Buckhead restaurants: Tasting Atlanta through the hands of culinary experts

When it comes to fresh food, and high quality ingredients the Atlanta Fish Market and Kyma take great pride in their reputation. Executive chef at Kyma, Pano Karatassos, and Executive chef at the Atlanta Fish Market, Robert Holley, describe their experience at the popular eateries.  



Located in the heart of Buckhead, Kyma prides itself on the dining experience, fresh foods, and Greek authenticity. Photos Submitted | Buckhead Life Restaurant Group

Chef Pano, started his cooking journey at home in the kitchen with his grandmother. Today he is the executive chef for Kyma, a mediterranean seafood restaurant. The inspiration for the restaurant came from Pano’s heritage and experience.

Q: Out of all the restaurants that you’ve worked in what makes Kyma so special or unique?

Pano: What makes Kyma Special to me is the fact that I’m able to be apart of a restaurant that is a part of my heritage.

Q: What sparked your interest in the culinary arts?

Photos Submitted | Buckhead Life Restaurant Group

Pano: The first person that ever taught me how to cook was my grandmother, and she lived with us ever since I was eight years old, and was with me up until I was 23. She ran our kitchen at home like a restaurant, always going to the grocery store to purchase something for today and  tomorrow,she was always cooking something for that day, but also something for the next. She had a litte cycle, and I learned how to taste with her and how to cook with her.  So that was an important part of my life.

Q: How did your previous cooking experience prepare you for being executive chef at Kyma?

Pano: Working for a great restaurant owner like my father or great chefs like Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller taught me cooking at the highest possible level. At the time those guys where top chefs in the world, and still are today. So learning how to cook at the highest level, and then forming a creative aspect, of what it takes, to put a dish together, while bringing what I learned with my grandmother. Prepared me for cooking at that level. I learned the french techniques, and foundation that helped me create a cuisines at Kyma that is super high-in, fun and casual.

Q: What are some things that you take into consideration when selecting Ingredients?

Pano: Our menu is changed on a weekly basis, we keep a lot of the same standards on there, because that’s what people expect when they come here.There are a couple of things that continue to stay on the menu, and we have to source top products, for instance if I’m serving tomatoes in December they have to be top notch so we spend a lot of time on sourcing and ingredients.

Q: How does the community contribute to the growth of the restaurant?

Pano: Buckhead has changed since we opened, and people were driving from all around atlanta to dine at the restaurant. We have a great following that dines here at the restaurant, we know our area and we cater to them.

Q: What makes Kyma stand out from other restaurants?

Photos Submitted | Buckhead Life Restaurant Group

Pano: I think the standard appetizer, entere and dessert style restaurant is boring, compared to a restaurant that promotes sharing in the middle of the table. I think people appreciate that they can come here and have a lot of fun trying appetizers. You’re going to have a three course, seven taste meal at Kyma, and you’re going to leave here with seven taste in your mouth and seven different foods, as opposed to three from at traditional restaurant.

Q: What can guest expect?

Pano: There’s two types of dining here, there’s the formal dining room which is super high in full of the best of greece, from the greek products like the olive oils , yogurts and whole fish. Then there is a more casual style atmosphere in our octopus lounge, portions and prices are smaller, but there is still the super high quality.

Q: What’s Kymas signature dish?

Pano: The octopus is a staple food item at Kyma. We always say that we introduced Atlanta to octopus, we may not be the first restaurant to put octopus on the menu, but we’re definitely the first restaurant where every single table gets octopus. We’ve had a great run with many dishes, implementation of seasonal dishes such as the calamari pasta, oven baked halibut with cauliflower salad on top.


The Atlanta Fish Market

Chefs at the Atlanta Fish Market have the luxury of working with fresh seafood of all types that are delivered every day. Photos by Jade Johnson | The Signal

Chef Robert Holley, also known by his nickname, Chef Bobby, has been the head chef at Atlanta fish market since the restaurant first opened. The fish market is the hub for all fresh fish served within the Buckhead restaurant group. Chef Bobby’s experience as executive chef at the Atlanta Fish market has been an exciting experience.

Q: When did you decide to join the culinary arts?

Holley: I’m a native New Yorker, and I was wondering what I was going to do for a living, I was going to college, so I decide to do what I’ve done best and that was cook. I worked at a hospital in the kitchen and then i decided to go to the culinary institute. So I went to the Culinary Institute of America and that was the most fun thing that I’ve ever done. It was a lot of hard work but that was on the the greatest parts of my life.

Q: How would you define the volume at the Atlanta Fish Market?

Holley: This is a large volume business, we have about 55 employees in the kitchen. I can be a lot of stress, but it’s also very rewarding, in the fact that we’re feeding so many people. Im pleased with our accomplishments that the Atlanta Fish Market. Even though I’ve been here 15 years I still like to cook and get my hand in the back. In the evening once everything starts rolling, I have to be the conductor making sure everybody  is doing their part.JAD_8899

Q: What’s your best creation?

Holley: It’s hard to say what my best creation is because I’m always coming up with something different and over the years there is so many of them.

Q: Compared to your prior experience at other restaurants, how would you describe your experience at the fish market?

Holley: Atlanta Fish market is blessed with volume and a lot of fresh product, and I’m probably more spoiled than most chefs because I have the opportunity of all the different sea food coming through the door everyday.
It’s hard to say what’s going to be my greatest creation, but I would like to think that tomorrow will have an  even better creation.

Q: What are some characteristics that make the Atlanta fish market special?

Holley: I think it’s the uniques of the restaurant.The size and flexibility, we can take a party of 12 that has no reservation, and slide a couple of tables together and say ‘you’re in.’ Where as you can get a reservation on a friday night anywhere. We have the fresh fish, it’s exciting and family friendly and something for everyone.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

Holley: It’s an inner feeling, I’m an artist with ingredients that I can do whatever I want with. People are coming to eat at the fish market but their also tasting a little bit of my style. I was taught classical french cuisine, but I get a little risk at times by doing things a little differently. I grew up on Long Island on the coast and it makes it easier for me because we had shrimp clams and oysters as a kid.

Q: What should guest know at the restaurant?

A chef holds a batch of fresh Gulf Red Snappers. Photo by Jade Johnson | The Signal

Holley: We’re in the heart of buckhead, it’s an exciting honor to work here and run this place. The location is great, and the standard that we set is within the seafood and the product. The guest can expect a fresh product properly made, at a reasonable price, with a great portion size, in a fun atmosphere with great service.


Ellen Meyer is a frequent customer and shopper at the Atlanta fish market. For years, Meyer has been going to the retail fish market within the restaurant to satisfy her fresh fish craving.

“In my view this is the freshest fish market in town, and I often have it grilled which is done superbly,” Meyers said


The Facts:

  • Popular menu items at Kyma are: Spinach pies, Lamb Pies and greek salad with fresh tomatoes, cucumber and feta are some
  • Kyma is the greek word for wave
  • Fresh fish is flown in daily to the Atlanta Fish Market
  • There a four sections to the Atlanta is Market; the family or dining room, the bar, the date room, and the retail market where customers can purchase fish to go.
  • The massive statue, located outside the Atlanta Fish Market, is 67 feet.The unique statute is a combination of more than one type of fish.