Omnivore - Feature: Attack of the 50-foot chefs

Talking to Tom Colicchio and Laurent Tourondel about their new Atlanta restaurants.

New York chefs are invading Atlanta and taking over! Assemble the villagers and light the torches!

Why does this seem to be the reaction of so many once they hear big name chefs have chosen Atlanta as an outpost for their iconic restaurants?

Recently, we’ve seen an influx of New York chefs opening restaurants in our fair city, including Tom Colicchio (chef/owner of Craft, Craftbar and 'wichcraft and a judge on the hit Bravo reality series “Top Chef”), Laurent Tourondel (chef/owner of BLT Steak, BLT Fish, BLT Prime, BLT Burger and BLT Market) and Jean-Georges Vongerichten (the man atop an empire of restaurants including Jean Georges, Spice Market, Market and Matsugen).

Supporters of local chef-driven restaurants worry these big names divert business from local restaurateurs and chefs. Cynics argue the food and experience simply cannot be replicated away from the restaurant’s home turf without the chef regularly overseeing quality.

But what is the real story? Why are these chefs here and how should we feel about their arrival? We spoke with chef Tom Colicchio and chef Laurent Tourondel to get their side of the story.