Interview with Chef Kevin Rathbun – Atlanta, Georgia
I asked Chef Rathbun what he is doing different in Atlanta to remain successful during some major economic challenges over the last few years, since several of the higher end restaurants have not survived. Rathbun attributes his success to several factors. One is certainly his 34 years experience in the restaurant business and longevity at each of the positions he held over his career. Before opening his own restaurant at age 41, Rathbun only had five other jobs.
Secondly, he believes in treating people with respect, giving them great food at a fair price in a comfortable atmosphere. (I could sure sit around Rathbun’s for awhile eating Thai Rare Beef and Red Onion Salad and drinking wine!) He also believes in offering more choices on the menu, from small plates to as he calls them at Rathbun’s, “Second Mortgage Plates”, for those that are really hungry. The larger plates include those Australian Lamb Chops!
Lastly, consistency is very important to this Chef and having several core items that people always come back for. One of these items is his creamed corn. He said that he would have a picket line outside if he took it off the menu. People don’t care if it’s not in season. It is one of those dishes that keeps customers coming back year round!
This truly American Chef also believes in cooking what Americans want, which he says can be achieved by just adding a pinch of sugar to almost anything! Just as classic French cuisine generally adds a bit of an acidic flavor to many dishes (with the addition of mustard or vinegar), Chef Rathbun will use a little bit of sugar to bring out the flavors in certain foods. Now you know the secret ingredient in his dishes. Could I have been the first to get that information?!
Now, I personally did not ask Rathbun about the Iron Chef gig because I
would have looked like a real idiot know it would be totally irritating, however, he brought it up. He said that for a long time afterward, every night (at least five times a night!) someone would ask him about his experience on the show. (That would wear you out, huh?) He said the funniest thing that happened was about eighteen months after the show first aired. There was a group of about twenty Russian businessmen at the restaurant and they were sooo excited to meet him. They said he was a legend in Russia. “You beat Bobby Flay!” Rathbun felt like he was on an episode of Candid Camera and was waiting for Peter Funt to come out from hiding!
I was actually hoping to do belly bumps like Samantha Brown did with him (check out the link to the video of her episode above), but I had to settle for this very cool picture.
Thank you so much to Chef Rathbun for taking the time to meet with us. It was truly a pleasure and I look forward to seeing him throw some of his weight (and that sugar) around in the kitchen on September 10th!
Chef Rathbun will be doing a cooking demo at the kick-off party for Food Blog Forum Atlanta at The Viking Store on Friday September 10th, so I hope you will be there to meet him!