The saying goes, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” But for New York native Todd Immel, success wasn’t a one-city shot. Passionate about food, Immel did avail himself of one of New York State’s culinary treasures, the Culinary Institute of America, to jump start his career. But New York wasn’t his end game, so even as more hopefuls bussed their dreams into the Big Apple, the young chef moved south for a taste of something different.
CIA diploma in hand, Immel headed to Atlanta, spending four years working for Chef Guenter Seeger at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. He then (briefly) headed back to New York to work at Daniel before shooting west to work as a sous chef with the Patina group in Los Angeles. Immel ultimately found his way back to Atlanta, with a hopscotch out of town here or there. He worked once again with Seeger at Mumbo Jumbo and eventually took his first executive chef position at Oscars Restaurant. Next came a stint at Luma on Park in Orlando, Florida, and then Immel’s second executive chef posting back in Atlanta, at Table 1280.
While establishing himself in Atlanta and elsewhere, Immel was still able to travel to Italy and Spain, sparking his love of cured meats. He discovered a true passion for fine charcuterie during his travels, and, wanting to get back to his roots, took a sous chef position at Atlanta’s Bacchanalia. Not long after, he took over the Star Provisions’ Meat Department, where Immel currently cures meats and makes fresh sausages, pâtés, and terrines. And it’s through his dedication and true craftsmanship that Immel has helped turn Star Provisions’ into the go-to source for artisanal meat in Atlanta, which is why he was one of the 2012 Atlanta Rising Stars. (And which is to say, eat your heart out, Big Apple.)
Interview with 2012 Atlanta Rising Star Chef Todd Immel
Antoinette Bruno: How did you get involved with Anne and curing meats at Star Provisions?
Todd Immel: The person doing charcuterie left, and Anne offered it to me. They had just started the charcuterie program; it used to be book room. We started dropping other things we were buying, and now we are doing it all.
AB: What are the most important ingredients in charcuterie?
TI: Salt, pepper, garlic, the meat, and fat.
AB: What is the key to good charcuterie?
TI: Technique. It’s a delicate balance, it’s all based on weights and formulas.
AB: What is the biggest challenge you face?
TI: Dealing with customers. I’m not just behind the scenes but talking with customers everyday. It used to be a challenge in the beginning, but I am getting used to it.
AB: What are you most proud of?
TI: The salumis. They are really really nice, it’s the perfect environment. No one else does it in the city like this.
AB: What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
TI: I don't know that I would do anything else.
AB: Where will we find you in five years?
TI: I want to have my own spot, to get back into cooking. I’d like Italian and Mediterranean influences, a casual place that could be a chef’s hang out.