Renowned chef Scott Serpas burst on the Atlanta restaurant scene more than a decade ago, working as executive chef at TWO Urban Licks before venturing out on his own in 2009 with Serpas True Food in the historic Old Fourth Ward.
Just over one year ago, the award-winning chef opened Dixie Q in his own Brookhaven neighborhood where he’s lived for a decade. It’s just off bustling Dresden Drive, where other notable restaurants make their homes, such as Kaleidoscope Bistro & Pub, Verde Taqueria and Haven Restaurant and Bar.
Dixie Q opened in the former Slice of Brookhaven site on Caldwell Road, next door to a planned mixed-use development to be called Dresden Village. The development is set to include a restaurant called Dixie Moon, where Serpas would also be the chef. While Serpas declines to talk about Dixie Moon ahead of the project, a representative of the developer said he is still on board, and more announcements are expected this year.
Serpas is a New Orleans native who learned his love of the restaurant industry as a busboy at New Orleans restaurants. The love of food and cooking, however, is a family tradition.
Q: Who taught you to cook?
A: Well, growing up as one of five kids and I’m the youngest, we didn’t go out very much. Not sure if we couldn’t afford it or if we didn’t behave very well! (Just kidding!) My mom did all the cooking, red beans on Monday, seafood on Friday and big family dinners on Sunday. We would watch football too — go Saints! My dad was in charge of sliced meat po-boys on Saturdays. We did crawfish and crab boils too, which I do as well over at Serpas True Food, my first restaurant in Old Fourth Ward.
Q: Do you remember the first meal you cooked?
A: Wow, yes. Peanut butter and jelly, which I still love! Soft white bread, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth peanut butter and clumpy grape jelly. Simple is good.
Q: Why did you decide to open restaurants in Brookhaven?
A: It is a close-knit, family community. The Dresden area, being walkable, is great to enjoy with my family. We wanted to fill a void in the community with a strong, family-friendly barbecue joint that is casual with great food and an appealing menu, choice-wise and price-wise. We have a swing on our porch for the kids and televisions inside for parents to catch the game.
Q: What do you love about being a chef?
A: Cooking. I’d rather cook than do anything else at my restaurants. Menu development, writing recipes, sourcing local food — these are the things that I truly look forward to each day.
Q: What is your opinion of the food scene in metro Atlanta?
A: I feel we are seeing restaurants move more and more north — more independent, smaller restaurants rather than chains … the culinary scene here is at its peak.
Q: What’s your go-to comfort food?
A: Hands down, gumbo. Also, red beans, meatballs and lasagna.
Q: What other chefs in metro Atlanta or the South do you admire?
A: We have so many new, young chefs in town. Even my own chef de cuisine at Serpas True Food, Manual Lara, keeps us inspired, creative and positive with his ongoing energy. Pop-ups, special, intimate dinner events, cookbooks, and a tremendous amount of culinary events keep this industry interesting day-to-day for guests.
Q: What’s the best way to cook barbecue ribs?
A: As the old saying goes, low and slow. There was a lot of trial and error when we were developing Dixie Q, and now that we have our feet under us, we are going strong yet still learning every day since we are new.
Q: What makes the best barbecue meal, including sides and beverage?
A: I’ve noticed that the older I have become, the more I’ve found myself more interested in how people cooked in the past … wood-fire cooking. It’s all about the balance of smoke, seasonings, sweetness, acidity. Comfort sides, as I call them — my [menu item] Meme’s Potato Salad, collard greens … a good, old-fashioned family Sunday supper. Complete with sweet tea, of course!
Chef Scott Serpas’ restaurants
2524 Caldwell Road NE, Brookhaven, 30319
Serpas True Food
659 Auburn Ave NE, #501, Atlanta, 30312