Chef and Owner Gerry Klaskala
- Gerry Klaskala
- Chef and Owner
Chef Gerry Klaskala’s perpetual passion for food and art has brought him much success throughout his career and now serves as the underlying theme of his menu at Aria. Klaskala’s goal as executive chef and owner of the award-winning Atlanta restaurant is to leave his guests both fulfilled and intrigued at every visit.
Klaskala’s fascination with art began with painting, but soon turned culinary when he found the same artistic fulfillment at his first job cooking at a local kitchen. Klaskala then went on to pursue his education at the Culinary Institute of America, where he graduated with honors. After finishing school, Klaskala left New York and went to work in Boston and then Savannah, where he spent ten years with the Hyatt Hotels Corporation. His natural talent and dedication to his craft soon paid off as he quickly climbed the culinary ladder, holding executive chef positions at three different hotels. Klaskala then made the bold move to Atlanta where he joined Buckhead Life Restaurant Group as the executive chef at The Buckhead Diner. It was there that his talents really came to fruition. Klaskala was able to find a beautiful balance between his well-honed cooking techniques and his restaurant management skills, creating a fan following among Atlanta diners. This success allowed Klaskala to pursue his new passion for finding and using products grown with the utmost integrity.
Even after earning national praise for his work at The Buckhead Diner, Klaskala wanted something he could truly call his own. He decided to take a chance and left his successful reign at Buckhead Life Restaurant Group to open Canoe, one of Atlanta’s most celebrated restaurants where Klaskala remains an owner to this day. Canoe’s favorable reception enabled him to advance his endeavors even further with the opening of Aria in 2000.
Klaskala’s concept for Aria brought him back to the very thing that his whole career is based on: his love of art. Klaskala’s vision was almost that of an artist opening their own gallery, somewhere he could showcase his own culinary creations while also evolve as a chef. Because of Klaskala’s bold concept at Aria, he has become a recognized and respected voice on the national dining scene. His award-winning cuisine has been featured in highly-acclaimed publications like Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Esquire, Food & Wine, The New York Times, Southern Living, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Zagat. Klaskala has also made a variety of television appearances including The Today Show, Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, FOX Good Day Atlanta and CBS Better Mornings.
Aria marked its 10th anniversary this year, and even after the economy’s recent downfall, Klaskala and his staff still have so much to celebrate. In fact, Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s food critic awarded the restaurant five stars in February 2010, making Aria one of only five Atlanta restaurants to receive this distinction. Aria was also ranked #3 in Jezebel magazine’s 2010 “100 Best Restaurants” survey, along with “Best Romantic Dinner” and “Best Plate Presentation,” and Klaskala was named “Chef of the Year” in the magazine’s April 2010 issue. Over the course of his career, Klaskala has also received the DiRoNA award, Mobil Travel Guide Three Stars, AAA Four Diamond for 10 years in a row and the Culinary Award of Excellence from Robert Mondavi Winery, in addition to having both of his restaurants, Aria and Canoe, named “Best New Restaurant” by Esquire magazine.
When he is not working at Aria, Klaskala donates his time to numerous food and wine events such as Boca Bacchanal, St. Croix Food & Wine Festival and the Charleston Food & Wine Festival. Klaskala is also a founding chef of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and a member of the Vidalia® Onion Committee’s Chefs Advisory Board. His participation in these events benefits organizations such as the Atlanta Community Food Bank, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Boca Raton Historical Society, Georgia Organics, High Museum of Art, Share Our Strength and Southface, among others.