Hugh Acheson

When you're a six-time James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southeast (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012) and the last winner of the award (2012), it's safe to say your talents have been recognized.

This is surely no surprise to foodies who live in Athens and Atlanta, Georgia, where the adept Acheson has generated a following as chef/partner at three notable eateries: Five & Ten, Empire State South and The National. How he manages to also be a judge on Bravo's 'Top Chef' is beyond us.

Here are Hugh's five favorite restaurants:

Gramercy Tavern - New York, NY - "I have adored Gramercy since its early days. It has stunning decor, spectacular service, an amazing wine program, and a chef who is the complete definition of a chef's chef [Michael Anthony]."

Next - Chicago, IL - "Dave Beran and Grant have created the envy of all restaurateurs and chefs with limited attention spans. The concept of changing your whole food idea every quarter is just amazing, but in most hands, it would be a failing concept. Here, in the best hands in the business, it is constant art."

LePigeon - Portland, OR - "Want to know what I think is the best community restaurant in the country? It's the little tiny spot run so well by Gabe Rucker. The food is spot on, the wines are awesome, and they have that certain patina of authenticity that just makes you feel right at home."

Uchi - Austin, TX - "Tyson Cole makes the best sushi in landlocked Austin. Sounds like a headline, but it's true. Phenomenally interesting food that just has you craving more and more. The wine program and sake list is awesome as well and it's easy to see why Tyson won a Beard award."

McCrady's - Charleston, SC - "We love Sean Brock and he has done amazing things at McCrady's. But Sean has a secret weapon in the kitchen that we'd all love to have: Jeremiah Langhorne, his chef de cuisine. Jeremiah is a tactician of foraging and he is so talented in figuring out the modern beauty of Southern food and the sphere of low-country food. I had rice there, plain rice, that was perhaps one of the best dishes ever. IT WAS PLAIN RICE. It's that good a spot."