Food Issue - Tracing ATL's twisted web of restaurant connections

Tracing the who, what, and where of the city's dining scene

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Atlanta may be large and sprawling, but its restaurant community is a small world. Everyone seems to know everyone, and many of today’s big-name chefs started their careers at their current competition’s restaurants.

We thought it would be interesting to come up with a graphic that traced some Atlanta chefs’ career paths and ultimately revealed who Atlanta’s most influential chef mentors and restaurants have been over the years. In the interest of sanity, we limited our selections to restaurants and chefs that Creative Loafing’s dining team feel are the most relevant to a discussion of the city’s current restaurant landscape. This list is nowhere near exhaustive — we did not, for example, document a chef’s entire resume or list every Atlanta restaurant under the sun — but the resulting Atlanta Restaurant Family Web is the product of a massive amount of research.

Since the project turned out to be more of a tangled web than a classic family tree, some explaining of how to navigate the thing is in order: On the diagram’s right side you’ll find a key containing what we deem to be 10 of the most influential Atlanta chefs/restaurateurs and restaurant groups in the biz today. Each one has been assigned a corresponding icon and color. Restaurants that fall under one of the Big 10’s umbrellas are encircled in matching colors. If a chef at some point in his or her career worked for one of the 10, the corresponding icon will appear below the chef’s name. The size of a restaurant’s bubble is relative to the number of chef connections it’s had over the years: The greater number of notable chefs who have worked in a particular restaurant, the bigger that restaurant’s bubble will be.

Solid pink lines denote a chef’s current affiliation/s. The blue dotted lines indicate a chef’s past affiliation with a restaurant. You’ll notice some chefs have a solid blue line leading to a small blue shape. Those are jumps. They just indicate that a particular restaurant a chef has a past affiliation with was super far away on the page and, for economy’s sake, we created the jump system to minimize crossing-dotted-line-confusion. Match like icons to complete that particular connection.

Have fun — some of the whos, whats, and wheres may surprise you.

— Stephanie Dazey, Food Editor, and Jennifer Zyman, Dining Critic

??Editor's Note: This piece has been updated since its original publication to correctly reflect the location of Richard Blais' restaurant Juniper & Ivy. It is located in San Diego.

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