Hugh Acheson has an impressive resume: Chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, former “Top Chef” host. Add podcast host to the list.
In February, the Atlanta-based culinarian launched “Hugh Acheson Stirs the Pot.” Produced for Himalaya Media and available on iTunes, each weekly episode sees him chatting with food personalities, entertainers and activists in restaurants and at kitchen tables across the country.
Guests have included New York Magazine food critic Adam Platt, musician Michael Stipe and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, with conversations that range from politics to food trends to nutrition.
“There is no real goal,” said Acheson of his latest project. Conversations are “meant to be naturally flowing,” he said.
Today, Acheson will sit down at his Empire State South with Ruth Reichl. The food writer, restaurant critic and author of numerous best-selling books is also in town for an appearance at the Atlanta History Center where she will discuss her latest work, “Save Me the Plums.”
Other upcoming guests on “Hugh Acheson Stirs the Pot” include brothers Matt and Ted Lee, authors of the forthcoming “Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business” as well as New York City-based chefs Flynn McGarry of Gem and Missy Robbins, named 2018 Best Chef: New York City by the James Beard Foundation.
Acheson has enjoyed learning to play the role of podcast host. “As a chef, you not trained to be much of a listener; rather, to be more vocal and call the shots. It’s nice to flip the page and be more of a listener,” he said.
He noted that what has surprised him the most are the shared goals among guests on the show, despite the diversity of their backgrounds. “We have a similar want in life: making sure there is nourishing, good food, (and) in abundance.”
As Acheson keeps himself busy with his restaurants, the new podcast and another cookbook, “Sous Vide,” to be released in early October by Clarkson Potter, he may soon be able to add one more notch to that resume: Outstanding Restaurateur. Acheson is a James Beard finalist for the national award that honors an individual who “demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship and integrity in restaurant operations.”
What are the most important things that restaurateurs can do to improve the workplace, particularly with pressing issues such as sexual harassment and mental and physical heath? “I think we’ve followed a pretty strong barometer in the past and still do,” Acheson said. “To be a place of trust, sincerity and honesty – these are very much part of an employee manual… true documentation of what is allowed and what is not allowed. The industry as a whole gets a rap for having exploitative tendency. It doesn’t exist in the restaurants we run. We’ve been ahead of the curve to make sure those aren’t an issue.”