Worlds of Flavor®



2018 Presenters

An incredible group of people from all over the world will gather in April to share their knowledge of the traditions, techniques, and flavors of their homelands, their business and creative strategies for the next 20 years of world cuisines, and their passion for our industry!


Ming Tsai

Chef-Owner, Blue Dragon and ChowStirs

Boston, MA           @mingtsai

Coming soon


Michael Pirolo

Chef-Owner, Macchialina

Miami Beach, FL           @mikepirolo

Coming soon!


José Mendin

Chef-Owner, Food Comma Hospitality Group and Pubbelly

Miami, FL           @chefmendin

Coming soon!


Mario Jiménez Córdoba

Executive Chef, El Faro

Cádiz, Spain           @mariojimenez90

Coming soon!


Quique Dacosta

Chef-Owner, Restaurant Quique Dacosta

Denia, Spain           @qiqedacosta

Coming soon!


Mauro Barreiro

Chef-Owner, La Curiosidad de Mauro Barreiro

Cádiz, Spain           @curiosidadmauro

Coming soon!


Manuel Alonso

Chef-Owner, Restaurante Casa Manolo

Valencia, Spain           @manuelalonsof

Manuel Alonso is the chef-owner of Restaurant Casa Manolo in Valencia, Spain.


Katianna Hong

Chef, The Charter Oak

St. Helena, CA           @katiannahong

KATIANNA HONG, chef of the acclaimed The Charter Oak restaurant, has worked her way up in some of the best kitchens in the country. She moved to the Napa Valley over six years ago to work as a line cook at The Restaurant at Meadowood. In 2014, she became Christopher Kostow’s first-ever chef de cuisine. During that time, Katianna was the only female chef de cuisine in a U.S. Michelin three-star restaurant. Born in Korea and raised in upstate New York, Katianna trained as a Junior Olympian in gymnastics. After some time in college, she decided her passion was in the culinary arts and she studied at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and at the UNLV School of Hospitality. Following her education, Katianna went on to work for Chef Josiah Citrin of Michelin two-star acclaimed Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica, California. In 2015, Katianna was honored as Rising Star Chef by San Francisco Magazine, and was recently named a “Maker of the Napa Valley” by Visit Napa Valley in partnership with AFAR Magazine. The Charter Oak is a new restaurant in the heart of the Napa Valley, by Chef Christopher Kostow and Nathaniel Dorn of the Michelin-three starred Restaurant at Meadowood. It is centered on a celebratory, family-style dining experience, with simple, approachable, and seasonal food—grilled meats, beautiful vegetables from the farm, local wines, and unparalleled cocktails. Its menu reflects the products of the Napa Valley through an elemental cooking style, with a hearth at its center, and by highlighting one or two ingredients at a time.


Ton “Thitid” ‘12

Chef-Owner, Le Du and Baan

Bangkok, Thailand      @Cheftonn

Growing up surrounded by delicious home-cooked meals, his mother and grandmother’s flavors have contributed largely to the passion THITID “TON” TASSANAKAJOHN ‘12 has for cooking.  Upon the completion of his economics degree from Chulalongkorn University, he left for the United States to pursue his dream at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. The top-score CIA graduate then received an MBA in hospitality from Johnson & Wales University. During his time in New York, Thitid worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants, including Eleven Madison Park, The Modern and Jean Georges. Not only does he have passion for food, but his enthusiasm for wine also led him to become a Certified Sommelier (CS) from the respected Court of Master Sommelier. He has brought home experiences and vision to elevate Thai cuisine and give it a stand among the world’s leading cuisines. Now the rising young chef is running one of the most exciting kitchens in Bangkok, Le Du, which holds the 37th position among the 2017 S. Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, as well as the always-reliable comfort Thai food restaurant Baan.



Chef-Owner, Mixtli

San Antonio, TX      @Rico__Torres

RICO TORRES is the chef-owner at Restaurant Mixtli, a tasting menu-only restaurant focused on exploring regional Mexican cuisines that opened in October 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. He was born in El Paso, Texas in 1978. Early on he was immersed in the heritage of Zacatecas and greater Mexico, both in travel and through daily life. Even as a child Rico knew the kitchen held his heart. In October 2003, he started Rico Caters, a small catering service that quickly became known for its innovative cuisine and exceptional customer service. Rico continues to dedicate himself to his craft and career by putting an emphasis on his belief that “love and nutrition can make all the difference.” At Mixtli, he puts a laser focus on the true flavors and techniques of Mexico. In the spring of 2017, Rico and his partner, Diego Galicia, were named Food & Wine’s best new chefs.



Chef-Owner, Black Axe Mangal

London, England    

LEE TIERNAN is the chef-owner of Black Axe Mangal.



Chef-Owner, Yolele Foods

New York, NY and Lagos, Nigeria      @chefpierrethiam

PIERRE THIAM is a celebrated NY-based chef, restaurateur, award-winning cookbook author, and entrepreneur. His second cookbook, Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl, was a 2016 James Beard Award finalist. Pierre was born and raised in Senegal. He is known for his innovative cooking style, at once modern and eclectic yet rooted in the rich culinary traditions of West Africa. Through his many media appearances, including CNN’s popular Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain, he has become a culinary ambassador dedicated to promoting West African cooking throughout the world.




New York, NY    

HONG THAIMEE is chef-owner of Thaimee.


Tara Stevens

Journalist and Cooking Instructor

Fez, Morocco and Barcelona, Spain    

TARA STEVENS is a journalist and cooking instructor.


Diego Rossi

Chef-Owner, Trippa

Milan, Italy    

DIEGO ROSSI is chef-owner of Trippa.



Founder/CEO, The Sioux Chef

Minneapolis, MN      @siouxchef

The Sioux Chef Founder/CEO SEAN SHERMAN, Oglala Lakota, born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, has been cooking across the US and Mexico over the past 30 years, and has become renowned nationally and internationally in the culinary movement of indigenous foods. His main focus has been on the revitalization and evolution of indigenous foods systems throughout North America. Sean has studied on his own extensively to determine the foundations of these food systems to gain a full understanding of bringing back a sense of Native American cuisine to today’s world. In 2014, he opened the business named The Sioux Chef as a caterer and food educator in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. He and his business partner Dana Thompson also designed and opened the Tatanka Truck, which featured pre-contact foods of the Dakota and Minnesota territories. In October 2017, Sean was able to perform the first decolonized dinner at the James Beard House in New York City, along with his team. His first book, The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen was recently published and was chosen one of the top ten cookbooks of 2017 by the Los Angeles Times and the Smithsonian Magazine. The Sioux Chef’s team of twelve people continues with their mission to help educate and make indigenous foods more accessible to as many communities as possible.



Editor, NPR’s The Salt

Washington, DC    

MARIA GODOY is the editor of NPR’s The Salt.



Editor in Chief and Publisher, Flavor & The Menu

Freeport, ME           @getflavor

CATHY NASH HOLLEY is the editor in chief and publisher of Flavor & The Menu. (TBD, ME)


Andrew Friedman

Journalist and Author

Hastings-on-Hudson, NY           @ToquelandAndrew

ANDREW FRIEDMAN has chronicled the life and work of some of the best American chefs. Most recently, he is the author of Chefs, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: How Food Lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits, and Wanderers Created a New American Profession. He previously wrote Knives at Dawn: America’s Quest for Culinary Glory at the Bocuse d’Or, the World’s Most Prestigious Cooking Competition and coedited the internationally popular anthology Don’t Try This at Home. He has also coauthored more than two dozen cookbooks and memoirs with chefs including Alfred Portale, Paul Liebrandt, and Michael White, and collaborated on the New York Times bestselling memoir Breaking Back with tennis star James Blake. Andrew writes about chefs on his Toqueland blog and interviews them on his Heritage Radio Network podcast Andrew Talks to Chefs.

Photo courtesy of Evan Sung.



Editor in Chief, Saveur

New York, NY      @sachsmo

ADAM SACHS is the editor in chief of Saveur.



Chef-Owner, Rosetta, Rosetta Panadería, and Lardo

Mexico City, Mexico    

ELENA REYGADAS is the chef-owner of Rosetta, Rosetta Panadería, and Lardo.



Proprietor, RReichl Publishing LLC

New York, NY

RUTH REICHL began writing about food in 1972, when she published Mmmmm: A Feastiary. She moved to Berkeley, California in 1973, and became co-owner and cook at The Swallow Restaurant. In 1978 she became restaurant critic for New West and California magazines, and went on to be the restaurant critic and food editor of the Los Angeles Times. From 1993 to 1999 she served as restaurant critic for the New York Times. In 1999 she moved to Gourmet, where she was editor in chief for ten years. Ruth has authored four memoirs, Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, Garlic and Sapphires, and For You, Mom, Finally. Her novel, Delicious! was published in 2014, and her cookbook, My Kitchen Year, 136 Recipes that Saved My Life, in 2015. She edited The Modern Library Food Series, which currently includes ten books. She was executive producer and host of the public television series, Adventures with Ruth and a judge on Top Chef Masters. She is the recipient of six James Beard Awards. At the moment she is at work on a memoir of the Gourmet years and another novel, both to be published by Random House.



Chair, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, New York University

New York, NY    

KRISHNENDU RAY, PHD, is the chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. Prior to that he was a faculty member and an acting associate dean at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of The Migrant’s Table (2004), The Ethnic Restaurateur (2016), and the co-editor of Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food and South Asia (2012). He is currently the president of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS).



Chef-Owner, Hugo's, Caracol, and Xochi

Houston, TX      @chef_hugo65

HUGO ORTEGA, winner of Best Chef: Southwest at the prestigious 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards, started with very humble beginnings. He was raised in Mexico City and Puebla, Mexico, and learned his love of cooking from his mother and grandmother, a revered mole maker. At age 17, he left Mexico for Houston and began his career in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher and busboy at Backstreet Cafe, before graduating from culinary school and later becoming its executive chef and owner, along with wife Tracy Vaught. His American dream continued when they opened Hugo’s in 2002, featuring regional Mexican cuisine; Caracol, a Mexican coastal kitchen, in Houston’s Galleria area in 2013; and Xochi, celebrating the flavors of Oaxaca, in early 2017 in the Marriott Marquis Houston Downtown. Hugo has published two cookbooks: Hugo Ortega’s Street Food of Mexico (2012) and Backstreet Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from Our Neighborhood Café (2013). He was a James Beard Award finalist for six consecutive years, 2012-2017. Hugo is one of Houston’s most acclaimed chefs and believes that a chef is only as good as the last meal he cooked. He is also a partner in Origen restaurant in Oaxaca, Mexico. Hugo remains a fixture in his four restaurant kitchens, is an avid bicyclist, and enjoys spending time at the beach with his family.



Executive Chef, Kith and Kin

Washington, DC      @bastedmind

KWAME ONWUACHI ‘13 is executive chef of Kith and Kin. Kwame’s mother first exposed him to cooking in the family’s Bronx apartment, where he helped peel shrimp and fabricate vegetables for her catering company. At age 11, he moved to Nigeria to live with his grandfather, who introduced him to a much different culture and cuisine from that of New York City. After returning to the United States and graduating high school, Kwame moved to Baton Rouge, where he got his first kitchen job cooking for the crews cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast. The job allowed him to save enough money to move back to New York City, where he found a job waiting tables at Craft. Wanting to venture out on his own, he sold candy on the subway, raising $20,000 in two months. The funds allowed him to start his own catering company, Coterie Catering. Kwame found his passion for cooking through catering and yearned for formal training, so he enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. The training led to jobs at Per Se, Thomas Keller’s Michelin-starred New York City restaurant, and Eleven Madison Park, the upscale Madison Avenue restaurant headed by famed chef Daniel Humm. In 2014, Dinner Lab selected Kwame to join eight other chefs for its pop-up dinner competition that awards the winner a chance to open new restaurant. He spent nine months cooking across the country, eventually winning the competition. Kwame went on to participate on Top Chef, ending as a semi-finalist in the top 6. He also was named among Forbes and Zagat’s 30 under 30 lists. He has cooked at The White House, James Beard House, as well as Chef’s Club in New York City. Kwame has secured a book deal with The Knopf Doubleday Group for a memoir and is now the executive chef of Kith and Kin in Washington DC.



Chef-Owner, Studiokitchen

Philadelphia, PA      @studiokitchen1

SHOLA OLUNLOYO is a classically trained cook and member of the Pennsylvania food community, where he has carved out a creative niche in modern cooking process instruction as a consulting chef. He maintains a development test kitchen to support his manufacturer and client projects and is classically trained with a knowledge base that appeals to restaurant operators interested in creating higher consistency in food, controlling cost by using modern cooking processes to create value and high impact flavor. His approach is flavor forward seasonal cooking with a variety of geographical influences.



Chef-Owner, Daigo and Sougo

Tokyo, Japan    

DAISUKE NOMURA is internationally recognized for his award winning kaiseki-style Japanese vegetarian cuisine and innovative use of seasonal ingredients that showcases his creativity. Having served as the head chef at Daigo for over a decade and obtaining a two-star Michelin rating, Daisuke opened Restaurant Shojin Sougo to provide a new style of Shojin Ryori that incorporates modern and exciting new approaches to the centuries old techniques involved in traditional Shojin Ryori. He participated in EXPO Milano 2015, Worlds of Flavor 2010, and was selected in the list of Plant Forward Global 50 in 2017.



Chef-Owner, Toyo Eatery

Manila, The Philippines      @toyoeatery

JORDY NAVARRA never really intended to enter the food and beverage industry. First a history major on a baseball scholarship, he jumped from that to a business course, then to music. After attempting to wear several hats, he changed paths drastically, once again, and wound up working the inner trappings of the kitchen. He received a diploma in culinary and kitchen management at the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management. From there, he served his time in kitchens that include Fat Duck in the UK, followed by Bo Innovation and Ryu Gin in Hong Kong. Upon his return to the Philippines, Jordy continued his work in the service industry, focusing specifically on the diversity of the country’s flavors and local produce. This innate curiosity in understanding the flavors of his homeland has led him to explore the distinctiveness of the various regions of the Philippines. He has encountered mulberry growers up north, salt makers, fishermen, and farmers on his travels. Toyo Eatery has become his avenue for learning more about the country’s culture through the tastes that each place renders. In his restaurant, several young minds comprise the kitchen and the restaurant floor, all of whom share that same focus and drive to uncover what the islands have to offer. Inspiration for meals here are drawn from a hodgepodge of things, whether it be Filipino barbecue cooked on street corners in the afternoon, or simply a children’s folk song that gives a rundown of vegetables. Comprehending the diversity in simplicity has become the mantra that Jordy and his team turn to with each dish that they create. The plates that pass their hands aren’t about the reinvention of flavors; rather, they speak of their rediscovery.


Lucia Muñoz-Carlisle

Owner, The Laughing Taco

Milwaukee, WI

Lucia Muñoz-Carlisle is owner of The Laughing Taco.


Rick Lopez

Executive Chef, La Condesa

Austin, TX      @_ricklopez

A native Texan, RICK LOPEZ began his culinary journey in Maine when he accepted a seasonal internship at Oakland House Inn in the heart of the Blue Hill Peninsula. He soon found his way back home in San Antonio working for Chef Scott Cohen in La Mansion’s fine dining restaurant Las Canarias. He concurrently attended ACF-accredited Austin Community College and received his associate’s degree of applied sciences in culinary arts. After a strong desire to return back to the East Coast and fulfill a dream of working in New York City, Rick began a stage at Café Boulud, which led to a full-time position, working directly under future James Beard Rising Star Chef Gavin Kaysen. It was there that he learned how to become a disciplined cook and began the process of becoming a chef and a mentor to other young cooks. After Café Boulud, Rick went on to work under Terrance Brennan at Picholine and Ed Brown at 81 on the Upper West Side. Returning to Texas in 2009, Rick accepted the position of sous chef with fellow Café Boulud alum Shawn Cirkiel. Shortly after, Rick was given the opportunity to become sous chef alongside executive chef Rene Ortiz at James Beard Award-nominated La Condesa. After his first year, he was promoted to chef de cuisine and in August of 2013 named executive chef at La Condesa.



Chef-Owner, Candlenut


MALCOLM LEE is the chef-owner of Candlenut, a modern Peranakan restaurant in Singapore focused on serving inspired dishes with authentic flavours. Malcolm found his calling in the kitchen through experiences working in the U.S. and operating Frujch, a café and bar, as an undergraduate at the Singapore Management University (SMU). After becoming the first Singaporean recipient of the Miele Guide Scholarship, Malcolm attended the At-Sunrice Global Chef Academy. Today Malcolm serves authentic Peranakan cuisine with modern techniques such as sous vide cooking. Candlenut’s menu reflects Malcolm’s simple yet refined cooking style with focus on flavor and execution. Candlenut has gained significant coverage in the local media, and received publicity in overseas publications in Hong Kong and London.



Founder & Managing Director, Cuisine Concept Co., Ltd.

Bangkok, Thailand      @iankittichai

Chef PONGTAWAT “IAN KITTICHAI” CHALERMKITTICHAI’s path to culinary success started from very humble beginnings in Bangkok accompanying his mother to the wet market at 3 a.m. to shop for her neighborhood grocery to studying in England and Australia to opening restaurants around the world. During his first career with the Four Seasons hotel group, Ian became in 1998 the first Thai national to become executive chef of a five-star hotel property. In 2004 he relocated to New York and created Kittichai Restaurant, which featured among Food & Wine’s Best New Asian Restaurants 2005 and Travel + Leisure’s Best New American Restaurants 2004, and appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, GQ, and the New York Times, among many others. In 2008 he left Kittichai Restaurant, formed his international food & beverage management and consulting firm, Cuisine Concept Co., Ltd., and opened the highly acclaimed Restaurant Murmuri in Barcelona, Spain. Currently his Cuisine Concept Co., Ltd. has some of the most recognizable international hotels, restaurants, and food companies on its client roster. In 2010, he opened Bangkok’s first gastro bar, Hyde & Seek, and the celebrated Koh by Ian Kittichai, his third signature Thai restaurant, in Mumbai, India. In 2011 he opened Ember Room, a progressive Thai comfort food restaurant, with Chace Restaurant Group, became a partner in and the culinary director of Spot Dessert Bar, both in New York City, and debuted his flagship Thai restaurant and lounge, Issaya Siamese Club, in Bangkok; it received the 21st position on the 2017 S. Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Also in 2012 he opened Smith, Bangkok’s first international “nose to tail” concept eatery, Asian bun eatery, Jum Mum, on St. Mark’s Place in New York City, and a second branch of Spot Dessert Bar in New York City. In 2014 Ian opened Issaya Cooking Studio in partnership with Sub-Zero & Wolf appliances, Issaya La Pâtisserie, and his Asian gastro bar, Namsaah Bottling Trust,  in Bangkok. He is the author of Chef Ian’s Kitchen Revealed, a Thai-language cookbook that received the Gourmand Best Chef Cookbook: Thailand Award in 2011, of Issaya Siamese Club: Innovative Thai Cuisine by Chef Ian Kittichai, which placed third for the Best Cookbook of The Year 2014 by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, and of La Pâtisserie Issaya Pastry Cookbook. In January 2012 Ian debuted to a 15,000,000 fan following as one of the permanent Iron Chefs on the Iron Chef Thailand television show. From 2001 to 2014 he hosted the weekly cooking show Chef Mue Tong (The Golden Hand Chef), which could be seen in over 70 countries. He can currently be seen as the lead judge on MasterChef Thailand. In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property, and the Agence Française de Développement honored Ian as the first Asia Geographical Indication Ambassador, and in 2015 he was awarded the designation of Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the French Republic for his outstanding contributions to gastronomy and agriculture, the only Thai chef to have received this designation.



Chef-Owner, Stages at One Washington

Dover, NH         

EVAN HENNESSEY is chef-owner at Stages at One Washington. (Dover, NH)



Head Chef, Franklin

Hobart, Tasmania      @analiesegregory

ANALIESE GREGORY is head chef of Franklin. (Hobart, Tasmania)



Chef-Owner, Lalito

New York, NY    

GERARDO GONZALEZ ‘10 is chef-owner of Lalito.



Chef-Owner, Ox and Bistro Agnes

Portland, OR      @oxpdx

GREG DENTON and GABRIELLE QUIÑÓNEZ DENTON opened Ox Restaurant in April 2012, SuperBite in April 2016, and Bistro Agnes in January 2017 in Portland, Oregon. They are the 2017 winners of the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northwest, and 2014 Food & Wine Best New Chefs. Ox Restaurant, which serves Argentine-inspired Portland food, was named The Oregonian’s Restaurant of the Year in 2013, one of Bon Appétit’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants, Eater’s 2012 Portland Restaurant of the Year, and was a semi-finalist for the 2014 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America. SuperBite received Eater’s 2016 Portland Best Spin-Off of the Year Award and was named one of Thrillist’s Best New Restaurants of the year, before the space transitioned into Bistro Agnes. Their debut cookbook, Around the Fire, was released in March 2016 (published by Ten Speed Press), to critical acclaim. Born in Schenectady, New York and raised in Rutland, Vermont, Greg knew he wanted to be a chef from age four. He started working in kitchens at age nine. Gabrielle’s passion for food developed at a young age as well, during summers spent in her grandmother’s kitchen in the Andean highlands of Ecuador. Both Greg and Gabrielle graduated from culinary school with honors, Greg in 1996 from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and Gabrielle in 1999 from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.


Greg Denton ‘96

Chef-Owner, Ox and Bistro Agnes

Portland, OR      @oxpdx

GREG DENTON and GABRIELLE QUIÑÓNEZ DENTON opened Ox Restaurant in April 2012, SuperBite in April 2016, and Bistro Agnes in January 2017 in Portland, Oregon. They are the 2017 winners of the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northwest, and 2014 Food & Wine Best New Chefs. Ox Restaurant, which serves Argentine-inspired Portland food, was named The Oregonian’s Restaurant of the Year in 2013, one of Bon Appétit’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants, Eater’s 2012 Portland Restaurant of the Year, and was a semi-finalist for the 2014 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America. SuperBite received Eater’s 2016 Portland Best Spin-Off of the Year Award and was named one of Thrillist’s Best New Restaurants of the year, before the space transitioned into Bistro Agnes. Their debut cookbook, Around the Fire, was released in March 2016 (published by Ten Speed Press), to critical acclaim. Born in Schenectady, New York and raised in Rutland, Vermont, Greg knew he wanted to be a chef from age four. He started working in kitchens at age nine. Gabrielle’s passion for food developed at a young age as well, during summers spent in her grandmother’s kitchen in the Andean highlands of Ecuador. Both Greg and Gabrielle graduated from culinary school with honors, Greg in 1996 from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and Gabrielle in 1999 from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.


Monique Fiso

Chef-Owner, Hiakai

Wellington, New Zealand      @momofiso

From an after-school job as a sandwich hand at the tender age of 14, to the Michelin-starred kitchens of New York City, MONIQUE FISO always wanted to be a chef. She completed her studies at the Wellington Institute of Technology and while still still in school talked her way into her first fine dining job working for Chef Martin Bosley at the eponymous Martin Bosley at the Port Nicholson Yacht Club. Working full time while studying paid off and Monique finished top of her class. With a hunger for adventure and a desire for a challenge, she booked a ticket to New York City, home of some of the world’s best restaurants. After dropping her bags at a hostel, Monique headed for Michelin-starred PUBLIC restaurant and was immediately put to work. Over the next seven years, she honed her skills as a sous chef in some of New York City’s top kitchens: The Musket Room, PUBLIC Restaurant, A Voce, Saxon+Parole, Double Crown, to name a few. In 2016, she returned to New Zealand full time and began the pop-up dining series, Hiakai. Using traditional Māori cooking techniques and ingredients in combination with her Michelin-star training, Monique has taken Māori cuisine to a whole new level of sophistication and pushed it into the next chapter in its food story. Since arriving back in New Zealand, Monique has also become a regular contributor to MiNDFOOD Magazine, Māori Television, and Morena on TVNZ1.



Chef-Owner, Emmer & Rye

Austin, TX    

KEVIN FINK is owner and executive chef of Emmer & Rye.



Personal Chef and Caterer

Charleston, SC


Born and raised in Charleston, SC, personal chef and caterer BENJAMIN “BJ” DENNIS infuses the flavors and culture of the Lowcountry into his Gullah Geechee cuisine, bringing a new taste to ever expanding culinary palate of the south. What differentiates BJ’s food from his contemporaries in “southern” cooking is the homage he pays to the Gullah Geechee culture, brought to the Americas by West Africans, and disseminated along the West Indies and the American South. BJ infuses the techniques of his ancestors, learned from four years of study in St. Thomas, as well as the lessons of his grandparents about eating from the land, to create fresh interpretations of local dishes focusing on in-season, locally sourced vegetables and seafood. BJ has an associate’s degree in hospitality / tourism management and the culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of Charleston and has worked in a number of award-winning southern dining establishments including Carolinas, Anson’s, Oak Steakhouse, Hank’s Seafood, and 82 Queen. His cuisine has been featured in local, national and international events including the BB&T Wine+Food Festival, Cook It Raw, Meatopia, and The Food Film Fest. His “pop-up” dinners, at local establishments such as Butcher & Bee, Elliottborough MiniBar, Republic Reign, Le Creuset, Roadside Seafood, and Proof, are sought-after culinary adventures on the underground dinner circuit. His pop-up at Labo Culinaire Foodlab in Montreal, Quebec in May 2015 took the Gullah food and culture to an international arena. BJ was also a chef participant at the Terroir food symposium in Toronto, Canada’s biggest food conference, in May 2015. Recent appearances on P.B.S Moveable Feast and Bravo’s Top Chef have taken him and Gullah Cuisine to a national television audience.



Chef-Owner, Mi Tocaya Antojeria

Chicago, IL      @mitocaya

DIANA DÁVILA is the executive chef and owner of Mi Tocaya Antojeria in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. A native of the Chicago suburbs, she grew up in kitchens and began working in her parent’s taqueria at the age of 10. She began her professional career at her family’s upscale dining concept, Hacienda Jalapeños, where she received high praise in the form of a two-star review from Phil Vettel at the Chicago Tribune and was called a “Mexican marvel” by the Chicago Sun-Times. Most recently, Diana was featured as one of 21 Chicagoans in the Chicago Reader 2015 People Issue. To continue her culinary exploration, she studied under Chef Susana Trilling at the Seasons of the Heart culinary school in Oaxaca, Mexico, and then cooked at Butter. In 2007, she accepted a new opportunity to work alongside Guiseppe Tentori as the fish cook at the Michelin starred Boka. In 2008, she took a break from the Chicago winters and landed in D.C, where she spent four years under the wings of well-known restaurateur, Jackie Greenbaum. She helped her conceptualize, develop and build Greenbaum’s innovative restaurant concepts; Jackie’s, Sidebar and El Chucho as an executive chef and most recently as chef consultant of Bar Charley. Her work in the nation’s capital was heavily lauded and while there she was recognized by Washingtonian as one of 13 “Culinary Rising Stars” in 2010 as well as one of five “Female Force” chefs by Washington Life in 2011. After returning to Chicago and opening the innovative Cantina 1910 Diana was ready to open a restaurant that truly represents her culinary voice. She is excited to share her takes on familiar Mexican favorites, favorite regional specialties, and dishes inspired by her Mexican heritage with Chicago at her first restaurant, Mi Tocaya Antojeria.


Sau del Rosario

Chef-Owner, Café Fleur, 25 Seeds

Angeles City, Philippines


Sau Del Rosario is chef-owner of Café Fleur. (Angeles City, Philippines)


Tracy Chang

Chef-Owner, PAGU

Cambridge, MA      @gopagu

TRACY CHANG’s love for the restaurant industry began at an early age at her grandmother’s Japanese restaurant in Cambridge. Her grandmother, Chin-Fun Shiue, immigrated to Boston in the 1980s and decided to open not only one restaurant, but several. At an early age, Tracy observed her grandmother’s hard work and leadership that created opportunities for other immigrants. While earning her bachelor’s degree in finance from Boston College, Tracy worked jobs in various industries. Each job had a common focus: service and leadership. She co-founded the food and recipe column in the BC Heights with her roommate and often gathered friends and professors together to participate in making homemade dumplings, noodles and dessert. Her hunger for restaurant experience led her to work at O Ya while she finished her finance degree. She sought to learn pastry from the crème de la crème, and went on to study with MOF Pâtissier Nicolas Bernardé at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. From Paris, she traveled south and over the border to Spain, where she won a scholarship to cook alongside Chef Martín Berasategui at his Michelin three-star restaurant in San Sebastian. Three months into her scholarship with Berasategui, he offered her the rare opportunity to be his “mano derecha,” and she spent the rest of the year travelling alongside him to all events from Alicante to New York. She coordinated television production with Berasategui and David de Jorge on the set of Robin Food, as well as directed his public lectures, lead his marketing and communications department, and launched his social media initiatives. An unexpected family emergency led Tracy to return to Boston, where she spent the next year taking care of her father and her pup, Phoebe. While she helped nurse her dear ones back to health, she re-grouped with her former O Ya co-workers to conceptualize and co-found Guchi’s Midnight Ramen (GMR), directing back of the house preparations as well as front of the house service and hospitality. In the fall of 2012, Tracy officially joined as a teaching fellow with the Harvard Science and Cooking program. She coordinated public and student lectures with world-renowned chefs. She is still involved in the program, working with Professor Michael Brenner, Preceptor Pia Sorensen, the Alicia Foundation, and Pere Castells, and visiting chefs from around the world. Through hosting events in Boston and Cambridge in the tech and start-up scene, Tracy not only met like-minded, visionaries with a common knack for gathering movers and shakers in the community, but also formed lifelong friendships. With the help of Jesse Baerkahn and his team at Graffito SP, she found the perfect home for PAGU, 310 Mass. Ave., nestled between Central Square and MIT, the hub of innovation. Tracy is excited to feed the community and continue her grandmother’s legacy. She looks forward to cultivating more than a restaurant, cafe and bakery; by bringing talented friends together over soulful food and sparkling conversation, they will create boundless opportunities for collaboration and innovation.


Jeremy Chan

Head Chef/Co-Owner, Ikoyi

London, England      @ikoyi_london

JEREMY CHAN is head chef/co-owner of Ikoyi. He was born in the UK to a Chinese father and Canadian mother, grew up in Hong Kong, the UK, and the US and spent much of his life living and working around Europe. He received a bachelor’s degree in languages and philosophy from Princeton magna cum laude. He then went into renewable energy private equity, a career path that proved ill-suited to his interest, as Jeremy spent all his days off obsessing and thinking about food and read any book he could get his hands on until he convinced himself he would become a chef. He left his job and started working in kitchens about six years ago, asking, questioning, and writing everything down in every kitchen where he worked. Jeremy spent time in Michelin-starred kitchens, including at Hibiscus in London, in the test kitchen at Noma in Copenhagen, and most recently at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal back in London. He left to open Ikoyi with his old friend and business partner Iré Hassan-Odukale. The food at Ikoyi is a culmination of his entire life experience around food, aesthetics, culture, and interpretation of gastronomy applied to West African ingredients. At Ikoyi, they only create new dishes, driven by the products, combinations, and historical implications of the region. The food is not authentically West African. They explore medical journals to understand the applications of peppercorns in many of their dishes, trace the history of grains to gain a better understanding of origin and influence, and work with researchers of umami from various institutions. There is also a strong artistic influence in the concept around the look and texture of food, while the cooking aspect may be more technical.


Val M. Cantu

Chef-Owner, Californios

San Francisco, CA    

VAL M. CANTU is chef-owner at Californios.


Manoella Buffara

Chef-Owner, Manu

Curitiba, Brazil      @manubuffara

MANOELLA BUFFARA is a prominent name in contemporary gastronomy. At her restaurant Manu in Curitiba, she cooks and experiments with indigenous Brazilian products, mostly from the region of Paraná. She inherited all of her respect for ingredients from her father, who was a farmer. Selecting products according to their seasonal availability and the objective to be as fresh as possible make for a menu in constant mutation. Manoella was raised in the countryside around goats, cows, vegetable gardens, cornfields… She learned early on to value land and animals, and what they can offer if treated with affection and care. With her grandmother, she learned how important our hands are, to discover temperatures, cooking points, time to make bread, and the love we should have for food. Patience has been a guiding principle as Manoella built her career and Manu: one must know how to wait and let things sometimes develop on their own, without trying to selfishly control them. Each ingredient has its cooking time and its individuality. Cooking is respecting the time of things. Each food demands a dress, a face, a tradition. From the three-digit dish set up in the acclaimed restaurant to the snack just out of the questionable oven of a simple corner bar, every food has its time and place. Manoella is guided by the moto “Be proud of your roots, be proud of your land, be proud of your family and your culture.”


Cristina Bowerman

Chef, Glass Hostaria

Rome, Italy      @cribowerman

CRISTINA BOWERMAN, one of the few Italian women chef awarded a Michelin star and other prestigious awards, was born in Cerignola, Italy. After receiving a law degree in 1992, she left Puglia for California, where she alternated forensic studies and graphic design with working at Higher Grounds, a San Francisco coffee house where she developed her passion for cooking, building on her mother’s and grandmother’s teachings. She then earned a culinary arts degree in Austin, Texas. Upon returning to Italy in 2004, she gained an important first experience at the Convivio Troiani in Rome, before moving to Glass Hostaria, a restaurant that then had been opened for one year. There, Cristina started to offer her highly original cuisine, resulting from the different experiences—personal and professional—she made abroad, from the many internships at leading restaurants around the world that she attended to acquire new knowledge, to learn and refine the techniques she took back to Rome and reworked with her own twist. She managed to conquer a wide audience of locals and internationals with her kitchen, sometimes provocative and unsettling, but always recognizable and tasty, able to communicate—in an interesting mix—global and local, modernity and tradition. In 2008 she received two forks in The Gambero Rosso Guide, in 2010 she was awarded a Michelin star—the only female chef to receive one that year, and in 2013 she was awarded the prize “Woman Chef of the Year” by Identità Golose. In November 2012, after a radical renovation of a former Alfa Romeo factory in the Prati district of Rome, Romeo Chef & Baker was born: cooking and baking, a counter with a rich selection of excellent products, gourmet sandwiches and coffee. With Ape Romeo and Frigo, she became a food truck pioneer. In 2015 Romeo at Testaccio Market in Rome opened. The newest member is Romeo C&B, which represents an innovative and wide concept of Italian prêt- à-porter food culture at its best: haute cuisine, delicatessen, bakery, ice-cream parlour, pizzeria, cocktail bar, catering, food store and food-related events location, conference room, all under the same roof. Cristina told her exciting story in a book published in 2014 by Mondadori: From Cerignola to San Francisco and Back: My Countercurrent Life as a Chef. Beyond the creativity and quality of her culinary inventions, Cristina has an emblematic career as she managed to emerge in an environment extremely biased towards males. This value has been recognized at TEDxMilano Women. In 2015 she was the only woman selected as Chef Ambassador at Expo Milano 2015. In November 2015 she received the Prize “Aila Progetto Donna” from Associazione Aila Italian Foundation for the Fight against Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis. Among her most beloved commitments, in 2015 she was the star of the biggest ACTION AID campaign ever. She is also very committed in the organization of Fiorano For Kids, annual event to raise funds to research on the therapeutic role of specific diets in the treatment of epilepsy in children. Since March 2016, Cristina is in the Food Act Committee, the act between Italian cuisine and the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Forestry Policies. In March 2016 she was awarded the prize “Identità nuove sfide” at Identità Golose 2016, and in June of that year she was selected as president of the Association of Italian Ambassadors of Taste. She supervises the food programs of Assaggio Bistrot by Autogrill at the Fiumicino Airport and of MAXXI - Museo Nazionale Delle Arti del XXI secolo, both in Rome. In May 2017 Cristina was awarded the “Non omnia possumus omnes,” 9th edition National Literary Prize Nicola Zingarelli.



Chef-Owner, Midunu

Accra, Ghana      @midunu

SELASSIE ATADIKA is chef-owner of Midunu. After more than a decade spent engaged in humanitarian work with the United Nations and years of self-teaching in the culinary arts, she completed coursework at The Culinary Institute of America. She is a founding member of Trio Toque, the first nomadic restaurant in Dakar, Senegal. Selassie brought her innovative approach to African cuisine back home in 2014, with Midunu, a nomadic and private dining enterprise in Accra that embodies “New African Cuisine.” Midunu is a culinary lifestyle company that celebrates Africa’s cultural and culinary heritage. Its goal is to create experiences where culture, community and cuisine intersect. Midunu employs local, seasonal, and underutilized ingredients including traditional grains and proteins to deliver Africa’s bounty to the table. With an eye towards biodiversity and sustainability, it curates white-linen nomadic events, private dining, retail and lifestyle products, and a bespoke event space. Midunu’s Nomadic Dinners have attracted attention with diners from five continents. Selassie has been sought for her thought leadership by CNN African Voices, The Financial Times, The Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR), OmVärlden, as well as mentioned in Vogue, National Geographic’s The Plate, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Ebony. She holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor’s degree in geography modified with environmental studies from Dartmouth College. In 2017, she was named one of the EAT Foundation and Culinary Institute of America’s Plant-Forward Global 50 Chefs.


Reem Assil

Chef-Owner, Reem's

Oakland, CA    

REEM ASSIL is chef-owner of Reem’s.



Chef-Owner, Zoe's Ghana Kitchen

London, England           @zoeadjonyoh

ZOE ADJONYOH is the chef-owner of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen.


Kelly Killian

Director of the Foodservice Content Group, Winsight

Chicago, IL           @kskillian

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).


Erik Bruner-Yang

Chef-Owner, Maketto, Honeycomb

Washington, DC           @erikbruneryang

ERIK BRUNER-YANG is a two-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee and the chef and owner of Maketto and Honeycomb in Washington, DC. He is also the founder of Toki Underground. Winner of the “Restaurant of the Year” Eater Award and Everyday Casual Restaurant of the Year RAMMY Award, Toki Underground continues to be nationally and locally recognized for its creative menu featuring hybrid Taiwanese style ramen, authentic Taiwanese dumplings, and Asian-inspired cocktails. In 2014, Erik introduced Honeycomb, a local 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. Maketto was selected as one of Eater’s 21 Best New Restaurants in America and is DC’s New Restaurant of the Year by RAMW. Erik and his restaurants continue to receive rave reviews both locally and nationally from Bon Appétit, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Eater, and many more. Erik recently opened two new concepts, Brothers and Sisters and Spoken English, in The Line Hotel in the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington, DC.


Joseph “JJ” Johnson ‘04

Chef-Owner, Ingrained Hospitality

New York, NY           @chefjj

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.


Tuffy Stone

Chef-Owner, Q Barbecue

Richmond, VA           @tuffystone

TUFFY STONE is a classically trained French chef, television personality and accomplished pitmaster who just so happens to be the most successful guy on the competitive barbecue circuit over the last few years. He has been a judge and host on the Destination America reality television show BBQ Pitmasters since 2009. Tuffy is the head cook on the team “Cool Smoke”, and co-owns four Q Barbeque restaurants in Richmond, Va. He recently opened a fifth restaurant, Rancho T, in April 2015. He has earned Grand Champion titles in nearly every major barbecue competition on the circuit—in 2013 Tuffy took home two World Champion titles while only cooking eight contests and he followed up in 2014 with another World Championship title, winning the American Royal Open. That year he also won 1st Runner Up at the Houston Live Stock and Rodeo World Championship, and took 2nd place in ribs at Memphis in May. Tuffy has won contests all over the country, including back to back wins at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue, Grand Champion at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational in 2013 and 2015, and First Place in Whole Shoulder at the 2010 Memphis in May World Championship to name a few. In 2015 Tuffy took home the top prize in competition barbecue, winning Grand Champion at theKingsford Invitational.


Justin Carlisle

Chef-Owner, Ardent

Milwaukee, WI           @jcarlisle22479

JUSTIN CARLISLE grew up on a small beef farm in rural Wisconsin and food has always played a large part of his life. Starting in small restaurants, his passion for cooking grew and helped develop a love of food and a hard work ethic. His restaurant Ardent—opened in October of 2013, has been named one of the 15 best new restaurants by Condé Nast Traveler; Best Restaurant in the State of Wisconsin by Business Insider; and was named a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. Justin is a James Beard Awards nominee for Best Chef Midwest for 2015, 2016, and 2017. Plate named him one of the top 30 chefs to watch in 2016. During his time as a chef, Justin has continued to support the local food movement and use a modern technical approach to it.

Photo credit: Huge Galdones


Kelly Weikel

Director of Consumer Insights, Technomic

Chicago, IL         

KELLY WEIKEL specializes in using her background in psychology to understand the “why” behind consumer decisions. Her focus is on uncovering the underlying consumer needstates and motivations that shape foodservice behaviors and providing insights on consumer attitudes and usage across foodservice products, amenities and brands. Kelly leads Technomic’s Consumer Trend Reports and Access, a series of more than 20 annual studies that keep U.S. and Canadian foodservice professionals up to date on evolving trends in food and beverage categories, restaurant sectors, dining occasions, consumer segments and more. She also works with clients creating multi-sponsored, custom ad-hoc and full-service research solutions and is a frequent speaker at industry seminars and conferences. She holds a BA in psychology from Loyola University Chicago and is currently attending Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management for her MBA with a concentration in marketing and social enterprise.


Sarah Simmons

CEO, CITY GRIT Hospitality Group

Columbia, SC


Named one of the 50 best chefs in New York City in 2014 by Food & Wine, SARAH SIMMONS is the CEO of CITY GRIT Hospitality Group, the founder of CITY GRIT Culinary Salon, and executive chef/owner of Birds & Bubbles, a full-service restaurant in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In 2010, she was named “America’s Home Cook Superstar” by Food & Wine as part of its search for the nation’s best home cook. This recognition inspired her to leave the corporate world to pursue cooking full-time and focus on bringing the CITY GRIT concept to market. Since opening CITY GRIT in September 2011, Sarah has been recognized as an influencer and tastemaker in the industry and acknowledged for both her culinary and business talent. In 2012, she was once again recognized by Food & Wine as one of “America’s Best New Cooks” alongside nine other chefs including Mike Solomonov and Alex Stupak. In 2013, she was recognized by the Charleston Wine + Food Festival as a “New & Notable” chef, and was named one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company, which called her “the chef cooking up the most exciting dining experience in New York.” CITY GRIT continues to be recognized as “One of the Most Innovative Restaurants in the Country” (Zagat in 2014) and Sarah’s first full-service concept, Birds & Bubbles, opened in 2014, earning her numerous accolades including three stars from Time Out NY and two stars from Adam Platt, New York’s extremely discerning food critic, and recognition by the New York City Michelin Dining Guide. In 2015 she opened Rise Gourmet Goods & Bakeshop, her first counter-service concept in her hometown of Columbia, SC, earning “Best New Restaurant” by the readers of The Free Times. In 2017, Sarah relocated the CGHG companies to Columbia, SC to focus on economic development, workforce training, and community growth in the city. She currently serves on the city’s Food Policy Council and is on officer on the Board of Directors for the City Foods Cooperative Marketplace. In addition to running CGHG, Sarah is a member of the Williams-Sonoma Chef Collective, is frequently featured at food festivals and events across the country and is a recurring guest judge on Food Network competitive cooking show, Beat Bobby Flay.


Diego Galicia ‘10

Chef-Owner, Mixtli

San Antonio, TX           @atthediegoshow

DIEGO GALICIA ‘10 was born in Toluca, Mexico in 1984 and moved to San Antonio in 2002. He studied psychology at The University of Texas at San Antonio a few years before graduating from The Culinary Institute of America. While a student at the CIA, he was employed at Restaurant Lüke, owned by Chef John Besh, and a local french bakery where he did Sunday brunch. Diego has had the opportunity of working back in his native Mexico at Azul Condesa, owned by renowned Chef Ricardo Muñoz, and stints at Michelin-starred restaurants Atelier Crenn in San Francisco and Moto in Chicago. In the spring of 2017, Diego and his partner, Rico Torres, were named Food & Wine’s best new chefs. Mixtli is a very personal and intimate project that reflects Diego’s love and passion for his native country.


Rick Bayless

Chef-Owner, Topolobampo, Frontera Grill, Xoco, Leña Brava

Chicago, IL           @rick_bayless

Most people know RICK BAYLESS from winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, beating out the French and Italian with his authentic Mexican cuisine. His highly rated public television series, Mexico–One Plate at a Time, is in its ninth season and is broadcast coast to coast. In 2012, Rick was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Best Culinary Host. Rick has 12 cookbooks. His second book, Mexican Kitchen, won the Julia Child IACP cookbook of the year award in 1996, and his fourth book, Mexico–One Plate at a Time won James Beard Best International Cookbook of the Year award in 2001. Fiesta at Rick’s spent a number of weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Rick’s side by side award-winning restaurants are in Chicago. The casual Frontera Grill was founded in 1987 and received the James Beard Foundation’s highest award, Outstanding Restaurant, in 2007. The 4-star Toplobampo served its first meals in 1991. And the wildly popular, LEED GOLD-certified, fast-casual Xoco has been around since 2009, serving wood-oven tortas, steaming caldos, golden churros and bean-to-cup Mexican hot chocolate. Rick’s quick-service Tortas Frontera have changed the face of food service at O’Hare International Airport, while Frontera Fresco has brought Frontera flavors to several Macy’s stores and Northwestern University. His award-winning Frontera line of salsas, cooking sauces and organic chips can be found coast to coast. Rick and his staff established the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2003 to support small Midwestern farms. Each year, grants are awarded to farmers for capital improvements to their family farms, encouraging greater production and profitability. To date, the Foundation has awarded 128 grants totaling over $1.3 million. In 2007, Rick and his team launched the Frontera Scholarship, a full tuition scholarship that sends a Mexican-American Chicago Public School student to Kendall College to study culinary arts. In 2007 Rick was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for his many philanthropic endeavors. Rick has received a great number of James Beard Award nominations in many categories, and he has won seven: Midwest Chef of the Year, National Chef of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Who’s Who of American Food and Drink, Best Podcast, plus two for his cookbooks. The Government of Mexico has bestowed on Rick the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle–the highest decoration bestowed on foreigners whose work has benefitted Mexico and its people. Recently, Rick finished up a sold-out 5-week run on stage at Lookingglass Theatre, where he created Cascabel–offering theater goers the story of a meal, told through flavor, memory, song, dance and amazing physical feats.


Chandra Ram ‘99

Editor, Plate

Chicago, IL           @chandrasplate

CHANDRA RAM ‘99 is the editor of Plate, an award-winning food magazine read by chefs all over the country. She spent more than 15 years in the restaurant industry as a cook and consulting chef before turning to food writing and editing. 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 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) and Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces (Ten Speed Press).


Edward Lee

Chef-Partner, 610 Magnolia, The Wine Studio, and MilkWood

Louisville, KY         

EDWARD LEE is the chef-owner of 610 Magnolia, The Wine Studio, and MilkWood in Louisville, Kentucky, and the culinary director for Succotash in Maryland. He has received multiple finalist nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards Best Chef: Southeast. He has been featured in Esquire, Bon Appétit, GQ, Gourmet; won on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, Top Chef: Texas, Season 9; and has appeared on Cooking Channel’s Foodography, and many more appearances. Most recently, he was nominated for a daytime Emmy for his role as host of the Emmy-winning series Mind of Chef on PBS. Edward has published articles in Gastronomica, Esquire, Local Palate, and many other journals. Edward’s self-authored best-selling cookbook, Smoke & Pickles, (Artisan Books, May 2013) chronicles his unconventional journey from the kitchens of Brooklyn to becoming a lauded Southern chef. His signature blend with Jefferson’s Reserve called Chef’s Collaboration Blend is a luxury small batch bourbon he developed with Master Blender Trey Zoeller. Lee approaches his professional and culinary life with candor, humor, and—most importantly—the same spirit of adventure that was the original impetus for his success. His newest book, Buttermilk Graffiti, will be published by Artisan Books in April 2018.


Christopher Kostow

Chef, The Restaurant at Meadowood and The Charter Oak

St. Helena, CA           @ckostow

CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW was awarded his first Michelin star before the age of 30. He takes a thoughtful approach to food, drawing upon his own American upbringing and the bounty of the surrounding Napa Valley. His cooking focuses on seasonality, utilizing ingredients from the nearby farm that he and his team operate for The Restaurant at Meadowood and the recently opened The Charter Oak. A Chicago native, Christopher trained in kitchens far and wide: from a Paris bistro to the Michelin-starred Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier. Upon returning to the US, he worked as sous chef under Daniel Humm in San Francisco, then became chef at Chez TJ in Mountain View, California, garnering the restaurant many accolades including two Michelin stars. When he arrived at Meadowood in 2008, Christopher maintained two Michelin stars, was nominated for Best Chef: Pacific by the James Beard Foundation, and named as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2009. In 2010, he garnered a rare four stars in the San Francisco Chronicle and was soon awarded the highest ranking of three Michelin stars from the esteemed 2011 Guide. He is the second American-born chef and third youngest chef ever to receive three Michelin stars, which he has still retained, along with his Chronicle four-star rating. In 2013, Christopher was awarded Best Chef: West by the James Beard Foundation, and honored as a finalist for Outstanding Chef in 2017. Christopher’s first book, A New Napa Cuisine (Ten Speed Press, 2014) was awarded Book of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals in 2015.


Robert Danhi ‘91

Founder, Chef Danhi & Co

Los Angeles, CA           @chefdanhi

ROBERT DANHI ‘91 is an award-winning author, James Beard finalist, television show host, and R&D chef with 25 years of extensive research in Southeast Asia and a lifelong commitment to the demystification of Southeast Asian cuisine for home cooks, aspiring chefs, and his industry peers. This curator of culture was recruited to host Taste of Vietnam, a 26-episode television show exploring 19 of the undiscovered provinces of Vietnam, currently being broadcasted internationally. Robert was selected to be one of the main judges of Top Chef Vietnam, a 17-episode reality TV show that is based on the USA Emmy-award winning series.  As a photo-journalist he published, authored, and photographed his first book, Southeast Asian Flavors, a deep-dive into the culinary cultures of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore. His most recent book, Easy Thai Cooking: 75 Family-Style Dishes You Can Prepare at Home in Minutes, showcases simple recipes that result in the genuine flavors of Thailand. Upon earning his degree from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1991, Robert honed his skills in varying restaurant positions from Los Angeles to Hawaii. In 1999, he returned to his roots as a faculty member at the CIA in Hyde Park and continues to teach for them as an adjunct faculty member. Bringing all of his passions and expertise together, Robert founded Chef Danhi & Co in 2005, a consulting firm based in Los Angeles that works with food manufacturers, restaurants, educational organizations, and professional associations. This full service agency’s expertise resides in menu and product R&D, sales and marketing support, and educational and training programs.


Michael Harlan Turkell

Photographer, Author, Radio Host; /

Brooklyn, NY           @harlanturk

MICHAEL HARLAN TURKELL is a photographer and author who has spent over a decade as a journalist in the food media world. He has been nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in Visual Storytelling, photographed over a dozen cookbooks, co-authored Chris Cosentino’s OFFAL GOOD, and wrote and photographed his own, ACID TRIP: Travels in the World of Vinegar. Michael also hosts THE FOOD SEEN on, a podcast during which he brings together guests working at the intersections of food, art, and design that has twice been a finalist for a Stitcher Award, as well as the special eight-part series MODERNIST BREADCRUMBS, in collaboration with Modernist Cuisine’s Modernist Bread book. He also started the Japanese-inspired event series called SUMO STEW, which live streams sumo matches from the grand tournaments in Japan while serving chankonabe, the stew they cook and eat to fortify themselves before wrestling. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wine writing wife, and their cat #masontoday.


Mai Pham

Chef-Owner, Lemon Grass

Sacramento, CA         

MAI PHAM is the chef-owner of the nationally acclaimed Lemon Grass Restaurant and Star Ginger in Sacramento, California. A recognized expert on Asian cuisine, she is known for her fresh Southeast Asian cuisine featuring the bright flavors of Vietnam, Thailand, and beyond. She has hosted “Vietnam: My Country, My Kitchen” on the Food Network and authored Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table. That cookbook received a James Beard Award nomination and was named among the best cookbook titles in 2001 by The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. She has also authored The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking, which was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air and in Martha Stewart Living. Her newest book, Flavors of Asia, a collaboration with The Culinary Institute of America, features the best recipes from seven countries in Asia. In recent years, Mai has partnered with campus, corporate, healthcare, and government dining entities to launch Star Ginger outposts, which feature on-trend Southeast Asian flavors, from hearty authentic Thai curries and grilled meats to fresh, flavorful Vietnamese noodle soups and salads, among others. Born in Saigon and raised in Vietnam and Thailand, Mai worked as a television journalist for various ABC News affiliates and later as a speechwriter for a California governor before returning to her love of food and cooking.


Shinobu Namae

Chef-Owner, L'Effervescence

Tokyo, Japan           @namaesan

SHINOBU NAMAE is the chef-owner of L’Effervescence in Tokyo, which he opened in 2010. The restaurant, which focuses on modern gastronomy based on Japanese terroir and European techniques, received a Michelin star in its first year and a second star in 2014, and ranked first among French restaurants in the 2012 Zagat Survey Tokyo, with 27 points. In 2017, it was no. 12 on San Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Shinobu received a degree in politics from KEIO University. He worked at Michel Bras’ three-Michelin-star restaurants in Laguiole, France, and Hokkaido, Japan, where he was sous chef. Before opening L’Effervescence, he was the sous chef of Heston Blumenthal’s acclaimed The Fat Duck in Bray, England, and also worked in the restaurant’s pastry department.


Chris Kajioka ‘03

Chef-Owner, Senia

Honolulu, Hawaii           @ckcuisine21

A Honolulu native, CHRIS KAJIOKA ‘05 received his formal training from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY where he earned his degree in culinary arts. His skill level and passion placed him in top restaurants across the U.S., from San Francisco, where he worked at Ron Siegel’s Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton and Mourad Lahlou’s Aziza, to New York City where he worked at Per Se, Thomas Keller’s iconic restaurant. After spending time in Washington state at Blaine Wetzel’s Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Chris returned home to become the executive chef at Vintage Cave in Honolulu. He left that position in 2014 and has since been pouring his energy into creating Senia, which he opened in 2017 with co-chef-owner Anthony Rush. Chris’ style of contemporary French cuisine reflects both his classical culinary training and affinity for his own cultural heritage. His cooking emphasizes the beauty of local ingredients with a Japanese sensibility. While at Vintage Cave, he was nominated for a James Beard Rising Star Award and for People’s Best New Chef from Food & Wine, and was one of Food & Wine’s Top Ten Dishes of 2013.


Kyle Connaughton

Chef-Owner, Single Thread

Healdsburg, CA           @kyleconnaughton

KYLE CONNAUGHTON is the chef-owner of SingleThread Farm-Restaurant-Inn, which earned two Michelin stars just 10 months after opening. In addition, he is the co-founder of the culinary development firm Pilot R&D. Kyle grew up cooking in some of Los Angeles’ best restaurants, including Spago Beverly Hills, Kishi, Lucques, AOC, and the Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton Huntington. He attended The Southern California School of Culinary Arts and two Japanese culinary schools. Outside of Los Angeles, Kyle spent three years working for the three-Michelin-star chef Michel Bras’ Japanese outpost. While in Japan, Kyle also worked in some of the top kaiseki, sushi, soba, and izakaya-style kitchens. He then moved to the UK to open The Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen with Heston Blumenthal, as the head chef of research and development. For five years, Kyle oversaw the development work for the three-Michelin-star The Fat Duck, which was voted The Best Restaurant in the World in both 2006 and 2007. In 2010, Kyle returned to the U.S. to work on several development projects, including contributing to the Modernist Cuisine book series. Other projects have included program and curriculum development for The Culinary Institute of America’s bachelor of professional studies in culinary science. His book Donabe: Classic and Modern Japanese Claypot Cooking was published by Ten Speed Press in October 2015.


Somer Sivrioglu

Chef-Owner, Efendy and Anason

Sydney, Australia      @somersivrioglu

SOMER SIVRIOGLU is the chef-owner of Efendy and Anason restaurants in Sydney, Australia. He spent the first 25 years of his life in his native Istanbul, Turkey. With a chef as a mother, Somer grew up around kitchens; before moving to Australia to complete his MBA, he worked in corporate hospitality, opening a number of concepts before realizing his own dream, a modern Turkish restaurant, Efendy in 2007. Efendy won number of prestigious national and local awards in Australia, representing authentic Turkish kitchen with a modern presentation. In 2016, he opened his second concept, Anason, inspired by meyhanes of Istanbul. Anason won the best new restaurant award in Sydney in 2016 and best specialty restaurant award nationwide in 2017. Somer regularly represents Turkey on national media and in many prestigious national and international events. His first cookbook, Anatolia, won the prestigious IACP award for best international cookbook in 2017.



Chef-Owner, La Grenouillère

La Madelaine Sous Montreuil, France         

ALEXANDRE GAUTHIER is the chef-owner of La Grenouillère in La Madelaine sous Montreuil, in the Pas-de-Calais department of France, which he opened in 2003. He earned his second Michelin star in February 2017. Alexandre’s style and personality led him in May 2011 to trust Patrick Bouchain with the renovation of La Grenouillère. His renovated kitchen is now in line with his style, and he has become one of the leaders of the young cuisine. He expresses himself through a radical, essential, and impertinent cuisine. He opened Froggy’s Tavern in 2009 and Anecdote in 2015, both in Montreuil-sur-Mer.



Chef-Owner, Mourad

San Francisco, CA      @mourad_lahlou

MOURAD LAHLOU is the chef-owner of Mourad in San Francisco. Born and raised in a large extended family in the ancient Medina of Marrakesh, he came to the United States when he was 20 to study economics at San Francisco State University. Missing his native cuisine, he taught himself how to recreate his favorite Moroccan dishes with local ingredients and his own inventive techniques. He opened his first restaurant, Kasbah, in San Rafael, CA in 1996, and was named a Rising Star Chef by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1998. He opened Aziza in 2001, where his strikingly modern reinventions of traditional Moroccan dishes showcased the flavors of his native cuisine in harmony with the fresh, local, artisanal ingredients of Northern California. In 2008, Mourad was named a Rising Star Chef by StarChefs, and in 2009 the Chronicle raised Aziza’s rating to three and a half stars. That same year, Zagat named Aziza one of the Top 10 Bay Area restaurants of the decade, and Mourad won his battle on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America by a record-breaking margin. In 2010, Aziza became the first Moroccan restaurant to ever receive a Michelin star. Mourad’s first cookbook, Mourad: New Moroccan, was published in 2011 to high acclaims. In September 2012, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton named him a State Chef of the newly launched Diplomatic Culinary Partnership program. He opened Mourad in January 2015.



Journalist and Cookbook Author

Nashville, TN           @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 Manhattan. 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 The Hygge Life, Cuba: Recipes and Stories From a Cuba Kitchen, and the IACP Judge’s Choice Award North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland published by Ten Speed Press, and of the James Beard-nominated cookbook Come In, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants by Running Press. She writes for Travel+Leisure, Saveur, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Plate, and VICE, among others. Her cookbook profiling monastic food around the world will be published by Norton in 2019. She is the author of, leads culinary tours for executives, is a recipe developer for various large-scale food and beverage companies, has presented at international food writing conferences and has consulted on food sovereignty issues for NGO’s. She is currently co-producing a television show focused on the meaning of food for a major network.




Copenhagen, Denmark           @lisaabend

LISA ABEND is a journalist and Time correspondent based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is the author of The Sorcerer’s Apprentices, which chronicled the 2009 season of Ferran Adrià’s world-famous elBulli in Spain. As a freelance writer, she has written on seeking solitude in the Scottish Highlands for Afar, learning the Basque language for The Atlantic; on volunteer bit torrent translators for Wired; on the plight of Roma women for Ms.; on prime minister Zapatero’s republican upbringing for The American Prospect; on the recovery of the Iberian lynx for National Wildlife; and on the situation in Western Sahara for The Economist. She contributes to several major American food magazines, and has written features on a Marrakech cooking school (Bon Appétit); on culinary travels through Extremadura (Gourmet); on a collective of grandmothers in Catalonia who preserve traditional cuisine (Saveur) and on learning to love pig face (Food & Wine). Her food writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, and the Christian Science Monitor. She hosted an episode on Andalusia in the third season of PBS’ Diary of a Foodie. In a previous life she was a professor of Spanish history at Oberlin College.