5 Atlanta Award-Winning Chefs Tell How They Master the Holidays

We asked four local chefs how and where they like to spend their holidays in Atlanta.

If you ask us, there’s no better time to be an expert in the kitchen than during the feast-filled holiday season—which is precisely why we grilled four local gourmands about their holiday traditions, and begged another to give us a spicy recipe that will dazzle our dinner guests.

Chef Pano Karatassos, Kyma, Buckhead, Georgia

Treats and Retreats

Chef Pano Karatassos helms the kitchen at Kyma, a Mediterranean hotspot in Buckhead. Chef Karatassos works tirelessly to serve up the most exquisite octopus dish in Atlanta, so when the holidays roll around, he takes some much-needed time off with his family.

“My family kicks off the holiday season by traveling together to our mountain house in the Highlands where we cook a huge meal for Thanksgiving dinner,” said the chef, adding: "On our way back home, we stop at a local farm where all the grandkids pick out a Christmas tree for us to chop down and decorate back in Atlanta that night."

The celebrations continue in Atlanta for Christmas when the Karatassos family partakes in a local tradition.

“There’s nothing better than [our] holiday tradition of ice skating at the St. Regis and dining at Astor Court, overlooking the hotel lobby. It’s fun watching [my kids] down hot chocolate and burgers as a holiday treat, while I enjoy a glass of wine and grilled fish.”

Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta, Georgia

H&F Holidays

”We love the world of holiday traditions,” said Chef Linton Hopkins, who has become a magnate of sorts in Atlanta’s dining scene.

Hopkins’ local footprint began with Restaurant Eugene, which is still one of the most-respected establishments in the metro region. He has since added Holeman and Finch (with its famous burgers), H&F Burger (dedicated to those aforementioned patties) and Linton’s (the first full-service restaurant inside the Atlanta Botanical Garden) to his roll-call of restaurants.

This family-oriented chef keeps things simple for the holidays.

“The best place for us is at home or in one of our restaurants,” he said. “This Thanksgiving, we are having our extended family over to eat at Holeman and Finch. Roast turkey and all the fixings.”

For Hopkins, that means oyster dressing, buttermilk yeast rolls and the Southern staples that are collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread.

Lucky for us, Linton’s and Restaurant Eugene are serving special menus on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24).

Chef Steven Satterfield, Miller Union, Atlanta, Georgia

A Bountiful Feast

Chef Steven Satterfield is Atlanta’s uncontested vegetable virtuoso. In fact, the award-winning chef published a cookbook titled “Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons,” based on his predilection for fresh produce.

True to his reputation, Satterfield celebrates Thanksgiving by feasting on the season’s bounty.

“We usually celebrate Thanksgiving at my sister’s home here in Atlanta,” said the acclaimed chef, whose Miller Union is considered one of the city’s best restaurants, especially when it comes to robust and flavorful vegetable dishes. “I always bring lots of vegetable sides and a brined turkey to dip into my turkey fryer, while my brother-in-law smokes his turkey in his mac-daddy smoker. There's lots of wine flowing and we have at least three types of pie."

And since we all can’t join Satterfield and his family for this mouthwatering Thanksgiving dinner, we’ll have to opt for a meal at Miller Union instead.

Chef Joey Stallings, Sweet Auburn Barbecue, Atlanta, Georgia

Stallings Style

For Chef Joey Stallings, who heads up the smoky and sizzling kitchen at Sweet Auburn Barbecue, the holidays are a time when his large family gathers over potlucks and family-style feasts.

“For Christmas, I usually roast off a whole New York strip loin, and for Thanksgiving they get to enjoy a 24-hour, sous-vide, whole turkey.”

But Stallings doesn’t stop celebrating when dinner is done. He recommends stopping by The Local, Atkins Park, Corner Tavern and The Vortex, where, according to Stallings, you’ll be greeted by a host of welcoming bartenders and ever-flowing booze. Sign us up!

Chef Scott Serpas, Serpas Restaurant, Atlanta, Georgia

Chef Serpas’ Cajun Dressing

Tackle Thanksgiving dinner like a pro with this Cajun recipe from Chef Scott Serpas (chef-owner of Serpas).

Ingredients 

3 medium eggplants, peeled and large diced

10 ounces Andouille sausage

3 ounces butter, divided

1 onion, small diced

3 celery stalks w/inner leaves, small diced

3 teaspoons garlic, minced

1 pound shrimp

3 teaspoons fresh oregano

2 teaspoons fresh parsley

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Tabasco

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs, divided

1 cup Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Blanch the eggplant in a large pot of salted, boiling water for 15 minutes. Set the eggplant aside to drain for 20-30 minutes.

Brown the sausage in a pot over medium-high heat. Set the sausage aside.

In the same pot used to brown the sausage, add two ounces of butter and the celery and onions. Sauté for two to three minutes over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the drained eggplant and turn heat to low. Stir the mixture and cover for 15 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook for three minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (browned sausage, 3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Tabasco, herbs, and salt and pepper). Cook for two to three minutes.

Spread mixture evenly in a 9 inch-by-12 inch casserole dish. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs and small pats of butter. Bake for 20 minutes in an oven that's been preheated to 350 degrees. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Michelle Khouri
About the author

Michelle serves as the Atlanta editor and Read Michelle's full bio