Atlanta is the big city down South, a metropolis that combines some of the go get em' mentality of New York City, a mix of urban and rural cityscape, the gentile charm of Charleston, and the entrepreneurial spirit necessary for a successful restaurant scene. No longer content to sit behind the bigger culinary players, the city has been swept up by creative, eclectic talent willing to go the extra mile to build a burgeoning food landscape.
Much of this landscape is shaped by the South's deep roots in sustainable farming and historical cuisine; it was here that farm-to-table was truly born and its precepts are demanded, from the city's few white table-cloth restaurants to its influx of burger locales. Chefs are also looking to the future, interjecting modernist technique witih their traditional recipes and flavors to create the ultimate New South. And at the heart of the Atlanta cocktail community is a true community, a group of young mixologists excited to learn, grow, experiment, and collaborate together to create a truly unique drinks scene.
This year we tasted savory dishes, desserts, cocktails, beer, coffee, and wine pairings from more than 80 talented chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists, sommeliers, brewers, baristas, and coffee roasters in Atlanta and Athens. Only 19 earned the title of Rising Star. So what makes them shine?
Rising Stars have attributes that make us believe they will be the future leaders of the country's culinary scene. Put simply, they're not just surviving the Atlanta restaurant industry, they're defining it, with exciting cuisine, pours, and culinary concepts. So without further ado, our 2012 Atlanta Rising Stars: who they are, why they shine, and how they're shaping the future of not just Atlantean food, but American regional cuisine.