Top Chef Judge Hugh Acheson on His Ideal Kitchen and the Power of Drawing on Paper Napkins

“People assume that because I'm a chef I want the bells and whistles of a pro kitchen in my home kitchen”

“When a good doodle gets into the hands of the right folks, things happen.”

In the March issue of Cooking Light magazine, Top Chef judge and restaurateur Hugh Acheson (Five & Ten, Empire State South, The Florence) talks about designing his ideal home kitchen, the power of a good doodle, and how to organize your own kitchen space like a professional.

For starters, did you know that Acheson’s own paper napkin sketches have become the preliminary layouts for some of his restaurants?

“The doodles help me articulate my thoughts to the people who can turn ideas into reality,” says Acheson.

“Restaurant layouts, plating ideas, garden designs. Most things I do start with a sketch on a paper napkin. Luckily, many of the sketches get tossed in the trash; otherwise I might be living in the woods, in a five-story hut, one with a fire pole running through each floor. But when a good doodle gets into the hands of the right folks, things happen. I have, so far, a good doodling track record.”

As for his own kitchen at home, the chef stayed away from the professional model on purpose, avoiding the “bells and whistles of a pro kitchen” so that his young children would feel more welcome to try cooking. “I think that well-worn and well-used kitchens show kids that making food from scratch is part of living a good and healthy life,” says Acheson.


Read chef Acheson’s full interview and check out his home cooking online at Cooking Light