Pano I. Karatassos ’96, Executive Chef
Pano I. Karatassos is executive chef of Kyma, Atlanta’s most exciting Greek restaurant concept. A celebrated young talent in the culinary industry, he has made significant contributions to his family’s business, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, and to fine dining throughout the country.
Prior to assuming his current role, Chef Karatassos worked at prestigious restaurants around the U.S. He spent one year as saucier under Thomas Keller at the Michelin 3-star French Laundry in the Napa Valley and two years as saucier for Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the Michelin 3-star Jean-Georges in New York City. He then spent two and a half years under Eric Ripert at the Michelin 3-star Le Bernardin, also in New York City, where he completed every kitchen station and finished as tournant. Prior to his training in California and New York, Chef Karatassos learned the fundamentals of cooking in his father’s Atlanta, GA restaurants, from Pano’s & Paul’s to The Fish Market at Lenox Square to 103 West. He earned his degree in hospitality management from Florida International University in 1993 and in culinary arts from The Culinary Institute of America in 1996.
Today, at Kyma, Chef Karatassos is internationally known for his modern take on Greek cuisine. Kyma, which means “wave” in Greek, opened in December 2001. Just a short time later, it garnered much attention, beginning with Esquire restaurant critic John Marianni, who in 2002 named Kyma one of the top 20 restaurants in the country. Since then, it has been featured in publications such as “Food & Wine”, “Food Arts”, “Gourmet”, “Wine Spectator”, “Wine Enthusiast”, “Nation’s Restaurant News”, “Cooking Light”, and “In Style”. For three consecutive years, The “Atlanta Journal-Constitution” named Kyma one of its top 10 restaurants and to this day recognizes it with a four-star rating.
Noted authors of Greek cookbooks, celebrated food critics, and television hosts alike have shown great support for Chef Karatassos’s cuisine. He has cooked with both Diane Kochilas and Susanna Hoffman at the restaurant and abroad. Following Ms. Kochilas’s first visit to Kyma in 2002, she featured it in Ta Nea, the largest Greek newspaper, as well as Odyssey, a Greek magazine. In addition, David Rosengarten of The Rosengarten Report called Kyma “the best Greek restaurant in America.”
Chef Karatassos served as one of four national spokespeople for the American Lamb Board in 2003 and was selected as the featured guest chef for both the acclaimed Telluride Food & Wine Festival in 2004 and the Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation event in Baltimore in 2005. The following year, he served as guest chef at the esteemed Epcot Food & Wine Festival in Orlando.
In 2007, Chef Karatassos was the only American chef hand-selected by the Greek export organization Keresma as the featured chef of the Santé Restaurant Symposium in Vermont, guest chef and panelist for the Aspen Food and Wine Festival, and for the second annual Keresma conference in Crete. At that conference, he and other Greek chefs from around the world worked with the likes of guest chef Gordon Ramsey to enhance knowledge of Greek cuisine. Chef Karatassos participates in a variety of community fund-raising efforts for organizations such as Share Our Strength, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and the March of Dimes.