Atlanta Restaurant Scene

Chef Zeb Stevenson leaves Watershed with plans for new dining concept

Last week, Watershed owners Ross Jones and Emily Saliers sold the Southern restaurant in Buckhead to Matt Marcus. Marcus, formerly executive chef at Bluetop and Portofino, will do double-duty as Watershed owner and executive chef.

The move brings numerous changes – from menus to hours of operation to faces in the kitchen.

Zeb Stevenson has been the executive chef Watershed since joining the restaurant in January 2014. However, he will not be a part of the next chapter of Watershed. Sunday was his last day of service.

Stevenson does not plan to leave the Atlanta dining scene. Rather, he and Jones are teaming up on their own dining venture.

Details are still scant, as not even a location has been determined.

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Stevenson envisions a dining concept that offers an experience that is “not stuffy, not fancy, not where you get hung up on what to wear.”

As for the food, he imagines a vegetable-centric menu, with less focus on proteins. In comparison to the what he dished up at Watershed, Stevenson expects a “more worldly influence” on the fare.

“I think that Watershed is always a southern restaurant. Ultimately, when I plan dishes at Watershed, it’s sourced from the South and reflects, in some form or fashion, the spirit of southern cooking.”

And, Stevenson added, he attempted to provide a “sense of connection to Watershed’s history.” “I’ve always wanted to honor those that came before me at Watershed." Such names include respected culinary figures Anne Quatrano and Scott Peacocke.

Stevenson and Jones are currently scouting locations throughout Atlanta. “Nothing is off limits right now. We’re providing a vision and then finding out where that makes sense – geographically and with the space itself – for the experience we want to provide."

“I’m super excited about it,” Stevenson said. “This is really a new beginning for me. It’s a stepping off point I’ve been working my whole career for.”

Stevenson has been in kitchens for nearly two decades, starting at a Waffle House in his home state of Indiana, where he washed dishes for a week before switching to a role as a line cook.  He arrived in Atlanta in 2001, taking a job at Little Gardens Restaurant and Lounge, an eatery in Lawrenceville that has since become a reception venue . In 2004, he took a position at the now defunct Dick & Harry’s in Roswell, where he met his mentor, Harold Marmulstein. He went on to work at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market Atlanta, The Livingston at the Georgia Terrace Hotel and Parish, before coming aboard at Watershed in 2014.

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About the Author

Ligaya Figueras joined the AJC as its food and dining editor in 2015.

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