Kevin Gillespie almost lived in New England. After receiving a scholarship to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Atlanta native planned to follow his father’s footsteps into engineering. But after visiting the Cambridge campus and testing a few classes, his plans changed. “I came home with two realizations. The first was that I would be the stupidest person at MIT. Everybody there, frankly, was a genius. And second was that I would be the coolest person at MIT,” says Gillespie, 30. “That was maybe the final straw that made me take the dive off the deep end and decide that I’m going to be a chef.”
Perhaps it all worked out for the best. After a stint on “Top Chef” and partnerships in other restaurants, Gillespie is preparing to go solo at a place called Gun Show in Atlanta. His debut cookbook, “Fire in My Belly: Real Cooking,” a book of Southern recipes, was recently named a finalist for a James Beard award.