Atlanta Restaurant Scene

Ron Eyester Talks "Top Chef" Season 12

Yesterday, the Boston Globe got the reveal on the 12th season of “Top Chef,” which premieres on Bravo on Oct. 15, and was filmed around Boston during May and June.

The big news for Atlanta is that Ron Eyester will be on the show. Eyester is the chef/owner of Rosebud , the Family Dog and Timone’s in Morningside, and Diner, which is set to open at Atlantic Station in September.

Of course, host Padma Lakshmi will be back. And as it turns out, sometimes Atlanta chef and “Top Chef All Stars” winner, Richard Blais, will join Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and Hugh Acheson at the judges table, plus offer the chefs “guidance from a chef and a former competitor’s point of view.”

A “First Look at Season 12” video is up on the Bravo site now, and Eyester can be seen in several segments, including a trip to Fenway Park. Also on the site, chef bios and other tidbits.

Here’s a snippet from Eyester's "Top Chef" bio:

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Ron Eyester has made a name for himself as an innovative chef who is constantly seeking out superior quality ingredients and presenting those ingredients in a creative, yet approachable manner.  You may have also encountered his alter ego on Twitter as TheAngryChef , Ron’s entertaining and humorous perspective on restaurant etiquette. Ron’s restaurants and his commitment to serving the local community with his restaurants have rejuvenated the Morningside neighborhood. Ron’s larger-than-life personality has enabled him to establish sustainable relationships with his vendors, guests and staff.

I spoke to Eyester this morning, in a telephone call that was set up and monitored by a Bravo media manager.

Here’s some of what he was allowed tell me about his “Top Chef” experience:

How did you get on the show?

The casting company contacted my PR company, Green Olive Media, and we went from there. The potential of the opportunity has come up a couple of times. And after discussing it, we thought it was a great opportunity and hopefully it will lead to some future endeavors.

So you may become a star?

Right now I’m just willing to see how it all evolves. That’s always really been my nature with my restaurants. I think I understand the concept but you can’t control all the variables and elements. I’m really open to anything, to be honest with you.

Was the shooting schedule intense?

It’s completely different from what you’re normally prepared for. Even though working in restaurants you have really long hours, it’s a totally different thing. You go from zero to 100 within the first couple of days, so it’s like wow. You’re getting acclimated to so many different personalities and you’re theoretically on a game show. There are so many moving parts, it takes a minute to get used to it.

And you’re also away from home.

For me, personally, just dealing with the anxiety of being away from my kids was pretty tough. And, obviously, the anxiety of being away from three different businesses, and building Atlantic Station, and them not knowing where I was. It was definitely taxing.

Was it difficult not being able to tell people where you were?

It was crazy. I have over 75 employees and you know the nature of Morningside. I’m a very visible figure there in my restaurants, so all of the sudden, me being gone for such an extended time was odd. I think there were rumors that I was in rehab. There were some interesting stories being told. But I put a story together that I was helping my mom up in New York. My father passed away last year and I was saying she was selling her house.

Did it make it more interesting that a couple of familiar faces, Richard Blais and Hugh Acheson, were judging?

You’ll have to tune in and see how all that goes.

What was your takeaway from the experience?

One of the personal reasons I wanted to do it was that I’m I’m kind of at this crossroads in my career where that I know that I’m making the transition from chef to restaurateur. And there are elements of that that kind of scare me. With everything I have to deal with, I really miss being totally and directly connected to food. This was opportunity to rejuvenate my passion for food. This was an opportunity to have something like a retreat. Because my personality is so high-strung and intense, the idea of “Top Chef” was a pretty cool idea of a retreat. You know, I went to the Citadel, for crying out loud, so I’m used to being told what to do, and I know how to handle it.

Anything more you’d like to say?

I think it’s great to see that Atlanta has had a presence through a lot of the seasons of “Top Chef.” I think it’s really important for our dining scene, which I think is moving in a great direction. And perhaps Atlanta will be considered as one of the cities for one of the upcoming seasons.

About the Blog

The Food & Dining Team offers reviews, previews, food news and fun bites food trends for metro Atlanta’s vast food and dining scene.

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