From culture to food and travel, chef Chad “Sosa” Hester is always mixing it up
Chad “Sosa” Hester is known for stirring things up. Sous chef at Bar Margot at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, he once thought he’d be the next NFL superstar, but a stubborn streak had him quitting the Georgia Southern University team over a disagreement about positions.
“I was partying a lot—always throwing cookouts—and it turned out I was living right behind a culinary school [Le Cordon Bleu],” he says. “I worked in career services [at Le Cordon Bleu] for a semester, trying to use my IT degree, and then enrolled full time.”
After graduating, Hester cooked his way through Chateau Élan, Sea World and Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse, before landing at the Four Seasons in 2014. He’s seen Bar Margot’s menu through a variety of direction changes but says he’s most proud of the current offerings. They reflect the diversity of his staff and his recent interest in vegan cuisine—a result of the vegan food truck called Plant Based Kitchen that he and his brother established during the pandemic. (He’s since ditched the truck to focus on Bar Margot.)
Below, we chat with Hester, who lives on the westside, about his new menu, charitable involvement and the significance of diversity in the kitchen.
How is your heritage reflected in your food?
It’s the heart and soul of everything I do. The first thing we do as a family is gather around food. I want to make food so that it’s part of [people’s] memories.
Why do you think diversity in the kitchen is important?
Diversity is important for ideas and creativity. It provides cohesion and balance. It’s a breath of fresh air to be a leader of this culture of “you can do it if you work hard enough.” At the Four Seasons, we hire chefs from Hawaii, Columbia and all over the world. We have jollof rice from West Africa, cacio e pepe from Italy and beet poke from the Pacific Islands. Wherever you go on the menu, there is a story behind that dish.
Why did you implement plant-based items on the Bar Margot menu?
It was 100% inspired by my food truck. I was vegan during that time, and I want vegans to be able to sit down with non-vegan friends and not have to ask for a separate menu. I want them to be comfortable.
Tell us about your charity work.
My focus is paving the way for the lost. My “what” is to be a chef. My “why” is to help those who don’t know what they are doing with their lives. I mentor kids in high school and speak at functions for youth baseball, basketball and football teams. A lot of times, they don’t understand that if it [sports] doesn’t work out, they can do something else.
What do you do for fun?
I [immerse] myself in travel and food. I love to see where other people’s ideas come from. I’ve been to the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico, and I’m visiting South America this fall. I show up at random spots and order food, go around the back of restaurants to see who is smoking outside and ask how long they’ve worked there. I like to consider myself the black Anthony Bourdain. I’m game for anything.
PHOTO: Erik Meadows
Foodie Tastemaker Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Contributing Editor at Atlanta Magazine. Restaurant Aficionado and Mother of Two.