Chef Terry Koval is bringing home some James Beard Foundation bling after winning best chef: Southeast during the awards ceremony in Chicago.
The James Beard Foundation held its annual restaurant and chef awards ceremony Monday, June 5, in Chicago, and one finalist represented both Atlanta and the state of Georgia this year. Known as the “Oscars” of the food world, restaurant and chef awards are given out annually in categories like best chef: Southeast, outstanding restaurant, best new restaurant, and emerging chef.
Out of the ten 2023 semifinalist chefs and restaurants from Atlanta and Georgia, only Koval from the Deer and the Dove in Decatur landed a spot as a finalist for best chef: Southeast.
Koval being recognized by the James Beard Foundation for his cooking and dedication to the Georgia farmers who grow the ingredients used in his dishes has been a long time coming. Over the last two decades, Koval’s culinary career has taken him all the way to California and back to Georgia, where he worked at Canoe in Buckhead, Farm Burger, and for years at Wrecking Bar Brewpub in Little Five Points.
Koval opened the Deer and the Dove and adjacent cafe B-Side in 2019 just off of Decatur Square. Taking over the former Cakes and Ale space, the Deer and the Dove is where Koval thoughtfully composes dishes weekly made up of in-season vegetables and foraged ingredients, beef and pork from nearby cattle and pig farms, and game meat entrees, like crispy rabbit legs fried in fermented buttermilk, duck sausage roulade, and plates of venison. Koval is known around Atlanta and in Georgia for his ardent support of the slow food movement and using locally grown and foraged ingredients as much as possible, as well as running a low-waste kitchen, creating salads and plates from vegetable and ingredient leftovers many kitchens would simply throw away.
Before the 2023 finalists were announced in March, Ronald Hsu and Aaron Phillips of Lazy Betty, Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor of Heirloom Market BBQ, Sahar Siddiqi of Chai Pani in Decatur, and Deborah VanTrece of Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours were also among the semifinalists for best chef: Southeast.
Other James Beard awards semifinalists from Atlanta this year included Ticonderoga Club for outstanding hospitality, Lyla Lila for outstanding wine program, and Buena Gente Cuban Bakery in Decatur for outstanding bakery. Clinton Gray, Derrick Moore, and Emanuel Reed of Nashville’s Slim and Husky’s Pizza Beeria were also semifinalists for outstanding restaurateur. The trio opened two Atlanta locations of the restaurant on Howell Mill Road and Metropolitan Parkway.
The Grey in Savannah, backed by two-time James Beard award-winning chef Mashama Bailey, was a semifinalist for outstanding restaurant and Unforgettable Bakery and Cafe in Savannah was a semifinalist for outstanding bakery.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards. Eater partnered with the James Beard Foundation to livestream the awards in 2023. All editorial content, including this post, is produced independently of the James Beard Foundation.