Sous chef Chris McCord officially takes the reins as chef de cuisine of Gunshow on February 10, when executive chef — and Kevin Gillespie protégé — Joey Ward departs to open his restaurants Georgia Boy and Southern Bell at Plaza on Ponce. Gillespie made the announcement during the Cast Iron and Collards dinner sponsored by Georgia Organics on Sunday, which featured mostly vegetarian dishes by McCord, Ward, and Gillespie.
McCord, who first met Gillespie while both were attending the Art Institute of Atlanta (AIA), has worked at Gunshow for three years. Prior kitchen stints include The Globe on Spring Street, French American Brasserie in downtown Atlanta and Buckhead, and Ink & Elm at Emory Village. Following the shuttering of Ink & Elm, McCord says he finally landed his “dream job,” working alongside his former AIA classmate at Gunshow.
“You’re encouraged to be creative every day in an environment that’s not tied to recipes, only ideas,” McCord says. “It’s hard work, but no two days are ever the same. Not many restaurant chefs get a chance to experience that. I’ve learned so much from Joey and Kevin, and I feel ready for this next challenge.”
McCord enjoys using heritage cooking and preserving techniques and the interplay between sweet and savory ingredients in his dishes. The plate he presented during the dinner was a take on creamed collards — collard flan and pumpkin miso topped with crispy collards, parmesan collard chips, and leather britches (dried green beans.)
“Chris is a very creative chef,” Ward says. “He’s always willing to put in that extra effort, stay late in the kitchen to work on projects, and is always motivating people in the kitchen to do more and try new things. He’s committed to the work we do at Gunshow.”
During the dinner, Gillespie expressed gratitude and his deep appreciation for Ward, who took over and “really ran Gunshow and made it so special for so long”. He called McCord the “future” and the “obvious choice” to continue the work Ward began four years.
Ward’s last dinner service at Gunshow is February 9.
“When I first put the idea of Gunshow out there, people thought I was nuts. They said it will never work — creating new dishes constantly, rolling them around on carts, making food fun, and giving cooks the freedom to create,” says Gillespie. “Gunshow gives chefs like Chris the space to create. I’m always blown away by his ability to think outside the box and push the boundaries with food. The collard dish on the menu tonight is a great example of that.”
Gillespie opened his Southern-style dim sum restaurant in 2013. Dishes are presented to diners at their table on rolling carts and trays, where they choose what to order on the spot. In 2016, Eater’s former national restaurant critic Bill Addison named Gunshow one of America’s essential dining experiences, calling it “the most creatively energized restaurant in the Southeast.”
The Top Chef’s next restaurant, Cold Beer, is the beverage-focused sister of Gunshow and is expected to open on the newly extended Eastside Beltline trail in June. The restaurant is part of an Old Fourth Ward retail development between Edgewood and Dekalb Avenues called Edge. Cold Beer’s 7000-square-foot space will feature three Beltline-facing patios, including a rooftop patio and another located under the Edgewood Avenue bridge. The beer garden-esque restaurant is also planning a sizable dining room and bar run by Gunshow and Revival beverage director, Mercedes O’Brien.