Interview with 2012 Atlanta Rising Star Chef Adam Evans

June 2012

Katherine Sacks: How did you get interested in cooking?

Adam Evans: I grew up loving cooking. A girlfriend’s father was the GM of a resort in South Alabama, and I worked for him. He was first real chef that taught me; he kind of got me a job in the kitchen and he showed me the ropes, got me on track, and spent a lot of time working with me. Then he sent me to New Orleans. I thought I knew how to cook going to New York and then figured out I didn't know anything.

KS: What is your style as a chef?

AE: I think cooking all together is shooting from the hip—a little bit of planning, but it’s all kind of in the moment when stuff comes in that inspires me. It’s when practice meets opportunity, that’s what all my training is. And I love simple American flavors.

KS: What is your proudest moment?

AE: There are a lot of rewarding moments. The proudest moments for me are the big events, the big deadlines that come up and executing them and doing it well. A night that’s really busy and everyone has fun—it’s why we all do it. I'm also really proud of my new restaurant and being able to open that.

KS: Tell us about the new place. What is the concept behind The Optimist?

AE: The Optimist is a wood-grilled seafood house and oyster bar. It’s pretty much all seafood, but we'll have some land favorites too.

KS: What has been the hardest things you’ve had to do in your career?

AE: : I’ve done a lot of challenging events. Tom [Colicchio] had a lot of events on Long Island. One time it was an event with 5,000 people. Lionel Richie flew out.

KS: If you weren’t’ a chef, what would you be doing?

AE: I would [work in] some sort of secret service espionage, I love that kind of stuff. That’s something that would never happen, but how cool would that be, to have a life but not be able to talk about it? I like the idea of bettering the country—or something.

KS: And where will we find you in five years?

AE: Hopefully opening up multiple oyster bars with Ford. The plan is to expand the concept.