Not too many people can say they started making crab cakes at the age of 4 (dirt cakes is more like it). But Landon Thompson of Atlanta’s esteemed Cooks and Soldiers was patting away, giving this Georgia native and 2015 James Beard “Rising Star Chef” semifinalist a head start to becoming one of the ATL’s most talked-about chefs.

The former dishwasher and line cook — who worked his way up through the ranks at Atlanta institutions such as ONE. midtown kitchen and Dish to Holeman & Finch, Dogwood, Craft, and The Iberian Pig, where he served as the chef de cuisine — took time away from feeding his drooling Cooks and Soldiers diners with elevated Spanish cuisine to answer our questions, below. Which will also make you drool.

1. What’s an underrated food city and why?
Bluffton, South Carolina. I stayed there with a friend and my cousin for a long weekend and was incredibly surprised by the quality of food available. We had great meals at The Cottage, Old Town Dispensary and The Bluffton Oyster Co. If you’ve never had oysters from Bluffton, you’re missing out – they are crazy good! The crown jewel of my visit was definitely Cahills Market and Chicken Kitchen. It’s a general store with a tiny connected restaurant that sits on a working farm where they raise their own chickens and grow a lot of the food that they serve. It’s a fantastic place with amazing people to boot! My second choice food city would be Savannah, Ga., as it seems to be the South’s most up and coming food city right now. My favorite spots include The Wyld, Zunzi’s and The Flying Monk Noodle Bar. The Wyld is a killer one of a kind spot that is worth a trip on its own.

2. What food/food trend are you tired of?
Over-creative and under-executed. Chefs should just focus on sourcing the very best possible product and applying solid technique – the rest is just trickery.

3. How do you feel about Yelp?
Honestly, not a fan. It’s a public forum that people take too seriously. The issue is that people with absolutely no training or real knowledge of food and cuisine consider themselves food critics and blindly go around bashing businesses, thus potentially ruining their success. There are other forums out there (i.e. that actually take the time to source other chefs and trained industry personnel to get feedback and reviews from. I just don’t like the idea only in this industry does Joe the mediocre plumber get a podium to judge me or my peers, stick to your own business and I’ll do the same, thanks!

4. If your kitchen is burning down, what’s the one gadget you save?
My Kuntz spoons and Bob Kramer knives, everything else is just stuff.

5. Your guilty pleasure food?
Ice cream and Jameson. Not together…usually.

6. If you could cook for one person—who would it be and what would you make them?
I’d cook head cheese for vegans, because face meat is delicious.

7. What are five ingredients that are always in your pantry?
Lemon, garlic, salt, thyme and scallions.

8. What’s the biggest mistake home cooks make?
Not enough salt…NEVER enough salt!