Katherine Sacks: What made you interested in cooking?
Terry Koval: I started cooking when I was 15; it was just to kind of have a job. As I got older, I was out in San Francisco, and I started to see real farm-to-table food. When I was 24, I decided I was going to do more. I pretty much fell into it, but I knew then this is what I wanted to do.
KS: How do you describe your style as a chef?
TK: I would have to say it’s refined and simple, with fresh ingredients. I use a lot of stuff from the farms. I don’t like to over season; I like clean flavors.
KS: What efforts do you make to run a sustainable restaurant?
TK: All of our beef is all local cows; every bit is raised on Georgia soil. Eighty percent of our vegetables come from local farmers. We store our scraps, and I take them to farmers for compost. And all of our paper products are all biodegradable.
KS: What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do in your career?
TK: It’s a tough question because I really love my job, I love challenges. One time—it was a lot of fun but it was hard—I was the chef at a hotel downtown and this lady flew in from Morocco and made me cook out of this Moroccan cookbook from her mother. It was hard but I loved it. I also had to watch a cow get slaughtered and that was pretty rough.
KS: What are you most proud of?
TK: I’m really proud of this [Rising Stars]. I worked the event in 2007 with Chef Nick Oltarsh, so it is pretty cool that 7 years later I am one of the Rising Star chefs. I’m proud of the job I got too; dealing with all these local farmers, learning about local food, everyday I’m stoked.
KS: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
TK: Something to do with art, maybe a photographer. Or a farmer, I would try to farm.
KS: Where will we find you in five years?
TK: I see myself still working with this team, but in a full service restaurant dealing with more à la carte service.