About Chef Kevin Gillespie
Chef Kevin Gillespie’s passion lies in serving his guests quality food every day. He uses fresh, organic and sustainable ingredients in all of his dishes. In May 2013, he opened Gunshow, in the Glenwood Park neighborhood of Atlanta. The restaurant features a unique dining style where Gillespie, staff chefs, and even guest chefs, prepare both refined and rustic dishes, and then deliver them personally for guests to choose from.
His cookbook ‘Fire in My Belly’ was named a 2013 James Beard Award Finalist. His latest book, ‘Pure Pork Awesomeness’ released in the Spring of 2015 to rave reviews.
An Atlanta native, Gillespie began his culinary education at the Art Institute of Atlanta. After graduating with honors, he quickly was named chef de partie at Atlanta Grill at The Ritz Carlton. Following that, he became sous chef at TWO Urban Licks, and then chef de cuisine at Woodfire Grill.
He then packed his bags and moved to Portland, Oregon, where he was executive sous chef at Fife Restaurant. However, homesick for Atlanta, after a year and a half, Gillespie returned to Woodfire Grill, where he was named executive chef in 2009. During this time, the restaurant was featured on CNN and in Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine and Men’s Health as a dining destination for visitors to Atlanta.
Gillespie also earned a spot on Bravo’s Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series “Top Chef” for the show’s sixth season. Proving to be a top contender by winning the most “Quickfire Challenges” and “Elimination Challenges” in the history of the show, he stood out as one of this season’s final three chef-contestants. He was even voted “fan favorite” by the viewers.
Gillespie has landed his name on the semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year” award in 2009, 2011 & 2013. He was also nominated for Food & Wine’s “The People’s Best New Chef.”
When he is not at the restaurant, Gillespie can be found participating in culinary events around the country. In his spare time, he enjoys camping, playing music and barbecuing.
Our Interview with Chef Kevin Gillespie
H2FAL: What first inspired you to start for cooking?
KG: I was inspired by my Granny. She cooked for everyone in my extended family and food played a significant role in her life.
H2FAL: Did you learn to cook at home, in addition to cooking school?
KG: I learned to cook at home and at culinary school but my time as an intern at the Ritz-Carlton had as much as to do with my schooling as a formal education.
H2FAL: Gunshow is a very unique dining experience, what was your inspiration for the concept?
KG: I was inspired by a number of different things but the goal was to put the cooks in direct contact with the guests who were the end recipients of their work. This communion of chef and diner gave a more passionate story about the food. It’s my hope that it helps the guests to understand the dish and maybe try something they may not have.
H2FAL: If you were on Iron Chef, what ingredient would you hope would be the themed ingredient for the cooking battle?
KG: Most people assume I would say pork but the truth is that I’d say cinnamon. I love it more than pork and I incorporate it into so many things. It’s a great ingredient to have in your repertoire and I can make all sorts of different types of dishes with it.
H2FAL: What’s your indulgence food?
KG: Hot wings!
H2FAL: Is there anything you won’t eat?
KG: Hazelnuts. I can cook with them but I don’t eat them.
H2FAL: How often do you bring in guest chefs at Gunshow?
KG: We bring in guest chefs for our Hired Guns series 5-7 times a year.
H2FAL: What’s your process for finding a chef to bring in to Gunshow?
KG: When we are looking for a guest chef we look for someone who will be an inspiration to our team and is doing something different. He or she should be interested in taking the plunge into our style of service and allow us to see the real person behind the chef coat.
When we are looking for a new employee we hire for character alone. Yes, you must have the basic skills but a lesser-skilled person with the right character is much better than a rock star chef who is not a team member.
H2FAL: Would you consider returning for another season of Top Chef?
KG: I can’t imagine wanting to do it again but if there is some twist or a different opportunity inside the show, then maybe. It would have to sound like fun and positive and uplifting.