Top 100 Atlanta Chefs
Top 100 Atlanta Chefs
When you think about where you want to eat, you think of a name of a restaurant, right? You don’t think of a particular person’s name just because they happen to work there, unless you are close to them. However, it is the chefs that prepare the food for you. And that food is what makes you want to come back next time. We believe that chefs don’t get enough recognition from the general public. That’s why we have complied a list of the top 100 Atlanta Chefs in alphabetic order.
Chef Stephanie Alderete found her passion for cooking young helping her mother in the kitchen and watching her grandmother cook for her family. With an uncle living in Atlanta whom she would often visit, she decided to attend culinary school here. She worked a Buckhead cheese counter and found her way to the Hilton as a line cook at Le Cafe during school. She worked her way up to Nikolai’s rooftop and became executive chef in 2012. The rest is history and patrons have been in love since.
Tiny Lou’s is slated to open this spring, but Chef Jeb Aldrich is no stranger to the Atlanta restaurant scene. Originally from Baltimore, Aldrich received his culinary education from Johnson and Wales and then worked at Peninsula Grill in Charleston. Then he moved to Georgia and worked at restaurants such as Canoe and 4th & Swift. His most recent position was at Noble Fin alongside Jay Swift. After working with Swift for 10 years, Aldrich was chosen as the executive chef at Tiny Lou’s, which will be located in the newly restored Hotel Clermont.
Chef Billy Allin began his love of food by recreating the dishes that his Napoli-born Grandmother used to make. This sparked his interest so he decided to attend the California Culinary Academy and worked at Chez Panisse at the same time. He was able to develop his skills of understanding of food, so in 2003, he worked at The Martini House to develop his knowledge of wines and seasonality. Next, he worked as the Sous-Chef at Watershed Restaurant and grew to love southern ingredients. He decided to open his own restaurant Cakes & Ales in 2007, and he is still there creating delicious meals.
Chef Nicholas Anderson’s talent as a chef was evident during childhood, and he participated in the ProStart Program and won two gold medals. After earning a degree in Culinary Arts from John and Wales, Anderson became a chef at the CEO Unilever House at the Masters. Other credits include being Sous Chef at Canoe and Chef de Cuisine at Rathbun’s as well as being Executive Chef at Ormsby’s. Now as Executive Chef at City Winery, Anderson focuses on using local ingredients. He also creates unique complements such as using grape juice for the house vinegar.
Chef Mikiel Arnold was born in Truijillo, Peru to a Peruvian mother and American father. Cooking in the kitchen with his grandmother growing up helped plant his passion for food. His family moved to American when he was six and eventually in 2007 Chef Arnold attended culinary school. After culinary school, Arnold worked with a burger startup before starting his owns food truck business with The Freakin Incan. It wasn’t long before locals were looking for the truck to come there way and looking for a permanent location. Wishes were granted in 2015, with a second location opening in 2017.
Chef Aaron Avers knew that he wanted to be a chef since he was 5 years old. “My mom would bring me into the kitchen and shove spices and herbs in my face and say, ‘Smell this’ and ‘Taste this.'” This set his dream of becoming a chef in motion. Even though he wanted to be a chef, Avers didn’t want to go to culinary school. He wanted to start working and learn from his experiences; however, he did attend The Art Institute of Charleston and earn a degree in Culinary Arts. His menu at Four Forks “defies categorization,” and the menu also features many in-house items like his hand-churned butter.
Chef Matthew Basford’s position at Canoe is surprisingly all thanks to Hurricane Katrina. Before coming to the U.S., the Australia native won several awards such as second place in Tasting Australia. Basford was working at Dominique’s at the Maison Dupuy Hotel in New Orleans’s French Quarter. After Katrina, Basford relocated to Atlanta. A week after arriving in Atlanta, he had a position at Canoe as a line cook. He became executive chef in 2013. Basford has said that the culinary industry is an extremely challenging one but can be “extremely gratifying to see guests experience what you have created.”
Chef Joy Beber was born and raised in Georgia; therefore, she has been influenced by southern cooking her entire life. She started as a personal chef by using her family recipes that go back four generations. Then she opened a kitchen in Chamblee which quickly became popular. However, it wasn’t until 2011 that she decided to open Joy Cafe. And just like her family taught her, Joy made everything from scratch. Almost six years after opening, Joy decided to move her cafe to midtown in order to gain more space. It is still there and has been featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives”.
Chef Michael Bertozzi has been in the restaurant business since he was 15. He gained his passion for southern cuisine from his mother and grandmother, while his father influenced him by having Michael experience the exotic flavors of his father’s country, Peru. Bertozzi graduated from Aubrun University and worked at many restaurants while there, such as Skybar Cafe and IN ITALY. Bertozzi started working at Atlanta’s Two Urban Licks but moved to Alabama and became the executive chef at Central. However, in 2015, he moved back to Atlanta and is back at Two Urban Licks as the executive chef.
Chef David Bies is a Georgia native with a proven streak of wanderlust that has contributed to an amazingly diverse knowledge of food. Chef Bies left Atlanta for a year to work in Asheville before returning. Once he returned to his Atlanta roots, he began working with Restaurant Eugene and was there for four years. The travel bug bit again and Chef Bies decided to take a sabbatical to travel the world and eat his way from country to country. He traveled through Asia, Europe, and Central America trying different types of cuisines, and you can see this in his diverse menu.
A New York native, Chef Michael Bologna has close to four decades of restaurant experience. Currently, he is the owner and chef of Vingenzo’s in Woodstock. He founded this restaurant while working as an instructor at Chattachoochee Technical College’s Center for Culinary Education in Marietta. Vingenzo’s was inspired by the Campania region of Italy and the margherita pizza and pasta he encountered there. His resume includes running the food operations at the Olympic Village, a James Beard Chef, and voted one of the Best Chefs in America.
Chef Jennifer Booker comes from a truly southern cuisine heritage and has created her own spin on things. With a strong influence of French culinary techniques she learned from her training at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Paris, Chef Booker has created a new twist on the classes Southern cuisine. She also has a deep passion for healthy cuisine and has added high quality ingredients to the mix. Chef Booker has published two cookbooks, Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent and Déjà Vu: Southern Tonight, French Tomorrow.
Rusty Bowers owns and operates a whole animal butchery shop located in the Avondale area of Atlanta. It started about 10 years ago as a whole sale butchery shop with just Rusty, but it now includes a retail store, online store and classes, with five full-time butchers and a retail and delivery staff. He grew up cooking in Jacksonville, Florida, before moving all over the country and the world, along the way picking up different butchering techniques and a love of community raised meat. Rusty is also the co-host and co-creator of Smoke and Glory, a Chef Thunder Dome style tournament in the area.
While going to school in Atlanta, Chef Burge was working in restaurants and quickly realized that the kitchen was were his interests lay. This Chef has worked in a range of restaurants from BBQ, Italian, Greek, American, to Spanish cuisines. He started with Barcelona in 2012, working at various locations until he became Executive Chef at the Atlanta Inman Park location. He loves the freedom in this kitchen to cook the food he likes to cook, thus owning the menu and truly making it his own. He enjoys using simple, yet unique ingredients such as bone marrow and elevating them with a fresh flavor.
Chef Henry Chandler was born and raised in St. Maurice, Louisiana, and he made his first meal for his family when he was only 10 years old. He made them chicken and dumplings entirely from scratch. Chandler went to college in Lafayette, which exposed him to Cajun and Creole cooking methods. After graduating from Guilford Tech with a degree in French Culinary Arts, he moved to Georgia and opened Henry’s Louisiana Grill in 200o in Downtown Acworth. The original location proved to be too small, and the current, bigger location has been thriving ever since.
Our next chef owns a true Georgia breakfast spot staple. Chef Kevin Clark grew up helping his mother make homegrown southern cuisine. This helped create the foundation for his love of food. He attended culinary school and made his way into the fine dining world where he was very successful. He decided to take what he had learned from the realm of fine dining and feed his love for truly homegrown food. He opened Homegrown GA in June of 2010 and never looked back. There is no can opener at Homegrown, local farmers are supported and only fresh ingredients are used.
Chef Justin Dixon is an Atlanta native with a true passion for both food and politics. He first began cooking for his family out of necessity when he was 11 or 12 since his mom worked full time. This helped create his culinary foundation. He attended Art Institute of Atlanta to study culinary arts. While in school and after he spent time paying his dues and working under some of the best chefs Atlanta has to offer. One day he posted his resume on Craigslist and Shed at Glenwood owner Cindy reached out the next day. The rest is history!
Chef Shaun Doty began his career at The Grape in Dallas, but he decided to go to Johnson & Wales University and work at Restaurant Million while studying culinary. After graduation, Shaun moved to Atlanta to work at the Ritz-Carlton for two years. After that, he traveled through France and Belgium to work at several different countries through these two countries. After returning to the US, he worked at Mirabell and Savanna’s, but he eventually moved back to Atlanta to work with Chef Seeger at Mumbo Jumbo. Now, he has created a restaurant called the Federal and is back to cooking the things he loves.
Chef Stacey Eames is no stranger to owning a restaurant; her parents and grandmother owned The Hit and Run during her childhood. Eames was introduced to specialty coffee in her early 20s, and this started the journey that led to Highland Bakery. She first started with Java World, a coffee kiosk that originally opened in Piedmont Hospital in 1993. Java World now has locations on the Georgia Tech campus. She bought Highland Bakery from a father/son team in 2004, and under her ownership, Highland Bakery has grown to have 10 locations in Atlanta!
Chef Ron Eyester is originally from Long Island, and he actually didn’t realize his passion for cooking until he was a graduate student in literature in New York. He started at Food 101 as a sous chef in 2001, and he has been there ever since. He opened his own restaurant, Rosebud, in 2008. Eyester is known nationally as “The Angry Chef,” his social media presence, and he competed on the 12th season of the popular TV series Top Chef. Eyester is also very involved in the “eat local” movement in Georgia and won the Georgia Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Innovator of the Year award.
Chefs Jonathan and Justin Fox, otherwise know as the Fox Bros, are the kings of barbecue. Since they are from Texas, they are the kind of people that know BBQ. Although they are not professionally trained, they have developed their skills through trail and error and by relying on friends and family to help test their recipes. They moved to Atlanta and decided to show them how BBQ is done. They opened Fox Bros Bar-B-Que in 2007 and since then, they have been featured on the Weather Channel, TLC, Fox News, and Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives”.
This Head BBQ Pitmaster is originally from North Carolina. What makes him stand out from other BBQ masters? He raises his own Heritage pigs, and he sources the ingredients for his sides locally. Originally a welder, he left to pursue his dream which all started with the idea of roasting a whole hog for this daughter’s first birthday, and this quickly turned into a catering side hustle. Now he is at his second location (first tragically burned), and he has found his restaurant featured in top lists of several major magazines.
Atlanta native Chef Kevin Gillespie owns two restaurants: Gunshow in Glenwood Park and Revival in Decatur. He also owns Kevin Gillespie’s Gamechanger at the Mercedes Benz Stadium. His new concept, Cold Beer, is coming soon to the Beltline. In addition, Gillespie hosts Terminus City BBQ pop-ups at ASW Distillery every Saturday. Gillespie is an award-winning chef and author of Fire in My Belly and Pure Pork Awesomeness. He was featured as a judge on the Destination America series SMOKED, and he also competed on Esquire Network’s show Knife Fight.
Chef Todd Ginsberg started out waiting tables; however, he didn’t expect to become a chef. Ginsberg was studying business administration until one of his friends asked if Ginsberg had ever considered going to culinary school after he cooked dinner for them. This question started his path to becoming a chef. Ginsberg attended the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating, he worked at several different places such as the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta and Lucas Carton in Paris. Currently, Ginsberg is a co-owner of the General Muir. He is also planning on opening Wood’s Chapel BBQ sometime this year.
Chef Andre Gomez grew up in Puerto Rico where his most precious memories are the evening gatherings with his family where there was laughter, the aroma of the grill, and the glow from the porch light. All of this would always remind him of home. Gomez has trained with some of the best chefs in Atlanta, including Kevin Rathbun. However, his grandparents are his biggest influences with Pureto Rican and Argentine dishes. That’s why when he created his own restaurant, Porch Light, he wanted a place that you cold call home with lots of light, noise, and food.
Chef Asha Gomez is originally from the Kerala state of Southern India. She moved to America as a teenager and has lived in Atlanta since 2000. Gomez previously owned Spice to Table which closed in 2017 due to a new business venture. Gomez is the founder of The Third Space, a 1500 square foot space in the city used for events. She and various visiting chefs offer cooking classes and chef demonstrations here. Gomez is also the author of My Two Souths, a cookbook influenced by her childhood in Southern India and her current life in Atlanta.
Chef Spencer Gomez is originally from Colorado; he came to Georgia because his wife was studying photography at UGA, and while living in Athens, Gomez served as Chef de Cuisine at Branded Butcher. After moving to Atlanta, Gomez was a sous chef at Chef Kevin Gillespie’s Gunshow. While at Gunshow, Gomez was a semi-finalist on Eater’s “Young Guns” list. Gomez began serving as Chef de Cuisine at Holeman & Finch in June 2016. He has also been a semi-finalist on Zagat’s national “30 Under 30” list. In addition, Gomez was listed as a Rising Star in Atlanta by Star Chefs for 2018.
Chef Andy Gonzales is originally from Texas and studied at SCAD. Past credits include working as a chef at Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, South City Kitchen, and Spice Market. Gonzales began working at Steinbeck’s in 2009. At the time, Steinbeck’s was a a small oyster house. Gonzales has transformed Steinbeck’s into what it is today. He was inspired by a trattoria in Italy that he ate at with his wife. In the trattoria, the menu items were written on a chalkboard and were erased as they ran out of each dish. Fresh food and constant change are now an integral part of Steinbeck’s thanks to Chef Andy!
Previously of the world acclaimed French Laundry, Chef Christopher Grossman brought an irreplaceable value to the Atlas. Chef Grossman is a strong believer in the fresh locally sourced ingredients mentality. He is passionate about working with local farmers to create a menu that is as every changing and evolving as the seasons themselves. Famous for his humbly titled “Fettuccine Alfredo”, available on the Atlas starters menu. Tossed in creme fraiche and topped with sturgeon caviar, it is a truly decadent way to start your meal.
James Beard recognized chef that blends European technique with South African cuisine. In June of 2017, he also received a Georgia award for Celebrate the Chef Award, given to Georgia Chefs that show consistent excellency in food and dining experience with special consideration to the use of fresh and local ingredients. A Belgium native with almost 40 years of global culinary experience under his belt. His experience has included a wide array of locations and countries as well as hotels, resorts, private clubs, yacht clubs, and restaurants. His history includes the Occidental Grand, The Abbey, and Nickolai’s Roof.
Chef Chris Hall started working in the restaurant business at Pizza Hut as a teenager; however, he is still attracted to the smell of pepperoni and yeast. While in college, he worked at Lec Bec Fin where he was taught to cook. But a lot of the time, he was teaching himself how. After college, he returned to Atlanta. He worked at Canoe where he discovered that he wanted his own restaurant one day. With the help of Turner and Muss, they were able to create the Local Three, and the rest is history.
Born in St.Lucia, Chef Ed Harris trained at the Art Institute and built the foundation of his cooking career in New York City. Most notably as a chef at the modern Asian cuisine restaurant, Buddakan in New York. His skills shine through and brought home the win of both “Chopped” and “Iron Chef International.” At 35, Chef Harris decided to leave the restaurant kitchen and open his own consulting company. His company, Chef Life Consulting and Events, offers culinary classes and events for foodies.
Chef Savannah Sasser has always wanted to cook because that was where she and her mom were at their best, and she loved the one-on-one time. She didn’t attend culinary school at first, but quickly realized that she wasn’t meant to be at college. So she decided to go to culinary school instead. And you wouldn’t believe it, but she used to be a vegetarian. However, she worked at Twain’s Brewpub as the butcher and executive chef for several years. Now she is executive chef at Hampton + Hudson.
Chef Atsushi “Art” Hayakawa ran into a problem that not many restaurateurs encounter, but I’m sure most would love to have. He opened the doors Sushi Hayakawa and it was not long before he did not have the space or staff to accommodate the high level of demand. People flocked to the sushi spot to satisfy their cravings of fresh and skillfully made sushi. So he closed to reopen with a with a new fresh spot offering the type of environment he was striving to provide. Chef Hayakawa is a true artist and it shows in his beautifully plated dishes.
Originally from Mexico, this chef blends together several cuisines (Southern, Mexican, & Southwestern) to create irresistible flavors. This James Beard nominated chef has a book in the works, Turnip Greens & Tortillas, available April of this year! He learned how to cook due to some tough love from his grandmother, and as a teen found himself becoming the chef of the house. This was the base of his culinary training. His original interests lay more with music; he was a drummer that dreamed of being a rock star.
Chef Jason Hill began cooking at Pano’s and Paul’s while he was 17 years old, but he gain his appreciation for Southern food from his grandmother. He graduated from Johnson & Wales University and worked at Indigo and Harvest for sometime. He opened his own restaurant, Wisteria, in 2001, which as continued to gain praise from many, locally and nationally. While he continues to own Wisteria, he has opened another restaurant called Folk Art in 2013 where he continues to give his patrons American cuisine with a Southern twist.
Chef Jared Hucks considers his art to be cooking which was important growing up in an artistic family. He has works for some of the most prestigious kitchens including Denmark’s Noma, Spain’s Arzak, Thailand’s Baan Rim Pa, and the Sydney Opera House’s Guillaume. He returned to Atlanta and worked at Bacchanalia. Now, he is planning on opening his own restaurant called The Alden this spring. It will serve American and Southern classics, and he hopes that this restaurant will become a friend to everyone just like what the name suggests (Old friend).
Raised in Atlanta, Chef Hopkins learned to cook from the women in his family and by watching cooking shows. His philosophy is simple, “cook good, local food.” His formal training came in the form of an apprenticeship with French Master Chef Christian Chemin. Since then he has spent his time working at several restaurants throughout the Southeast. His Atlanta resume includes Bacchanalia, Abbatoir, White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails, and STG Trattoria, before joining the team at Empire State South in 2014. He also worked with Atlanta favorite Chefs Anne Quantrano and Ryan Smith.
Chef Scotley Innis took over the reins of 5Church Atlanta less than a year ago, blending in some flavors from his Caribbean and Southern roots. Chef Innis started his culinary career in New York; however, the last decade has him establishing a strong reputation in the Atlanta area for his flavors and talent. His Atlanta resume includes Ormsby’s, South City Kitchen, Mudcatz Bayou Bar and Grill, and several hotels in the area. He loves the challenge of applying unorthodox techniques to traditional dishes while proving that Southern staples can be modernized and still taste good.
Chef Andrew Isabella is another chef with a love affair with cooking. He started from a young age. His cooking is influenced by his family’s Italian recipes, but he is also someone that combines it with ingredients found in Georgia. Andrew started out in Hospitality Management but didn’t like it, so he went to culinary school at age 18 and has been working his way up ever since. He has been the executive chef at No. 246, but he has recently moved on to work with Ford Fry at one of his newer restaurants called Beetlecat.
Chef Meherwan Irani is a self taught chef and his passion for food shows in every dish. Chef Irani quit his day job in car sales to open his first restaurant, Chai Pani, an authentic Indian street food restaurant in 2009. Chef Irani has earned two James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef in the Southeast and his patrons would agree that it is well deserved. Not just the patrons, but the critics would have to agree as well. Cher Irani’s restaurants have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal,Food & Wine, USA Today, and Bon Appetit.
Chef Fuyuhiko Ito has more than 28 years of experience working in both traditional Japanese and classic french restaurants. He began his career in Japan when he was 17 years old by handling fresh fish at the Tsukiji Fish Market, learning the craft of fresh fish. Then Ito worked at Toriyoshi in the US under the direction of Chef Kono. He has continued to stay in the US and worked as the executive chef of MF Buckhead, earning his a five-star rating in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is the Executive Chef at Umi, “unite[ing] classic along with modern Japanese flavors in a sophisticated, contemporary setting.”
An Atlanta native with over a decade of culinary experience, Chef Jason Jimenez is Chef and co-founder of Homespun and Executive Chef of Kitchen Six Oak Grove. He started his culinary path when he attended Johnson and Wales University while working local restaurants. Upon returning to Atlanta, he worked at Canoe, Local Three, and Muss & Turner’s. Homespun was created from a desire to bring exceptional seasonal fare to private events of all kinds. His passion for locally sourced foods and finely crafted menus served in an intentional communal setting that can be experienced with both.
Chef Leif Johnson is a self-taught chef who learned everything he knows about cooking from his grandmother. Johnson was originally an executive chef at a winery in California, and after moving to Georgia, he opened Bite Catering in Dunwoody in 2007. Bite Creative Cuisine & Catering Restaurant opened in 2011. Due to growing popularity, the restaurant was expanded and reopened as Bite Bistro & Bar in 2013. Bite features a unique menu classified by Johnson as being “New American,” which allows for flavors pulled from Latin, Asian, and East coast dishes.
Starting at 16, Chef Karatassos was cooking in his father’s restaurants right here in Atlanta. He moved to New York for culinary training, then on to Florida for a degree in Hospitality Management. He worked at several 3 star Michelin restaurants in California and New York, including The French Laundry. Today this chef is known for his modern take on Greek cuisine. His personal style to cooking is to respect his intense French training, while staying true to the roots and authenticity of Greek cuisine. Look forward to the arrival of his Greek cookbook set to be released fall of 2018.
It only makes sense to discuss Chef Gerry Klaskala next, as he worked with Chef Christopher Grossman as a Consulting Chef for Atlas. He is the owner and chef of the Aria, one of Buckhead’s award-winning restaurants. Aria is known for its modern and artistic take on fine American cuisine. Chef Klaskala’s passion can be tasted in all of his cuisine, making it truly award-winning. Klaskala’s cuisine has been featured in Food & Wine, The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Esquire, Eater, The Local Palate, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Zagat.
Originally from South Carolina, Chef Koval started young earning extra money by washing dishes. He has since worked in famed Atlanta restaurants such as Buckhead Diner, Canoe, Lobby at TWELVE, Room at TWELVE, and Farm Burger, to where he is today at Wrecking Ball Brewpub. In 2012 he was recognized as an Atlanta Rising Star Sustainable Chef by Starchefs.com. Many of his past and present restaurants have had a focus on local, sustainable, farm fresh ingredients. “Eat everything, waste nothing,” is the philosophy that this chef lives by.
Chef Jiyeon Lee of South Korea originally started her adult life as a music sensation in her country, even recording several albums. Deciding to pursue a new direction, she put her artistic passions into cooking and learning western cooking techniques. From there she traveled and worked at the best hotels and restaurants that she could find. This love of food and the challenge of learning western skills while still loving that South Korean flavor has taken her to where she is today, Chef at Heirloom Market BBQ. She attended Le Cordon Bleu, and she came in second in a national food competition.
Chef Drew Van Leuvan started cooking when he was only 14 years old, and he worked as a chef while he was studying at The University of Massachusetts; Van Leuvan graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2000. He has worked under many famous chefs including Jean-Louis Palladin and Guenter Seeger. Before becoming Executive Chef at Seven Lamps, Van Leuvan served as Executive Chef at many restaurants in the city including Spice, Toast, Saga, and ONE. midtown kitchen. Van Leuvan has won several awards including the Rising Star Award from StarChefs.com.
Liang is Southern born but spent his childhood in Taiwan. Japanese cuisine is a huge part of the culture in Taiwan and this had a definite impact on his cooking style. Japanese cooking shows dominated his family’s television and influenced the cuisine he grew a passion for. As a teenager, Liang earned the opportunity to intern with a Japanese chef at the Regent Taipei, kicking off his career. In 2006 Chef Liang moved to Atlanta, he became the sushi chef at One Sushi Plus in the neighborhood of Brookhaven and Craft Izakaya in Krog Street Market following. April 2016, he opened Brush Sushi Izakaya.
Chef Greg Lipman has been cooking since the tender age of 9 when he would help his grandmother makes her chocolate chip cookies. This planted a seed for the passion of baking, and Chef Lipman found himself baking for for a farm stand in Massachusetts. His mother helped fuel his passion through her cooking of different styles and cuisines. In pursuit of his passion, he attended New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT. After working as a waiter for a while after graduation, Chef Lipman decided to move to Atlanta where he eventually opened a restaurant to become Piastra.
Chef Ri Liu is a certified master chef from the northeastern tip of China with a phenomenal skill set. Che Liu authored three cookbooks before arriving in America on an O-1 visa given only to “individuals with extraordinary achievement.” Masterpiece made a real impression on the locals and created a cult following. It wasn’t too long before Masterpiece took over the neighboring storefront, doubling in size to accommodate the crowds flocking for Chef Liu’s beloved fish braised in chili oil.
Atlanta native Chef Bruce Logue wanted to open his own restaurant in his hometown. He attended the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. His skills with Italian cuisine grew with his experience as a chef at Bricco in Boston and then as a sous chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo. After earning a Master’s Certificate from Ital.Cook in Italy, Logue came back to Atlanta and opened La Pietra Cucina, an AJC four star restaurant. Logue now owns BoccaLupo, an intimate eatery in Inman park featuring his signature homemade and extruded pastas.
Atlanta native Chef Zachary Meloy remembers his life by food references. While at school, he got his first job as a line cook and found his calling. After graduation, he traveled for a period cooking in Colorado before moving toward Central America. There, he discovered many of the ingredients he loved used there and in different styles. He began to focus his talents on that unique combination of Southern and Latin cuisine. He and his wife started an underground Supper Club known as PushStart Kitchen, which became wildly successful! They now own and operate Better Half.
Growing up in Esfahan, Iran and Los Angeles, California, this chef’s love of food began. This interest turned into a passion and became a career. Moving to Atlanta, he established a reputation for himself as a perfectionist; this intensity and love for food comes through in every detail of the dish and the dining room. Due to this drive, Chef Mesghali set the standard for Persian cuisine in Atlanta. The unique flavors and touch keep customers coming back again and again. This chef has also had the honor of cooking at the James Beard Foundation in 2016.
Chef Danilo Q. Myers started at The Southern Gentleman in 2014, and only a year later, Zagat Atlanta listed him as “one of eight secret weapons behind Atlanta’s top restaurants.” A Brooklyn native, Myers worked in many hotels in New York City as well as many Atlanta hotspots such as Fox Concept Group in Atlanta, Wolfgang Puck at the Georgia Aquarium, and the High Museum’s Table 1280. Myers believes that “food doesn’t have to be just a responsibility, rather more of a journey that can invoke emotion and deep human connection.”
Chef Tomohiro Naito hails from Osaka, Japan. While he studied theater direction at Queen’s College in New York, Naito worked at various restaurants throughout the city. He started working for a Japanese trading company, and he quickly realized his love of cooking with the highest quality ingredients. He worked at Nobu in Las Vegas, and after moving to Atlanta, he opened Tomo. In 2012, CBS Atlanta voted him as one of the best chefs in the city, and Creative Loafing wrote that “Naito offers an unparalleled experience in modern Japanese eating.”
Chefs Ash Nega and Titi Demissie both grew up in Ethiopia, but they didn’t meet until they moved in Atlanta. They both wanted to open a restaurant that offered authentic flavors, high quality ingredients, speed, and great service. Thus they opened their restaurant Desta Ethiopian Kitchen in July 2006. Their restaurant is still one of the top go to places to get authentic and unique flavors of Ethiopia. Fusing Ethiopian culture with modern business, Desta Ethiopian is a unique experience for anyone.
Chef Nan Niyomkul was born in Bangkok where she worked with her mother as a street food vendor in Thailand, thus gaining the authenticity of Thai Cuisine. She left Thailand in order to work in New York when she was 19 where she was able to work in many find dining and hotel establishments whiling improving her technique. While in New York, she opened her first restaurant, Tamarind. But then she decided to relocate to Atlanta to open two other restaurants: Nan Thai Fine Dining and Tamarind Seed Bistro. These restaurants have won her many awards and accolades.
Sean O’Keefe was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland and spent his early years with his grandfather learning how to fish, farm, and prepare regional cuisine. He took these skills and this passion for a lifelong hobby into a career, and opened his first private chef company, The House Husband. Hollywood called and O’Keefe moved to L.A. to further hone his skills. Sean began teaching culinary classes both to professional and nonprofessional students. After moving to Atlanta, he created Sean O’Keefe Events in the spring of 2009, specializing in high-style events around the metro Atlanta area.
Chef Paire developed a love for food and cooking at a young age, growing up going to farmer’s markets with his mother and grandmother as well as helping with family dinners. Originally from DC, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Culinary Art and Food Service Management. Soon after graduation, he trained under notable DC Chefs Robert Gadsby and Todd Gray. In his early twenties, he took over key roles with great reviews and write-ups to follow. In 2016, he began working at Barcelona. He was drawn to the opportunity due to the autonomy he was given in creating dishes.
This is another chef that practically grew up in restaurants, helping out in Italy, New York, and New Jersey. He had worked every position in a restaurant by the time he moved to Atlanta. Giovanni di Palma started with one restaurant pretty much put together with scraps and stones, and the amazing pizza brought fandom almost instantly. Both his restaurant and the area grew together, and with that, he created what is essentially Little Italy today. Modeled after historic town centers found throughout Italy, he has created a little haven featuring his newest restaurants.
Starting his culinary career in Charleston with two well-known restaurants Blossom and Tattoria Lucca. He then moved to Georgia in 2013 to further his Italian training with Sea Island Resort’s Tavola. Then he moved to Atlanta in 2014 where he helped open Colletta before transitioning to his current role as Executive Chef at La Tavola Trattoria. Italian food is a passion and a way of life for this chef; in his current role, he has worked to expand and keep this restaurant’s reputation for house-made pasta, specialty, and seasonal menu items.
Chef Robert Phalen grew up on a farm and grew a love for fresh local food from a young age. Phalen moved to Atlanta and first started working at Mumbo Jumbo. He then became executive chef of Alon Balshon’s namesake. Then he moved to Atlanta magazine’s 2003 restaurant of the year, MidCity Cuisine before opening his first venture. In 2008, he opened his first restaurant, Holy Taco, an fresh ingredient focused Pan-Latin spot in the center of east Atlanta. By 2011, Chef Phalen opened One Eared Stag. This earned him a 2012 StarChefs.com Rising Star award.
Chef Calvin Phan was raised in a family that owned several different restaurants in Europe, so you can say that he has always been in the business. Therefore, he attended culinary school in Germany in order to become a professional. Afterwards, Phan worked as a chef in Switzerland, but soon after, he moved to Georgia. There he opened a Thai restaurant in Statesboro, but he decided to move to Atlanta after 3 years in order to create something bigger. In Atlanta, Phan created a restaurant that had a rare type of cuisine consisting of Thai fusion with Southern influences called Poor Calvin’s Absolute Fusion.
Chef Daniel Porubiansky came to Century House Tavern in the spring of 2013, and brought with him a wealth of experience and knowledge. Chef Porubiansky’s career has spanned nearly four decades and earned him several AAA diamonds. Porubiansky has a deeply engrained love of fresh ingredients, personal relationships with farmers, and years of experience in German and French kitchens that contribute to his amazing cuisine. This is prevalent in the development of Century House Tavern’s menu.
Chef Anne Quatrano has always felt drawn to the energy of a professional restaurant, starting by following her grandmother around the kitchen to spending summers working at restaurants. Going to culinary school in San Francisco, she and her future husband, Harrison, both found their famous philology. They unsuccessfully tried their luck in New York. After moving to Georgia, they found the space to begin their restaurant, Bacchanalia, and created the term “Farm to table,” which has become a household expression. Now, she and Harrison work together to manage their six restaurants.
After working in the restaurant business for 30 years, Chef Kevin Rathbun opened his first restaurant, Rathbun’s, in 2004. Krog Bar followed in 2005, and Kevin Rathbun Steak opened in 2007. Rathbun’s impressive resume includes working with many famous chefs including Emeril Lagasse and Bradley Ogden. Rathbun’s was named as one of the top new restaurants in the country by Esquire Magazine. Rathbun is on the board for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and philanthropy is very important to him. He and all of his restaurants proudly donate to many charitable organizations.
Chef Keith Remes was the kind of person that wanted to work in a professional kitchen, but no one would hire because he didn’t have any experience. Therefore, when he moved to Maine in 2010, he wrote a fake resume and went around applying to nice restaurants until an old-school French steakhouse hired him. Three days later, Keith was exposed but was allowed to stay on because of his enthusiasm. Thus, he started to learn. Then he returned to Atlanta and worked at the Local Three for several years. Keith now works at 8Arm and loves it.
Chef Todd Richards is originally from the Midwest and moved to Atlanta in 1993. Chef Richards’ love for food stemmed from watching cooking shows on television with his grandmother on Saturday mornings. He came from a family with a self proclaimed food culture so it makes a lot of sense that he has such natural talents. Chef Richards later earned a spot as a semi-finalist in 2013 for the James Beard Award Best Chef Southeast. Richards also has a blog you can check out here!
Chef Matthew Ridgway’s cooking experience began at the age of 12 working at his cousin’s bakery in Pennsylvania and since then, he has always wanted to be in the kitchen. Matthew attended Johnson & Wales Culinary School, and afterwards, he traveled and worked everywhere to gain experience. He has been to The Eastside Oyster Bar and Grill, The Four Fountain Room, Lacroix at The Rittenhouse, George V, and Relais St. Victoire in Aix. Ridgway was able to earn a 2004 StarChefs Rising Stars Award at Lacroix. Now, he is back in Atlanta and is working at Cooks & Soldiers.
Originally from Georgia, Chef Roberts’s approach to cooking is influenced by global cuisine with a focus on Spanish items. He is known for an eclectic style that keeps a fresh approach to food. He likes to keep with the traditional Spanish style tapas while using as much locally sourced in Georgia, organic food to recreate these flavors. In 2014, he joined the team and worked his way up to Executive Chef status of today. This chef wants his team to express their creativity and bring new ideas to the table. Prior, he worked several restaurants in the Atlanta area including Tomas, NAVA, Park Café, and Buckhead Diner.
Chef Dave Roberts is a true smoking and barbecue expert. Chef Roberts is the owner and executive chef of Community Q BBQ in Decatur. Community Q BBQ quickly became a local favorite and built a following thanks to Chef Roberts fall off the bone smoking skills. Chef Roberts honed his skills at BBQ 1 with Sam Buff before opening the beloved Decatur establishment. Not only famous for his BBQ, Chef Roberts is noted for creating his well loved mac and cheese recipe. This delicious dishes consists of thick rigatoni noodles and a blend of parmesan, cheddar, and monterey jack.
Chef Aaron Russell is a world-class pastry chef. He has served in this position in many restaurants in the city including Restaurant Eugene, Nikolai’s Roof, The Dining Room, and Seeger’s. During his time as a pastry chef, he earned a Rising Star Chef award and is a 5-time James Beard nominee. Now Russell owns Poor Hendrix with his wife Jamie. They named the restaurant after their rescue dog, and it is located in East Lake. Poor Hendrix has a casual, intimate setting, and the menu features several great desserts from Russell including salted brown butter rice crispy treats and a creme brulee of the day.
Chef Nick Rutherford hails from Seattle, Washington where he earned his culinary degree from the Art Institute of Seattle. He left Seattle with culinary degree in hand and began working with the Ritz-Carlton in New York City honing his skills. He was recruited by internationally renowned chef Guenter Seeger to work as his sous chef in Atlanta. Chef Rutherford took the opportunity and moved to Atlanta where he met his wife Molly while working at Seeger’s. Nick is now co-owner and executive chef The Porter Beer Bar.
Chef Anthony Sanders started his cooking career by attending the Culinary Institute of Florida. He trained to become a fine-dining chef and has worked with Fifth Group and Buckhead Life. He has also been the executive chefs for Cafe Circa and for Barteca Restaurant Group. Now, he owns a restaurant called the Atlanta Breakfast Club. While you may think this is far from what Sanders trained for, the Atlanta Breakfast Club is the type of place that use finer technique then what you normally see for breakfast. And they are proud to announce that they just won the Jezebel 2018 Best Breakfast of Atlanta Award.
Chef Hector Santiago is from Puerto Rico which is where he started his cooking career. He graduated from the University of Puerto Rico before he left to attend the Culinary Institute of America. Afterwards, he started working at the Manhattan Ocean Club. He has also worked at Stony Hill Inn, Heartland Brewery, Peasant Restaurants, and Duex Plex. In 2001, he opened his own restaurant Pura Vida, a Latin restaurant, which recently closed. In past years, he has won awards for Rising Star Chef, James Beard nominee, and many more. He has started on Top Chef, and opened another restaurant called El Super Pan in 2015.
Chef Steven Satterfield studied music and majored in architecture at Georgia Tech. He founded Miller Union in 2009, and it has been featured on many national lists ever since. In 2015, Satterfield released his first cookbook, Root to Leaf, and it was a huge success. He is involved in many organizations including Chef’s Collaborative, Slow Food Atlanta, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance. In 2017, Satterfield won the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Southeast award. In addition, Miller Union was recently named by Eater National as one of the best restaurants in the country.
Parnass Lim Savang is the chef of a pop up restaurant that just debuted last April called Talat Market, located at Candler Park’s Gato Bizco serving authentic Thai food with locally sourced ingredients. Chef Savang has a strong resume featuring Atlantan favorites: Staplehouse, Kimball House, and Empire State South. He was also voted Eater’s Chef of the Year in 2017, and he was a 2018 Rising Star Chef semifinalist for James Beard. The unique thing about his chef is that he didn’t start out liking to cook; his parents always did it. It was later when he was in college that he began his culinary interests.
Chef Jeff Sellers is a true testament to the saying “hard work pays off”. Starting as a line cook with Leon’s Full Service in 2008, his dedication and passion earned him the role of kitchen manager in 2010. By 2014, Sellers was promoted to Sous Chef and is now Executive Chef. Seller’s attended Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta honing his passions and building this skillset. He’s utilized these skills to elevate the kitchen program at Leon’s, including preserving and fermentation methods. He also won “Sausage King of Atlanta” in 2011 via 5 Seasons Brewing Company.
A keystone in Atlanta’s food scene, Chef Scott Serpas is known for his unique style of Southern food with a Louisiana kick. Both Serpas and his restaurant have gathered much deserved attention from the James Beard Foundation, Gourmet, GQ, and Food & Wine. Serpas True Food is exactly what its name says, a true food approach to cuisine, but of course with a little flair added (Louisiana style). While he isn’t from Atlanta and didn’t start his culinary life here, his resume includes Atlanta favorites, such as, Chef Kevin Rathbun, NAVA, Sia’s, Mitra in Midtown, and TWO Urban Licks.
Chef William Sigley began his culinary career in Las Vegas; while there, he worked under Wolfgang Puck and Todd English. He and his business partner Jason Sheetz opened Hammock’s Trading Company in 2012, and Under the Cork Tree followed after in 2016. Hammock’s Trading Company earned 3 stars from the AJC, and Sigley said that the motto at Hammock’s is “underpromise and overdeliver.” The grouper sandwich at Hammock’s won the title of Best Sandwich in Atlanta in 2014. Under the Cork Tree features a Mediterranean menu.
This chef received a Best Chef of the Southeast nomination for the James Beard Foundation in 2017. Staplehouse was named America’s Best Restaurant in 2016 by Bon Appetit magazine. He creates easily recognizable dishes, which are beautiful to look at, with a flavor that adds a little twist of pleasant surprise. Staplehouse was started due to hardship of life; a loved one was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer. Staplehouse is a subsidiary of the Giving Kitchen. All profit after taxes goes to this cause, originally starting with Team Hidi and now helping many in the food and restaurant industry facing hardship.
Growing up in New Jersey, Chef Anthony Spina learned pizza making at his Uncle David’s side. There he became an expert at making simple, handcrafted pizza – New Jersey style, meaning a thin crust with a little bit of a chew. He makes everything from scratch and from family recipes, only using quality ingredients to get that great flavor. Another thing that makes his pizza stand out is its rectangular shape. This restaurant is nothing fancy, and he is proud that customers won’t ever come here expecting to find something trendy.
Chef Brian So is from Kennesaw, but he left to attend the Culinary Institute of America in New York. After graduating, he began gaining experience by working at The Breakers in Palm Beach and then in San Franciso. He returned to the South to begin his own restaurant, his life long goal. It may have taken a while, but he eventually found the perfect place to house his restaurant, Spring. Chef So is also a James Beard 2018 Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists, so he is definitely one to watch.
Growing up in Boston Massachusetts, Chef John Spotkill was taught how to cook by his mother and grandmother. He earned a degree in Culinary Arts from The Art Institue of Atlanta. He knows and loves Southern food. Spotkill has over 18 years of culinary experience, including serving as a Chef at Room at Twelve Centennial Park. Spotkill was also the former Executive Chef at South City Vinings before taking over the same position at the Midtown location. Spotkill “keeps South City Kitchen Midtown’s trailblazing kitchen on the cutting edge of modern Southern cuisine.”
Chef Zeb Stevenson didn’t start off as a chef. He attended Cornell as a art major. However, Zeb thrived as a young sous chef at Dick & Harry’s restaurant and continually honed his skills. He continued by becoming the executive sous chef at Spice Market and trained under Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of the world’s best chefs. Then he worked at The Livingston as chef de cuisine and worked with Gary Mennie before he was promoted to executive chef. While working there, he participated and won Food Network’s “Chopped” cooking. Now, he is at the Watershed on Peachtree.
Chef Jarrett Stieber is a true rule breaker and we love it. His amazing skill set in the kitchen, along with this sense of humor and comical wit have earned him a loyal following in the Atlanta food community. Prior to his fate in the pop-up realm, you could find him in a series of hit spots around the city. Cheg Stieber worked stints at well-loved restaurants Pura Vida and Abattoir and city staples Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch Public House, and Empire State South before launching his weekend pop-up Eat Me Speak Me in 2013.
Chef Jay Swift started in the restaurant business at 14, but he didn’t decided to follow his passion until finishing two and a half years of college. He graduated first in his class from the American Culinary Federation Apprenticeship Program and worked under Chef Rudy Speckman. Afterwards, he started moving. He has worked at the Mayflower Hotel, the 21 Federal, Biba, Polo Grill and Windows, Foley’s Fish House, and South City Kitchen. He is now at Noble Fin which serves modern American comfort food while highlighting seasonal changes for the freshest ingredients possible.
Chef Taylor started working in restaurants at the age of 15, and from there he cultivated a love for perfectly smoked meat. He met his wife and co-Chef Jiyeon Lee while working as a Sous Chef at Repast in Atlanta. The idea to open their own restaurant came about when Chef Lee was asked to host a food show in South Korea focused on rural food. The cooking techniques were different but similar to BBQ Chef Taylor had grown up with. So they opened their first restaurant Sobban, which was a hit before closing but nowhere near the fandom-following that Heirloom Market now commands.
Chef Mel Toledo began his culinary career by attending the California Culinary Academy and by working at Roy’s, a Hawaiian fusion restaurant. However, he is the type of person that wants to experience cooking every type of food, so after graduating, he has worked at Chef Boulud’s in NYC, at Atlanta’s own Bachanalia, at six different restaurants in France, and then at Home Restaurant and 5 Seasons Brewery in Atlanta. It wasn’t until 2014 that Mel decided to open up his own restaurant, Foundation Social Eatery, with his wife, Sandy, and settled down in the Atlanta Area to give his customers an experience of a lifetime.
Chef Doug Turbush said that “[s]ourcing locally has been core to my approach to food since I began cooking.” After earning degrees from The University of Wisconsin in Stout and The Culinary Institute of America, Turbush worked in Minneapolis at Goodfellows under Stephen Pyles. He also spent time cooking in Thailand and Mexico. He worked at Nava under Kevin Rathbun, and he also served as Executive Chef at Bluepointe. Turbush opened his first restaurant Seed in 2011, and it specializes in modern American cuisine. Turbush also owns Stem Wine Bar and Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar.
Chef Gus Tselios owns the Marietta Family Restaurants which include Marietta Fish Market, Marietta Diner, Pasta Bella, Casa Grande, Yeero Village, and Cherokee Cattle Co. He opened Marietta Diner in 1995, and this restaurant has become a staple in Metro Atlanta. It was also featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, bringing Tselios to national fame. Marietta Fish Market opened in 2008, and Tselios received help from restauranteur friends such as George Sarris and his own Uncle John. Marietta Fish Market was also featured on the Animal Planet series Tanked in 2015.
Chef Riccardo Ullio is originally from Milan, Italy. He moved to Atlanta when he was a teenager, and he attended Georgia Tech and earned a degree in environmental engineering. Instead of moving forward with his engineering career, Ullio packed his bags and went back to Italy to learn about traditional Italian cooking methods. Since returning from Italy, Ullio has opened five restaurants in Atlanta over the last 24 years: they have earned numerous awards, and in 2007, became U.S. certified by the Verace Pizza Napolentana Association for serving authentic Neapolitan pizzas.
Chef Suzanee Vizethann grew up eating differently from her friends because of her parents, aunt, and German nanny. Thus, her hobby growing up was recreating recipes from Food Network, but it wasn’t until graduating from the University of South Carolina that she decided to attend the Art Institute of Atlanta. In 2008, Suzanne opened the Hungry Peach. Eventually, she was invited to participate in Chopped where she won. With the money, Suzanee was able to open a new store called Buttermilk Kitchen in 2012 where she was featured on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives”.
Lawrenceville native Chef Jordan Wakefield, the former executive chef at Meehan’s, opened Smoke Ring BBQ in 2013 with his wife Erin, who is also the bar manager. Wakefield attended Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta and completed an externship at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. His impressive resume includes working as a line cook at Spice Market under chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and as Executive Sous Chef at Food 101. In addition, Wakefield has also competed on and won Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games and competed on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay.
British Chef Ian Winslade began at 22 at New York’s Le Bernardin, training in French cuisine. Recruited to Santa Monica, he immersed himself in multicultural cuisine. Winslade moved to Atlanta in 1994 and has been a mainstay in the dining scene ever since. He’s worked in Atlanta’s most recognized institutions, including Bluepointe, Spice Market, Market by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Murphy’s, where he served as Executive Chef for 6 years. Mission + Market bridges the training of his early career with the global influences and produce-driven culinary approach he experienced on the west coast.
Chef Hilary White grew up in a rural area of Shelby, Ohio surrounded by farms producing amazing fresh produce. This created a love for fresh ingredients and influenced how Chef White thought about cuisine. Chef White spent years traveling through the United States, Caribbean, Central and South America learning different types of foods, preparations, and cultures. With the combination of her experience in travel and her strong education from Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, she produces delicacies that you must taste!
Chef Amy Wong (left) has been cooking as long as she can remember. She began her cooking career selling street-style noodles in Malaysia working hard and growing her love for cooking. Chef Wong has spent years honing her skill set and growing her experience in various types of Asian cuisines. In her own words, Food Terminal is the “is the culmination of her life story.” The menu shows the story of her decades of cooking experience from Grandma’s BBQ pork to Hainanese Chicken.
He grew up in the restaurant industry, with his parents owning one of the first Cantonese restaurants in Atlanta. While he might have learned a lot from his parents, he went his own way. After studying in Japan, this chef became comfortable with working in a broad spectrum of Asian cuisines. In 2009, he opened Miso Izakaya, creating Japanese style tapas and sushi in a modern way. He has opened and closed several other restaurants; however, Le Fat still remains a thriving favorite for those looking for a little more traditional, upscale Vietnamese food.
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