Linton Hopkins, award winner for best chef in the southeast, was still celebrating in New York when Buckhead Patch caught up with him early Tuesday. The experience of winning at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center was a great time, he said, but he couldn’t deny that he was anxious to get back to Buckhead, the community he proudly works in and calls home.
“I think its pretty awesome,” Hopkins said. “To represent our region is just an honor.”
While he was humbled by the experience, the fact that he got to share it with fellow chefs that he already calls friends made it even more special.
“To be in New York with a lot of your friends from around the country gathering for this ceremony was great,” he said. “Our business is very collaborative. These are the people that you are friends with and that you admire.”
Hopkins shared the award with Hugh Acheson of in Athens. Acheson, in fact, is one of those that the Buckhead chef calls not just a colleague, but a friend.
“He and I have known each other for quite a while since i moved back in town. It was great to share that stage.”
It could certainly be easy for Hopkins to rest on the success of his award, but he sees it more as a challenge.
“For me, now its the time to be a James Beard award winning chef and cook even more, cook better and be even more tied to our community,” he said. “Expectations go up.”
Hopkins had been and while he always considered it an honor to simply be nominated, he admits that now he can breathe a little sigh of relief. That chapter, he said, is closed. However, there are many more chapters to go — all of which he hopes to write in Buckhead.
The new challenge is to have his restaurant, , winning James Beard awards of its own.
“I want to have Eugene recognized for best service, wine list, or outstanding bar program,” he explained. “There are a lot of good ones to hope for. To win those awards for the whole team is where I’ve got my sites set now.”
Hopkins said the black tie affair was fun for everyone involved, with parties to celebrate and French restaurants rounding out the night. After a lunch in Chinatown, though, he said it would be time to get on the plane and go be an award winning chef.
“We are back to work first thing,” he said.