Atlanta chef, restaurateur, speaker, and cookbook author Kevin Gillespie is welcoming a new addition to the team at his popular Decatur restaurant Revival: chef de cuisine Nicole Frey Edwards. Edwards was most recently sharpening her creative edge at Gillespie’s Glenwood Park restaurant Gunshow, and now Revival guests will have the opportunity to experience both her culinary creativity and her fervor for Southern fare.
“Even though she’s not from here originally, Nicole truly is a Southerner at heart, and she really understands my connection to the classic recipes that have defined the cuisine of the South,” says Gillespie. “She is constantly searching for new ways to modernize these dishes and make them her own while also making use of what’s in peak season. The warmth she exudes is also a major component of the dining experience we seek to offer at Revival.”
Edwards’ love affair with Southern cuisine started when she arrived in Atlanta in 2014 and served as executive sous chef at Watershed on Peachtree. There, she was exposed to both Creole-style Southern food as well as more modern takes on traditional Southern flavor profiles.
“I wasn’t expecting to enjoy cooking Southern food so much,” Edwards laughs at the unexpected path her culinary career has taken. “Now I love reading classic cookbooks with recipes that sound like they’re straight from a great-grandmother’s table. Those are the same types of recipes from Kevin’s childhood that inspire the food at Revival.”
Prior to arriving at Revival this spring, Edwards worked at Gunshow and credits the restaurant for pushing her past her creative comfort zone. “When I first started at Gunshow, my ideas grew out of things I had seen at other restaurants but didn’t have a hand in, and now it’s morphed into exploring ways to use interesting ingredients that are available to me right now. Understanding seasonality has had a huge influence on me.”
Edwards’ career highlights also include time working as a line cook and sous chef under chef Stephanie Izard at Girl and the Goat in Chicago, where she developed the skills to feed 350-600 guests every evening in an extremely fast-paced environment, and a line cook position at Café Boulud in West Palm Beach, Florida. While in Florida, she also spent two years working for Michelle Bernstein at Sra. Martinez and Michy’s. Edwards earned her culinary arts degree and a Bachelor of Science in culinary nutrition from Johnson and Wales University and began her culinary career with Operation Frontline Colorado/Share Our Strength in Denver, teaching cooking and nutrition classes throughout the state while also working at The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. Once she experienced the energy of a restaurant kitchen, she never looked back.
Revival is located at 129 Church Street in Decatur. The restaurant serves dinner Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 5 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.