Worlds of Flavor®

2015 Presenters

More than 70 chefs and experts from around Asia and the United States will participate in this 17th edition of Worlds of Flavor. Click on each presenter's photo for his or her bio. You can also download a PDF of all bios here, and a PDF of the full presenters' list here.


Matt Abergel

Chef-Owner, Yardbird; Hong Kong

MATT ABERGEL has always had a passion food and art, but rather than cultivate these interests through formal education, he was consistently drawn to the path of hands-on experience. This path took him on travels throughout Asia, where he was able to explore different food cultures. While traveling in Japan, he fell in love with the interplay of food, art, and craftsmanship. Starting at the bottom, Matt immersed himself in all aspects of the food and beverage industry. After working at several restaurants in Canada, he decided to apply at Masa in New York City, where he found a great mentor in “Taisho,” Masayoshi Takayama. He spent three years under Takayama’s direct instruction and guidance, which allowed Matt to develop strong skills and, essentially, made him the chef he is today. The food culture of Hong Kong inspired Matt to go after his lifelong dream of opening his own restaurant. He and business partner Lindsay Lang opened Yardbird in Hong Kong in July 2011. Yardbird specializes in Yakitori dishes of skewered grilled chicken and has garnered a great deal of local and international praise. In February 2014, Yardbird was ranked no. 45 on San Pellegrino’s list of the 50 Best Restaurants in Asia. In March 2013, Matt and Lindsay opened their second restaurant, RONIN, a dining bar with a focus on fish, seafood, and a curated selection of Japanese whisky, sake, shochu, beer, and wine. In May 2014, Matt and Lindsay expanded their culinary presence in Hong Kong once again by opening Sunday’s Grocery, a liquor store, curated convenience store, and take-away sandwich shop located in Kennedy Town.

Joshua Abrams

Principal Lecturer, Roehampton University; London, UK

JOSHUA ABRAMS is principal lecturer in the department of drama, theatre, and performance at the University of Roehampton in London and co-director of Roehampton’s interdisciplinary Food Studies Research Group. He is currently completing a book about the restaurant as a performance space and has published essays around intersections of food and performance. Josh received a 2013 AHRC CreativeWorks London grant to work with Ben Spalding and Creative Belly around staging a number of meals exploring changing notions of the popular in British cuisine. He is keynoting the Fluid States: Solid Food conference in June in Copenhagen, discussing the boundaries of “New Nordicness.”

Ken Albala

History Professor, The University of the Pacific; Stockton, CA

KEN ALBALA is professor of history at the University of the Pacific and director of the food studies master’s program in San Francisco. He has authored or edited 23 books on food, including Eating Right in the Renaissance, Food in Early Modern Europe, Cooking in Europe 1250-1650, The Banquet, Beans (winner of the 2008 International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Jane Grigson Award), Pancake, Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food, and Nuts: A Global History. He was co-editor of the journal Food, Culture and Society and has also co-edited The Business of Food, Human Cuisine, Food and Faith and edited A Cultural History of Food: The Renaissance and The Routledge International Handbook of Food Studies. Ken was editor of the Food Cultures Around the World series, the 4-volume Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia, and is now series editor of Rowman and Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy, for which wrote Three World Cuisines (winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for best foreign cuisine book in the world for 2012). He has also co-authored cookbooks: The Lost Art of Real Cooking and The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home. His latest works are a food history reader and a translation of the 16th century Livre fort excellent de cuysine. His course Food: A Cultural Culinary History is available on DVD from the Great Courses. Ken has just finished editing a three-volume encyclopedia on food issues that will be published in summer 2015. He is now working on a book about noodle soups.

Gaggan Anand

Chef-Owner, Gaggan; Bangkok, Thailand

GAGGAN ANAND has been called the “Captain Kirk of cuisine.” He has used science and modern technology to create modernist and progressive re-interpretations of traditional recipes. His dream was to put India on the global fine dining map, and the only way to do that was to take an audacious risk of doing the impossible: serving progressive Indian cuisine. He arrived in Bangkok in 2007 and never left; Gaggan the restaurant was the result of a drunken evening with friends. While the restaurant was being refurbished and decorated, he packed his bags and flew off to Spain, straight to the doors of Ferran Adrià’s culinary temple. In the lab of his guru and mentor, Gaggan gained instant nirvana. He returned with a head full of ideas of how he wanted to transform Indian cuisine. In February 2013, Gaggan was voted No. 10 in Restaurant Magazine’s inaugural edition of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant list. Today Gaggan ranks no. 17 in the world and No. 3 in Asia.

Ki Su Bang

Executive Chef, Bicena; Seoul, Korea

KI SU BANG is the executive chef of the modern Korean restaurant Bicena, a position he has held since December 2014. He has pursued his career building skills and talents in four different Korean restaurants of GAON Society in Korea, where he started working in 2005. Casual to upscale, he values the essence of Korean cuisine by practicing its traditional flavors.


Dave Broom

Author, Editor in Chief, Whisky Magazine Japan ; Hove, UK

DAVE BROOM was born in Glasgow, Scotland and has spent his whole working life in the world of drink, starting on the Black & White whisky bottling line and then, post graduation in English, with UK wine merchant Oddbins. After seven years behind the counter and with a WSET Diploma, he left to be the landlord of a real ale pub for a year and write about jazz and avant-garde music. The next port of call was with drinks trade weekly Off-Licence News, where he spent seven years as features editor writing weekly reports on all aspects of the drinks business before launching his freelance career. Dave has written regularly about all spirit categories, although he’s probably best known for his work with whisky. He’s written 10 books, two of which—Drink: Never Mind the Peanuts and Rum—won the Glenfiddich award. The World Atlas of Whisky (recently updated in a second edition) has been called “a landmark publication.” Dave is editor-at-large for Whisky Magazine, editor-in-chief at Whisky Magazine Japan, columnist, taster, and features writer of Whisky Advocate, and write for a number of other international titles including Wine Spectator, The Spectator, Prospect, Financial Times, Drink, Mixology, The Week, and many more. Around half of his time is spent teaching and talking. He fronts the on-line spirits training course, which is part of the global hospitality training group Lobster Ink. As a member of the Taste & Flavour education team, he teaches the WSET’s Professional Certificate in Spirits (and wrote their textbook), as well as teaching and designing in-house training courses for distillers. He has visited Japan over 20 times in the last 14 years and has worked closely with the Suntory team to find a language to communicate the Japanese values of their whisky-making philosophy to an international audience. He was one of the team that developed (and continue to maintain) the generic Single Malt Flavour Map for Diageo and is regularly spotted on his hind legs at various international trade and consumer fairs such as Tales of the Cocktail and various whisky events. He’s also been a judge of various cocktail competition finals such as Havana Club Grand Prix, Nikka Perfect Serve, and is one of the ‘gurus’ on Diageo’s World Class competition Global Final. He also appears on a semi-regular basis on Sunday Brunch (Channel 4) and has filmed for the BBC on a number of occasions.

Hee Kyung Lucia Cho

Owner, Bicena and Gaon; Seoul, Korea

HEE KYUNG LUCIA CHO lived half of her life in different countries around the world before moving back to Korea in 2009 with a mission to define her passion for creativity through her family’s ceramic, spirit, and restaurant businesses: Kwangjuyo, Hwayo, and Gaon Society. She holds a bachelor’s degree of fine arts from the Art Institute of Chicago, an MBA from Loyola University, a culinary arts degree from L’Ecole Amys in Japan, and a master’s degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. She has also worked in the IT, fashion, public relations, and restaurant industry. She is aware of what makes a great balance among steady studies, honest expressions, and realistic approaches to awake the joy of life. She opened Bicena, her first restaurant, in Seoul in fall 2012 and Gaon in December 2014.

Ryan Clift

Chef-Owner, Tippling Club; Singapore

RYAN CLIFT’S culinary career began at age 14 at a one-Michelin-star restaurant near his hometown of Devizes in England. Immediately drawn to the high energy and atmosphere of the kitchen, Ryan worked his way up from washing dishes to becoming a young culinary protégé. Over the course of his 23-year career, he has worked with some of the world’s best chefs, including Marco-Pierre White, Emmanuel Renaut, and Shannon Bennett. In 1999, Ryan moved to Australia as head chef of Vue de Monde, one of Australia’s most acclaimed restaurants. He then moved to Singapore in 2008 to start his own venture, determined to take modern food and cocktail pairing to a new level. He launched Tippling Club, which quickly earned a reputation and landed on award lists that include Miele Guide’s Asia’s Top 20 Restaurants, Drinks International’s World’s 50 Best Bars, and most recently S. Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. In 2009, Ryan was handpicked by 10 of the world’s greatest chefs of today as the gastronomic superstar of tomorrow in the cookbook Coco (Phaidon). In early 2011, Ryan was the first Singapore-based chef to present at the prestigious culinary event Madrid Fusión. This was the stepping-stone for the year, which saw Ryan present at many events across the globe. He also fulfilled a prestigious invitation to guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus in the Red Bull Hangar-7 in Salzburg, Austria. Ryan also launched his TV show Chef on the Road on the National Geographic Channel and produced his own eight-episode show, Mobile Chef.

Kyle Connaughton

Chef-Owner, Single Thread

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.

Robert Danhi ‘91

Founder, Chef Danhi & Co

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.

Greg Drescher

Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Industry Leadership

GREG DRESCHER is vice president of strategic initiatives and industry leadership at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). He oversees the college’s leadership initiatives for the foodservice industry, including academic and other strategic partnerships, conferences, invitational leadership retreats, digital media, and other global initiatives. He is the creator of the college’s Worlds of Flavor International Conference & Festival (now in its 21st year), as well as a portfolio of health and sustainability leadership initiatives including Menus of Change and Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives, jointly presented by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, co-led by the CIA and Stanford University in association with more than 50-plus leading colleges and universities; and the recently launched annual Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit and Plant-Forward Kitchen digital media platform. Co-developer of the CIA’s new partnership with the University of Barcelona—the Torribera Mediterranean Center, with its focus on the healthy, traditional Mediterranean Diet and regional food studies—and a strategic advisor to the European-based EAT Foundation, Greg works internationally to advance innovation at the intersection of health, sustainability, culture, and culinary insight. In 2005, Greg was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, and in 2007 and 2009 he 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. He served on the National Academy of Medicine’s Committee on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States (final report 2010). In 2011, he was inducted as a member of the Accademia dei Georgofili, Europe’s oldest agricultural academy based in Florence. In 2017, Foodservice Director included Greg in its 20 People Shaping American Foodservice Today. Before joining the CIA 24 years ago, he jointly spearheaded a collaboration of some of the world’s leading health experts and organizations—including the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and WHO—in authoring the The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid: A Cultural Model for Healthy Eating. The cumulative results of this research were published in a special edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1995), creating an evidence-based foundation for much of the academic, policy, and media interest in the Mediterranean Diet that followed. (Sacramento, CA)

Christie Dufault

Sommelier and Wine Educator; San Francisco, CA

CHRISTIE DUFAULT is a San Francisco-based sommelier and wine educator.  She is member of the faculty at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Napa Valley, where she has been an instructor for 12 years. Previously, Christie worked as the wine director for some of the nation’s finest restaurants, including Gary Danko in San Francisco, where she was featured on the Food Network and earned the Grand Award from Wine Spectator. As the head sommelier at Quince, Christie was awarded Best Wine Director 2007 by San Francisco Magazine. In 2009, she helped open RN74 in San Francisco, a Michael Mina restaurant. She is a guest lecturer at the San Francisco Wine School and a regular contributor to Somm Journal.  In 2012, Christie co-authored a cookbook, Two in the Kitchen, with her husband, the writer Jordan Mackay.


Fuchsia Dunlop

Writer and Chinese Cuisine Specialist; London, UK

FUCHSIA DUNLOP is an award-winning cook and food-writer specializing in Chinese cuisine. She trained as a chef at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine in Chengdu, China, and has spent two decades researching and writing about Chinese food. She is the author of four books, including, most recently, Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (W.W. Norton, 2013). Fuchsia has won four James Beard awards for her work, as well as awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, The Guild of Food Writers, and the Hunan Government. Fuchsia is based in London, where she consults for the popular Barshu Sichuanese restaurant, as well as its sister restaurants Bashan, Baiwei, and Baozi Inn. She has also consulted for companies including Williams Sonoma, Marks and Spencer, and Bompass and Parr. Fuchsia currently leads gastronomic tours of China in conjunction with the award-winning Beijing travel agency WildChina, and also arranges private tours on request. She has cooked and lectured at events in the USA, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, Italy, Sweden, and the UK. Fuchsia speaks, reads, and writes Chinese.

Kevin Farley

Owner, Cultured Pickle Shop; Berkeley, CA

KEVIN FARLEY is the owner of the Cultured Pickle Shop, an entrepreneurial wonderland of bubbling stainless steel tanks producing thousands of pounds of locally grown organic soured vegetables each week. On any given day, one can visit the tasting area of The Cultured Pickle Shop and sample 10 varieties of sauerkraut, four varieties of kimchi, 14 different types of seasonal specialty pickles, eight different flavors of kombucha tea, two sake lees pickles, one rice bran pickle, and, of course, the ubiquitous classic dill. In the spirit of enlarging the collective culinary mind, Cultured challenges the narrow confines of America’s pickle prejudices and creates an environment where global pickling traditions of the past interact dynamically with the Northern California foodshed.

Dan Felder

Co-Founder, Pilot R+D; Oakland, CA

DAN FELDER is a development chef, consultant, and researcher. He began his cooking career at 18 while earning his degree in anthropology. He then worked his way up in a number of restaurants before joining the Momofuku team in 2008, starting at Noodle Bar, then two-Michelin-starred Ko, and finally at the newly created Momofuku Culinary Lab. Dan took over as head of research and development for Momofuku in 2011. Under his leadership, the lab became one of the most influential centers of innovation in the culinary industry, specializing in fermentation and flavor. He collaborated with scientists and academics from esteemed universities such as Harvard, MIT, Yale, NYU, UC Davis, and UCLA. His work was published in the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, and he has presented his work at numerous universities and symposia in the US and abroad. While at Momofuku, Dan spearheaded the development of an innovative product line of fermented sauces and seasonings that has been featured on menus from some of the best chefs in the country and will be brought to the retail market soon. Since leaving Momofuku, chefs from around the world have sought him out as a guru of culinary development. He is a co-founder of Pilot R+D, a development and culinary science-based consulting firm.

Nobuaki Fushiki

Chef-Owner, Kamose; Tokyo, Japan

NOBUAKI FUSHIKI is one of Japan’s foremost fermentation experts. With more than 20 years of experience in Japanese and Italian cooking, he realized the power of koji and fermentation and began studying traditional Japanese fermentation techniques five years ago; he has since become one of the leading figures in the recent fermentation boom in Japan. He appears widely on television and in magazines throughout his homeland.

Mark Garcia ‘91

Head of Marketing, Food Service and Culinary, Avocados From Mexico

MARK GARCIA ’91 is the head of marketing, food service and culinary for Avocados From Mexico. He has more than 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, including major resort hotels, casual and fine dining restaurants, national chains, food manufacturers, large CPG companies, and gourmet retailers. Mark is known throughout the industry as an innovative, creative, and results-driven executive, is frequently tapped as a keynote speaker, and has authored two books. As head of marketing for Avocados From Mexico, Mark and his team work as product ambassadors to all segments of the foodservice world.

Will Goldfarb

Chef, Room4Dessert; Bali, Indonesia

WILL GOLDFARB is an internationally acclaimed pastry chef. The recent relaunch of Room4Dessert in Bali, which he had founded in 2006 in New York City, is the culmination of a decades long journey to deliver taste and texture in a beautiful and thoughtful way. Will started cooking while attending Duke University. He lives in Bali with his wife Maria and daughter Loulou.

Ema Goto Koeda ‘05

Food and Wine Specialist; Tokyo, Japan

EMA GOTO KOEDA ‘05 studied through high school in the United States, before retuning to her native Japan to attend Sophia University in Tokyo. Her passion for food led her to join Myu Planning, Inc., one of the largest restaurant consulting firms operating in Japan. There, she helped create concepts and menus for various restaurants throughout Asia for four years. Pursuing her passion for food and wine, she returned to the United States to study at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California. Since 2005, she has worked as a freelance food and wine specialist consulting for restaurants, with one of her goals to become a bridge between cultures for food and wine, working with the Agricultural Trade Office of the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, the CIA, and Napa Valley Vintners.


Zaiyu Hasegawa

Chef-Owner, Jimbocho Den; Tokyo, Japan

ZAIYU HASEGAWA is the chef-owner of Jimbocho Den, which holds two Michelin stars. He has built his experience working at various restaurants throughout Tokyo, and opened his restaurant at 29, earning these stars in just three years.

Sam Hayward

Founding Chef and Partner, Fore Street; Bowdoinham, ME

SAM HAYWARD is the founding chef and a partner of Fore Street in Portland, Maine. He grew up in Ohio, Louisiana, and western New York State. He attended music conservatories, studying double-bass and voice, and spent several years as a traveling and recording musician before discovering his passion for cooking and his love of Maine. His first professional cooking position was as the chef of the Shoals Marine Laboratory on a remote Maine island in 1974.  In 1976 he left the laboratory for further training in New Orleans and New York City, before returning to Maine permanently in 1977.  In 1981, Sam purchased the restaurant 22 Lincoln in coastal Brunswick and partnered closely with neighboring farmers and fishers to publicly promote extraordinary Maine foods and incorporate them into daily menus created to reveal the intense flavors of Maine’s seasons and terroirs. The restaurant became widely known for pioneering the farm-to-table movement in New England’s deepest north. Sam closed 22 Lincoln in 1991 and relocated to the Harraseeket Inn in nearby Freeport, expanding on his earlier work with local growers and producers in a larger setting. In 1996, with partners Dana Street and Victor Lean, Sam helped create Fore Street on the edge of Portland’s Old Port district.  Fore Street was twice named among the Top Fifty Restaurants by Gourmet, and has been a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant award. Sam was named Best Chef-Northeast by the James Beard Foundation in 2004. In 2011 the Chefs Collaborative named him Sustainer of the Year. Sam lives in rural Bowdoinham with his wife Jan. He serves on a several non-profit boards, including the Bowdoin International Music Festival and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

Alex Hozven

Owner, Cultured Pickle Shop; Berkeley, CA

ALEX HOZVEN is the owner of the Cultured Pickle Shop, an entrepreneurial wonderland of bubbling stainless steel tanks producing thousands of pounds of locally grown organic soured vegetables each week. On any given day, one can visit the tasting area of The Cultured Pickle Shop and sample 10 varieties of sauerkraut, four varieties of kimchi, 14 different types of seasonal specialty pickles, eight different flavors of kombucha tea, two sake lees pickles, one rice bran pickle, and, of course, the ubiquitous classic dill. In the spirit of enlarging the collective culinary mind, Cultured challenges the narrow confines of America’s pickle prejudices and creates an environment where global pickling traditions of the past interact dynamically with the Northern California foodshed.

Andrew Hunter ‘88

Foodservice and Industrial Chef, Kikkoman

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.


Owner, Kohori-Noan; Kugenumakaigan, Japan

KOTARO ISHIZUKI is the owner of the kakigori (shaved ice) café Kohori-Noan in Kugenumakaigan, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan. Kohori-Noan sparked a kakigori craze in recent years, and is well known as a place where people wait in line even in the winter. Kotaro insists on natural ice, and ventures out every winter to carve it and then shave it, resulting in a kakigori that melts delicately in the mouth. He also uses only syrup made from seasonal fruits, changing it according to the season. He has been lauded as successfully making kakigori, which was a traditional summer staple, into a sweet that can be enjoyed year-round.


Chris Jaeckle

Co-Founder, Executive Chef

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.

Brandon Jew

Chef-Owner, Mister Jiu; San Francisco, CA

BRANDON JEW, a San Francisco native, has early memories of accompanying his Chinese grandmother to Chinatown on her daily trips to buy fresh produce and ingredients as her routine of preparing for a meal. He did not start out intending to be a chef, but understanding how things were grown was always of interest to him as a biology major at University of California, Irvine. He worked in several restaurants while in school and, after graduation, traveled to Italy. In Bologna, he fulfilled a one-year apprenticeship at Michelin-starred Ristorante La Pernice e La Gallina. Upon returning to California, he worked under Judy Rodgers at Zuni Café and at Quince under the tutelage of chef Michael Tusk. He packed his bags once again to explore his Chinese culinary heritage in Shanghai. After working for one year in China, Brandon returned to the Bay Area, where he worked at Pizzetta 211, Bar Jules, Camino, and Adesso before settling into his role as chef at Bar Agricole. The San Francisco Examiner called Jew’s dishes “little masterpieces” and the San Francisco Chronicle noted that “Jew is able to coax beautiful flavors out of his ingredients” and awarded Bar Agricole a coveted three stars. In early 2015, he plans to open a Chinese restaurant, named Mister Jiu’s, in San Francisco Chinatown.


Steven Jilleba ‘77

Corporate Executive Chef; Lisle, IL

STEVEN JILLEBA ‘77, CMC, CCE, AAC, is the corporate executive chef for Unilever Foodsolutions, which he joined in 1999. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, he has held executive chef positions in hotels and other fine dining establishments around the globe and received his master chef certification in 1997. He has competed in three International Culinary Olympic competitions, winning an impressive nine gold medals, and has served as national culinary competition chairman and national youth team manager for the American Culinary Federation (ACF). Steven received ACF’s President’s Award in 2007, the organization’s highest honor, and the American Academy of Chefs’ Chairman Award. In 2000, he was awarded the ACF Central Region’s Chef Professionalism Award and was named the ACF Central Region Chef of the Year in 2001.

Melinda Joe

Journalist; Tokyo, Japan

MELINDA JOE is an American journalist in Tokyo specializing in food and drinks. She is a columnist for The Japan Times and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal Asia, FOUR Magazine, and CNN. Her work has appeared in a number of publications such as Ryori Tsushin (The Cuisine Magazine) in Japan, The, and the South China Morning Post Style Magazine, among others. A certified sake and wine professional, Melinda has judged sake and wine at London’s International Wine Challenge since 2012.


Dylan Jones

Chef-Owner, Bo.lan; Bangkok, Thailand

DYLAN JONES left the sleepy town of Canberra, Australia for the food rich city of Melbourne, here he completed his apprenticeship and first fell in love with Asian flavors. It was London that cemented that love and where he began to truly discover the world of Thai Food. As fate would have it he also met Duangporn (Bo) Songvisava. Without much persuading, he decided to follow her to Bangkok and open Bo.lan. A fortuitous decision indeed! From early on the pair received rave reviews from local and international press alike. Dylan has immersed himself in his adopted homeland, learning the language, and with Bo has amassed a rather decent collection of antique Thai recipes. Dylan’s passion for Thai food and Thai food heritage has only strengthened since moving to Thailand over five years ago, and he has recently joined Bo as co-host on the weekly television Show Eat Am Are on Thai PBS.

Robert Jörin

Chef-Instructor, The Culinary Institute of America; Santa Rosa, CA

ROBERT JÖRIN, CMB, CEPC, CCE, CHE, is professor and team leader of the baking and pastry arts degree programs at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone (CIA). A Certified Master Baker, Robert brings over 40 years of experience in baking and pastry, as well as credentials as a culinary and hospitality educator to his role at the CIA. He joined the Institute in 1996 and was part of the three-member Team USA that won the prestigious Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in Paris in February 1999.  Robert is a leading contributor to the CIA’s international studies programs, having taught baking classes in Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as having instructed numerous Asian professional baking delegations at the CIA’s California campus.

Cathy Jörin

Director of Special Projects and Planning for Strategic Initiatives, The Culinary Institute of America; Santa Rosa, CA

CATHY JÖRIN, MBA is director of special projects and planning for strategic initiatives for The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), a position she has held since 2008. She began her tenure with the CIA in 1996, with roles that have included associate director of education at Greystone and director of business analysis for continuing education for the college. She led planning for the CIA’s 13th Annual Worlds of Flavor Conference, Japan: Flavors of Culture, which took place in 2010. In addition to various U.S.-based project responsibilities in areas of project planning and fundraising, Cathy serves as the primary liaison and project leader for strategic initiatives and associated business development in Asia. She is responsible for the development of the Asia version of one of CIA’s most influential leadership programs, World of Healthy Flavors ASIA®, based in Singapore. She was formerly the vice president of sales and marketing at The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley, where she led the sales team, conducted business analyses and developed long-term strategic plans in sales and marketing for the continued strong growth of the company. Cathy earned her MBA at the University of San Francisco, a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine and an associate degree in culinary arts from the California Culinary Academy. Cathy is a former board member of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, and a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and the Sonoma County Culinary Guild.


Chris Kajioka ‘03

Chef-Owner, Senia

CHRIS KAJIOKA ‘03 is one of Honolulu’s most well-known and beloved chefs. Since childhood, he has never wanted to be anything other than a chef, and he has proven that he knows no bounds in perfecting his craft. Chris, a Honolulu native, received a degree in the culinary arts from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduation, he went on to work at Ron Siegel’s Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco and then Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York. Making his way west yet again, Chris worked his way up to sous chef at Aziza in San Francisco and then continued on to Blaine Wetzel’s Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington. Returning to his native Hawaii in 2012, he became the executive chef at Vintage Cave. Chris’ classical culinary training combined with his affinity for his own Japanese heritage results in his own unique style: inventive dishes incorporating techniques from contemporary French cuisine with a distinctly Japanese sensibility. At Vintage Cave, he earned nominations for the James Beard Rising Star Award and Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Chef, as well as being awarded a place in the “Top Ten Dishes of 2013” from Food & Wine. Closer to home, Chris has become a central figure in the Honolulu food community and remains a staunch supporter of local farms, artisans, and time-honored small businesses. In 2015, he joined forces with British chef Anthony Rush and began work on their forthcoming restaurant, Senia, which opened in December 2016 in Honolulu’s Chinatown. Senia offers a cuisine showcasing their mutual culinary pedigree, and explores and celebrates Hawaii’s abundance of ingredients.

Tod Kawachi

Chef-Instructor, The Culinary Institute of America; St. Helena, CA

TOD KAWACHI is a chef-instructor at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Tod was raised around the rich cultural food influences of his mixed Japanese and Chinese heritage. His extensive cooking experience began in his hometown at a Seattle culinary school, leading him to Napa Valley’s Domaine Chandon, Los Angeles with Checkers Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air and the Peninsula Beverly Hills. He then became executive chef at the award winning, island favorite, Roy’s Kahana Bar & Grill on Maui.  Tod has been featured in the PBS series The Great Chefs of Hawaii, Gourmet, the Bay Café television show, at the James Beard House, as well as in The San Francisco Examiner Magazine, which voted him one of the Bay Area’s Top Ten Up and Coming Chefs in 1998. Prior to joining the CIA, Tod worked as Constellation Wines U.S. winery chef, creating refined wine and food paired meals designed to showcase the portfolio of impressive wines.

Christopher Kostow

Chef, The Restaurant at Meadowood and The Charter Oak

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.

Francis Lam ‘03

Editor-at-Large, Clarkson Potter; New York, NY

FRANCIS LAM ‘03 is editor-at-large at Clarkson Potter and a columnist for the New York Times Magazine. His writing and editing has won numerous awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the James Beard Foundation. In past lives, he was a judge on Top Chef Masters, the features editor at Gilt Taste, a senior writer at, and a contributing editor at Gourmet. His work has appeared in the 2006-2014 editions of Best Food Writing. He believes that, in professional football, that would count as a dynasty; in ancient China, not so much.


Robert Lam

Chef-Owner, Butterfly; San Francisco

ROBERT LAM ’96 is the chef-owner of Butterfly in San Francisco. The Vietnam-born model-student-turned-chef calls what he does “Asian within Asian,” pulling from culinary traditions from Vietnam, Thailand, China, Japan, and Korea. Robert’s cooking is influenced by his mother, who opened a Vietnamese restaurant just outside Los Angeles when the family landed in Southern California after the fall of Saigon. A graduate of the University of San Francisco and The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Robert moved back to California after graduation, where he received high praise at Brannan’s Grill in Calistoga. When Butterfly came up for sale, he decided to “swim in the big pond” and buy the waterfront restaurant on Pier 33. In 2009, he dove into an even deeper pond by purchasing Eastside West, a lounge and restaurant located in the heart of San Francisco’s Marina district. Named a Rising Star Chef by the San Francisco Chronicle, his future plans include bringing his mother’s restaurant, Vien Dong, to San Francisco.

June Jo Lee

Vice President of Strategic Insights, The Hartman Group; Bellevue, WA

JUNE JO LEE, a food ethnographer for the food industry, is the vice president of strategic insights for the Harman Group. Internationally trained, her research in North and Latin Americas and Asia focuses on understanding food culture in relation to health, identity, taste, and desire. Her areas of expertise include food culture, eating occasions, health and wellness, and most recently, digital food life. Current and past clients include Starbucks, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kraft, PepsiCo, ConAgra, Hershey’s, Nestlé, Campbell’s, Heinz, Safeway, Daymon, Bunge, Dairy Management Inc., National Council of Farmer’s Cooperative, Johnson and Johnson, and Seventh Generation. June speaks regularly at food industry conferences, including for The Culinary Institute of America, Harvard School of Public Health, Chef’s Culinary Conference, United Fresh Produce Association, Food Marketing Institute, National Cooperative Grocers Association, Natural Products Expo West, and many client consumer days. June has worked at The Hartman Group for nine years. She has a master’s in East Asian Studies from Harvard and a master’s in Korean Studies from Yonsei University. She started her career in food as a produce team member at the original Whole Foods Market in Austin.

Myung Sook Lee

Director, Culinary Institute of California; Los Angeles, CA

MYUNG SOOK LEE is an expert in Korean cuisine as well as cuisines from throughout Asia.  Her first book, Korean Cuisine, will be released in 2015. She attended the Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka, Japan to gain formal training in the culinary arts, then the Korean Traditional & Royal Cuisine Institute in Korea and The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. She has contributed to the CIA’s The Flavors of Asia cookbook.  She was invited in 1996 to appear on the original, Japanese version of the television show Iron Chef. Currently, Myung Sook works as the director at Culinary Institute of California in Orange County, consulting with educational organizations, food manufacturers, and restaurant chains. She is also executive chef and partner for Kannichikan Korean Restaurants in Osaka, Japan. She focuses on fermentation and natural, preservative-free ingredients and flavors from Korea and Asia.

Edward Lee

Chef-Owner, 610 Magnolia, MilkWood, Whiskey Dry, Succotash

EDWARD LEE is the chef-owner of 610 Magnolia, MilkWood and Whiskey Dry in Louisville, KY and the culinary director for Succotash in National Harbor, Maryland and Penn Quarter, DC. He has received multiple nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards Best Chef: Southeast. He appears frequently in print and on television, including earning an Emmy nomination for his role in the Emmy Award–winning series The Mind of a Chef. Most recently, he wrote and hosted the feature documentary Fermented. Lee’s self-authored cookbook, Smoke & Pickles, (Artisan Books, 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 Trey Zoeller. His newest book is Buttermilk Graffiti (Artisan, April 2018), which celebrates the melting pot at the center of American cuisine.

Leo Leong

Kitchen Manager, Koi Palace; Daly City, CA

LEO LEONG is the kitchen manager at Koi Palace, responsible for their more than 100 employees, the restaurant’s expansion and the opening of new locations, the development of new menu items, and quality control. Among his extensive experience in the hospitality world in both California and China, Leo was the international and domestic lead chef for LSG Skychef, the owner and manager of The Bistro Burger in Macao, China, and the banquet sous chef at The Westin Hotel in San Francisco. He holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant hospitality management from San Francisco State University and is multi-lingual, speaking Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and Spanish.

Alvin Leung

Chef-Owner, Bo Innovation; Hong Kong, China

ALVIN LEUNG was born in London and raised in Toronto, and has put his stamp on the culinary world with his flagship Hong Kong restaurant Bo Innovation. Its innovative “X-Treme Chinese” cuisine has wowed diners and critics, modernizing traditional ingredients and recipes with modern techniques and flavors. In 2013, Bo Innovation earned three Michelin stars, the highest possible recognition by the highly regarded guide. The self-proclaimed “Demon Chef” has no formal kitchen training and is only the second self-taught chef to ever receive three Michelin stars. The other is Heston Blumenthal. Contrary to his rock and roll image, Alvin’s professional training is as an engineer.  The star chef’s popularity has made him a sought-after guest at food events and culinary conferences across the world, and on food and travel television programs. In Asia, he is known for his food show, The Maverick Chef, on LiTV. North American viewers will see him as one of three regular judges on Masterchef Canada . He will also star in the Singaporean reality TV cooking competition Wok Stars, judging amateur hawker stars. Alvin has also been featured on shows such as Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Rhodes Across China with Gary Rhodes, The Hairy Bikers, and Top Chef Masters.

Sam Levy

Bar Manager; St. Helena, CA

SAM LEVY joined The Restaurant at Meadowood in 2011 and currently oversees the extensive bar program of over 200 selections. Responsible for all purchasing, Sam focuses on continuous growth of the program, building list depth and versatility. For his cocktail list, Sam chooses to let local fresh ingredients influence the cocktails. He uses seasonal fruit and plants growing throughout Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Unique ingredient combinations and sensitivity to balance are especially important to Sam, and are key to his work. Entrusted with staff education, Sam holds regular seminars to not only promote awareness, but also to expand and elevate the knowledge level of the team. Prior, Sam was the head bartender at Barndiva, where he was responsible for comprehensive management of the bar, development of new offerings, purchasing, and staff training. Samuel received his bachelor of arts degree in psychology from University of California in Santa Cruz in 2002.

Lynn Mahon

Owner, LM Ceramics; Napa, CA

LYNN MAHON was born and raised in Sonoma County, and now maintains an active studio on the ridge of the Mayacamas Mountains, near the border between Napa and Sonoma counties. He studied at Sierra Nevada College and at the Penryn Workshop, where he mastered the art of firing in wood kilns. After several years experimenting with Raku in his San Francisco studio, Lynn returned to Napa and began exploring large-scale sculpture fired in a gas kiln. He continues to make these massive thrown works, some of which weigh nearly 600 pounds. In 2005, he introduced functional designs into his practice. The dinnerware he creates for restaurants is the result of lengthy collaborations between chef and ceramicist. His work appears in restaurants such as Aziza and PABU in San Francisco, The Restaurant at Meadowood in the Napa Valley, Hana Japanese Restaurant in Rohnert Park, Michael Warring in Vallejo, Taylor Maid Farms in Sebastopol, Vintage Cave Honolulu, and Kapnos in Washington, D.C. For Lynn, both the large-scale sculpture and the functional pieces are highly physical forms of making: the former activity is like a dance, and the latter is like a sport. Lynn’s philosophy is a mixture of California craft and Japanese Zen. His work is informed by a lightness of touch, simplicity, and an adherence to natural materials and form. Lynn has shown with the American Craft Council and is represented by Jiun Ho in San Francisco, Grandhand Gallery in Napa, and Bump Wine Cellars in Sonoma. Recent press includes features in A New Napa Cuisine, 7x7 magazine, and Bon Appétit.

Anne E. McBride

Worlds of Flavor Program Director

ANNE E. MCBRIDE, PHD is the newly appointed deputy director of the Barcelona-based Torribera Mediterranean Center, a joint initiative of the University of Barcelona and The Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA) recently launched to advance research and education around Mediterranean food, health, and culinary innovation. She also serves as program director for the annual Worlds of Flavor® International Conference & Festival and the Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit at the CIA. She holds a doctorate degree in food studies from New York University, and focuses her research on the changing role of the chef in the 21st century. Anne has co-authored seven books and regularly writes on topics related to professional and experimental cooking for both academic and consumer audiences, including past contributions to Plate, New Worlder, Bake from Scratch, Roads & Kingdoms, 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 director of the Experimental Cuisine Collective at NYU, an interdisciplinary group of more than 2500 scientists, chefs, media, scholars, and food enthusiasts. She also teaches in the food studies departments of NYU and the New School. A native of Switzerland, Anne is the chair of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards, a member of the Menus of Change Scientific and Technical Advisory Council, and a past board member of the Association for the Study of Food and Society, New York Women’s Culinary Alliance, and Culinary Trust. She was named to the Heritage Radio Network Hall of Fame in 2019, and is a frequent presenter and moderator at academic and professional conferences around the world. (Barcelona, Spain, and North Plainfield, NJ) @annemcbride

Patrick McDonnell

Partner, McDonnell Kinder and Associates; Kansas City, MO

Patrick McDonnell is a partner at McDonnell Kinder and Associates, an international consulting firm specializing in business development for the foodservice, beverage, retail and manufacturing industries. His career includes senior business development leadership roles with Noble & Associates, Aramark, ConAgra Foods, and Kraft General Foods. His culinary career includes the Savoy Hotel and the Great American Disaster in London; Edeficio and LeChambre on the Costa Brava, Spain; The Rouse Company, Sarabande, the French Quarter, Le Chambord, and the Black Pearl in Baltimore; and Le Coup de Fusil and the Rainbow Room in New York City. Patrick was a member of the United States ski team, where he developed and directed their performance nutrition programs for the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics. He is a ski racer with the USSA Masters program and the Santa Fe ski team. His work has been recognized by Nation’s Restaurant News as a Top 50 Tastemaker, CondéNast as a Top 25 Mover and Shaker, and by Food Arts with their Silver Spoon Award. Patrick has been the culinary director of Food Arts since 1988.

Jehangir Mehta ‘95


Jehangir Mehta ‘95 is charming, creative, and clairvoyant. His flair for finesse and perfection reflecting in his personality and his cooking. A participant in Food Network’s Next Iron Chef Redemption 2012, the runner-up at the Next Iron Chef 2009, a participant in Iron Chef America, and a guest on Martha Stewart Living, Jehangir has built quite a fan following. However, patrons at Graffiti, Graffiti Earth, and Me & You, Jehangir’s restaurants in Manhattan, don’t watch television to be ardent fans. They simply love the food and the man who created it. Prior to his own restaurants, Jehangir was the highly acclaimed pastry chef at Aix, Union Pacific, Mercer Kitchen, Compass, and Jean-Georges. He is the author of Mantra: The Rules of Indulgence. Apart from his restaurants, he also runs a successful event management business that does catering for private events and weddings. As passionate as Jehangir is about his work, he is even more passionate about helping children enjoy food and eat healthy. Ten years ago, he was a pioneer in this field when he started Candy Camp, a fun-filled private cooking class for children. Since then, he has worked closely with Whole Foods in a nationwide program as well as worked with other entities such as Scholastics, Wellness in Schools, and many more. He also launched Chef Jehangir Pledge in collaboration with UMass Amherst Dining Services to promote practices that create better global citizens and increase actions supporting sustainability, social responsibility, health and wellness, as well as building community. Jehangir is an alumnus of The Culinary Institute of America, and prior to that, an alumnus of the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering, Technology and Applied Nutrition in Mumbai. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Mumbai.

Photo courtesy of Rodney Bedsole

Masaharu Morimoto

Chef-Owner, Morimoto; New York, NY

MASAHARU MORIMOTO has created a bridge between the culinary traditions of his native Japan and the American palate, bringing intense excitement, exquisite technique, and perfectly balanced flavors to thousands of diners throughout the world. He has garnered critical and popular acclaim for his seamless integration of Western and Japanese ingredients and has effectively created a signature style that positions him as one of today’s foremost chefs. He first competed on the Japanese television show Iron Chef in 1998 and then became one of the stars of Food Network’s Iron Chef America in 2004. As Iron Chef, Morimoto was able to showcase his flawless technique and creativity with unique ingredients in front of millions of Americans. In 1994, Morimoto was recruited to join the original Nobu restaurant and soon promoted to executive chef, and in 2001, he opened his first eponymous restaurant in Philadelphia. He debuted Wasabi by Morimoto at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai in 2004, followed by a second Wasabi at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi in 2008. The much-anticipated flagship restaurant Morimoto New York opened in 2006. Morimoto has received numerous accolades for his cuisine and aesthetic, including several appearances on San Pellegrino’s Top 100 Restaurants in the World list, a James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design for Morimoto New York, and Food & Wine’s Best U.S. Restaurant Openings for Morimoto Napa in 2010. Today, there are additional restaurants: Morimoto Sushi Bar in Boca Raton, Morimoto Waikiki, Morimoto Mexico City, Skewers by Morimoto at LAX, Morimoto Maui, Japonais by Morimoto in Chicago, and Morimoto South Beach. Morimoto Las Vegas will open in 2015.


Hisato Nakahigashi

Chef-Owner, Miyamasou; Kyoto, Japan

HISATO NAKAHIGASHI is the chef and fourth-generation owner of Miyamasou, a one-Michelin-star inn known for its wild herbal and mountain cuisine. He also consults for Shakunage, a popular Japanese restaurant in Ginza. His restaurant experience began in Paris, where he worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants as service staff. Upon returning to Japan, he worked at Turukou, a ryotei in Kanazawa. He frequently travels to international conferences to demonstrate Japanese cuisine.

Richie Nakano

Chef; San Francisco, CA

RICHIE NAKANO is a chef and the founder of Hapa Ramen in San Francisco. Growing up in a Japanese-American family who loved sharing big meals triggered his interest in a food career. He worked as a waiter and bartender after high school and eventually enrolled in the California Culinary Academy. Richie started his career cooking Asian food, first at Sushi Ran and then Va de Vi and Pres a Vi. Looking to expand his repertoire, he then joined the team at Nopa, where he learned about seasonality, California ingredients, and layering flavors. At the same time, Richie was eating a lot of ramen throughout San Francisco and wanted a bowl that met his standards—made with better ingredients and proper technique. In 2010, he opened Hapa Ramen, a pop-up food stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. By teaming up with some of the best organic farmers and employing modern techniques, he pushed beyond the concept of what traditional ramen can be. He then opened Hapa, his first brick-and-mortar ramen noodle restaurant, in fall 2014, focusing on non-traditional Japanese ramen, and ran it to critical acclaims until late March 2015.


Shinobu Namae

Chef-Owner, L'Effervescence

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.

Sam Oches

Editorial Director

Sam Oches is the editorial director of Food News Media—publisher of QSR and FSR magazines—and editor of QSR. As an expert in foodservice trends, his insights have been shared in national media outlets such as the New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio, and CNBC. A graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, Sam previously served as editor in chief of Southeast Ohio magazine and as managing editor of QSR. He is a past president of the International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) and serves as a board member with the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and daughter.

Diego Oka

Executive Chef, La Mar Mandarin Oriental; Miami, FL

DIEGO OKA was born and raised in Lima, Peru, one of the worlds’ most diverse and eclectic culinary destinations. Blending personal experiences and a background of Japanese descent into his cuisine, he draws on influences ranging from his grandmother’s cooking to the food he discovered while living in Mexico and Colombia. As executive chef of Mandarin Oriental, Miami’s new restaurant, La Mar by Gaston Acurio, Diego focuses on iconic Peruvian cuisine such as cebiche, in addition to a number of lesser-known plates that showcase the multi-culturalism and biodiversity of the country. He received his degree in culinary studies from the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola in 2001. While attending courses, Diego accepted an internship at celebrity chef Gaston Acurio’s Astrid&Gaston restaurant, a world-class establishment located in Lima that is ranked on the S. Pellegrino 50 World’s Best Restaurants list. This opportunity blossomed into a long-term professional relationship with Acurio Restaurantes continuing to present day. Before joining La Mar in Miami, Diego served as executive chef at other La Mar locations, starting with the original Lima restaurant in 2005 and followed by Mexico, Colombia, and San Francisco. Now at the helm of Mandarin Oriental’s La Mar, Oka is dedicated to sharing the flavors and culture of Peru with Miami, serving authentic Peruvian dishes.

Alex Ong

Chef; San Francisco, CA

ALEX ONG was born and raised in Malaysia and apprenticed at the Shangri La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur for four years before coming to United States. Recruited by the Ritz Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta, he has traveled throughout United States working on assignments for the company. In 1995, he moved to San Francisco, where he worked with chef Jeremiah Tower at Stars for three years. Although he was trained in classical French cooking, Alex decided to return to his Asian roots and opened Le Colonial’s kitchen and then Xanadu in Berkeley, where in 2000 he was named Rising Star Chef by the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2001, he became chef and managing partner of Betelnut Pejiu Wu in San Francisco. Under his leadership, Betelnut was awarded three stars by the San Francisco Chronicle and was of the Chronicle’s Top 100 restaurants since 2001 and a Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand recipient since 2007. Alex has been a guest blogger for the San Francisco Chronicle’s food section and has worked with notable organizations such as Kikkoman USA, California Raisin Marketing Board, Niman Ranch, Chefs Feed, Visa, The James Beard Foundation, and Google. His recipes have been featured in various food magazines, such as 7X7, San Francisco Magazine, and Sunset. He has also been mentioned in notable cookbooks, such as The Seventh Daughter by Cecilia Chiang and Inside the California Food Revolution by Joyce Goldstein. Alex is a member of The Culinary Institute of America’s Asian Cuisines Advisory Council. Currently, he is consulting with various universities, corporate dining, tech start-ups, and national chain restaurants while plotting to take over the world, one noodle bowl at a time.


Ivan Orkin ‘93

Chef-Owner, Ivan Ramen; New York, NY

IVAN ORKIN’s story is one of legend in the food community: A self described “Jewish Kid from Long Island,” Ivan realized his dream of cooking while doing it in Japan on his terms. Armed with a degree in Japanese from the University of Colorado Boulder, he immediately moved to Japan upon graduating and cemented his love of everything Japanese. He returned to the US in 1990 and after some career experimentation, found his way to The Culinary Institute of America, where he finally found his calling. Upon graduation from the CIA, after stints at Mesa Grill, Lutece, and Restaurant Associates, Ivan returned to Tokyo to rediscover his Japanese “roots.” While putting his time in as a stay at home dad, Ivan realized it was time to combine his love for Japan and cooking, and in 2007 the first Ivan Ramen was born. This move seemed destined for failure in a country where ramen enjoys a cult-like status. Incredibly, Ivan not only succeeded but became one of the top ramen shops in Tokyo, an unheard-of accomplishment for a foreigner. In 2010 a second shop, Ivan Ramen Plus, was opened. In 2012, Ivan returned to New York with the hopes of opening a business back home, while continuing to operate his two shops in Tokyo. His first venture in the US, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, opened at the Gotham West Market in November 2013 to huge crowds and critical acclaim. Soon after, his 50-seat U.S. flagship, Ivan Ramen, opened on New York’s Lower East side to critical acclaim. He is the author of Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo’s Most Unlikely Noodle Joint.

Daiki Ozaki

Creative Director, MYU Planning & Operators, Inc.; Tokyo, Japan

DAIKI OZAKI, an interior designer, joined MYU Planning & Operators, Inc. in 1998. He has worked on 220 restaurant design projects, both in Japan and overseas, ranging from creating high-end, luxury restaurants to setting a design-standard for casual, fast food restaurant chains. His distinctive method focuses on the type of design that would best match the city’s business model. In 2013, he established BaNANA OFFICE, his independent company, and in 2014 he became creative director of MYU Planning & Operators, Inc. Along with his interior design works, he has developed various collaborations with artists and creators.

Gary Patterson

Executive Chef/Principle Research Chef, McCormick & Co, Inc.; Baltimore, MD

GARY PATTERSON, CEC is McCormick’s executive chef/principle research chef and manager of culinary development. Supporting consumer, branded, and custom products throughout McCormick & Co., Inc., Gary and his team work directly with numerous global consumer brands, food manufacturing companies, as well as global restaurant chains, focusing on the creation of fresh and innovative solutions. He leads the culinary development chef team that provides product support and guidance for the company’s technical innovation teams on the translation of culinary gold standard recipes to commercially viable representations of the original. He is also a part of the global McCormick team of chefs that creates the much-anticipated Flavor Forecast. Gary’s career spanned 21 year with The Walt Disney Company, Inc. This experience prepared him to become a trusted and respected chef with in the food industry. His passion for flavor has allowed him to become partner for many of the largest food companies in the world. His accreditations are numerous and include the American Culinary Federation’s Certified Executive Chef and The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef III Certification.

Mai Pham

Chef-Owner, Lemon Grass and Star Ginger

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.

King Phojanakong ‘98


KING PHOJANAKONG ‘98 is at the forefront of the burgeoning Filipino food movement and is the chef-owner of Kuma Inn in New York City. He is a New York City native whose culinary influences began at home with the inspirational cooking of his Filipino mother and Thai father. Childhood summers spent in the Philippines furthered his interest in the culinary world and instilled the importance of community and culture. King is also the creator of the award wining Bronx Hot Sauce and The Bronx Salad. Upon graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, King worked with Alex Lee and Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel and was part of the opening team of David Bouley’s Danube. King opened Kuma Inn in New York’s Lower East Side in 2003 to critical and popular acclaim. He has been featured in television programs including Cutthroat Kitchen, The Rachael Ray Show, King in the Garden, Selling New York, and Mike Colameco’s Real Food. King has served as a consultant for a variety of organizations and companies including The United Soybean Board, San Miguel Produce, and Campbell’s Soup Company.

Prin Polsuk

Head Chef, nahm; Bangkok, Thailand

Prin Polsuk is head chef of nahm Bangkok, voted the no. 1 restaurant in Asia in the San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and no. 13 in the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants. He was based at nahm London, where nahm received the first Michelin star for a Thai restaurant, before chef-owner David Thompson decided to move the restaurant to Bangkok in order to have a closer connection with the richness of ingredients of an extraordinary country.

Paul Qui

Chef-Owner, qui and East Side King; Austin, TX

PAUL QUI was named Esquire’s Chef of the Year 2014 and was selected as one of Food & Wine’s 2014 Best New Chefs and Top 10 Empire Builders of 2012. Paul is the recipient of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest 2012, winner of Top Chef Season 9, and winner of the San Pellegrino Cooking Cup 2013. His Austin restaurant, qui, received the honor of Best New Restaurant in America, 2014 by GQ. Additionally, East Side King Thai-Kun, a food truck co-owned and operated by Paul, was named one of Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants in America 2014. Born in Manila, Philippines and trained in classic French and Japanese cuisine, Paul takes a modernist approach towards food, where there are no boundaries. Starting as an intern, Paul worked his way up the ranks of Uchi to chef de cuisine and later opened Uchiko as executive chef. While training under Uchi chef and owner Tyson Cole, Paul learned to adapt traditional Japanese dishes with an eye towards local flavor, all while incorporating influences from South East Asian and European cuisine. Paul is currently the chef/owner of his flagship restaurant, qui. He is also the co-founder and chef/owner of East Side King, a group of Asian-inspired street food trailers and restaurants in Austin, TX. In 2013, Paul was honored by the Texas Legislature for his work and achievements as a chef and restaurateur, and also joined the prestigious ment’or BKB Foundation Culinary Council (formerly Bocuse d’Or USA).

Chandra Ram ‘99

Editor, Plate

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 author of The Complete Indian Instant Pot® Cookbook (Robert Rose) and the co-author of The Eiffel Tower Restaurant Cookbook (Chronicle Books) and Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces (Ten Speed Press). (Chicago, IL)

Matthew Rudofker

Executive Chef, Momofuku Ssäm Bar; New York, NY

MATTHEW RUDOFKER is the executive chef of Momofuku Ssäm Bar. His first kitchen experience was at Vetri restaurant in his hometown of Philadelphia. In 2005, he moved to New York City and worked under some of the city’s best young chefs, first at Oceana with Cornelius Gallagher, followed by two years at Cru under Shea Gallante. Matt then spent time at Daniel, where he was part of the team that earned both four stars from the New York Times, and three Michelin stars. Before joining Ssäm Bar, Matt completed a stage at the Fat Duck restaurant in England. Momofuku Ssäm Bar is currently featured on the S. Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list, and Matt was named one of Forbes 30 under 30 in January 2015.

Toni Sakaguchi, CEC, CHE, ‘84

Chef-Instructor, The Culinary Institute of America; St. Helena, CA

TONI SAKAGUCHI, CEC, CHE, ‘84, is a chef-instructor at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone. After graduating with an associate degree from the CIA in 1984, Toni earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant, and institutional management from Michigan State University. She then moved to California and served as executive chef in two of the nation’s top restaurants, Border Grill Café and City Restaurant, both in Los Angeles. Toni was the fine dining chef at the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma, California, prior to joining the faculty at the CIA at Greystone in 1997.

Scott Samuel

Strategic Initiatives Executive Chef, The Culinary Institute of America; St. Helena, CA

SCOTT SAMUEL is the strategic initiatives executive chef for The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). A graduate of Washington State University’s hotel and restaurant administration program, he apprenticed under Christophe DeGouix at Gerard’s Relais de Lyon in Seattle and under Thomas Keller at the French Laundry. Scott worked in a number of kitchens and was the original chef for Seattle’s Brie & Bordeaux, a combination wine and cheese shop and open-kitchen, 30-seat bistro. In 2000, he helped open the Waterfront Seafood Grill and later helped re-open the acclaimed Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington. Prior to joining the CIA, he taught at the Seattle Culinary Academy and through his own company, which provided private classes in clients’ homes.

Josefina Santacruz ‘93

Chef-Owner, Sesame; Mexico City, Mexico

JOSEFINA SANTACRUZ, a native of Mexico City and graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, divides her time between New York and Mexico. In New York City, she worked with Modern Mexican Restaurants between 2003 and 2009, assisting in the opening and as chef de cuisine of Pampano. In addition to managing the kitchen with a deft hand, she played a vital role in shaping the growth of the restaurant group: She assisted in the opening of Zengo D.C., the development of the menu and opening of La Sandia in Stapleton, CO, and, in 2007, in the development of menu and opening of both Pampano Mexico City and Acapulco. In 2009, Josefina left the company in search of new projects. She is a TV host for Latin American food channel, where she emphasizes fresh market food and what she calls Mexican “urban cuisine”—street food. She is a chef-owner of Dumas Gourmet, a food store in the heart of Polanco in Mexico City and recently joined an Asian street food restaurant in colonia Roma. She has been part of the jury in several cooking contests around Mexico for many years and is a frequent contributor to book projects and magazines. Prior to joining Modern Mexican, Josefina was chef-partner of Mai-Pei, where she channeled her love of Asian cuisine, and the opening chef of La Trufa, both in Mexico City.


Suvir Saran

Chef-Owner, American Masala; San Francisco, CA and Hebron, NY

SUVIR SARAN is a chef, consultant, public speaker, teacher, hobby farmer, and author of three widely acclaimed cookbooks, Masala Farm, American Masala: 125 New Classics From My Home Kitchen, and Indian Home Cooking. Suvir established new standards for Indian food in America when he brought the authentic flavors of Indian home cooking to the table at Dévi in New York City, the first Indian restaurant in the U.S. to have ever earned a Michelin star. His new restaurant, American Masala, opens in San Francisco in spring 2015. Suvir teaches all over the U.S. and beyond, but when he is not traveling, he lives eats with curiosity in San Francisco and works on his 68-acre farm in upstate New York.

Chai Siriyarn

Chef-Owner, Marnee Thai Restaurant; San Francisco, CA

CHAI SIRIYARN is the chef-owner of Marnee Thai Restaurant, which has had two locations in San Francisco since 1986. Marnee Thai Restaurant has been among the Zagat Survey’s top Thai restaurants in the city for over 20 years and has been recommended by the Michelin Guide in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Marnee Thai received the Thai Select Premium Award from the Ministry of Commerce in 2012 and 2013. Bangkok born and bred, Chai grew up in a culinary family and spent his childhood steeped in the restaurant business. His culinary accolades include winning the grand prize in the Los Angeles Pad Thai Festival contest in 2000 and earning the Thailand Superchef Award in 2003. He was also named International Chef of the Year by the Awards of the Americas in New York City in 2001. Chai was a guest chef to the Royal Thai Embassy at a tsunami relief fundraising event held in Washington, DC, a guest chef at The Culinary Institute of America since 2000, and a guest chef at the University of Massachusetts, Cornell, and Stanford. He is a member of The Culinary Institute of America’s Asian Cuisines Advisory Council and the author of Thai Cuisine Beyond Curry.

Duangporn (Bo) Songvisava

Chef-Owner, Bo.lan; Bangkok, Thailand

DUANGPORN (BO) SONGVISAVA was presented with the inaugural award for Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2013 as part of San Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. Her passion and desire to create exceptional Thai food has only amplified over the years since opening Bo.lan with Chef Dylan Jones. She completed her master in gastronomy in Adelaide, Australia, before returning to Bangkok to pursue her career in the kitchen. She first joined the Team at Cy’an, in the Metropolitan Hotel Bangkok. Bo then moved to London to work at David Thompson’s nahm. It was there she met Dylan, and they felt the time was ripe to open a truly remarkable Thai restaurant in the mother country. Bo.lan was born in early 2009. Since opening Bo.lan, Bo has constantly been campaigning to raise awareness of important issues regarding Thai food and food security, whether it be through teaching at several leading Thai universities or on her weekly television Show Eat Am Are on Thai PBS.

Carlo Splendorini

Corporate Bar Director, Mina Group; San Francisco, CA

CARLO SPLENDORINI is the corporate bar director for Mina Group, where he is the force behind a cutting-edge and continually evolving cocktail program. In his position, Carlo ensures that the same level of cocktail will be experienced at Michael Mina’s restaurants across the country. Previously, Carlo helped to open Michael Mina in San Francisco and served as lead bartender. Carlo has been named a 2012 Zagat Top 30 Under 30, 2012Domaine de Canton Bartender of the Year, and a 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Bar Star. He also received 1st place prices in the 2011 Regional Domaine de Canton Cocktail Competition, 2011 Original Moonshine Cocktail Competition 2011, and the 2011 Nolet Gin Cocktail Competition. Born and raised in Italy, Carlo discovered his passion for hospitality at an early age, attending the Istituto Albergiero di Assisi at 13 and staging at Caffe di Perugia next to the Bacardi Classic champion, one of the greatest bartenders in Italy, at only 14 years old. Shortly thereafter, he made his way to Germany, where he experimented with German and European bitters and amaro. He then traveled on to London and developed his talents with Sardinian products and herbs at Canal Sardo while experimenting with Japanese influenced cocktails at Nobu Green Park. Carlo left Europe for San Francisco in 2007, where he honed his skills and came into his own creating Gitane’s bar program. It was at Gitane that Carlo was first recognized for his talents creating classic cocktails made with seasonal ingredients, paying particular attention to small distilleries and handcrafted spirits.

Cara Stadler


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.

Cameron Stauch

Chef and Writer; Hanoi, Vietnam

CAMERON STAUCH is a chef who lives and works in Hanoi, Vietnam. During the last 15 years he has worked in restaurants and hotels in Canada, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Vietnam. Cameron is constantly in search of acquiring and sharing local culinary, agricultural and environmental knowledge. During his travels, he recognized early on that in many parts of the world some of the best cooks are not always found in professional kitchens. These encounters have strongly influenced his cooking style, of bringing world flavors to the table. Cameron is currently writing his debut cookbook about the food of Vietnam, to be published by W.W. Norton.

Takashi Sugimoto

President, Super Potato; Tokyo, Japan

TAKASHI SUGIMOTO is the president of the internationally renowned design firm Super Potato. After graduating Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1968, he established Super Potato in 1973, where he succeeded in designing interiors of commercial spaces such as bar, restaurants, hotels, and producing and environmental planning for mixed-use development. His master works of interior design for restaurants, namely, are Shunju, Hibiki, Jiapngu. In recent years, he has become famous for creating interior designs for hotels, both domestic and international. Some of his famous works can be seen at Park Hyatt (Seoul, Beijing), Grand Hyatt (Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo), Hyatt Regency (Kyoto, Tokyo), Shangri-La (Hong Kong, Shanghai), Bellagio (Las Vegas). Takashi has been awarded Mainichi Design Honor Awards in 1984 and 1985, and an award from Interior Design Association in 1985. He is also an honorary professor at Musashino Art University.

James Syhabout

Chef-Owner, Commis, Hawker Fare, THE DOCK at Linden Street; Oakland, CA

JAMES SYHABOUT, a Food & Wine Best New Chef of 2010 and a James Beard Award Nominee, is the Oakland-based chef-owner of the one Michelin star restaurant Commis, Hawker Fare, and THE DOCK at Linden Street. James has spent time in the best kitchens around the world, including The Fat Duck, Mugaritz, Alkimia, and Ferran Adrià’s elBulli. James currently resides in Oakland, which he has called “home” since the age of two, and loves to wander all over around the city on foot.

Ryozou Taniguchi

Tea Master, Fukujuen; Kyoto, Japan

RYOZOU TANIGUCHI was born in Uji-Tawara, a town just south of Japan’s historic city of Kyoto and the birthplace Japan’s modern method of forming green tea leaves into sencha. As a boy, he worked in the tea fields of his family’s tea farm and went on to further enrich his knowledge about various aspects of tea while instructing farmers in tea cultivation and production. He has extensively traveled across Japan’s tea producing regions and talked with tea farmers who share his passion for green tea. Currently, as tea master of Fukujuen, he is responsible for overseeing everything from procuring and quality testing to product development and factory processing of the tea used in Iyemon products throughout Japan.


Adam D. Tihany

Designer, Tihany Design; New York, NY

ADAM D. TIHANY, one of the world’s preeminent hospitality designers, has created hotel and dining interiors at some of the most luxurious and iconic properties around the globe. As an early pioneer of the restaurant design profession, he was one of the first designers to collaborate with internationally celebrated chefs, including Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Heston Blumenthal, Paul Bocuse, and Wolfgang Puck, to create signature restaurants. Among the acclaimed culinary destinations featuring Tihany designs are DINNER by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London, Nobu at One&Only Cape Town, and several restaurants for the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Shanghai. His work in the hospitality field may be experienced at world-renowned hotels that include Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, The Westin Chosun in Seoul, The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, Mandarin Oriental Landmark Hong Kong, Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, and Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach. Now setting his site on the seas, Adam is bringing his visionary design concepts to the next wave of ultra-luxury Holland America Line and Seabourn cruise ships. His contribution to design has been recognized with numerous honors and awards, including induction into the Interior Design Hall of Fame and an honorary doctorate from the New York School of Interior Design. As a leading expert, Tihany frequently lectures at universities and conferences around the world and currently serves as the art director of The Culinary Institute of America. He has published several books on his work and his latest, Tihany: Iconic Hotel and Restaurant Interiors, was published by Rizzoli spring of 2014.

Photo courtesy of Claudio Gallone

Ken Tominaga

Chef Owner and Partner, Hana and PABU; San Francisco, CA

KEN TOMINAGA, Tokyo native and revered chef-owner of Hana Japanese Restaurant in Sonoma County, has established himself as one of the Bay Area’s leading authorities on Japanese cuisine. While growing up in Japan, his parents fully immersed him in the city’s vibrant dining scene. He started his apprenticeship at an early age and quickly fell in love with the culinary world. After graduation, Ken moved to California to join his family’s business, an optics company in Santa Rosa. The local restaurants and the influence of French, Italian, and Chinese cuisine began to steer his culinary point of view. When his family sold their business, he seized the opportunity to return to his first love, cooking, and headed to Tokyo to attend the Akasaka Cooking School. By day, he learned to cook everything from tempura to udon. By night, he frequented his favorite sushi restaurants, studying the work of the sushi masters he’d known since he was a boy. Coaxing them to reveal recipes and tips, Ken would then adapt their secrets to reflect his personal style, while still representing authentic Japanese tradition. He opened Hana Japanese Restaurant in 1990, developing a devoted, cult following among fellow chefs and the local restaurant industry. Tominaga saw the opening of Hana in Rohnert Park as a continuation of his learning process, and he works every day to refine his cuisine. It is that same attention to detail that Ken brings to PABU, a partnership with celebrated chef and founder of Mina Group, Michael Mina. They met 10 years ago when Michael visited Hana on the recommendation of one of his chefs and fell in love with Ken’s inventive omakase menu. The two chefs developed a friendship and a mutual admiration for one another’s craft, and they began plans to collaborate on a Japanese concept. When the coveted 101 California Street location became available, the partners jumped on it. At PABU, Ken is excited to introduce San Francisco to his modern izakaya and sushi bar concept, highlighting his creative twist on traditional Japanese dining options.

Michael Harlan Turkell

Photographer, Author, Radio Host; /

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, which recently won an IACP award. 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 is also the new host of Burnt Toast, the Food52 podcast. 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. (Brooklyn, NY)

Leisa Tyler

Food and Travel Journalist; Penang, Malaysia

LEISA TYLER, who was born in Australia, has been an Asia-based food and travel journalist since 1998. Her work has appeared in as varied places as National Geographic and TIME to the National Library of Singapore. She sat on the board of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants for eight years and is the founding director of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants forum and workshop program, a series of chef-led educational events for ideas and skills sharing. Leisa is the co-founder of the Asian Food Files, a project documenting endemic Asian ingredients and cooking techniques. She also manages a farm to table project in Malaysia, growing heirloom European and Asian herbs and vegetables for four Singapore restaurants.

Janice Wong

Chef-Owner, 2am:dessertbar; Singapore

JANICE WONG’s CV glistens as brightly as the gold leaf on her creations at 2am:dessertbar in her native Singapore. A last-minute career change—she holds a bachelor’s degree in economics—saw her embark on a frenetic culinary grand tour, where she learned from some of the best chefs in the world, including U.S. luminaries Thomas Keller and Grant Archatz, as well as virtuoso Spanish chocolatier Oriol Balaguer and prodigious French pastry chef Pierre Hermé. An undisputed favorite among sweet-toothed Singaporeans, her dessert bar in Holland Village—established as one of the city’s principal food and drink hubs—has redefined the genre. 2am:dessertbar is a cerebral experience that pushes the boundaries between sweet and savory with carefully researched, high-tech dishes. Janice has received worldwide recognition for her cutting-edge creations and is a regular on the global pop-up circuit, proof that 2am:dessertbar is more than just a sugar-rush. She has recently been awarded Asia’s Best Pastry Chef at the prestigious San Pellegrino Asia 50 Best Restaurants 2013 and 2014.

William W. Wongso

Chef and Restaurateur; Jakarta, Indonesia

WILLIAM W. WONGSO is Indonesia’s most famous culinary expert, renowned restaurateur, food consultant, critic, and host of a very popular television series, Cooking Adventure with William Wongso. The weekly shows explore Indonesian cooking and its adaptability to modern cooking without losing its authenticity. William is the author of Flavours of Indonesia: Nourishing a Culture and the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole, an honor bestowed by the Ministry of Agriculture of France, in appreciation of his significant role and merit in French culinary and gastronomy.


Yong Dong (Tony) Wu

Executive Chef, M.Y. China; San Francisco, CA

YONG DONG (TONY) WU represents the new generation of talented Chinese chefs. He is part of the vanguard of chefs who bring a dynamic and innovative approach to traditional Chinese cooking, experimenting with both new ingredients and cooking methods. Hailing from the culinary mecca-city of Tian Jian, his expertise encompasses both northern and southern Chinese cooking including mastery of eight different noodle preparations, knife work and vegetable carving. He has competed in numerous culinary competitions, winning top honors and 33 gold medals in various culinary events; and he was the first chef to set a record for pulling 16,000 noodles in two minutes. Throughout the years, Tony has traveled extensively, working and studying with top chefs including National Treasure Chef Gao Bing Yi, one of the most respected and accomplished culinary masters of modern China. He is proud to have cooked for the prime minister of Japan and has prepared the state banquet for the King of Thailand and many prominent officials. In 1996, Tony moved to Toronto to work at the famous Peking Men Restaurant before moving to Vancouver to open Lee Shen Dek. Tony is one of the most sought-after judges for Chinese culinary competitions worldwide. He is currently the executive chef at M.Y. China San Francisco, where he showcases his talent in modern Chinese cuisine.

Jianmin Wu

Chef-Owner, Wenhao Café and Restaurant; Wuxi, China

JIANMIN WU has over 20 years of experience with Huaiyang Cuisine, which includes mastering dishes such as Wuxi-style Pork Ribs, Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish, Braised Shredded Chicken with Ham and Tofu, Yangzhou Fried Rice, and more. Between 1993 and 2006 he was the sous chef at the dining room for international experts and students at Jiangnan University, followed by two years as executive chef of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. From 2010 to 2013, he was the executive of the education department of the Chinese embassy in Japan. Since April 2013, he has been the chef-owner of Wenhao Café and Restaurant at Jiangnan University.


Tetsu Yagi

Chef, Sushi of Gari; New York, NY

TETSU YAGI, born in Kyoto, was an economics major who dreamed of being a sushi chef, one who could combine a classical Japanese culinary sensibility with that of the modern demands of New York City’s denizens. His culinary interests led him to join in the opening of MEGU in 2004, where he developed his style. In 2007, Tetsu joined the team of the renowned New York City restaurant NOBU. His unyielding devotion to Japanese culture and cuisine led him to return several times to his hometown Kyoto where he explored the intricacies of Kyoto Kaiseki cuisine. In 2010, he went on a “sushi sabbatical” to work at one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Japan, SUSHI YAMANE in Osaka. Tetsu’s culinary prowess, sense of design, and charisma presented him with the opportunity of working with famed chef David Bouley at BrushStroke in 2010 in New York City. Since 2012, he has further cultivated his artisanal sushi style at innovative Sushi of Gari, consistently voted New York’s best sushi restaurant.

Martin Yan, CMC

Chef-Owner, M.Y. China; San Francisco, CA

MARTIN YAN, CMC, is the celebrated host of over 3,500 cooking shows, broadcast worldwide, a highly regarded food and restaurant consultant, a cooking instructor, and the prolific author of 30 cookbooks. He enjoys distinction as a certified Chinese Master Chef. Born in Guangzhou, China, to a restaurateur father and a mother who operated a grocery store, Martin possessed a passion for cooking at an early age. In the early 1980s, he pioneered a daily TV travel/cooking show, the now classic Yan Can Cook. Infusing lessons with his characteristic warmth, humor and vitality, he quickly won a national and international devoted following. His latest series, Martin Yan’s Taste of Vietnam began airing on public television in fall 2014. A sought-after chef-instructor at culinary institutions worldwide, he has taught at The Culinary Institute of America, Johnson & Wales University, The California Culinary Academy, and The Chinese Cuisine Institute in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. In 1985, he founded the Yan Can Cooking School in California. Also a restaurateur, Martin brings Chinese culinary tradition and culture to light via an authentic, modern dining experience with his new restaurant group, M.Y. China, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dedicated to dispelling the mysteries of Asian and Chinese cooking, Martin furthers the understanding of these excellent cuisines, and the cultures that created them, with spirited lessons, fun and entertainment.

Rachel Yang

Chef-Owner, Joule, Revel, Trove; Seattle, WA

RACHEL YANG is known for her singular culinary vision that artfully blends a love of bold, unexpected flavors with classic technique. Her food defies expectation and simple definition, and has earned her a reputation as an innovator and creative force. Rachel’s food is beloved by seasoned, adventurous diners and often considered a revelation by newcomers eager to expand their palates. Her cuisine is informed equally by her personal history as a Korean native as well as her kitchen experience at restaurants Per Se, Essex House, and DB Bistro Moderne. Her work is consistently acclaimed and recognized, including two James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef Northwest in 2013 and 2014. Along with her co-chef and husband, Seif Chirchi, Rachel owns two Seattle restaurants: Joule, a contemporary Korean steakhouse that was named one of 2013’s Best New Restaurants in America by Bon Appétit, and Revel, a lively, casual space for street food-style comfort food. Trove, featuring Korean tabletop barbecues, was open in September 2014.

Chris Ying

Editor in Chief, Lucky Peach; San Francisco, CA

CHRIS YING worked for McSweeney’s as a designer and editor for five years before eventually becoming publisher. In 2011, he launched the quarterly journal Lucky Peach with David Chang and Peter Meehan, and also designed and edited the first McSweeney’s cookbook, Mission Street Food. Throughout college, Chris cooked full-time in fine-dining restaurants in Berkeley and San Francisco before finally accepting that he just wasn’t that good at it. In addition to being the editor-in-chief of Lucky Peach, he is a partner in the digital-publishing outfit Ying Horowitz & Quinn, and the coauthor of the Ivan Ramen and Mission Chinese Food cookbooks.

Photo portrait courtesy of Jami Witek.