Where the Chefs Eat: Wrecking Bar Brewpub’s Terry Koval

May 19, 2017 Beth McKibben

Ever wonder where your favorite local chefs love to chow down? Us, too. Thus Eater Atlanta gives you its Go-To Guide — your chef's guide to Atlanta, the Southeast, and beyond.

“Eat everything and waste nothing.” It’s a practice Wrecking Bar Brewpub chef Terry Koval not only preaches via his Twitter bio, but follows in his personal and professional kitchens.

An advocate of sustainable farming and cooking, Koval doesn’t hide his passion for locally grown food or for the farmers who raise the crops delivered weekly to the Wrecking Bar kitchen. He travels regularly out to the restaurant’s farm, Wrecking Barn, 35 miles east of Atlanta in Loganville to check the progress of the crops and get reports from farm manager Rachel Hennon. Koval keeps the menu at Wrecking Bar as seasonal as possible. It’s an important component to his cooking philosophy.

His commitment to local food doesn’t end with the farm in Loganville. Koval can often be found purchasing meats, cheeses, and vegetables from the various farmers markets around town when he is able, including regular Saturday morning shopping trips to Freedom Farmers Market. Few chefs in Atlanta have embraced the slow-food movement as fervently and with as much conviction as Koval.

Food has always been a big part of the chef’s life. Growing up he often cooked breakfast for his family on the weekends and began working in restaurants as a teenager in Greenville, South Carolina. Koval moved to Atlanta in 2000 to work at Buckhead Diner before becoming the executive sous chef at Canoe. Over the past 17 years, he has worked stints at Room at Twelve and Farm Burger. But it was in 2013 that his culinary training and passion for slow food finally came together at Wrecking Bar. These days, he parlays his food passions beyond the kitchen working with organizations like Wholesome Wave and Slow Food Atlanta, as well as serving on the chef’s board for Georgia Organics.

Koval’s genuine commitment to all things local and seasonal is what has endeared him to his fellow chefs, as well as restaurant patrons who visit Wrecking Bar for the beer but stay for the food.

Weekend breakfast

Typically you can find me at the Freedom Farmers Market almost every Saturday picking up veggies and grabbing a bite from the chef pop-up tent. Always a treat and always amazing. But for Sundays, Rising Son is our family ‘hood spot.

Quickie lunch

I could only wish that Fred's (at Krog Street Market) wasn't right down the street from Wrecking Bar. That grinder. Seriously, I can’t stop.

Barbecue joint

I love me some Fox Bros. smoked wings on a quick get-out from the restaurant during a long day at work, as we are neighbors. But for dinner, Community Q is our neighborhood choice. Always amazing. The mac and cheese is to die for — just get more than what you think you need.

Casual dinner
Staplehouse. It's all about the vibes.

International restaurant
My daughter Olivia and I love us some Sunday morning dim sum at Canton House.

Late-night snack
Milk and cookies.

Cocktail/ beer of choice
Wrecking Bar beer, of course! Stop in and get your growler.

Fancy dinner
Bacchanalia.

Home-cooked meal
My wife's pan-fried pork chops and smashed potatoes.

Top five Atlanta restaurants not mentioned above
Empire State South
Ticonderoga Club
Kimball House
BoccaLupo
8 Arm

Out-of-town fave (regional)
Five and Ten in Athens.

Out-of-town fave (national)
Blue Hill (NYC). Such a friendly, unpretentious vibe with outstanding food.

Out-of-the-whole-country fave
Brasserie Stadhuis in Schiedam, Netherlands. An awesome spot to have pints and good food with some great friends in a historic area.

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