Chef Pano I. Karatassos ’96, All in the Family

Pano I. Karatassos '96
Photo Caption: (From right) Dr. Tim Ryan, president of The Culinary Institute of America, with I. Pano Karatassos ’60 and Pano I. Karatassos ’96 at commencement ceremonies at the college.

CIA Alumni Bio

Pano I. Karatassos is executive chef of Kyma, Atlanta’s most exciting Greek restaurant concept, and is the executive corporate chef of the family business, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group.

Journeyman Chef

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. 

In September 2018, Chef Karatassos released his first cookbook, Modern Greek Cooking: 100 Recipes for Meze, Entrees, and Desserts. In August 2019, Chef Karatassos competed on the Food Network’s show, Beat Bobby Flay. Chef Pano prepared his Signature Dish, Lamb Pie and defeated Bobby Flay!

Chef Pano I. Karatassos majored in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He is the executive chef at Kyma and the corporate executive chef for Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in Atlanta, GA.