Top Chef

Hugh Acheson

Hugh Acheson

Video by Joe O'Neill

Celebrity chef Hugh Acheson visits campus for brief residency

To learn about food and the food industry, you could read an award-winning cookbook, feast on a gourmet meal prepared by a famous chef or pick the brain of a pro at the top of the field. Or, if you’re a Dickinson student studying food systems this semester, you might get to do all three.

That’s just what happened last week, when celebrity chef Hugh Acheson came to campus to serve a brief residency that included small-group discussions and a gourmet meal featuring fresh, organic ingredients from the College Farm.

An owner/partner in four restaurants in his home city of Athens, Ga., Acheson came into the national spotlight in 2010, when he competed in season three of the hit Bravo TV series Top Chef Masters; he returned to the show as a judge in seasons 9-12, and also hosted Bravo’s Battle of the Sous Chefs. Acheson also is the author of A New Turn for the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen, which earned the James Beard Foundation's 2012 award for American cooking, and Pick a Pickle: 50 Recipes for Pickles, Relishes, and Fermented Snacks. He is the recipient of the 2012 James Beard Best Chef Southeast and the 2002 Food & Wine Best New Chef awards.

Acheson’s residency was sponsored by Bertis and Katherine Downs, parents of Addie Downs ’19 (educational studies), and it arrived on the heels of a public lecture by scholar/author/activist Raj Patel. Both events are part of the Clarke Forum’s Food for Thought lecture series, which celebrates the launch of Dickinson’s food studies certificate program.

Speaking during a brief interview at the Clarke Forum, Acheson described the College Farm and the food studies program as “really impressive,” and said that he enjoyed talking about food systems and the food industry with Dickinson students, touching on subjects as wide ranging as the farm-to-table movement, the restaurant industry and access to healthy food across the country and around the world.

“Food’s so connected to everything,” Acheson noted. “It’s interesting to see what this next generation of thinkers is going to be doing. If they all understand their place in the food world, then I think we’ll have a better place overall.”

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Published September 12, 2016