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Atlas is the first Atlanta restaurant to earn a Michelin Star


Atlanta joined a small list of cities and regions in the U.S. this week where restaurants can earn the coveted Michelin stars. As Orlando Montoya with Georgia Public Broadcasting reports, it's not cheap or easy to be included in the French dining guide.

ORLANDO MONTOYA: When Michelin announced earlier this year that its anonymous inspectors were in Atlanta, the speculation began - who would be recognized? The big reveal came at a packed, downtown theater where chef Freddy Money was beaming. He just got his first Michelin star for his restaurant, Atlas.

FREDDY MONEY: Very humbling. Awesome experience and shows the dedication and hard work of our whole team, so we're very proud.

MONTOYA: Also proud was Robert Butts, who runs Twisted Soul, which serves Southern cuisine like fried green tomatoes and peach cobbler. He didn't get a star, but a recommended designation, something he didn't expect.

ROBERT BUTTS: 'Cause a lot of times, you know, a lot of stuff in the South isn't respected as much.

MONTOYA: He says he's happy the French dining guide is recognizing Southern cooking.

BUTTS: It feels great because it's Atlanta. It's the first - one time them being here.

MONTOYA: No restaurants got two or three stars, the highest designations. Forty-five were recognized, at least in some way. But even those awards are getting people talking. That's why Atlanta tourism officials will pay $1 million over three years to bring the "Michelin Guide" to the city. Andrew Wilson, with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, says it's already getting the attention of food tourists.

ANDREW WILSON: This now sets the bar for the current local chefs to strive for greater excellence.

MONTOYA: But greater excellence also could change what Atlanta diners get on their plates, says Kyle Hight, who teaches hospitality at Georgia State University.

KYLE HIGHT: It's probably going to be smaller portion sizes. It's probably going to be artfully presented.

MONTOYA: And Atlanta now joins cities like New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago in being covered by the "Michelin Guide."

For NPR News, I'm Orlando Montoya in Atlanta.


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Orlando Montoya