Why Celebrity Chefs are Going Fast-Casual

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It's not about the riches, but about getting back to the root of their passion.

Celebrated Atlanta chef Kevin Gillespie is one of those who packed up his knives and left the world of luxury dining. And he remembers the exact moment he realized he needed to -- he noticed his parents had stopped coming to Woodfire Grill, where he was the co-owner and executive chef.

The elegant restaurant served meals on fine china, with exquisite creations such as foie gras with banana and cashews, octopus tempura and squab fowl with saffron potatoes. The tab for dinner could run up to $100-200 per person, but it wasn't the price tag that drove his parents away. They could stop by whenever they wanted and the meal would be on the house.

"When I asked my dad what was going on, it suddenly became clear that he felt that as an average blue collar worker, Woodfire Grill was just not a place he was comfortable spending time at," Gillespie said. "It broke my heart. My parents mean a lot to me and I hated to think that I was part of a world that they didn't feel like they belonged to. As chefs, we are blue collar workers ourselves and at fine dining restaurants, we aren't cooking for our own people." 

It wasn't long after that painful conversation that Gillespie switched gears. He waved farewell to his post at Woodfire Grill in 2013 and later that year, he opened the Southern-inspired restaurant called Gunshow. He brought the same creativity without the hefty bill, or sacrificing his commitment to using fresh, local produce. Read More  

Posted on July 2, 2015 and filed under Fast Casual, Restaurant Trends.