Family: Wife, Kerry Han
City of residence: Marietta
Volunteer work: Donations to many various charitable groups and causes
Awards/honors: James Beard Foundation- Rising Star Chef of the Year Semi-Finalist 2017 & 2018; James Beard Foundation- Best Chef: Southeast Semi-Finalist 2019; Bon Appétit magazine: 7th best new restaurant in America in 2017; Conde Nast Traveler “22 Best Restaurants in Atlanta” list 2019; EATER Atlanta: “Atlanta Restaurants With Top-Notch Wine Lists”; finalist for Zagat’s 30 Under 30 National; Georgia Restaurant Association GRACE awards gala, where Chef So was a finalist in the restauranteur of the year category; Atlanta magazine: Best-Kept Secret of 2016; Atlanta magazine: 4th best restaurant in Atlanta in 2019; 50 best list in 2018 and 2017; Atlanta magazine: Best New Chef, 2017; Atlanta magazine: “Best of Atlanta 2018: Best OTP”
James Beard award semi-finalist chef Brian So has worked in many different cities around the country, but he chose Marietta as the place to open his first restaurant - a restaurant that really has “sprung” into action.
So, chef/owner of Spring Marietta, grew up in Kennesaw and went to high school in Marietta. When it was time to decide where to put down roots, he wanted to return home. “It’s where my family is and where my friends are,” he said. “I like how convenient it is. You can get to Atlanta in 15, 20 minutes and it’s easy to get to Buford Highway. I like the pace, it’s nice and relaxing. It’s a nice place to live.”
So and his wife, Kerry Han, opened their restaurant, Spring, in 2016 on the Marietta Square when So was just 28 years old. That same year, renowned Atlanta food critic Christiane Lauterbach, wrote about So’s “masterful modern dishes” in Atlanta magazine. From there, the recognition continued. Spring has been named one of the magazine’s top 50 restaurants for three years running. Bon Appétit magazine listed Spring as one of the Top Ten Best New Restaurants in the Country. So has been named a semi-finalist in two categories by the James Beard Foundation—the highest honor for the U.S. food industry. Most recently, Conde Nast Traveler named Spring one of the 22 Best Restaurants in Atlanta.
The biggest accomplishment according to So, however, is not the awards he has won, but rather seeing the same people from the neighborhood coming into his quaint little restaurant again and again, enjoying themselves immensely. “At the end of the day, that’s the end goal. It’s not any award. I do what I do and if we get any press, or get some sort of award, that’s always great. But, I think, honestly, I’d be just as happy without all of that. If we’re making people happy and business is winning and I’m able to cook for a living, that’s the goal,” he said.
Future plans for So include opening more restaurants with different concepts. “Spring will be my home base for as long as I possibly can,” he explained. “We do have other ideas for different restaurants. I would really love to be able to walk to all of my restaurants. I like having a strong foundation somewhere and I think Marietta is that place.”
If you would like to celebrate these honorees, please join us for The Cobb Life List: 20 Under 40 Awards Celebration on Thursday, Jan. 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre. Tickets include the the fun awards program and a reception immediately following can be purchased by visiting cobblifemagazine.com/list.