Chef / Owner
Chef Mel Toledo, chef and owner of Foundation Social Eatery, brings nearly 15 years of cooking in some of the best kitchens in Atlanta, California, France and elsewhere. The chef sharpened his teeth in the legendary Atlanta kitchen of Bacchanalia and at the oft-lamented Posh, named Atlanta’s best new restaurant when it opened in 2007, as well as earning a spot in Gayot’s top 10 new U.S. restaurants in that year. By any measure, Toledo’s qualifications are impeccable. But for Toledo, experience trumps pedigree.
This experience shaped his drive to creates a unique experience at Foundation every time: by drawing on his own experiences to build one just for his guests. His formative times begin at California Culinary Academy, where he studied while working in the San Francisco kitchen at Roy’s, a Hawaiian fusion restaurant and a longtime Mission District favorite. Next, he sharpened his knives at Daniel, Chef Daniel Boulud’s renowned French eatery on New York’s Upper East Side. Though Toledo’s time at Daniel was short, a lifelong passion for classical French cuisine awakened in his palate.
Straight from New York, Toledo came to Atlanta for the first time in 2002, joining Ann Quatrano’s kitchen at Bacchanalia, then heading to Virginia’s. In his first stint in Atlanta, the South got under his skin, and the thought of returning to the Big Peach never left his mind even as he headed west to sunny San Diego for his first prime-time kitchen job working under Chef Jean-Michel Diot at La Jolla’s Tapenade, one of the country’s great Provencal restaurants. Starting off as sous chef, then promoted to chef de cuisine, Toledo helped win the kitchen at Tapenade renown as San Diego’s best French restaurant. But it also imparted him with wanderlust.
Toledo left San Diego for a spring in France, where he spent many weeks at stage—or short apprenticeships—at six of France’s great restaurants: Domaine de Clairfountaine, Le Balandre, Chateau Cordeillan-Bages, Le Louis XV, Maison Pic, and Pyramide. After watching, working with and learning from some of France’s great chefs, Toledo returned to Atlanta to begin the long process of finding his final calling at a restaurant of his own.
After returning to the city he loves, Toledo came in on the ground floor at Posh, the award-winning Atlanta fine dining restaurant that helped introduce a city to seasonal cuisine with a menu that changed daily. Toledo quickly rose from sous chef to executive chef before moving on to Home Restaurant and then 5 Seasons Brewery. But his greatest act comes now with Foundation Social Eatery.