a person in a white shirt preparing food

Atlanta’s Top Chefs

After a summer of improvising, two stars of the scene in a southern food stronghold are ready to take the next step back at home.

Text by Sowmya Krishnamurthy
Images by Diwang Valdez

The Atlas restaurant is quintessential fine dining with a playful, modern twist. The restaurant’s walls are lined with works by Japanese-French artist Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita: a serene garden, whimsical ballerinas, and his famous feline portraits. This is juxtaposed with a classic British rock soundtrack—The Rolling Stones, Duran Duran—that Head Chef Freddy Money remembers listening to growing up in England. “We are informal luxury,“ he says.

a room with tables and chairs

It’s this juxtaposition of the refined and the casual inside the St. Regis Atlanta that has helped Atlas make a name for itself as an “unparalleled culinary experience” with thoughtfully plated American cuisine. The restaurant has won several awards, including four stars from Forbes Travel Guide.

a person and person working at a bar
a bottle of alcohol on a round table

But this past summer, the restaurant was closed temporarily for kitchen renovations. Rather than sit on the sidelines, Money and his colleagues sprang into action, launching a series of temporary pop-ups including a dessert boutique. In July, Atlas collaborated with Chef Michael Elégbèdé of ÌTÀN test kitchen in Ikoyi, Lagos, for a limited eight-course tasting menu that featured ingredients, flavors, and techniques of his West African culture. Now, Atlas opens its doors once again and offer diners the food that has come to define it.

Chef Money takes a holistic approach to curating his menu. “I get inspiration from past experiences. I get inspiration from my surroundings,” he says. “What’s best in season and what’s freshest? Then, we manipulate those ingredients using all the techniques that we know to create the dishes. Inspiration at a high level is driven by seasonality and ingredients at our fingertips.”

a plate of food on a table

The tasting menus take center stage and are also offered in vegan and vegetarian iterations. The chef’s favorites include Kristal Caviar (with Otoro tuna and Ponzu Crème) and Westholme wagyu. “We always start the meal with a little sense of luxury, so we always start with caviar,” explains Money, who trained in Europe and worked behind the pass for the Alain Ducasse Group. Next comes an assortment of shareable snacks inspired by the chef’s roots, like the jammie dodger—a British biscuit—made with chicken liver and cherries. The menu also features a halibut dish, a personal favorite of the chef that is lightly cured and cooked at a very low temperature. “And what this does, it creates the most beautiful, moist, tender piece of fish,” he explains. This is paired with citrus and a beet reduction.

Money also recommends his signature Rocher with hazelnut and chocolate. “You tap it with the back of your spoon and it’ll burst this delicious, chocolate cream all over the plate,” he crows. Executive Pastry Chef Eric Snow, biased though he may be, agrees that the experience is not to be missed. “We let the diner clap and it kind of explodes all over the plate and the table and it’s just a fun little experience,” he echoes. “And it’s a little bit different than I think what you’d see down the street.”

a plate of food on a table
a person in a chef's hat and apron standing in a kitchen

Snow also points to the Baba au Rhum, which comes with chantilly à la vanille, and the la vie en rose—which combines vanilla parfait, meringue, raspberry Sorbet and liquid Nitrogen Rose—as crowd pleasers.

Snow obtained his first Pastry Chef position at Joël in Atlanta and honed his skills across fine dining establishments including Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, Mix, and Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud Palm Beach. He draws culinary inspiration from the desserts he grew up with in Atlanta. “I love taking childhood memories and desserts that you’d see at birthday parties or what your mom would cook for you and putting a French twist on it,” he says. “Red velvet cake was something that I really enjoyed. That was always the birthday cake.” For his series of chouxs, a delicate French pastry similar to an eclair, he draws on this nostalgia. “I have a red velvet eclair, just kind of fun little play on that.”

a gold plate with a hand holding candy

Although the food is meticulously prepared, the chefs strive to ensure that the Atlas is always warm and welcoming—an effort that is sometimes absent in fine dining.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure that everybody’s going to receive the same love and attention as family or a friend,” says Snow. That means always having a little bit of play and whimsy. “We respect the process, but I don’t want the guests to feel overwhelmed, like they have to sit there in a bow tie and act a certain way,” Money says. “I want to welcome them with open arms and a fist bump over a handshake and a hug over an awkward hello.”



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