4 Questions for Chef Philippe Haddad

SocialAtlanta's City Editor Dana Shemesh speaks to the celebrity chef and his role at the Out of the Kitchen event.

Chef Philippe Haddad – currently specializing in private dining experiences – says he feels immense gratitude for his long career in Atlanta’s ever changing culinary tapestry. That’s why this season, he’s giving back to the Out of the Kitchen Event benefiting Horizons Atlanta, a summer learning experience that supports students from underserved communities. The annual culinary event — honoring a different charity each year — is being held November 9th in Buckhead’s St. Regis Hotel.

When Chef Haddad arrived in Atlanta in the late 1980’s the city’s fine-dining options were sparse, he says, and included La Grotta, the Dining Room at The Ritz Carlton, and the beginnings of The Buckhead Life Restaurant Group.

“We (all the chefs from those restaurants) knew each other,” Haddad says. “We were the pioneers of the fine dining scene.”

Fast forward to Covid. Chef Haddad was at a crossroads as restaurants were forced to close. Thankfully his clientele was a loyal group, hiring him to prepare elegant 5-course meals at their private homes.  Haddad would bring his own select waitstaff, dishware, cutlery, and cookware – providing a seamless experience for his clients in what he refers to as a “Dining Experience of Excellence.”

“The business just grew organically and here we are for over 3 years, focusing only on private events,” he says. “People suddenly realized – I have this beautiful house and I can enjoy my friends and family and use my excellent wine cellar and have a fine dining experience at home,” he adds.

SocialAtlanta editor Dana Shemesh sat down with Chef Haddad to learn more about his philanthropic efforts and background.

Dana Shemesh: What makes this upcoming event honoring Horizons Atlanta special?

Philippe Haddad:  It’s very exciting because you get to interact with the guests and there is a lot of camaraderie between chefs.  There is a lot of action at the event, with incredible ambience and live music. For the live auction, guests can bid on a five-course culinary dining experience at their own home, for up to 12 guests which I will prepare with my team. It usually goes for over $20,000, and all the money goes right to the charity.

DS: What makes this cause special to you?
PH: Horizon’s Atlanta is an important cause for children, and it’s a way to give back because of all the support we’ve had all these years. I really love to give back in a meaningful way. It’s also very important for us to be able to donate to a cause where we know our money is going directly to the organization.   

DS: What are some other charities you are involved in?
PH: The Hope Ball, and CURE for Cancer, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Meals on Wheels, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

DS: What makes Atlanta’s culinary scene unique?
PH: Today the food scene in Atlanta has become more international than ever, we have amazing chefs that come into the city and display their visions and creativity, we have an amazing assortment of restaurants and finally we are expecting to have the Michelin Star for Atlanta – something which is way overdue.

DS: What are some challenges in Atlanta’s dining scene?
PH:  Atlantans like to support their local chefs. They are very fickle.  There have been many chefs and restaurants who have come and gone throughout the years.  People dine there for the first six months or a year and then the restaurant will fade off, that has always been an interesting phenomenon.   

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