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Chef Spotlight: Nick Rutherford, The Porter

img-Nick_RutherfordThe Porter is a culinary crown jewel in Atlanta, and Nick Rutherford is “co-owner, executive chef, vintage list curator and the ultimate handyman” behind an incredible restaurant that sources from many an incredible farm.

What inspires you as a chef?
I get inspired when I travel and get to taste what chefs are doing in other cities and countries. I was recently in Chicago and enjoyed eating all this rich food. Due to the cold winter, Chicagoans don’t mind a hearty dish of Foie Gras and scrambled eggs. I’m not sure it would work in Atlanta unless we got another snow storm!

The Porter is known for both great food and great beer— how do the two relate?
Anthropologists and historians like to argue over when civilization started and we settled down and had agriculture instead of being hunter gathers, was the grain we grew mostly for bread or for beer? I feel the same way, beer is just as important as food, in fact sometimes beer is food.

How does seasonality play a role in your menu planning?
My specials menu is 100 percent seasonally based. I buy whatever is available from local farmers and create the menu based on what is available.

The list of farms on your menu is impressive—how has working with farmers affected you as a chef?
It’s an honor when a farmer comes by with his product. He or she is trusting you to serve it in a way that shows all the best aspects of the product and gets people excited about it, no matter if it’s heirloom tomatoes or foraged mushrooms.

We love that there’s a community outreach section of the Porter’s website. Why is it important for you to support the groups mentioned there?
Because just as it take a village to raise a child, it takes a community to make a restaurant what it is. We try to support the communities that support us. It’s good karma.

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