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In full bloom 

Nicolas Bour of Iris

He's in it for the money. He's king of the kitchen, reigning with no assistance at the workstation or host post. He skims through the day and takes off early at whim.

Riiight. Just like it's a breeze to own a restaurant. Actually, the exact opposite is true of Iris' executive chef and co-owner Nicolas Bour. He lauds Lein Schoe, his partner in cooking and ownership, stays late to crunch numbers and isn't satisfied until his guests are.

Creative Loafing:Are people still surprised by the idea of an upscale eatery in East Atlanta, now that it's been almost two years?

Nicolas Bour: People still don't know where East Atlanta is and when they get here, they are still surprised.

You and chef de cuisine Lein Schoe both work the kitchen -- what do each of you bring to the menu? Or do you have preferences with the workstations?

I do all the raw foods. Lien's the more savory, hot, sautee kind of guy. His strength is seafood.

As part-owner, do you have much to do with the front of the house or administrative duties?

We do it all. We take care of all the billing, oversee the waitstaff, maintain the standards. It's a lot of work and it requires a lot of dedication. You have to be in business for the right reasons. In our case, it's about our dedication to food.

Do you think Atlanta has a food personality?

To a certain extent. In a way, Atlanta is still trying to find itself. Of course, there's the Southern thing. I think a lot of people identify Atlanta as meat-and-potatoes, but I think it's a lot more sophisticated than people think.

Do you have a favorite restaurant?

MidCity Cuisine ... Joël, definitely. It's just amazing. In my mind, he's the best guy in town in the game. I'm big on Buford Highway -- Panahar, that's a great place. Taka Sushi.

What are four food items you couldn't live without, either in the kitchen or at home?

Cheese, mustard -- mustard's my No. 1, the stuff imported directly from France. Maille is the name of it. They do make it for the States, but it's not the same. Wine -- actually, replace wine with beer -- and fresh vegetables.

Iris, 1314 Glenwood Ave. 404-221-1300. www.irisatlanta.com.

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