Almost Famous: 5 Southern Chefs to Watch

It used to be that the majority of America’s most talented chefs were all cooking in New York City kitchens. But today you can eat in almost any city in the country, from Pittsburgh to Orlando, Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, and find skilled, revolutionary chefs worth their salt — especially if you choose to dine in the South. With the country’s most historic (and easily most storied) cuisine and a slew of accomplished chefs pushing the envelope as they marry tradition with innovation, Southern food has never tasted so good. Here are five Southern chefs to watch.

Raleigh’s Cheetie Kumar of Garland
James Beard winner Ashley Christensen may have put Raleigh on the culinary map, but Cheetie Kumar, the guitar player for Birds of Avalon and the mastermind behind Asian hotspot Garland, is keeping the City of Oaks on every foodie’s radar. Far from passé fusion, Cheetie dishes up authentic Korean plates (don’t miss her Heritage Farms pork shoulder rice bowl with housemade kimchi pickles and daikon-collard slaw, topped with a fried egg) alongside Indian specialties (the turmeric-yogurt glazed cauliflower spiked with curry leaves, chiles and cilantro packs an incredible flavor punch), all made with local Southern ingredients. [Photo by Tierney Farrell]

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Charleston’s Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh
Sean Brock and Mike Lata get most of the national attention when it comes to Charleston restaurants (and for good reason), but three-time James Beard semi-finalist Jeremiah Bacon, who helms the kitchen at The Macintosh, is making diners take notice. Bacon has a knack for fusing local, in-season ingredients with avant-garde-yet-approachable techniques, resulting in one-of-a-kind dishes (did someone say grouper charcuterie seasoned with bologna spices?) that will linger on your taste buds long after your meal.

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Houston’s Luis Roger of BCN Taste & Tradition
Diners have been flocking to Houston for a taste of James Beard winner Chris Shepherd’s Southern-meets-Asian creations, and with good reason. Stay for chef Luis Roger’s exemplary haute cuisine at Houston’s hottest Spanish destination, BCN Taste & Tradition. Bona fide bites of boquerones (pickled anchovies) are served up in an intimate villa setting, alongside Barcelona classics, such as green peas sautéed with prized Ibérico ham and crispy artichokes, decadent foie gras terrine, and buttery lobster bouillabaisse.

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Atlanta’s Zach Meloy of Better Half
Though Bacchanalia and Restaurant Eugene have been on the top fine dining restaurant lists for more than a decade, they’re not exactly affordable options (though they are worth it, if you can spring for the splurge). So when you’re craving the same level of food (read: precision, finesse, creativity, passion, and quality) and want to avoid spending your monthly mortgage on dinner, head to chef Zach Meloy’s unassuming, but big on delivery Westside restaurant, Better Half. Exclusively serving prix-fixe menus (available in three-, five- and nine-course tastings, priced at $35, $55 and $75, respectively), Meloy’s food—he rarely cooks the same dish twice—is fresh and thrilling, always with a profusion of contrasting flavors, textures, and temperatures. [Photo by Rebecca Stanley]

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Nashville’s Brian Baxter of Husk
When Sean Brock brought his legendary Husk restaurant to Nashville, the city’s restaurant scene exploded with excitement. But as all multiple-location restaurants go (especially those with a celebrity chef like Brock), it’s the lesser-known, but no-less-talented kitchen crew who runs the day-to-day show. Here, chef de cuisine Brian Baxter—he’s been with Brock on-and-off since 2008 at McGrady’s—mans the stove, cranking out Southern-to-a-T plates of hominy griddle cakes with pimento cheese and chipped beef, crispy chicken skins in white BBQ sauce, and Carolina catfish and okra in a West African peanut sauce.

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Are you already a fan of these up-and-coming chefs? Let us know here or on FacebookG+InstagramPinterest, or Twitter

Kate Parham Kordsmeier is a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications, the Atlanta Expert for, and the author of Atlanta Chef’sTable: Extraordinary Recipes from the Big Peach. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

September Restaurant Weeks: Delicious Discounts Await

Pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes, black olives and vegan cheese. A lovely blend of flavors

September signals the arrival of best of the late-summer harvest — and of restaurant weeks across the nation. Find one near you to save on sublime seasonal meals.

* Indiana Devour Downtown offers delicious three-course meals through September 6. Book a table.

* Houston Restaurant Weeks await with $20 lunches, $25 brunches, and $35 + $45 dinners through September 7. Book a table.

* Miami Spice has sweet dining deals with $23 lunches + $39 dinners through September 30. Book a table.

* Orlando Magical Dining Month enchants with $33 three-course dinners through September 30. Book a table.

* Flavor Palm Beach Restaurant Month features $20 lunches and $30 + $35 dinners through September 30. Book a table.

* Midtown Atlanta Restaurant Week begins this weekend. Reserve for $15, $25 + $35 lunches, brunches, and dinners, September 5-13. Book a table.

* Silver Spring Restaurant Week is sure to delight with fabulous prix-fixe meals in the D.C. area, September 8-13. Book a table.

* Charleston Restaurant Week invites you to sample three fabulous courses for lunch + dinner, September 9-20. Book a table.

* Omaha Restaurant Week is your ticket to a three-course feast with gourmet dinners for $20, $30 + $40, September 11-20. Book a table.

* Sustainable Seafood  Week San Francisco is your way to support local restaurants committed to the sustainable seafood movement. Enjoy unique dishes + set menus for $5 to $30, September 13-20. Book a table.Continue Reading

Winter Restaurant Weeks 2014: Save in Your City!

CRWThe holidays were fun, but they probably left all our wallets feeling a little bit lighter. Never fear, however, because winter restaurant week season is here. Get ready for three months of discounted dining madness, during which you can enjoy big savings on delicious dishes! As always, we recommend you book your tables early and often as prime reservations fill up early. Happy restaurant weeking, diners!

* Napa Valley Restaurant Month is on! Don’t miss a month of dining deals in Wine Country in the new year.

* Eat Well Week Santa Monica starts Sunday. Reserve today for discounted prix-fixe menus and new healthy menu options, January 5-12.

* Get charmed by Charleston Restaurant Week. Order up $20, $30 + $40 three-course dinners, January 8-19.

* Baltimore County Restaurant Week begins in one week. Book now for $15.14, $25.14, $35.14 lunches and dinners, January 10-26.

* Indian Festive Food Week comes to the Big Apple this weekend. $15 + $25 lunches and $25 + $40 dinners, January 11-19.

* Baltimore’s Howard County Savor It! Restaurant Week kicks off on January 13. Make a reservation for special prix-fixe menus from $10.14 to $40.14 through January 27.

* Restaurant Week Baton Rouge begins soon. Take a bite out of $15 to $35 three-course meals, January 13-18.

* Pittsburgh Restaurant Week is heading your way. Enjoy $20.14 to $35.14 lunches + dinners at Steel Town’s best restaurants, January 13-19.

* Washington, D.C. Restaurant Week arrives in mid-January. Book your tables for $20.14 lunches and $35.14 dinners, January 13-19.

* Get ready to Dine About Town in San Francisco. Make a booking for two- or three-course lunches for $18.95 and $36.95 three-course dinners, January 15-31.

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On Our Plate: No Kid Hungry Month; Restaurant Weeks in Charleston, Detroit, Kennebunk, Philadelphia + More; Nature’s Plate Nominations

CRWHappenings on and around OpenTable…

* September is No Kid Hungry Month. Make a reservation at a participating restaurant to help end childhood hunger.

* Attend Red Bank Flavour Food + Wine Walk in Red Bank, New Jersey, tomorrow. Learn more here.

* Trending on recent OpenTable restaurant reviews? Tomato salad!

* What’s your favorite sustainable restaurant? Nominate ’em for a Nature’s Plate award now!

* Spice up your summer with Miami Spice. Order up special $19 or $23 lunches and $33 or $39 dinners through September 30.

* Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month has arrived. Save with $33 dinners throughout the month.

* Flavor Palm Beach Restaurant Month is in full swing. Book for $20 lunches & $30 and $35 dinners through September 30.

* Cobb Restaurant Week continues in Georgia. Reserve now for $15, $25, and $35 lunches and dinners, September 7-14.

* Charleston Restaurant Week rocks on! Enjoy $20, $30 + $40 3-course dinners through September 15.

* Midtown Atlanta Restaurant Week is happening now. Take advantage of $15, $25, and $35 lunches and dinners through September 15.

* Louisiana We Live to Eat Restaurant Week is on in NOLADinners for $35 through September 15th.

* Omaha Restaurant Week started today! Three-course dinners for $20, $30 or $40 through the 22nd.

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