Thomas Kovacs was born in 1939 in Zrenjanin, Yugoslavia and was educated in Budapest, Hungary. He graduated from culinary school in 1957 in Budapest, and won numerous culinary awards in Hungary and Germany from 1959 to 1962 while he was apprenticing at the Royal Hotel in Budapest, the Münchener Hotel in Frankfurt, the Atlantic in Hamburg, and Piiroska Restaurant in Stuttgart.
In 1964, he immigrated to San Francisco to work as garde-manger at the Fairmont Hotel; then he was on to second cook at the Bohemian Club, working chef at the Ratskeller, and executive chef at Schroeder’s Restaurant, all in San Francisco.
In 1972, he was hired as executive chef at Brennan’s in Dallas and was moved the following year (1973) to New Orleans as the executive chef for Commander’s Palace, which was the beginning of the Brennan family hiring outstanding Great Chefs like Chef Kovacs, followed by Gerhard Brill, Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Shannon, and Tory McPhail.
In 1980, he joined Sheraton Corporation to become opening executive chef for their new properties in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Tokyo, and San Francisco. In 1993, the Princess Hotels brought him to Bermuda as executive chef for one year.
In 1994, General Manager, Yogi Hutsen, of the Sheraton Seattle brought him back into the Sheraton fold, as opening IBU and later as Director of Culinary operations for that facility. It was there that the Great Chefs television crew caught up with Chef Kovacs to tape him for the Discovery Channel’s Great Chefs of America series.
He stayed with Sheraton Seattle until 2004, when he became corporate chef for Noble House, then Coastal Hotel Group, both in Seattle. Chef Kovacs currently consults for Coastal Hotels.