The Hospitality Gala 2018 Chef DREW BELLINE



Chef and Managing Partner
BeetleCat, JCT. Kitchen & Bar, King + Duke, Marcel, no. 246, The El Felix,
The Optimist and Oyster Bar at The Optimist, State of Grace, St. Cecilia, Superica, La Lucha

Ford Fry’s culinary inspirations cover many years and much of the country: from eating out with his family as a child in Texas, to studying at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, to spending time as a fine dining chef in Florida, Colorado and California—and eventually as a corporate chef in Atlanta. Although the corporate chef position didn’t stick, Fry’s love for Atlanta stuck with him and it has proved a recipe for success so far. Fry and his restaurants have been included in numerous national and local publications, such as Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, Chicago Tribune, Cooking Light, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Esquire, Food & Wine, Garden & Gun, Sky, Southern Living and the Washington Post. In January of 2007, Fry put down roots in Atlanta with the opening of his first restaurant – JCT. Kitchen & Bar – a place that's as warm and friendly as its owner. The menu at JCT. is reminiscent of traditional family favorites and features ingredients from regional fields and farms.

"I want to create restaurants that strike a timeless emotional chord – restaurants that don't pander to trend, but draw generations of families together,” says Fry.

Fry’s culinary vision always begins with ingredients and dishes that are central to the Atlanta community and Southeastern region. He sources local ingredients not only because they taste better but because it allows him to partner closely with suppliers and honor local harvests. He then utilizes classical European techniques in his preparation, which results in dishes that are approachable and uncomplicated yet entirely new to his guests.

Fry opened his second restaurant, No. 246, in Decatur, Georgia, in July 2011, and his third restaurant The Optimist and Oyster Bar at The Optimist, opened in May 2012. Fry’s King + Duke opened in May 2013 in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. In January 2014, Fry opened St. Cecilia. The restaurant’s name not only pays tribute to the patron saint of music, it also represents Fry’s love of music and the sirens of Greek mythology whose songs coaxed mariners to shore.

State of Grace opened in Houston, Texas, in the fall of 2015, along with sister restaurant to The Optimist, BeetleCat, in Atlanta’s Inman Park Inman Quarter mixed-use development. The second edition of Fry’s Tex-Mex restaurant, Superica, opened in the Chastain Park neighborhood of Atlanta in July 2016. Fry has since expanded his Tex Mex empire further, opening The El Felix at The Battery Atlanta in November of 2017, as well as the third edition of Superica in Charlotte, N.C. in May 2018.

Most recently, Fry doubled down in his Texas hometown with a dual debut of Superica and La Lucha in September 2018. An homage to Fry’s childhood, the side-by-side concepts represent a memory lane take on Austin’s Tex-Mex and outlaw country music scene, as well as childhood visits to the shuttered San Jacinto Inn, a longtime institution famous for over-the-top fried chicken and Gulf seafood dinners, respectively.

All of Fry’s restaurants have a few things in common: they’re as formal as guests want them to be; they’re chef owned and operated; they’re committed to their communities; and they serve exceptional food made with local ingredients in casual environments where a great deal of attention is paid to detail. However, each restaurant has its own unique identity. Along with his roles at his restaurants, Fry is also the founder of one of Atlanta’s most popular food events, the Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival. This annual event features some of the South’s best chefs and mixologists, who are paired with local farmers to create innovative tomato dishes.