Linton & Gina Hopkins
Gina is a sommelier who has built a career in her own right. Linton had started out Pre-med at Emory University with a major in anthropology but was drawn to the kitchen by his love of food and memories of being in the kitchen with his grandfather, Eugene. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and followed a culinary path through some of the most prestigious restaurants in New Orleans before ending up in Washington, DC and discovering a new dream – to own a restaurant in Atlanta with Gina. The two opened Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta and have just opened Holman and Fitch Public House.
Gina and Linton balance the business endeavors with raising their two children and being extremely active in their community. Hopkins joined forces with 11 other parents to participate on the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Local School Wellness Council. Through his involvement, he has done everything from attending meetings and workshops to bringing locally contributed produce to schools to educate children about different types of fresh fruits and vegetables. Gina complements this work as a member of the Atlanta Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier. The organization’s Green Table Initiative is designed to inform children about how food gets from the farm to their table, a concept close to her and Hopkins’ heart, especially considering the relationships they have with local growers. “That food comes from somewhere; it comes from someone in a sustainable way, and we need to teach that to our children. That’s a big part of what we’re trying to do,” Hopkins noted.
In addition to other food-centric associations, such as the Slow Food Movement and the Southern Foodways Alliance, Hopkins devotes time to working with the March of Dimes and cancer research organizations. After surviving Hodgkin’s disease at the age of 29, Hopkins is grateful to be able to use his notoriety in the food industry to bring awareness to such a wide array of important causes. Linton told North Points Magazine, “We believe in charitable works, and as a business, you’re really able to be much more of a champion for these causes, more so than as a private citizen,” he commented. “It makes you much more effective because people will listen to you. It’s been one of those great added benefits.”
The honors are another added benefit. Restaurant Eugene won the Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” in 2005, 2006, and 2007. The list of awards for the restaurant and Hopkins is as long as your arm. Gourmet magazine called Restaurant Eugene “A Place to Eat Now” in 2005, and Hopkins was chosen as a challenger on Iron Chef and is nominated for a 2008 James Beard Award.