Linton’s is part of an overall renovation of the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
We really built a partnership together. The Garden had the idea of all of this, and our job was to define the role of food and hospitality where there’s a more permanent statement of that inside the garden—hopefully for years to come.
How do you see the restaurant integrating more into the Botanical Garden in the future?
We’re here to empower the garden to be a host, and we’ve designed the restaurant around food but also in part around hosting events and teachings with the garden. We’ve already hosted a couple author dinners because we see the garden as a salon of ideas.
The restaurant was designed by Perkins + Will, and one of the standout features is a selection of Dale Chihuly paintings.
They’re beautiful, and they bring a lot of warmth and color to the space, which allows us to keep the drama on the walls and the plate and not ask the room itself to do anything other than frame those spaces and the gardens.
The restaurant even serves produce straight from the garden.
Yes, from lettuce and black peppercorn to Arkansas black apples and figs. There’s this whole world of subtropical species and heirloom rare seeds we can have right outside our door. Hopefully by celebrating and cooking them we keep them a living species. We’re really blending the culinary and horticultural teams.
What’s your personal take on eating local?
What I’ve found as a chef is that the best food comes from the farmer you know. That’s what makes my salads better. And I’m a terrible gardener, which is why I need to have relationships with very good farmers and gardens—so I can just keep on cooking and eating well.