Ford Fry

Chef, Restaurateur

Atlanta

Executive chef Ford Fry owns several wildly successful Atlanta restaurants, including JCT. Kitchen & Bar on the Westside, No. 246 in Decatur and his newest, The Optimist and Oyster Bar at The Optimist, also on the Westside. In May 2013, Fry debuted King + Duke in Buckhead, where he focuses on open-hearth cooking, and early 2014, he'll debut his newest concept, St. Cecilia, which will server Northern Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. All of his restaurants — whether Italian, seafood or Southern-inspired — use locally sourced ingredients because, Fry says, they taste better and he can partner with suppliers and celebrate the seasonal harvests. His philosophy has worked and won him much acclaim — Fry landed on the James Beard Foundation’s 2013 semifinalists list for Outstanding Restaurateur. 

  • On March 29, 2013
    Ford Fry answered the question: Ford Fry

    What would Ford Fry serve at his ultimate dinner party?

    I found myself having dinner parties, getting up and cooking the next course, then sitting down and getting up again to cook the next course and sitting back down. I’ve learned the hard way. I really like making paella, a big bowl of salad — a great salad, maybe it’s a frisée or something. Then I’ll just serve a big paella with shrimp, sausage, chicken and lobster. That way I can just put it on the table and we can all sit down and eat. That’s my go-to.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Ford Fry answered the question: Ford Fry

    What’s in Ford Fry’s refrigerator at home?

    There’s not much. Typically, there’s cheese for nachos. Late-night Friday or Saturday could be nachos. My wife always has some sort of steak or something there for me. A whole chicken because we’ll end up roasting or smoking it. A lot of lettuces and homemade vinaigrettes because we eat a lot of salads. A lot of times, you may find some sort of Thai curry or something spicy. Definitely there’s going to be Tabasco or any types of chiles — there’s always going to be something hot. There’s not much. I’m really home on Sunday and we barbecue for lunch and Chinese for dinner.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Ford Fry answered the question: Ford Fry

    What is Ford Fry’s favorite airline?

    My go-to has been AirTran. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite, but I’m just finding it the easiest and cheapest. Lately, I’m moving up a little bit in the world, so I might switch over to Delta. I haven’t had any problems, and sometimes they bump me up to business class.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Ford Fry answered the question: Ford Fry

    What is the best trip Ford Fry has ever taken?

    As a kid, my grandparents took us on two trips to Europe. They both encompassed France, Germany, Belgium and England. I always loved eating, and I remember going to whatever tourist trap place and La Tour d’Argent [in Paris] and I had the duck. It was crazy. I remember that, too, because our grandfather would pay us $100 a day to write a journal, so we wrote a journal of everything we saw. It was a page or something, and he’d give us $100 and we’d go blow it on something.

    We did numerous trips. We used to just hop in the car from Texas and go up the Southern coast to the Eastern coast and all the way to Maine. We did that all the way through Boston. That was with my grandparents as well.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Ford Fry answered the question: Ford Fry

    Who does Ford Fry always travel with?

    Before we opened No. 246, one of my rituals is to grab the chef and hop on a plane and spend two to three days traveling and eating. It’s typically the chef because we’re either doing an event in New York or somewhere else like Charleston. Chefs typically come along with me; my wife gets mad that she doesn’t get to come. We’re usually prepping or eating a ton, and she doesn’t eat that much. For the most part, chefs come with me.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Ford Fry answered the question: Ford Fry

    What are Ford Fry’s favorite restaurants?

    No. 1, I’m tired of tasting menus. I like food with soul and great technique, like Tertulia in New York. Chef Seamus Mullen’s flavors are awesome; they’re balanced. Typically they have a lot of acid in them as well. He also has a wood-burning hearth that he uses to make paellas and so forth. I think his food just strikes me as very different from what I see in a lot of other places. L’Artusi in New York — I’ve had great meals there, and that’s just due to the technique. They may even have one of my favorite dishes of the year. It’s simple spaghetti noodles with a little toasted garlic, chile and a little breadcrumb, but the technique in the cooking is so awesome. I’ll always head back to Minetta Tavern. We go for steak and fries and bone marrow. Last time I was there was just so amazing. I love the vibe there — it’s fun and really cool, a good neighborhood spot. Their fries are the best in the world.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Ford Fry answered the question: Ford Fry

    What does Ford Fry love most about hotels?

    I typically love the boutique-type hotels. Early on, I would find cheaper rates in Midtown, New York, and I would always find myself cabbing way down into the Village because that’s where I tend to go out to eat. I do like more interesting aspects of hotels. I wouldn’t call myself a hipster, but I would say it’s more the feel, it’s how I feel when I’m in there. Austin has Hotel Saint Cecilia. Austin is always kind of a fun place. I like the feel and the culture there. The Saint Cecilia and the San Jose are two really cool hotels.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Ford Fry answered the question: Ford Fry

    What are Ford Fry’s favorite hotels?

    Hotels are always fun. My new spot in New York is The NoMad. It’s really cool. It’s great. I know a lot of people like going to the Ace. I like everything except the rooms at the Ace. It’s more for hipster travelers. The NoMad rooms are cool and really comfortable. It’s really close to Stumptown Coffee, so I’ll roll out of bed at The NoMad and walk down to Stumptown Coffee.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Ford Fry answered the question: Ford Fry

    What are some of Ford Fry’s favorite cities to visit?

    I obviously like New York, San Francisco and L.A. We’re leaving on Sunday for Portland, so I’m pretty excited about that trip. I like seeing what other people think in restaurants. People look to see what everyone else is doing. Too often, we find menus with little variations on what everyone else is doing. If we travel a little far away, there’s a different approach. I love seeing people’s approach to food, their technique. I love the way certain designers think a little bit differently in different cities and where they put their emphasis and importance.