He might be gearing up to be a Southern culinary icon, but Linton Hopkins wasn’t always geared toward a culinary career. The 2007 Atlanta Rising Star Chef studied anthropology at Emory University, with plans to follow his father into the medical profession. But fate found him working in a bookstore, where Hopkins spent his spare time reading not medical texts but cookbooks.
Reading cookbooks brought back memories of Hopkins’ grandfather, Eugene Holeman, who was passionate about all things flavorful and Southern. The memory was so strong that it inspired Hopkins to enroll at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He might have gone north to train, but Hopkins spent his externship back down south, at Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans. Upon graduation in 1993, he worked as a banquet cook and saucier for The Grill Room of the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans.
Hopkins took one more professional sojourn from the south, joining Jeff Tunks at DC Coast in Washington, DC, becoming chef de cuisine after four years. But the memory of his grandfather called him home. And in 2004 Hopkins, along with wife (and sommelier) Gina Hopkins, opened Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta. Hopkins’ menu is a manifestation of his early influences—Southern products and sensibility combined with formal French training—as well as his recent culinary experiments. It’s this dedication to both the old and the new techniques and traditions that makes Restaurant Eugene one of the city’s centers for exciting new Southern cuisine. Building on his initial success, Hopkins opened gastropub Holeman & Finch in 2008, with a comfortable (read: hospitable) focus on cocktails and burgers, and a palpable devotion to the flavors that bind and move with the generations.