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Living in Hugh-topia

By Alyssa Shelasky for Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Hugh Acheson is the star of Top Chef and Top Chef Masters; he's a booming restaurateur, a devoted family man, and an easy-on-the-eyes, if unibrow'd, good guy. All this, and a bag of chocolate-glazed donuts.

You have so much going on!

I just finished shooting Top Chef and now I'm getting ready for Top Chef Masters. I'm working on a second book. I re-opened my restaurant 5 & 10 in Athens. Being in my restaurants is my greatest pleasure.

Is there anything you haven't done yet, but really want to?

Yes. I want to be a dental hygienist. They get to work from nine to five.

You're joking, but are you trying to say it's all too much?

Nah. For me, there's always that inner mantra of calm. Yes, this is an extraordinarily taxing career, but it puts a smile on my face.

What do you do for downtime?

The family and I went to Dunkin' Donuts the other day––does that count? I was hiding my face and ordering something called Chocolate Bismark donuts for my daughters.

"I opened a restaurant
when I was 27 years
old, having no idea
what I was doing.
I never thought that
any of this would
come––not in any
way, shape or form."

Hugh Acheson

Would you ever have believed you'd be this famous?

Never. I opened a restaurant when I was 27 years old, having no idea what I was doing. I never thought that any of this would come––not in any way, shape or form. It's funny how life works.

Is it because of good luck or hard work?

I think it's a big combination of the two. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was in the right place at the right time. But I think people kind of like me too; they find my sarcasm affable.

Being handsome helps too.

I don't know. There are people who think a guy with one eyebrow is not that attractive. I keep saying that if a company will donate $1,000 to charity, I will get a wax.

The famous unibrow! How are your daughters' eyebrows?

Luckily, they're relatively tame, so far.

You filmed Top Chef in New Orleans; what was your best eating experience there?

There are so many good restaurants in Nola, but Pêche Seafood Grill blew my mind. I took my kids there and the food was so fresh, smart and rooted in that region.

Chase cardmembers participated in this year's notorious Restaurant Wars! Is that night as intense as it looks?

Oh yeah! The tension you see during Restaurant Wars has nothing to do with editing––it's as real as it gets. High drama. All of Top Chef, in general, is way more stressful then it even looks. It's ten kinds of stressful and insane. But yeah, Restaurant Wars in particular is like the challenge of your life.

Why do cheftestants always come back if it's so grueling?

Well, it's also fun for some people. If you get tired and grumpy easily, it does not help you. A bad attitude will drag you down like an anchor.

What's your favorite splurge?

A fast food burger. In-N-Out if I'm on the west coast.

Is there anything you want to clear up about yourself?

You know, I'm pretty good with how I'm received. It's always difficult to watch yourself on television, but I think I come across as the real me, for better or worse. There are some people who put themselves on pedestals. I'm not that guy.

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