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Food & Wine’s ‘Best Chef,’ winner of two James Beard Foundation Awards, and 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.
As a Healthy Living Ambassador for the National Head Start Association, Acheson speaks to Head Start families about the importance of nutritious meals, and raises funds for Head Start gardens around the country. He is also a staunch supporter of No Kid Hungry, a national organization that ensures that every child in need has access to healthy food.
Hugh’s own foundation, Seed Life Skills, is a contemporary approach to home economics that teaches 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.
His cuisine can be tasted in several restaurants across Georgia, including 5 & 10 and The National in Athens, Achie's, Empire State South and coffee shop Spiller Park Coffee in Atlanta.
Hugh’s 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.
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. In 2017, Acheson opened First & Third Hot Dog and Sausage Shack at the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park.
A frequent judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, Hugh has appeared in The New York Times, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, The Wall Street Journal, GQ, and Southern Living.
Breakfast for all: Feeding America’s Hungry Kids
1 in 6 kids in America don’t get the food they need every day, particularly breakfast. This puts a terrible strain on their health and development, and even threatens their futures. As a chef, employer, food advocate, and most importantly a parent, child hunger is an issue close to Hugh Acheson’s heart.
Partnered with organizations such as National Head Start Association, Seed Life Skills, and No Kid Hungry, Acheson works to inform schools, communities, and governments about what food programs are available, so that breakfast becomes a part of the routine for every student. Hugh also teaches parents how to make healthier meals that fit the budget, and that children will enjoy.
A pressing, bipartisan issue, child hunger is a practical matter for any business or organization who hope to hire young adults that can compete in an agile business world. As Acheson has said, the workforce of tomorrow is the kids of today, and a competitive, healthy society starts with breakfast.
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.
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.
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.
GROWING HEALTHY AND SUSTAINABLE CITIZENS
Young people 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. With a team of Local Family and Consumer Science professionals, Hugh has revitalized home economics across the country with practical skills like sewing, balancing a checkbook, hands-on cooking skills, and conscious consumer economics. His overall vision aims to instill community development along with skill building to yield healthy, productive members of society.
Along with Hugh’s nonprofit group, Seed Life Skills, he is creating experiential learning opportunities in and outside the classroom. Chef Acheson discusses how these seemingly basic skills are paramount in encouraging students everywhere to grow into responsible, informed citizens.
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.