Hugh, an engaged and prepared 20-year old citizen knows how to poach an egg, make salad dressing, sew a button on a shirt, and understand their cell phone contract. It’s this “from-scratch” philosophy that is so valuable to Hugh’s culinary practices and that will produce autonomous, healthy, well-prepared, and responsible citizens. In Starts at Home: How to Bring Home Ec Into the 21st Century, he’ll show you how.

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Books & Other Works
  • The Broad Fork
  • The Chef and the Slow Cooker
  • Bravo's Top Chef
    Bravo's Top Chef
  • Pick a Pickle
    Pick a Pickle: 50 Recipes for Pickles, Relishes, and Fermented Snacks
  • A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen
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Testimonials
“Hugh was a pleasure to work with…very knowledgeable, accommodating, and entertaining. Our members received him very well. I am hoping we will be able to invite Hugh to speak at next year’s conference, and I look forward to exploring ways we can build on his knowledge and enhance the delivery of his content.”
Produce Marketing
“We were impressed with Hugh Acheson's accessibility, focus on our students, easygoing but thoughtful approaches to his cooking, career, and passion for food. He made a tremendously positive impression upon our community. The dining event we held on campus in his honor was one of the most successful community occasions we have held.”
Montgomery Bell Academy
“Hugh is one of the smartest and best cooks I know. I would happily eat his food every day.”
Chef Scott Peacock
“Hugh Acheson is an eloquent, intellectual spirit who cares deeply for food and its impact on a community.”
Chef Frank Stitt
“Chef Acheson was a great addition to our ChefConnect General Session. His philosophy on our industry and his perspective on locality were an inspiration to all of us. ”
American Culinary Federation
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Activism
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Community Development
Culinary
Diet
Family
Food
Gardening
Green Business
Health
Hospitality
Hunger
Leadership
Lifestyle
Management
Mind/Body
Nature
Nutrition
Obesity
Organic
Social Change
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TED
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