Casual by Design will feature more than 60 chefs and culinary experts from throughout the United States and the world. Click on their photos to read about their outstanding careers!
Casual by Design will feature more than 60 chefs and culinary experts from throughout the United States and the world. Click on their photos to read about their outstanding careers!
President, Executive Chef
Rain Restaurant; Chongqing, China
Yongqiao Chen is a Chinese master chef specializing in multiple regional cuisines, including from Sichuan, Hunan, Guangdong, and Hubei. He is a nationally credited (government issued) senior chef, a senior nutritionist, and a senior researcher at the Chongqing Chinese Food Culture Research Institute. His dishes have won awards at food/chef competitions in China and abroad. He learned his Sichuan cuisine skills from renowned master chef Xiaohua Hu and his Cantonese cuisine skills under the mentorship of Fujin Zheng, a Hongkong Michelin two-star restaurant chef. He was the co-founder of several restaurant chains in China, including the Rain Lounge, Fragrant Valley Thai Restaurant, Xiangyu Hunan Cuisine Restaurant, and Xiaoyuanjia Hot Pot. He is now the president and executive chef at Rain Restaurant Co., Ltd.
Technical Director; President
New Ideas Molecular Gastronomy Culinary Center; East Kaiyue Hotel Group; Zhenzhou, China
Hongxiao Guo is a pioneer in China’s molecular gastronomy, considered by some to the godfather in the field. He holds government-issued nationally-credited certificates as a senior technician for both Chinese and Western cuisines. He is an active member in various industry associations, including as executive member of both the Celebrity Chef Committee and the Western Cuisine Committee at the China Hospitality Association and as honorary chair of the China Molecular Gastronomy Association and Les Amis d’Escoffier Society Asia-Pacific Region. He’s won more than 10 gold medals in various international culinary/chef competitions, including Star of Excellence Award from Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, Le Cordon Bleu medals, and the knight’s medal in the Asia Pacific region from the Les Amis d’Escoffier Society. Hongxiao specializes in multiple cuisines, including creative fusion, molecular gastronomy, Cantonese, Southeast Asian, and French. He has worked at the Golden Jaguar Group, the Sheraton Hotel, the Westin Hotel, the Garden Café Group, and the Banana Leaf Group. He has also served as the executive chef for R&D for many listed companies in the restaurant and food industry in Asia. Hongxiao is currently the technical director at the New Ideas Molecular Gastronomy Culinary Center and the president of East Kaiyue Restaurant Group. He also serves as the technical advisor for many restaurants in China.
President, Technical Director
Qian’s Chef World Food; Changzhou, China
Daqian Zhang is recognized as one of China’s foremost chefs in cold dishes and pre-made meals R&D. He is the president of China Cold Dishes Association and a national culinary judge. In 2015, he was appointed as the chair of the Cold Dishes Committee of the China Hospitality Association. Daqian specializes in Chinese aristocratic cuisine (guanfu cai) and innovative cold dishes. He was the founder of the China Cold Dishes Festival, which will be entering its 7th year in 2017. He’s worked at many renowned hotels and restaurants, including at the Guangzhou International Convention Center, as Huaiyang cuisine director at Changzhou Changxing Tower Restaurant, production manager at Jinlin Hotel, and as executive chef at Guofangyuan Hotel, Yixing International Hotel, Jiahua Hotel, Wuxi dongfang jinzi, and Taicang Jinlin Garden. He currently serves as president and technical director at Changzhou Qian’s Chef World Food Co., Ltd.
Chef de Cuisine
Barzotto; San Francisco, CAhttp://barzotto.com/ @barzottosf
Before becoming Barzotto’s chef de cuisine, Michelle Minori served as executive sous chef of Thomas McNaughton’s Ne Timeas restaurant group, overseeing corporate culinary operations for the group’s restaurants Flour & Water, Aatxe, Cafe du Nord, Salumeria, and Central Kitchen. Michelle was formerly the co-opening chef of Los Angeles restaurant Faith & Flower, and cooked at Il Carne Rosso, Acquerello, La Folie, and Aqua.
Hong Kong Street Chun Kee; Singapore
Chong You Chan is the chef-owner of Hong Kong Street Chun Kee
La Palapa Tacos; New York, NYhttp://lapalapa.com/ @barbarasibley @la_palapa
Barbara Sibley was born and raised in Mexico City. Her interest in indigenous cuisines was deepened by her studies in anthropology at Barnard Collegem where she joined the Committee on the Barnard Medal. Her New York restaurant career began at age 17 at La Tulipe, a New York Times three-star French restaurant. Her extensive experience led her to open La Palapa Cocina Mexicana in 2000. As a truly authentic Mexican restaurant, La Palapa has been awarded the “Disctinctivo” by Sabores Autenticos de Mexico Foundation. In both Mexico and the US, Barbara has guided press tours and travelled to Meredith for APEAM, the Mexican Avocado Producers and Distributors organization. La Palapa is known for its pioneer cocktail program in the use of infusions and flavors in tequilas, due to this Barbara has done extensive product development for corporations such as Kraft, Jose Cuervo, Sauza, and Bacardi. As an expert in authentic Mexican cuisine at La Palapa, she has appeared in many publications and on numerous television shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, CBS Sunday, Chopped, and NY1 en Español. Barbara is a past President of the Board of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance, has been inducted as a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier, and is a member of the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs. She has been awarded the High Road award for her labor practices by the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY). Barbara has lectured on women entrepreneurs at the Culinary Institute of America. She has testified before Congress regarding the need to increase the federal tipped minimum wage as a gender issue affecting mostly single mothers and has met with Secretary of Labor Thomas Peres to discuss High Road restaurant policies. In addition to her career as a restaurateur, since 1997 she has been co-director and founder, with her sister Jennifer Clement, of the San Miguel Poetry Week, an annual poetry conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. In 2009, she co-authored Antojitos: Festive and Flavorful Mexican Small Plates (Ten Speed Press). Since 2012 she has had the honor and pleasure of being part of the team restoring the Holiday Cocktail Lounge. An exercise in zen and archeology, as creative director her mission has been to preserve this important East Village landmark. In 2015 she opened La Palapa Taco Bar in the new Urbanspace Vanderbilt Market.
Oxheart; Houston, TXhttp://oxhearthouston.com/ @tetsujustin
Justin Yu ‘05 is native of Houston, TX, the chef-owner of Oxheart Restaurant, and a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Oxheart has been lucky to have been granted such accolades such as Best Restaurant in Houston, a review by the New York Times, Hot 10 Restaurant by Bon Appétit, Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and Best Chef: Southwest by the James Beard Foundation.
balter; Christiansted, St.Croixhttp://www.balterstx.com/home @_chefdigby
You could say Chef Digby Stridiron was born into food. A native of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Digby grew up around what many today call the “slow food” movement—fresh, locally harvested ingredients and proteins gathered from the sea just steps away. Add to that a West Indian culinary tradition influenced by the African diaspora, and Digby’s gastronomic identity began to take root at an early age. He carries forward those childhood influences today by advancing elegant, contemporary West Indian cuisine that balances avant-garde influences with old-fashioned techniques. He insists on local ingredients and makes a point to establish sustainable working relationships with farmers. Digby is both an official member of the Slow Food Movement and the James Beard Foundation, and was the first chef to host a James Beard dinner in the Virgin Islands. He cares deeply about food equality, and growing up on the island increased his awareness of the importance of local sourcing of ingredients, from conch to coconuts. Digby was named as CTO’s 2014-2015 Caribbean Chef of the year. He was later in that year awarded the role as “Culinary Ambassador of the US Virgin Islands.” Now, after staging his finely honed cuisine across the Caribbean and finding new inspiration from as far away as San Francisco and Italy, Digby is living his childhood dream by opening balter, a contemporary West Indian kitchen in downtown Christiansted, St.Croix.
Tao Yuan; Brunswick, MEhttp://tao-yuan.me/ @Tao_Maine
Cara Stadler grew up making Shanghainese classics in a kitchen infused with ginger and shaoxing wine, but her training is far more global. Beginning her career at 16, she worked at Café Rouge in Berkeley, followed by Striped Bass in Philadelphia, before heading to Paris to hone her fine dining skills. While in France, after staging at Guy Savoy, Cara worked at Gordon Ramsay Au Trianon Palace, his two-Michelin star restaurant in Versailles. While she was learning from these modern masters, Cara became fascinated with how, in a single bite, flavors harmonize in a sequence of moments, supported by the cadence of texture. Since then, she is constantly striving to put both new perfect bites and some classics on the table. With the aim of finding more flavors and texture to bring to this concept, Cara headed to Asia in 2008. After working briefly in Singapore at French-Japanese restaurant Saint Pierre and heading up Gourmet Underground in Beijing in 2009, she moved to Shanghai and began her long-standing relationship with one of China’s most esteemed restaurateurs, David Laris. Starting out as sous-chef of Laris—at the time, one of Asia’s fine-dining landmarks—Cara later launched David’s private dining restaurant, 12 Chairs, which has been hailed one of Asia’s best restaurants by The Miele Guide. Cara returned to the US in November 2011, eager to work with her mother to bring to Brunswick, Maine her unique twist of contemporary Asian fusion combined with the bounty of local Maine flavors at Tao Yuan. She was a 2015 nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef Award.
Oleana, Sofra Bakery and Café; Cambridge, MAhttp://oleanarestaurant.com/ @Anasortun
Ana Sortun is the chef and owner of Oleana and Sofra Bakery and Café in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Called one of the country’s “best creative fusion practitioners,” Seattle-born Ana graduated from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine de Paris before opening Moncef Medeb’s Aigo Bistro in Concord, Massachusetts, in the early 1990s. Following stints at 8 Holyoke and Casablanca in Harvard Square, she opened Oleana in 2001, combining farm-fresh ingredients and Eastern Mediterranean spice blends, and immediately drew raves for dishes that The New York Times described as “rustic-traditional and deeply inventive.” Sofra offers a unique style of food and baked goods influenced mostly by Turkey, Lebanon, and Greece. Ana was named Best Chef: Northeast by the James Beard Foundation in 2005, and is the author of the best-selling Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean (William Morrow, 2006). Her husband’s farm, Siena Farms, provides Ana’s restaurant with all of its fresh produce and is named after their daughter.
Abe Fisher; Philadelphia, PAhttp://abefisherphilly.com/#chef @Sharkhuda @Sharkhuda
Born in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and raised in Baltimore, Yehuda Sichel is a graduate of the Jerusalem School of Kosher Culinary Arts. Upon his return to the States, he spent time in the kitchen of Grace Restaurant in L.A. before returning to Philly to work under legendary Chef George Perrier at Brasserie Perrier. In 2010, Yehuda came to work for Chef Michael Solomonov at CookNSolo’s groundbreaking modern Israeli restaurant Zahav. He quickly rose to the rank of sous chef, becoming Solomonov’s kitchen confidant for the next several years. In 2014, Yehuda began making his own culinary mark at the helm of Abe Fisher. Every evening he executes a menu that pulls together centuries-old flavors that range from Budapest to Montreal to Brooklyn, creating a meal and an atmosphere that both modernizes and elevates the long-familiar classics of Jewish soul food. Nowhere is this effort more rewarded than in his now signature dish—the Montreal Short Ribs—which Food Republic called “smoked meat nirvana.”
Ne Timeas Restaurant Group, Aatxe; San Francisco, CAhttp://www.aatxesf.com/ @RyanPollnow
A native of Northern California, 2016 James Beard semi-finalist Rising Star Chef and Ne Timeas Restaurant Group Partner and Chef Ryan Pollnow started his career as dishwasher in a country club, a job he never imagined would be the stepping stone for his career. After graduating from culinary school, Ryan went abroad to continue his education in Northern Spain, working at restaurant Mugaritz. When Ryan returned to the U.S., he worked as a chef at restaurants throughout San Francisco and Sonoma until he had the opportunity to work for the flour + water team as chef de cuisine and later as chef de cuisine of central kitchen in 2013, where he earned acclaim from Zagat, recognizing him as a 30 Under 30 up-and-comer on the Bay Area food scene. Now, only two years later, Ryan is partner and chef for Ne Timeas Restaurant Group, where he oversees all culinary teams along with Partner and Chef Thomas McNaughton. In April of 2015, Ryan opened his first project Aatxe (pronounced aah-CHAY), located on the street level of San Francisco’s historic Swedish American Hall. Aatxe is a restaurant and bar that celebrates regional Spanish cuisine and culture with an influence from the Basque Country and was included in Bon Appétit’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants list in 2015.
Misión 19; Tijuana, Mexicohttp://chefjavierplascencia.mx/en/home-3 @JavPlascencia
The charismatic personality of Chef Javier Plascencia, born in Tijuana Mexico, is reflected in his interpretation of the cuisine of Baja California,a state that he promotes with passion by using ingredients from the fields, farms and the sea of the region. He began his career in the kitchen of his family, where he learned and experimented with the “rules” of cooking. He later studied in culinary art schools in San Diego, California, and upon graduation he worked in hotels and restaurants of the area before traveling the world. He opened his first restaurant in Tijuana in 1989, Saverios Mediterráneo, which eventually became Casa Plascencia. But it was in 2011, with Mission 19, that Javier defined the creative essence of his cuisine by consolidating his own style based on his journeys, on his interpretation of the California gastronomy. El Erizo followed, a seafood restaurant that combines elements of street style food with traditional cuisine to come up with something unique, of his own, such as the Taco Tijuanero, a classic that combines shrimp, octopus, roasted beef jerky, cheese and slices of green chile. During the summer of 2012, Javier launched a new project in the Guadalupe Valley: Finca Altozano, a restaurant-vineyard within two hectares of land. In 2015 he inaugurated Bracero, Cocina de Raíz, at the heart of the dining district of San Diego, Little Italy. Here he pays tribute to the laborers who crossed into the US to work the field. Bracero has been nominated for the James Beard Award. His most recent project is Khao San, a culinary concept based on his journeys to Thailand, where he explores textures of the east, combined with Tijuanense urban gastronomy. As part of his passion for the benefits offered by the state, Javier created Finca La Divina, a bed and breakfast where the nature of Valle de Guadalupe can be enjoyed. Javier has received important awards from various organizations, one of the most representative is the Award for Diversification of the Tourism Mexican Product in the category for cuisine, through the BCF, granted in the city of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, in a ceremony headed by the president of Mexico. Zagat cited him as one of the six innovators of food and beverages in San Diego in 2013, and its restaurants were named among the top 100 of Latin America by The Daily Meal. He was named Eater’s Best Chef in San Diego in 2015.
Chef, Author, Columnist
Breakfast Queen; Chicago, ILhttp://www.breakfastqueen.com/ @Breakfastqueen1
Ina Pinkney opened a special order bakery called The Dessert Kitchen in 1980 and Ina’s Kitchen in 1991, which quickly became Chicago’s premier breakfast restaurant. She was the chef-owner of INA’S, an American Food restaurant serving breakfast and lunch in the West Loop Market District, which closed in December 2013. She is a frequent and welcomed guest on radio, local news and cable TV and has done interviews on shows in the U.S., Canada and Germany and appeared in a national Quaker Oats commercial as herself, the Breakfast Queen. Articles about Ina have appeared in local, national and international newspapers and magazines, as well as trade and in-flight magazines. Because of her attention to the changing tastes of consumers, she is a sought after judge at competitions such as the National Beef Cook-Off, filmed for the Food Network and the Good Food Awards, and was on the Operators’ Advisory Board for Land’O’Lakes. Ina was named 2008 SBA Woman in Business Champion. Leading a coalition of Chicago restaurateurs and chefs to support Chicago’s smoking ban, she also co-founded the Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition, for which she received Chicago Magazine’s 2011 Green Award. In 2014, Ina was award the Golden Whisk Award from the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs organization for excellence in the kitchen and was honored by the Women’s Foodservice Forum as a Woman Making Her Mark. She published INA’S KITCHEN: Memories and Recipes from the Breakfast Queen so that her recipes would live in everyone’s home and now writes a monthly column in the Chicago Tribune’s food section called BREAKFAST WITH INA! Despite the awards and acclaims she has garnered in her career, the most significant title she holds is Polio survivor. Ina now speaks to Rotary groups about the late effects of polio in her effort to help Rotary and the Gates Foundation achieve their goal of the worldwide eradication of polio.
The RIddler, Magnum PR; San Francisco, CAhttp://www.magnumpr.co/ @jenpelka
Jen Pelka is the founder of The Riddler, a women-funded Champagne bar on San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, and Magnum PR. After a decade of experience leading branded events, influencer marketing, content strategy, and media relations in-house at OpenTable, Gilt Taste, Tumblr, Chef Daniel Boulud’s iconic Restaurant DANIEL, and as competition director for the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation, Jen launched Magnum PR in 2015. She brings a passion for the industry, a network of relationships with editors across national and local food and beverage media (print, digital, and broadcast), and over fifteen years of events experience. She was selected as one of 30 under 30 by Forbes, named a Details’ Digital Maverick and Cherry Bombe It Girl, won an IACP award and James Beard nomination as part of her work on Gil Taste, was a recurring secret diner on Bravo’s Best New Restaurant, Season 1, and was a guest on Bravo’s Top Chef, Season 6.
Founder and Chef
Little Eater; Columbus, OHhttp://littleeater.com/ @CaraMangini
Cara Mangini is the author of The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini. She is the founder and executive chef of the produce-inspired restaurant Little Eater and Little Eater Produce and Provisions, a local farm stand and artisanal foods boutique in Columbus, Ohio. Her work as a chef, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and culinary instructor is dedicated to putting vegetables in the center of the American plate, honoring the work of our farmers, and supporting the health of our communities.
The Luminaryhttp://theluminaryatl.com/content/about-us @EliKirshtein
Atlanta native and Top Chef: Las Vegas contestant Eli Kirshtein ‘04 is chef-partner of The Luminary at Krog Street Market. Equal parts avid sports fan and accomplished chef, Eli is a proud Atlantan and food anthropologist. He first tested his culinary chops at the age of 16, working as a protégé in the kitchens of chefs Kevin Rathbun and Richard Blais. After spending time in kitchens in New York and Miami, he returned home to Atlanta, Georgia as the executive chef of Eno Restaurant and Wine Bar, from which he would take a brief hiatus to participate as a contestant on Top Chef: Las Vegas. In August 2014, Eli opened his highly anticipated restaurant, The Luminary, which was named Eater Atlanta’s So Hot Right Now restaurant in its November 2014 awards. An American brasserie with regional influences, The Luminary features a classically inspired menu, large raw bar, craft beer and cocktail program, and 400-square-foot patio space.
urbanbelly Restaurants; Chicago, ILhttp://urbanbellychicago.com/ @urbanbelly
Award-winning chef Bill Kim was born in Seoul, Korea and immigrated to the United States at age 7. His first formal kitchen duty – roasting sesame seeds and grinding them using a mortar and pestle – sparked his interest in pursuing a culinary career. Bill’s expansive culinary background spans a wide range of varied cuisines. After studying classic French cooking at Kendall College, he pursued opportunities to work alongside industry greats including Pierre Pollin at le Titi de Paris in Arlington Heights, IL and Jean Banchet at Ciboulette in Atlanta. From there, Bill served as sous chef at notable kitchens throughout the country, including the renowned four-star Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, Bouley Bakery in New York, and Susanna Foo in Philadelphia. After several years on the East Coast, he was drawn back to Chicago to serve as chef de cuisine at Charlie Trotter’s before taking the helm of French-Asian Le Lan. Bill is widely considered to be a pioneer in the movement of fine dining chefs introducing casual concepts. In 2008 he opened urbanbelly, a bustling communal-seating restaurant featuring creative and soul-satisfying noodle, dumpling and rice dishes. In August 2012, he opened bellyQ, a modern Asian barbecue concept on Chicago’s thriving Randolph Street. After five successful years operating urbanbelly in Avondale, Bill expanded the menu and relocated the restaurant to reside alongside bellyQ in the West Loop. A second urbanbelly location opened in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood in early 2016.
Director of the Foodservice Content Group
Winsight; Chicago, ILhttp://www.winsightmedia.com/ @kellykillian
Kelly Killian is director of the Foodservice Content Group for Winsight, overseeing the editorial strategy for FoodService Director and Restaurant Business (ASBPE’s 2015 Magazine of the Year). Over her 25 years in publishing—spanning B2B, custom and consumer media—she has covered everything from restaurants to real estate to weddings. Kelly studied English at the University of California, Berkeley and is an alumnus of the Radcliffe Publishing Course (now the Columbia Publishing Course).
Carolina Cue To Go; New York, NYhttp://elizabethkarmel.com/ @@GrillGirl @elizabethkarmel
Elizabeth Karmel, a.k.a. Grill Girl, is a nationally respected authority on grilling, barbecue and Southern food. She launched CarolinaCueToGo.com, an online barbecue shack, with her childhood friend, David Lineweaver on November 4, 2014. Lineweaver and Elizabeth bonded over being two expat North Carolinians in New York craving authentic North Carolina barbecue and the company was born. CarolinaCueToGo.com ships hickory-wood smoked whole-hog barbecue seasoned with Elizabeth’s signature North Carolina-style vinegar sauce nationwide. Elizabeth is the founding executive chef of the award-winning Hill Country Barbecue Market in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Washington, DC, and Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Hill Country Chicken. She developed the award-winning menu and flavor profiles from the meats to the sides and desserts for both restaurant concepts. On July 4, 2012, The New York Times awarded Hill Country Barbecue Market NYC two stars (the first barbecue restaurant in the city to ever garner two stars!), and a glowing review that read like a love letter to barbecue and the Hill Country concept. In addition to being a chef, she is a food writer, culinary consultant and entrepreneur. She writes a bi-monthly column for the Associated Press called The American Table and is the author of four acclaimed cookbooks including the best-selling Pizza on the Grill. She is at work on a new cookbook entitled, Steak and Cake: America’s Favorite Saturday Night Meal. She designs an innovative line of outdoor cooking and kitchen tools, and recently introduced Elizabeth’s Everyday Essentials line of French porcelain by Revol. As a sought-after media personality, Elizabeth writes for, and is frequently featured in an array of national magazines from Bon Appétit to Better Homes & Gardens, and was named one of the top 100 chefs by Saveur. She appears regularly on all three network morning shows and is a guest judge on Chopped, Iron Chef, and Beat Bobby Flay. She has appeared on a number of Food Network shows and hosted her own special on The Cooking Channel. Elizabeth is the founder of the gender-breaking GirlsattheGrill.com.
Porchetta, Porsena, Nina June; New York, NY and Rockport, MEhttp://www.ninajunerestaurant.com/ @porchettanyc
Sara Jenkins is based in New York City and Rockport, Maine, where she has developed a reputation as a fine rustic Italian chef. Mario Batali says, “She’s one of the few chefs in America who understands Italy and how Italians eat.” Daughter of a foreign correspondent and of a food writer, Sara grew up all over the Mediterranean, eating her way through several cultures as she learned to cook. She began her professional career in the kitchen with Todd English at Fig’s in Boston, then went on to work as a chef in Florence and the Tuscan countryside, before returning to the U.S. In 2008, Sara opened Porchetta, a wildly popular shop focused on one Italian sandwich made of slow roasted pork. That year, she also published her first cook book, Olives and Oranges (Houghton Mifflin). In 2010 she opened Porsena, rated four stars in New York magazine. A casual dining restaurant, Porsena is inspired by the simple trattorias of her Roman-Tuscan childhood. In 2015 Sara published her second book, The Four Seasons of Pasta (Avery/Penguin), written with her mother, Mediterranean food expert Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Last year, Sara opened Nina June, in her hometown on the coast of Maine, a beautiful space in an old meeting hall where she is committed to combining her Italian sensibility with the bounty of Maine farms and fisheries.
CEO and Founder
Tacolicious; San Francisco, CAhttp://tacolicious.com/ @tacolicious
Joe Hargrave has headed operations for San Francisco restaurants including Restaurant Lulu, Rose Pistola, Azie, and Frisson. In 2007, he opened his first restaurant, Laïola, a casual Spanish joint in the Marina District. In 2009, he added Tacolicious, a taco stand at the Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, to the mix. Six months later, he turned Tacolicious into a full-service, tacocentric, cocktail-driven brick-and-mortar. Today, Tacolicious has five locations in the Bay Area. Joe also owns and operates Bar San Pancho, a cantina; Mosto, a tequila and mezcal bar; and—along with chef-partner Donnie Masterton—Taco Lab, a counter-service spot in San Miguel de Allende, MX.
Cardamom Hill; Atlanta, GAhttp://spicetotable.com/ @ashagomez @ashagomez
Asha Gomez launched Cardamom Hill Restaurant in January 2012 in Atlanta. An instant success, the restaurant received praising reviews; it was named one of Bon Appétit’s 2012’s 50 Best New Restaurants, was on the 2013 James Beard Semi-Finalist List of 20 Best New Restaurants, and one of Southern Living’s 5 Best Restaurants in the South. Asha was also named one of the 2013/2014 Food & Wine Best New Chef – People’s Choice semi-finalists. The acclaim universally acknowledged Asha’s pioneering spirit for opening a finer dining venture that focuses on one region of India, a rarity in the U.S. Her Kerala fried chicken was voted by Fox Television Network as one of the ten best fried chicken dishes in the country and has received numerous national and international acclaim. She has also been showcased in feature stories in the Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and numerous other national publications, and her recipes have appeared in issues of Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Country Living, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, and numerous other publications. Asha owns and operates The Third Space in Atlanta, a culinary event studio. She is the author of the cookbook My Two Souths (Running Press, fall 2016). My Two Souths has received rave reviews from the Washington Post, Eater, Garden & Gun, and The New York Times to name a few and is currently on several best cookbooks of the year lists. In her spare time she is passionate about her advocacy work as a CARE Global Ambassador as well as raising her 11 year-old son Ethan.
Writer; New York, NYhttps://muckrack.com/gabiwrites @gabiwrites @gabiwrites
Gabriella Gershenson is a freelance writer and the past food features editor of Every Day with Rachael Ray. Before joining EDWRR, Gabriella was a senior editor at Saveur, dining editor at Time Out New York, and food columnist and critic for the now-departed New York Press, in that order. She’s been a regular guest on WOR’s Food Talk, NYC TV’s Eat Out New York, and Heritage Radio, and has been interviewed on BBC, CBS, and several other news outlets. Gabriella appeared on the Food Network’s reality show 24 Hour Restaurant Battle and The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and consulted for Jamie Oliver’s travelogue, Jamie’s American Dream. Her work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, and Edible Brooklyn and Manhattan, and several other venues.
Olamaie; Austin, TXhttp://olamaieaustin.com/ @M_Fojtasek
Michael Fojtasek ‘10 began his culinary career at FINO Restaurant in Austin. Shortly after walking into the FINO kitchen, he realized he wanted to spend the rest of his life working in restaurants. He quickly worked his way from stagiaire to prep cook and then to line cook. After a culinary trip to some of New York’s finest dining establishments with Kent Rathbun, Michael was offered a position at Rathbun’s Dallas restaurant, Abacus, which was his first opportunity to work in fine dining. Mobil Four Star, AAA Four Diamond, and Bon Appétit’s Best of the Year 2001 were some of the accolades already given to Abacus when Michael joined the team. After excelling as line cook at Abacus, Michael attended The Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena. While attending the west coast extension of the world’s best culinary college, Michael continued his education with an externship at Per Se. After landing a job working in the Per Se kitchen for one night only, Chef Jonathan Benno offered him the chance to spend his externship working with the Per Se team. Per Se had accumulated a Michelin Three Star and New York Times Four Star review along with being designated a San Pellegrino Best Restaurants in the World Number Six when Michael began work there. At the end of his externship, Michael was extended an open opportunity to work at Per Se for Chef Benno. Michael returned to Northern California to finish culinary school. His experience at Per Se provided an opportunity to work at The French Laundry for a short time before school began again. Following this, Michael worked as daily volunteer in The French Laundry garden. After his final semester, Michael moved back to New York City to work at Benno’s Italian restaurant in New York City, Lincoln Ristorante. Working the pasta station at Lincoln taught him what it takes to be a line cook in New York at the top. In late 2011, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, of Animal and Son of a Gun in Los Angeles, caught Michael’s attention. He moved across the country, again, to work at Son of a Gun. Michael once again quickly became a leader in the kitchen. His culinary skill, dedication to the restaurant, and bi-weekly trips to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market earned him a sous chef position. Opened in August 2014, Olamaie brings the taste of the South with a new modern spin to downtown Austin with seasonal dishes and farm-to-table ingredients. Since opening, Olamaie has received numerous accolades including being named as a 2015 James Beard Awards semifinalist for Best New Restaurant, 2015 Food & Wine Best New Chefs, featured as the second Best New Restaurant in Texas Monthly’s Where To Eat Now in 2015, and named 2015 Best Restaurant in Austin by the Austin American-Statesman.
Ekstedt; Stockholm, Swedenhttp://ekstedt.nu/en/ @NiklasEkstedt
Niklas Ekstedt is a Swedish chef and restaurant manager. After attending the gastronomic high school of Racklöfska in the skiing resort of Åre in central Sweden, he worked for Charlie Trotter in Chicago. Soon thereafter, at age 21, Niklas started his first restaurant, Niklas, in the harbor town of Helsingborg, Sweden. Niklas was listed the best business restaurant in Sweden by newspaper Dagens Industri in 2003 and the fifth best restaurant in Sweden by the restaurant guide White in 2005. In 2003, Niklas opened a second restaurant, Niklas i Viken, a summer restaurant located in the village of Viken, a few kilometers north of Helsingborg. Simultaneously, Niklas’ cooking show, Mat (“food” in Swedish), began airing on Sveriges Television (Swedish national television). In autumn 2008, Niklas and his staff moved to Stockholm to manage Restaurant 1900. In April 2009, the fifth season of his cooking show began airing. Since then Niklas’ television career has continued with several shows, including a cooking show aimed at a children audience. In 2011, Niklas opened his second restaurant in Stockholm, simply named Ekstedt. Here, the concept is to first and foremost cook all raw ingredients over an open fire. Niklas furthermore completed short internships at several three-star Michelin restaurants, including elBulli in Spain and The Fat Duck in England.
The Culinary Institute of Americahttp://www.ciawine.com/ @CIAGreystone
Traci Dutton is a sommelier, a wine judge, and the manager of public wine and beverage studies at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. She joined the CIA in 1998 as beverage manager and sommelier for the college’s Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant. Over the course of more than 30 years in the wine world, Traci has worked in high-end establishments such as Montrachet, The Striped Bass, and 231 Ellsworth, and has served luminaries as varied as Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Bacon, and Paul Bocuse. She has studied and tasted great wines at vineyards around the world, from Portugal and Austria to Argentina and the United States. Her writing on wines and beverages has appeared in Kitchen & Cook, the St. Helena Star, iSanté.com, and many other publications. In 2011, she was named one of the top wine country sommeliers by Tasting Panel magazine.
Cockscomb, Las Alcobas; San Francisco, St. Helena, CAhttp://cockscombsf.com/ @offalchris
Chris Cosentino is the chef-owner of Cockscomb and Las Alcobas. Growing up in Newport, Rhode Island’s Italian-American community, he spent his time clamming, commercial fishing, and cranking the pasta machine in his grandmother’s kitchen, developing an early affinity for great ingredients and hard work. After graduating from Johnson & Wales, Chris went on to build his culinary resume by working at a number of notable restaurants, including Red Sage in Washington, D.C., Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and Rubicon, Belon, and Redwood Park in San Francisco. His first executive chef position was at Incanto, which he joined in 2002. Chris’s innovative interpretations of rustic Italian fare promptly earned the restaurant its first 3-star review from The San Francisco Chronicle. Since then Chris has gained national acclaim as a leading proponent of offal cookery.
Director and Author
Southern Foodways Alliance; Oxford, MShttp://johntedge.com/ @johntedge
John T. Edge has served as director since the 1999 founding of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. For the SFA, John T. has produced more than 100 documentary films, directed more than 900 oral histories, and programmed more than 50 conferences. He also writes for the popular press. A columnist for Garden & Gun and the Oxford American, he wrote the “United Tastes” column for the New York Times for three years and won the 2012 M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation. John T. has written or edited more than a dozen books. In May 2017, The Penguin Press will publish his latest, The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South.
Ataula, 180, Chesa; Portland, ORhttp://www.ataulapdx.com/ @chefjosechesa
José Chesa, a Spanish native, was inspired by his family’s restaurant at a young age. With hopes of following in his father’s footsteps, he attended culinary school in Spain. Intensive studies and dedication led him on the path to grand accomplishments including positions at top restaurants in France and Spain. Along with learning a new language, José acquired the position of chef de cuisine at the beloved and critically acclaimed Fleur de Sel in New York City. Eventually he moved to Puerto Rico, where he assumed the role of executive chef at the fine food- and wine-focused Bodegas Compostela. After extensive travels, José realized that it was time to create his own business, one that would utilize both his upbringing and global experiences. The foundation for his restart: tapas. Not just ordinary tapas, but dishes that transport the diner to Spanish culture and traditions. This is where the vision of Ataula was born and with his partner and wife working by his side, it has proven to be a successful one. Chesa within a year and a half has accomplished much more than one could hope for in a career. Both his and Ataula’s charm has won the hearts of those in Portland and beyond and together their energy is unstoppable. Recently, he has also opened Oregon’s first Spanish Xurreria and Chesa restaurant, an homage to charcoal cooking focusing on the Josper oven and cooking traditional Spanish flavors with his twist. In 2014, José was chosen as Portland Monthly’s Chef of the Year, and in 2016 and 2017 he was nominated as a semifinalist for Best Chef Northwest by the James Beard Foundation.
Dirt Candy; New York, NYhttp://www.dirtcandynyc.com/ @dirtcandy
Amanda Cohen is the chef and owner of Dirt Candy, the award-winning vegetable restaurant on New York City’s Lower East Side. Dirt Candy was the first vegetable-focused restaurant in the city and the leader of the vegetable-forward movement. The restaurant’s original location only had 18 seats and was open for six years, during which time it became the first vegetarian restaurant in 17 years to receive two stars from the New York Times, was recognized by the Michelin Guide five years in a row, and won awards from Gourmet, the Village Voice, and many others. Its new location opened in January 2015 and it was the first restaurant in the city to eliminate tipping. Amanda was the first vegetarian chef to compete on Iron Chef America and her comic book cookbook, Dirt Candy: A Cookbook, is the first graphic novel cookbook to be published in North America.
Chauhan Ale & Masala House; Nashville, TNhttps://chauhannashville.com/about/ @ManeetChauhan
Maneet Chauhan ’00 is an award-winning cookbook author, television personality, active philanthropist and executive chef of Chauhan Ale & Masala House. In addition to her unprecedented prowess in the kitchen, she is known for her work on Food Network’s Emmy-nominated television show Chopped, where she has been a resident judge for more than five years and a James Beard Award for Excellence recipient. She has also competed on Iron Chef and The Next Iron Chef. Maneet was born and raised in India’s Punjab province. As a graduate of India’s WelcomGroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration and The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, she has worked in some of the finest hotels and restaurants in India and the U.S. At a remarkably young age, Maneet became the executive chef of Vermillion in Chicago and New York, garnering a wide array of praise including best new chef. She has also written her own cookbook, Flavors of My World, as well as introduced a signature spice line. Most recently, Chef Maneet launched Mantra Artisan Ales, a brewery and taproom in Franklin, Tennessee. With two new restaurant concepts set to open later this year, Maneet is no doubt a visionary chef and restaurateur that is elevating the culinary landscape in Nashville.
Maketto, Honeycomb, Toki Underground; Washington, DChttp://maketto1351.com/ @erikbruneryang
Erik Bruner-Yang is a two-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee and Michelin recognized chef and owner of Maketto and Honeycomb in Washington, DC. He is also the founder of Toki Underground, a nationally and locally recognized Taiwanese-style ramen shop. In 2014, Erik introduced Honeycomb, an Asian grocery offering local produce and homemade sauces and ferments located at Union Market. In 2015, he opened Maketto, a communal marketplace and lifestyle brand combining retail, restaurant and café located at 1351 H Street NE. Erik and his restaurants continue to receive rave reviews both locally and nationally from Food & Wine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Eater, and many more.
Blau + Associates; Las Vegas, NVhttps://elizabethblau.com/ @elizabethblau1 @elizabethblau
With an impressive career spanning nearly three decades, James Beard Award Nominee Elizabeth Blau is the founder and CEO of restaurant development company Blau + Associates, and is widely credited with transforming Las Vegas into the world-class culinary destination it is today. A renowned restaurateur, Elizabeth’s skilled touch defines her work in Las Vegas and around the world.
Pasillo de Humo; Mexico Cityhttps://www.facebook.com/pasillodehumo/ @pasillodehumo @pasillodehumo
The chef at Pasillo de Humo in México City, Alam Méndez has been involved in Oaxacan gastronomy since his childhood, influenced by his mother, the renowned traditional cooker, Celia Florián. He studied at Instituto Culinario de México in Puebla, where he had the opportunity to work at Intro restaurant with the chef Angel Vazquez, with whom he collaborated for three years. In 2012, he competed as part of the National Junior Olympic Team representing México in IKA Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany. He also took the opportunity to do professional internships at Michelin stars restaurants such as Can Fabes and Arzak. He won the third edition of the Joven Promesa Gastronómica Ribera del Duero contest on May 14, 2014 in Mexico City. He was also sous chef at the Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza in Chile and was the main chef at Don Porfirio restaurant, in Guatemala. Finally, he was head production chef with Chef Rosío Sánchez at Taquería Hija de Sanchez in Copenhagen, Denmark.
ATOBOY; New York, NYhttp://atoboynyc.com/
Before living stateside, Junghyun ‘JP’ Park worked in many of the world’s best restaurants, including Michelin-starred Cutler & Co. in Melbourne, Australia, and The Ledbury in London. He was previously the chef de cuisine at Jungsik Dang in Seoul, South Korea—which was no. 20 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list during his time there. He then moved to New York City in 2012, along with owner Yim Jungsik, to serve as the chef de cuisine at Tribeca’s venerated Jungsik restaurant, which also holds two Michelin stars. In summer 2016, JP and his wife Ellia opened their first restaurant, ATOBOY, in New York City’s NoMad neighborhood, focusing on modern Korean fare with a unique Banchan-style tasting menu.
Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio; Chicago, ILhttp://monteverdechicago.com/ @chefsarahjayne
Sarah Grueneberg is the chef-partner of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio in Chicago. Since her childhood cooking with her grandparents on their ranch in Victoria, Texas, she knew she was destined to work in the culinary world. Originally from Houston, Sarah moved to Chicago in 2005 to join the team at the award-winning Spiaggia under the leadership of Tony Mantuano. Beginning as a line cook, she quickly rose the ranks to chef di cucina in 2008 and then executive chef in 2010. During her tenure as executive chef, Spiaggia was awarded one Michelins for three consecutive years. After graduating from culinary school in 2001, she started her first career-changing job with a position at the iconic Brennan’s of Houston and by 2003 was named the restaurant’s youngest female sous chef. Sarah has traveled throughout Italy, Asia, Europe and the U.S., which has inspired her culinary approach of “following the food” and truly understanding “the dish” by knowing the people and culture that created it. More notably, she was a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef: Texas, making it as a finalist and runner-up for the season. She has also been named a Rising Star Chef by Chicago Social in 2009 and 2016 and Eater Chicago’s Chef of the Year at the 2011 Eater Awards. Sarah opened Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio in Chicago’s West Loop in November 2015 with business partner and long-time friend Meg Sahs. The restaurant has received acclaimed reviews from various outlets, including three out of four stars by The Chicago Tribune. In 2016, Monteverde received numerous accolades including: one of Food & Wine’s America’s Best Restaurants, a top 50 finalist in Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants list, Eater’s 21 Best New Restaurants in America, GQ’s 12 Best New Restaurants, Eater’s Chicago Restaurant of the Year at the 2016 Eater Awards, the Worth the Wait award at the Chicago Tribune Dining Awards, and named one of Chicago Magazine’s 15 Best New Restaurants.
The Culinary Institute of Charleston, South Carolinahttp://www.tridenttech.edu/academics/divisions/cic/ @cheffy611
Kevin Mitchell ’91, ’96 CEC, CFSE, ACE, is a chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston, the secretary of the Edna Lewis Foundation, a board member of Slow Food Charleston, and a graduate student at the University of Mississippi. His culinary work embraces traditional American flavors, sumptuous soul food flair, and delicate French cuisine. He began his training as a young boy in his grandmother’s kitchen, where he first paid his dues by picking greens—cleaning collard greens, kale, and spinach. This experience laid the foundation for his dedication to moving food from the fresh market to a white tablecloth, and he’s steadily climbed up the culinary ranks ever since. His subtlety and refinements were born out of disciplined training earned at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, from which he holds two degrees: an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts management. In 1996, Kevin became chef de cuisine at the Marble Gang Restaurant and was also inducted into the Columbus chapter of the American Culinary Federation. Since then, he’s held sous chef positions at the Wyandotte Restaurant and the Westin Great Southern Hotel. In 2000, he became executive chef to Cornell University’s most popular dining facility on campus, Willard Straight Dining. He spent several years steadily rising through the ranks of kitchens in Atlanta and Detroit, including as Palette Chef at the MGM Grand Detroit Hotel and Casino, where he oversaw all production of a 600-seat tapas-style buffet with an average cover count of 1500 meals per day. In December of 2008, Kevin became the first African American chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston located within Trident Technical College in Charleston, South Carolina. There, he is involved in designing new curriculum for new students as well as teaching classes. Kevin ran the test kitchen for Chef Charlotte Jenkins’ Gullah Cuisine Cookbook and regularly cooks for some of the most prestigious culinary events honoring African American contributions to Southern cuisine, including as chef coordinator the Nat Fuller’s Feast in 2015, a recreation of a banquet held in Charleston in 1865 by renowned chef and caterer Nat Fuller. The original feast, held at Fuller’s famous Bachelor’s Retreat restaurant, was the first to bring together both black and white patrons to break bread in a celebration of the end of the Civil War. In August 2016, Kevin began his graduate studies at the University of Mississippi, where he focuses on Southern foodways, the preservation of Southern ingredients, and the history of African Americans in the culinary arts. Kevin is an active member of the American Culinary Federation, as well as a founding father of the BCA (Bridging Culinary Awareness, formally the Black Culinarian Alliance).
Fung Tu; New York, NYhttp://www.fungtu.com/ @FungTuNYC
Jonathan Wu is the chef/co-owner of Fung Tu, where he cooks food that combines home-style Chinese flavors with seasonal, regional ingredients. He received a degree in English from the University of Chicago in 2001. Upon graduation he decided to pursue his passion for food and embarked on a period of culinary study. He attended The French Culinary Institute and has worked in France, Spain, and Italy. In New York, he was previously the executive sous chef of Geisha before working as a chef de partie at Per Se.
Mayta, Suviche, Pacifico; Lima, Dubai, Miami, Dubaihttp://jaimepesaque.com
For world-renowned Peruvian Chef Jaime Pesaque, “cocina en evolución”” is the key to his success and reputation as one of the top chefs in Peru. He called his work evolution cuisine, always changing with the seasons, new techniques and inspiration. As executive chef and owner of trendy Mayta Restaurante Bar in Lima and Dubai, Jaime combines contemporary culinary techniques with fresh market produce, ingredients and spices, transforming simple dishes into sophisticated and savory culinary creations. He studied culinary arts at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Lima and then travelled to Europe, achieving his master’s in cuisine from the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners (ICIF). He remained in Europe and apprenticed at several Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy and Spain. But his Peruvian roots and love for his home country brought him back to Peru, where he perfected his unique style as chef at Al Grano, a new restaurant in Lima at the time. With entrepreneurial spirit and culinary artistry, Jaime ventured out on his own and opened his signature restaurant Mayta, one of the top restaurants in Lima and awarded as having the best pisco bar in Peru. Influenced by the time he spent in Italy and Spain at the three Michelin star El Celler de Can Roca, Jaime transforms Peruvian dishes from simple to delectable dishes, incorporating local and exotic ingredients like, Peruvian peppers, spices, herbs and umami flavors. He is also head chef and partner at Suviche, a top ceviche restaurant in Miami, Pacifico Seafood Restaurant in Milan, and 500 Grados in Lima.
Makansutra; Singaporehttp://www.makansutra.com/ @kfseetoh
KF Seetoh is the founder of Makansutra, a company dedicated to the celebration of Asian food, culture, and lifestyles. A former photojournalist, he publishes the Makansutra Asian food guides, has his own Makansutra television series, runs Singapore-style food courts in Singapore and the Philippines, delivers mobile content, and consults on food business. His works have been featured by numerous international media like CNN, BBC, CNBC, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. In 2008 he was honored by the Singapore Tourism Board, through the country’s president, with a special recognition award for his work in promoting Asian food and culture. The late Johnny Apple of The New York Times called him “the food maven,” and the Asian Wall Street Journal says, “the best way to eat in Singapore is to buy Makansutra.” His latest culinary venture is the 15,000-square-foot Makansutra Asian Food Village in Manila, Philippines. It is a 13-station, open-kitchen, performance-chef food court offering cooked-before-your-eyes Southeast Asian flavors. All its chefs are trained by KF Seetoh and his team.
LLama Inn; New York, NYhttp://www.llamainnnyc.com/
Erik Ramirez is a Peruvian-American chef based in New York. While studying in Philadelphia, Erik worked at some of the city’s top restaurants and learned early that cooking was his true calling. He then moved to New York City and worked as a sous chef at Eleven Madison Park, spending three years working under Daniel Humm, honing his expertise of the finest culinary standards of true quality and great flavors. In 2009, following a trip to Peru, Erik decided to switch gears and focus on his roots, exploring the boundless possibilities of Peruvian cuisine. He joined Adam Schop at the highly-acclaimed Nuela in New York and spent the last few years as executive chef at Raymi Flatiron. He refined his culinary vision by working in the Peruvian kitchens of friends such as world-renowned chefs Gaston Acurio (Astrid y Gaston), Virgilio Martinez (Central), Jaime Pesaque (Mayta), and Pedro Miguel Schiaffino (Amaz). Today, Erik is fully immersed in cultivating his unique flavor profiles at Llama Inn, a deeply personal project that showcases Peru’s diverse culinary heritage and his love for fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
Minton's; New York, NYhttp://www.mintonsharlem.com @chefjoejohnson
Joseph ‘JJ’ Johnson ’04 is an award-winning chef at Minton’s in Harlem. He was born in 1984 in Long Island, New York, but spent his youth in the Poconos, where at the age of seven he was inspired to become a chef. After seeing a commercial for The Culinary Institute of America, JJ told his mother that he wanted to become a chef. But, it was only after watching his Puerto Rican grandmother serve up butternut squash soup and other ethnic dishes that he knew he had to. After graduating from the CIA, JJ spent time in Ghana studying West African cuisine, before returning to cook at several New York City restaurants, including Tropico, Jane, Tribeca Grill, and Centro Vinoteca. In 2011, JJ competed and won Bravo’s Rocco’s Dinner Party cooking competition, quickly catching the eye of restaurateur Alexander Smalls. Smalls invited JJ to breakfast to introduce the concept of Afro-Asian cooking to him. A year later, JJ joined Smalls on a 16-day trip to Ghana, where they prepared a series of American-themed dinners. Upon their return, they developed 36 different menus that would ultimately be narrowed down to one Afro-Asian inspired menu for The Cecil in 2013. Since its opening, the restaurant has garnered several awards, including Best New Restaurant in America from Esquire. JJ himself was ranked among Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in the food & wine category, Zagat’s 30 Under 30, and Eater’s Young Guns.
Guerrilla Tacos; Los Angeles, CAhttp://www.guerrillatacos.com/ @guerrillatacos @pasillodehumo
When Chef Wes Avila first started Guerrilla Tacos in 2012, he wasn’t setting out to do something different; he was setting out to do something good—to cook food that was a reflection of all the culinary experiences that had shaped his identity and to have a place where he could freely express himself over the stove. Growing up in Pico Rivera, the heart of East Los Angeles, he was raised surrounded by the rich smells and multicultural flavors of the city. After high school, Wes worked as a teamster, driving a forklift at a box factory for seven years. He was making money, sure, but spiritually, he was hungry for more. When he had saved up enough, Wes quit his job and enrolled fulltime in the California School of Culinary Arts to explore the craft he had always enjoyed. While at school, he visited the restaurant L’Auberge Carmel, which opened his mind and palate to the subtle complexities of a fine dining cuisine. Upon graduation he packed his belongings and drove north to L’Auberge, where he got a job as a line chef under Walter Manzke. When Wes finally moved back to LA, his new skills quickly got him chef jobs at a country club in Palos Verdes and other gourmet restaurants around the city. It was at one of these jobs that he met chef Gary Menes, and helped him open the three-star rated restaurant Palate Food + Wine to critical acclaim. A trip to Europe impacted Wes so much that no less than a week after returning to the city, he packed his bags and moved to France, where he enrolled in school to study under Alain Ducasse at his Centre de Formation. When he returned from his studies, Menes had opened a new pop-up restaurant Le Comptoir and invited Wes to showcase his new skills. Deeply in debt after his wedding, travels, and school, Wes needed more than three days of work a week to cover his bills, so he decided to set up an under-the-radar food operation outside his favorite coffee shops and do what he was trained to do: to cook. Choosing tacos as his cuisine was a no brainer. Wes wanted something approachable, something familiar to the people of LA where he could fuse together his training as a gourmet chef without all the pretense of a fine dining establishment. It wasn’t long before word got out that one of LA’s up and coming chefs was slinging street tacos from a corner in downtown. Word spread, momentum gathered and something good, which Wes named Guerrilla Tacos, was born.
Founder and CEO
Souvla; San Francisco, CAhttp://www.souvlasf.com/ @SouvlaSF
Charles Bililies is the founder and CEO of Souvla, a fine-casual Greek restaurant with three locations in San Francisco, inspired by the neighborhood souvlaki joints found throughout Greece. Souvla pioneered the fine-casual niche of the fast casual movement, blending many of the touch points and standards of the fine dining experience with the operating efficiency and margins of a fast casual restaurant. A Greek-American, Charles comes from a family tradition of restaurateurs and is deeply passionate about the hospitality experience. He holds degrees in hospitality management from Cornell University and culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University. Charles moved to California in 2006 and worked for Chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro, as well as Chef Michael Mina at both his eponymous restaurant and RN74. With new Souvla locations opening, Charles now leads strategic development for the restaurant group, focusing on new business opportunities, financial planning, team, culture, and brand consistency. He also now serves as an advisor (both officially and unofficially) to partners in the food and tech space, including Apple, Square, Caviar, and Plate IQ. Charles regularly speaks on panels and in the press about the future of restaurants and tech, entrepreneurship, and how to develop profitable restaurants.
Souvla; San Francisco, CAhttp://www.souvlasf.com/ @SouvlaSF
Chef Tony Cervone is the culinary force behind Souvla, overseeing menu quality and consistency, team training, and daily culinary operations of the restaurant. Tony has been integral in developing the culinary team in anticipation of the company’s scaling efforts, setting the restaurant group up for success in the next stage of business. Prior to joining Souvla, Tony served as chef de cuisine of Kokkari Estiatorio, San Francisco’s no. 1 rated restaurant and the benchmark for fine dining Greek cuisine on the West Coast for nearly a decade.
Clif Family Bruschetteria Food Truck; St. Helena, CAhttp://www.cliffamily.com/visit-us/#bruschetteria-food-truck @ClifFamily
As executive chef of the Clif Family Bruschetteria Food Truck, John McConnell has taken a farm-forward, or farm-to-truck, approach to Northern Italian cuisine, sharing the beauty of the changing seasons and the bounty from the Clif Family Farm and trusted local purveyors.
Las Quince Letras; Oaxaca, Mexicohttp://lasquinceletras.mx/ @resquinceletras
Celia Florián, owner of the restaurant Las Quince Letras in Oaxaca, shows her great passion and love for traditional food that she inherits from her grandmother and mother. The philosophy of her cuisine is based on taking advantage of the diversity of local products, working together with Oaxacan producers for the sustainability of the local crops. She is a member of the Slow Food movement, forming part of the Terra Madre world network of traditional cooks, and is the Oaxaca representing delegate of Conservatorio de la Cultura Gastronómica Mexicana (CCGM). Celia has long promoted Oaxacan cuisine in different national and international forums. The former leader of the group of traditional cooks in Oaxaca, her great passion lead her to win the National Prize of Regional Cuisine 2012 and the acknowledgement of her role in the preservation and conservation of Mexican cuisine by the CCGM in 2016. Her restaurant Las Quince Letras appears in the list of the 120 best Mexican restaurants 2016 and 2017 of Mexican Culinary and San Pellegrino.
Foreign & Domestic; Austin, TXhttp://fndaustin.com/ @ForeignDomestic
Ned Elliott grew up gardening in a home where food played an integral role in daily life. He was raised by two women, his mothers Sandra and Linda, who shared their love of gardening, cooking, and baking with him. Sandra, the cook taught Ned about the importance of fresh ingredients. From Linda, the baker, Ned learned patience. Both taught him that life should be about continuous learning, a philosophy that was reinforced by Chef Alain Ducasse and by his mentor, Chef Doug Psaltis. “My mantra is attention to detail,” says Ned. “Chef Psaltis instilled this in me and it is an important part of how we define Foreign & Domestic.” Eager to further his career outside of his schooling at The Culinary Institute of American at Hyde Park, Ned left the CIA to begin staging at various restaurants in New York City and eventually landed a job at Tabla Restaurant. He continued building an impressive resume as he worked for such prestigious New York restaurants as the Essex House under Chef Alain Ducasse, Picholine, and Country.
MOPHO and Maypop; New Orleans, LAhttp://mophonola.com/ @MGulottaNO
Born and raised in New Orleans, Michael Gulotta began cooking in local restaurants at age 17. After graduating from the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, he joined the newly opened Restaurant August under Chef John Besh. Gulotta then took leave to train in the Italian Riviera and Germany’s Black Forest. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Michael returned home to help rebuild and assist with August’s re-opening. He was named chef de cuisine in 2007 and led the award-winning kitchen for six years, while establishing relationships with local farmers and purveyors. He opened his first restaurant, MOPHO, in January of 2014 with his brother, Jeffrey Gulotta, and high-school friend, Jeffrey Bybee. Located in New Orleans’ Mid City, MOPHO strives to be a true neighborhood restaurant and a destination for Southeast Asian inspired cuisine utilizing the Louisiana pantry. In its first year, MOPHO was nominated for America’s Best New Restaurant by Bon Appétit and named Restaurant of the Year by New Orleans Magazine. In 2016, Michael was named one of Top 30 Chefs to Watch in the nation by Plate and A New Orleans Rising Star by StarChefs. He recently opened Maypop, where he serves an expanded menu of Southeast Asian-inspired dishes with regional touches heavy on house-made fresh pastas and house-cured meats.
Vice President of Media
ChefsFeed; San Francisco, CAhttp://www.chefsfeed.com/ @roxannewebber
Roxanne Webber heads up the media division at ChefsFeed, where she is responsible for overseeing all aspects of its digital content strategy and production. Her approach to the new media landscape is unapologetically holistic, leveraging all platforms and skill sets at her disposal to best tell unique stories. She is a believer in the power of strong reportage, and conducts her team accordingly; as a seasoned video producer, she excels in the art of documentary narratives.
Chobani; New York, NYhttp://www.chobani.com/ @Chobani
Timothy Reardon ’02 is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and has over 20 years of experience in the food service industry. After graduating from culinary school, Tim moved to New York City to work for renowned French Chef Daniel Boulud, spending time first at Café Boulud and then at Restaurant Daniel. Tim has since earned two stars from the New York Times as the chef de cuisine of Nice Matin and has held the positions of executive chef for Michelin-starred Willow Hotels and executive chef at Barbounia Mediterranean Bistro on Park Avenue. Tim also worked with Chef Joel Robuchon at L’Atelier in the Four Seasons Hotel, learning Chef Robuchon’s Japanese inspired ultra-modern methods and techniques. Tim has received critical acclaim for his brand of French-Mediterranean cuisine with accents of Asia and the Middle East. He has published recipes and been featured in numerous publications such as The New York Times, Food and Wine, Food Arts, Time Out, The Village Voice, and New York Magazine. Currently, Tim is the executive chef for Chobani, the #1 Greek yogurt in the country. Working out of Chobani’s new state of the art kitchen in Charlotte, NC, Tim creates new and innovative culinary applications for Greek yogurt.
Co-Owner, Head Bartender
Leyenda; Brooklyn, NYhttp://leyendabk.com/ @ivymix
Ivy Mix is co-owner and head bartender of Leyenda, her pan-Latin cocktail bar in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, backed by her long-time mentor, Julie Reiner. Leyenda pays tribute to her years of living and bartending in Guatemala, as well as extensive travels throughout all of Latin America. With a long history of working in bars throughout the Americas, Ivy has been recognized by many within the culinary and cocktail industry as being one of the best bartenders in the country and in 2015 was named American Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktails’ Spirited Awards. Ivy first served a drink when she traveled to Guatemala at 19 years old when studying at Bennington College. She lived and worked there for years, mixing in travels to Mexico to smuggle special mezcales and tequilas over the border. Giving her a unique and extensive knowledge base into the agave spirits field. In 2009, she started cocktail waitressing at Mayahuel and it was here where with craft cocktails that she saw how she could bring together her love for bartending and spirits with her artistic background. It was within a year that she joined cocktail historian and bar owner St. John Frizzell at Fort Defiance. From there, she worked and helped open several bars throughout Brooklyn. In 2010, Ivy caught Julie Reiner’s eye and was hired to be on the opening staff of Lani Kai in Manhattan. It was not long until she was brought back to her borough of choice to work at Reiner’s flagship world-renown bar the Clover Club. Four years later, she and Reiner opened up Leyenda across the street in May of 2015. Additionally, Ivy has inspired the nation to rethink women’s role behind the bar. She conceptualized and later, with Lynnette Marrero, co-founded Speed Rack—a national cocktail competition that creates a platform for female bartenders while simultaneously raising money for breast cancer related charities. Speed Rack started in 2011 and has taken the world by storm, changing the way people view women’s role in cocktails. So far they have raised over $350,000 for charity.
The Eatery; Pasadena, CAhttp://www.claudandco.com/ @BeltranClaud
Passion, commitment to excellence, integrity, humor and a sense of adventure these words begin to sum up Claud Beltran. An exotic mix of Mexican and Lebanese heritage, Claud was exposed to various ethnic foods at an early age. After being mentored by Chef Thomas Keller, Claud set out to make his own name. For over a quarter century, he has established himself as one of Los Angeles preeminent chefs. With his accomplished staff, he creates culinary delights and fantastic designs that please all the senses. As current owner of Eatery on Allen, Bacchus Kitchen, Claud & Co Catering, and Perry’s restaurant, Claud stays busy but always leaves time for a mentoring and charitable work and of course his wife and two daughters.
Co-Founder and Founder
New Worlder + Meets NY; New York, NYhttp://www.marieelenamartinez.com/ @mariesworlds
In 2005, New Worlder Co-Founder Marie Elena Martinez ditched her publishing job and bought a ticket to Quito, Ecuador, beginning the journey of a lifetime. Six continents, and over sixty countries later, she began contributing to print publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, and websites like The Huffington Post, The Daily Meal, Condé Nast Traveler, Fodors, The Latin Kitchen, The Guardian, Delta Sky, and Men’s Fitness, as well as various Fodor’s Guide books and Wallpaper City Guides. During her tenure as founding editor of The Latin Kitchen, she created Meets NYC, culinary destination showcases which fused her publicity and marketing background with her love of food, wine, and travel through paired chef dinners, wine events and walk-around tastings. Baja Meets NYC (2014) and Puerto Rico Meets NYC (2015) soon followed, with Israel Meets NYC upcoming (2017). A LatAm consultant for corporate brands including Unilever, Symrise, and others, she is based in New York City.
Journalist and Co-Owner
Tacolicious; San Francisco, CAhttp://saradeseran.com/ @SaraDeseran
SARA DESERAN is a longtime San Francisco-based food writer who, in 2010, opened the popular SF-based restaurant Tacolicious lead by her husband and founder Joe Hargrave. Today, Sara wears two hats: She works as the director of marketing and branding for the growing Tacolicious restaurant group, which now has four locations as well as a new cantina called Bar San Pancho. She also functions as the editor-at-large for San Francisco magazine. Sara has also contributed to publications such as Saveur, Women’s Health, and C magazine and published four cookbooks, most recently Tacolicious (Ten Speed Press).
Plate; Chicago, ILhttp://www.plateonline.com/ @chandrasplate
CHANDRA RAM ‘99 is the editor of Plate, an award-winning food magazine read by chefs all over the country; she lives and breathes food and what’s exciting in restaurants today. She spent more than 15 years in the restaurant industry as a cook and consulting chef before turning to food writing and editing. In addition, she serves as president of the board for Meals on Wheels Chicago, working to raise funds to supply meals for Chicago’s homebound senior citizens and people with disabilities. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University Chicago, an associate’s degree in culinary arts from The Culinary Institute of America, and has passed the certificate level of the Court of Master Sommeliers exam. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and the James Beard Foundation Awards chef/restaurant judging committee, and has won multiple awards for her writing and editing, including eight Jesse H. Neal awards and the McAllister Editorial Fellowship. She is the co-author of The Eiffel Tower Restaurant Cookbook (Chronicle Books).
Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Industry Leadership
The Culinary Institute of Americahttp://www.ciaprochef.com/strategic/ @CIALeadership
Greg Drescher is vice president of strategic initiatives & industry leadership at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), where he oversees leadership initiatives for the foodservice industry, including conferences, invitational leadership retreats, digital media, and academic and strategic partnerships. He is the creator of the college’s Worlds of Flavor® International Conference & Festival and a portfolio of initiatives jointly organized by the CIA and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health including Worlds of Healthy Flavors; Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives; and the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative. Greg also launched a complementary initiative, the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, co-presented by the CIA and Stanford University in association with 30 leading American colleges and universities. In 2005, he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, in 2006 was honored with Food Arts Silver Spoon Award, and in 2007 and 2009 shared a second and third James Beard Award for his team’s work in developing the CIA’s Savoring the Best of World Flavors digital media series, filmed on location around the world. Before joining the CIA 21 years ago, he jointly spearheaded a multi-year collaboration of some of the world’s leading health authorities—including the Harvard Chan School and the World Health Organization—in researching and authoring The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid: A Cultural Model for Healthy Eating. In 2011, he was inducted as a member of the Accademia dei Georgofili, Europe’s oldest agricultural academy based in Florence.
Culinary Program Director
The Culinary Institute of Americahttp://annemcbride.net @annemcbride @aemcbride
Anne E. McBride is the program director for the Worlds of Flavor® International Conference & Festival at The Culinary Institute of America. She is finishing a PhD in food studies, focusing on the changing role of the chef in the 21st century, at New York University, where she regularly teaches. She writes on topics related to professional and experimental cooking for both academic and consumer audiences, including past contributions to Bake From Scratch, Food Arts, Gastronomica, The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, Savoring Gotham, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, and Food Cultures of the World. She is the co-author of Les Petits Sweets (September 2016) and Les Petits Macarons with Kathryn Gordon, of three books with famed pastry chef François Payard, including Payard Cookies and Chocolate Epiphany, and of Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food. Anne is the director of the Experimental Cuisine Collective at NYU, an interdisciplinary group of more than 2500 scientists, chefs, media, scholars, and food enthusiasts. A native of Switzerland, Anne sits on the board of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and on the James Beard Foundation Awards Committee, and was a two-term board member of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance and past board member of The Culinary Trust. She is a frequent presenter and moderator at scholarly and trade conferences.
Foodservice and Industrial Chef
Kikkoman; Los Angeles, CAhttp://www.kikkomanusa.com/ @CulinaryCraft
Andrew Hunter ‘88 is the foodservice and industrial chef for Kikkoman, where he develops custom and ready-to-use sauce solutions for manufacturing partners, as well as menu concepts for a broad base of restaurant, college and university, and healthcare customers. Andrew has worked as chef de cuisine for Barbara Tropp’s China Moon Café, vice president of culinary development for Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, and managed the culinary operations for Darden Restaurants’ 600+ unit Olive Garden restaurants. He earned an AOS in culinary arts from The Culinary Institute of America, a BA in culinary history from New College, and an MA in museum studies from San Francisco State University. In 2011, he spent Thanksgiving in Afghanistan and cooked a “Dinner of a Lifetime” for U.S. Special Forces in forward operating bases.
Photographer / Radio Host
harlanturk.com / HeritageRadioNetwork.org; Brooklyn, NYhttp://www.harlanturk.com @harlanturk
Michael Harlan Turkell is a food culture-focused photographer and author. He has spent over a decade capturing the inner workings of kitchens for his award-winning Back Of The House project, which documents the lives of chefs in their restaurant world. He’s been nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in Visual Storytelling and has photographed over a dozen cookbooks, most recently, Chris Cosentino’s Offal Good, which he also co-authored. For his own upcoming book, Acid Trip, he traveled the world to learn how to make and cook with vinegar. Michael also hosts The Food Seen on HeritageRadioNetwork.org, a podcast where he brings together guests working at the intersections of food, art, and design, and has twice been a finalist for a Stitcher Award. He launched the Japanese-inspired event series called Sumo Stew, which live streams sumo matches from Japan while serving chankonabe, the stew they cook and eat to fortify themselves. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wine-writing wife and his cat, which even has a beer named after it, Sixpoint Craft Ales Mason’s Black Wheat.
Co-Founder, Executive Chef
Uma Temakeria; New York, NYhttp://www.umatemakeria.com/ @@cjaeckle
CHRIS JAECKLE, co-founder/executive chef of Uma Temakeria, knew early on that he wanted to be a chef. Originally from Long Island, New York, Chris attended Westbury Vocational School for the Culinary Arts throughout high school and he furthered his culinary career at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island. His interest in Asian flavors then drew Jaeckle to Morimoto, where he served as sous chef. Working to prepare sushi rice and compose temaki family meals for the staff, Chris developed the precision and reverence for the process required of Japanese cuisine, experimenting with the many possible flavors and textures of temaki. Chris joined Michael White and team at the Altamarea Group. Under Jaeckle’s direction as chef de cuisine, in 2011 Ai Fiori was awarded a Michelin star as well as a three-star review from The New York Times. In 2013, he moved on to open All’onda as proprietor and chef, which has been heralded by Thrillist as one of New York City’s 11 Best Restaurants of 2014. Chris was also named as Eater’s 2014 New York City Chef of the Year. Chris’ passion for Japanese cuisine led him to open Uma Temakeria with co-founder Cynthia Kueppers. Uma Temakeria is the nation’s first fast-casual style eatery featuring fresh, customer designed temaki, cone-shaped “hand roll” sushi.
Journalist and Cookbook Author
Journalist and Cookbook Author; Minneapolis, MNhttp://www.jodyeddy.com @jodyeddy
JODY EDDY holds an English degree from The University of Minnesota and is a culinary school graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. She has cooked at Jean Georges, The Fat Duck, and Tabla and is the former executive editor of Art Culinaire. She is the author of the books Cuba: Recipes and Stories From a Cuba Kitchen, the IACP Judge’s Choice Award recipient North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland (Ten Speed Press), and the James Beard-nominated Come In, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants (Running Press). She writes for Lucky Peach, The Los Angeles Times, Travel+Leisure, Saveur, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Plate, and VICE, among others. Her second cookbook set in Iceland will be published by Ten Speed in 2017. She is the author of www.jodyeddy.com, leads culinary tours for executives, is a recipe developer for various large-scale food and beverage companies, has presented at international food writing conferences, has consulted on food sovereignty issues for NGOs, and organizes the Roots Conference at The Chef’s Garden each year. She is currently co-producing a television show focused on the meaning of food for a major network and enjoys traveling, reading and outdoor pursuits.
Founder and President
Imagine Food Innovation Group; Seattle, WAhttp://imaginefood.com/ @Maxime_Bilet
Maxime Bilet is a food visionary, inventor, author, and educator. As founder and president of Imagine Food Innovation Group, he is dedicated to helping clients apply modern technology, transformative processes, and formulations to deliver superior food products and experiences. Maxime is the former director of culinary arts and sciences at the Cooking Lab, housed at the Intellectual Ventures Lab in Bellevue, Washington. At the Cooking Lab, he led research and development and is co-inventor on 16 pending patents that resulted from his experiments. In 2011, Maxime co-authored the award-winning Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, a 2,438 page collection of scientifically detailed techniques and recipes that has been called “the decade’s most influential work about food.” Committed to extending the insights of modernist cooking beyond the professional kitchen, in 2012 Maxime co-authored Modernist Cuisine at Home, which Martha Stewart hailed as a book “destined to change the way we cook—and the way we use recipes.” A winner of two James Beard Awards, Maxime is a frequent speaker on the culinary circuit and in 2014 established a pop-up events and interactive food space, Art for Food, focused on the ways food connects with the arts and sciences. Funded through a grant from the City of Seattle and the Shunpike Foundation, Art for Food planted the seeds that became Imagine Food. Earlier in his career Maxime worked with Heston Blumenthal in the development kitchen at The Fat Duck, arriving in London after a stint at Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar in New York City where he was named head chef at the age of 22. He holds a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and fine arts from Skidmore College.