Food + Drinks

The Splurge: Top Chef Hugh Acheson's New BMW, Rieslings in Vegas, and Infinity Pools in Hawaii

What does a southern gentleman splurge on? If he's a Top Chef judge and an award-winning Georgia chef, the answer is diesel engines, good wine, and a nearby beach.

In "The Splurge," tastemakers tell us about their most recent, most extravagant purchases.

Hugh Acheson is a juggler: He has one new cookbook (Pick a Pickle), two daughters (Beatrice and Clementine), and four Georgia restaurants (the upcoming Florence in Savannah will make five in April) that he somehow manages while filming Season 12 of Top Chef. How does the Ottawa-bred poster boy for Athens, Georgia, manage it all? Conference calls from the road and plenty of German white wine. Just not at the same time.


Coolest new product you bought?

"I recently bought a new car. It's a black BMW 3 Series, but it's one of their new diesel [engine] ones. I used to drive a VW Jetta wagon, and it was a diesel too. The gas on them is so great. I drive a lot: all around the state of Georgia, back and forth to Atlanta, and down to Savannah—that's a four-hour drive [from Athens]. [BMWs] are just classic. The engine has been used in Europe for centuries. I like well-made things that last if you take care of them. And until I buy a small plane—and that's not on the horizon—I'm gonna be driving."

• • •


Latest extravagant meal?

"I went on a trip with friends to Las Vegas, and we ate at a restaurant—I won't mention its name—that in terms of dollars spent, was a real splurge. But the place we went to the next day, somewhere I always go to when I'm in Vegas, Lotus of Siam, a Thai restaurant in a strip mall, was the most lavish meal in the way I like to be lavished. It's not fancy at all, but it has this amazing Riesling collection. Rieslings are great with the food I like to eat, spicier stuff and a lot of worldly cuisines we cook at home—miso and chilies and things like that. [At Lotus], there was an '09 Spätlese from J.J. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr that was fantastic. We were a bunch of food geeks sitting around the table talking food with the chef. It made the meal the night before look puny."

• • •


Noteworthy travel?

"Doing the [Top Chef] finale in Maui was awesome. I'd never been to Hawaii, but just the pace of life there . . . My wife and I were like, 'Yeah, we could live here.' We stayed at the Andaz Wailea. It has four infinity pools spilling down to the ocean. It's a brand-new renovation of an old hotel and it was just . . . You know the spaces where the inside and outside can morph into one another? It's like, I'm in the lobby and it has no windows or walls. That type of airiness. I loved the proximity to the beach. In two minutes' time you're snorkeling with giant turtles. There's a lot of free time in filming TV—don't let anybody tell you it's a tortuous occupation. I call it my adult summer camp."


• • •

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Photographs courtesy of respective subject and brands.
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