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Meet the Chefs Behind Deer and the Dove!

There's good reason that Decatur's Deer and the Dove was noted by the James Beard Foundation, the Michelin Guide, and more this past year–Chef Terry Koval and pastry chef Chris Marconi are masters of the art of food.

You won't want to miss the two very special Deer and the Dove meal kits that we have on the menu right now: Chef Terry Koval's Trout with coconut rice, bok choy, and coconut sambol and Chef Chris Marconi's Flourless Chocolate Cake with strawberry compote and whipped cream. Have these kits delivered on Sunday 2/11 or Monday 2/12, just in time to celebrate Valentine's Day with a romantic dinner in.

We asked Terry and Chris a few questions about Deer and the Dove, cooking and more–keep reading to learn more! 

A chat with Terry Koval, chef and owner of Deer and the Dove.

Tell us about Deer and the Dove! When did you open the restaurant? What were your inspirations? 

My wife and I opened The Deer and The Dove and BSIDE in June of 2019, (a hell of a year to open your dream restaurant) Our inspirations were cooking with fire, game meats and wild game.

Where does the name Deer and the Dove come from? 

My wife Jenn named the restaurant after our spirit animals - I'm the deer and she is the dove. Eerily fitting as my dad was an avid hunter of deer.

Why Decatur? 

Decatur has been our home and community for the past 19 years, when the opportunity came it only made sense!

How would you describe your food philosophy, in 5 words or less? 

Honest sourcing / respecting the ingredients

2023 was a big year for you and Deer and the Dove! (Congratulations!) What was it like to earn both a James Beard Award and a Michelin Guide recommendation in such a short time span?

Completely crazy and unexpected; it has truly been quite the year and our team has been phenomenal in adjusting to the influx of guests.

Can you tell us about B-Side and your upcoming restaurant / amaro bar, Fawn? 

BSIDE is our a.m. gig, a coffee and bagel shop. Connected to Deer and Dove, from 8am to 3:00. We are known for our hand rolled, wood fired bagels we make daily in our wood fire oven. We also serve coffee, espresso, lattes and other seasonal specialty drinks. Not to mention we have an amazing sandwich selection - all crafted with the same ethos as The Deer and The Dove. Our pastry chef, Chris Marconi AKA Bones, fills the pastry case with all her amazing sweet to savory pastries and cakes. Bones and her team also prepare all the fresh breads for BSIDE and The Deer and The Dove. You can also find all these amazing things at the Freedom Farmers Market every Saturday at the Carter Center.

For FAWN, we are focusing on volcanic terroir wines and amaros. Our Beverage Director, Matt Watkins, will be heading up the drink menu. Food will be centered around a more coastal vibe with a lot of fresh seafood and focused on smaller plates and desserts.

If you weren’t a chef, what else would you be doing right now? 

Either washing dishes at the beach or cooking bbq in the mountains, ha ha. I really don't know, cooking is all I know.


A chat with Chris Marconi, Deer and the Dove's pastry chef.

How did you get into the world of food? Did you always know you wanted to be a pastry chef?

I’d just moved to Atlanta. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I got a boring 9-5 job and a weekend job as a barista. Did that for years without ANY days off! The coffee shop was so fun! Met so many great people there! I eventually quit both jobs to pursue a baking career. I didn’t know I would love it so much. I loved the early mornings, the smells of coffee and bread and croissants, the multi tasking and the way the work day went by in a flash. So I didn’t always know I wanted to bake, but once I got in the kitchen I was hooked! I was 26 by the time I found my passion for baking. 

When did you start at Deer and the Dove? Has the restaurant changed over time?

I started at the Deer and the Dove January 2022. The Deer and the Dove has evolved into a working, running, well oiled machine over time. When I started it was in a transition period…Just coming out of the pandemic, new staff, new chefs, etc. 

What is the one dish you've made that you will always look back on as your favorite?

Can I cheat and say I have two favorite dishes I will always come back to. One is the bourbon chocolate pecan pie w vanilla ice cream because it is a classic and I will always enjoy eating it. I literally never get tired of it. The second is Mississippi mud pie. It’s both pretty, it’s tasty, not too heavy, and it’s a crowd fave.

What is your process like when you're coming up with new seasonal recipes?

My process for coming up with new items isn’t formal. I make note of what’s in season, what did I do last year this time? I ask my staff if they’re excited about a certain dish to try out. I look through old and new cookbooks and magazines. I google pictures and recipes to get the ball rolling a bit. I look through Instagram hashtags. From there I jot down ideas to start working on.

Would you rather spend a weekend baking bread or making cookies?

I think I’d rather spend a weekend making bread. I don’t have a ton of bread baking experience so I feel like that would be more fun.

Do you have any favorite spots to hang out around Atlanta?

I moved to downtown Decatur in 2021 to be close to work and my daughter’s school. I really like staying local. Kimball House will always be one of my faves. I frequently go to Twains with my daughter and her Dad. Butter and Cream of course. Brickstore on a cold wet day because it’s so warm and cozy and familiar. No 246 has perfect Italian food and dessert. Outside of Decatur, I will go to Staplehouse ANYTIME. The food is exceptional. El Rey Del Taco is my jam for Mexican.


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