Jeremiah Bacon, a five-time James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast, is executive chef and partner of Indigo Road restaurants The Macintosh and Oak Steakhouse. Bacon joined Charleston’s beloved Oak Steakhouse in November 2010 where he presents classic steakhouse fare in an impeccable setting on downtown Charleston’s historic Broad Street. Along with Indigo Road Restaurant Group managing partner Steve Palmer, Bacon brought new-American cuisine to an inviting Lowcountry table when they opened The Macintosh on Charleston’s upper King Street in September 2011.
The Macintosh, a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in 2012, showcases a range of local flavors and ingredients throughout its dinner, bar and brunch menus. Under Bacon’s direction, The Macintosh was awarded the coveted recognition as a best new restaurant on Bon Appetit’s annual 50 Best New Restaurants list in August of 2012 and was named an Esquire magazine Best New Restaurant in America in October 2012.
A Charleston native and College of Charleston alumnus, Bacon attended the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, N.Y. After graduating from the CIA in 1999, Bacon moved to New York City where he worked for the legendary restaurant River Café. Bacon then joined the staff at Le Bernardin, the famed restaurant of chef Eric Ripert. In 2004, Bacon was part of the opening crew of Per Se, which earned Four Stars from the New York Times and Three Michelin Stars.
After 10 years in Northeast, Bacon returned to the Lowcountry first as executive chef of Carolina’s restaurant. He incorporated a local-first philosophy into his culinary practices by building strong relationships with local farmers and fisheries. When he joined The Indigo Road Restaurant Group, Bacon brought these relationships with him to Oak Steakhouse, and added his personal touch to the menu, taking it in a progressive, yet local direction. He continues to bring that same creativity to the kitchen of The Macintosh, with the goal of new-American cooking rooted in the tradition of Lowcountry favorites.
Chef Cory Bahr, is a culinary leader in his state of Louisiana and deeply involved in the conservation and preservation of hisbeloved South. Bahr, built a national reputation for his inventive takes on classic Southern dishes where his Restaurant Cotton, and his rustic Italian restaurant, Nonnaserve as cornerstones in Monroe's recent economic revival. His newest project is Heritage Catering & BBQ, an inventive take on classic Southern dishes utilizing live fire cooking that infuses all the flavors, technique and heritage of his beloved Delta region. He is a spokesman for the 2016 Louisiana Tourism Culinary campaign, a director of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association, and the only non-New Orleans chef serving on the Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries Chef Council. He is also a spokesman for NOLA Tree Project’s #GreauxHealthyKids campaign and a passionate proponent for access to fresh, healthy food for all children. Honoring everything that’s important in his South — community, culture, and culinary heritage — Cory presents honest dishes with a strong sense of place, for which he has earned a national recognition. He's been recognized as Food & Wine's 'People’s Best New Chef' in America 2015, Food & Wine's 'People’s Best New Chef' Gulf Coast 2014, Taste of the South "Taste 50" , Food Network’s Chopped! Champion , King of Louisiana Seafood , and Louisiana Cookin’ magazine's 'Chef to Watch' . You know you were cheering for him on the latest Next Food Network Star, where he made it into the finals!
Bob Cook’s career in the kitchen began at age 14, when he started working at a local country club in his home state of Michigan. The chefs around him recognized the quality of his work and solid work ethic, and by age 17 he became a sous chef. His passion continues to carry him through his 20+ year career in the industry, with experience and interest spanning cuisines, styles, and locations.
Bob worked in Michigan for 11 years before moving to work at Morton’s in St. Louis. He owes much of his growth to all that he learned both inside and outside the kitchen. He relocated to Charleston in 2007, drawn in by the up and coming food scene and close proximity to the water. He spent 10 years working with Cypress and opened Artisan Meat Share before moving to Edmund’s Oast in 2017.
Alongside his passion for the industry, Bob enjoys Asian cuisine, collecting whiskey, growing hot peppers, and anything fermented and bubbly. Oh, and an inexhaustible love for condiments, solidified by the creation of Burnt & Salty, a collection of Korean mustards and glazes. He is in fact a cat person, although admittedly doesn’t quite understand why.
Megan Barnes, Partner + Beverage Director at Espita Mezcaleria
Bartender of the Year, 2017 (Thrillist)
Bar of the Year (Reader's Choice, Eater)
Washington, D.C. native. She's worked in the hospitality industry for over 10 years, most recently having worked at the Columbia Room, which recently was awarded "Best American Bar" by Tales of the Cocktail. She currently heads the Mezcal and Cocktail program at Espita Mezcaleria where she oversees a mezcal collection of over 100 Mezcales from small producers and an ever rotating, seasonal cocktail menu. Member of the Tequila Interchange Project, an organization fighting for smart tequila production.
Known for his clean flavors and contemporary technique, chef Scott Crawford has earned esteemed praise for his approach to seasonal cooking in the South. After more than a decade as executive chef in luxury properties, including five years at The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Crawford opened Crawford and Son in downtown Raleigh in November 2016 where he celebrates the seasonal harvest and local resources through his simple yet inspired preparations.
A five-time James Beard Foundation semifinalist for “Best Chef: Southeast,” Crawford has embraced the South’s rich agriculture, and blazed a trail of culinary prestige while cooking across the region.
Crawford earned the coveted Forbes Five-Star award at Herons in The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C., from 2010 to 2014, as he had previously, at The Georgian Room at The Cloister Hotel in Sea Island, Ga., from 2007 to 2009, and at The Woodlands Resort & Inn in Summerville, S.C., from 2004 to 2006. Under his direction, Esquire Magazine named The Georgian Room a “Best New Restaurant” and Newsweek recognized Herons among the “101 Best Places to Eat in the World.”
As the owner of Crawford and Son, Crawford’s leadership extends beyond the kitchen. Inspired by his own struggle with finding a healthy work-life balance in the culinary industry, Crawford has implemented a company culture geared towards fostering a healthy work environment for his staff. Additionally, he has taken on an active role in the community by speaking publicly on the sustainability of the hospitality industry as well as founding the Raleigh chapter of Ben’s Friends, a support group for food and beverage professionals who struggle with substance abuse and addiction.
Follow chef Scott Crawford on Twitter @chefcrawford and on Instagram @chefscottcrawford and Crawford and Son on Facebook, Twitter @crawfordnson and Instagram @crawfordnson.
A graduate of the nationally accredited Art Institute of Atlanta in the field of Culinary Arts, Joy specialIzes in researching and preparing locally grown, and organic foods. A long-time proponent of farm-to-table cooking, Joy’s philosophy centers around using natural ingredients wherever possible, with a keen eye toward foods grown, farmed, butchered and purveyed in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Her food is nestled in the Southern, home-cooked style, but highlights healthy ingredients and a refined presentation while celebrating the seasons’ best offerings.
Her culinary career began in Los Angeles working as the caterer and event planner for the President of Capitol Records. There, she hosted countless functions for musicians and executives, sharpening her skills in presentation and large-scale planning. At the same time, she worked on private events for Warner Bros. Television. She was a go-to private chef for actors and executives on Warner’s television series and feature films. In 2005, Joy relocated to Atlanta Georgia, where she attended the Art Institute of Atlanta. While working on her degree, she studied under Chef Bradley Rouse, head chef for the NBA team The Atlanta Hawks. There, Joy worked closely with Chef Rouse planning menus and preparing meals for the private dining facility for both the NBA players and their families. There was a particular focus on the specialized athlete’s diet.
Upon graduation from the Art Institute, Joy began cooking at Woodfire Grill as an apprentice to Chef Micahel Tuohy. Chef Tuohy has been credited with shifting the local / organics / farm-to-table practices from Northern California to the Atlanta restaurant scene. At Woodfire Grill Joy cultivated her skills in several methods of cooking, including meat curing, butchery, fruit preservation, sauce-making and wine-pairing. She worked closely with local Atlanta farmers and purveyors, and learned the art of fine seasonal cooking in an upscale atmosphere. In 2008, Tuohy turned the ownership of Woodfire Grill over to Chef Kevin Gillespie (“Top Chef” Contestant, Season 6). Chef Gillespie remains there currently, and Joy proudly worked on his team for nearly two years.
Additionally, Joy has had the honor of cooking directly with some of the South’s finest chefs, including Virginia Willis, author of the nationally-acclaimed cookbook, “Bon Appetit, Y’all; Chef Ford Fry, Chef/owner, JCT Kitchen & Bar; Chef Hilary White, Chef/owner, The Hil at Serenbe Farms; Chef Scott Peacock, former Executive Chef at the award-winning restaurant Watershed in Decatur, and Chef Kevin Rathbun of Rathbun’s, Krog Bar and Kevin Rathbun Steak.
In 2008, Joy founded FOODĒ as a home-based private event and catering company in Atlanta. In 2010, FOODĒ grew to a physical location on Caroline Street in Historic Downtown Fredericksburg. There, Joy and her team pride themselves in putting their key philosophy into practice for their guests and clients. Namely, they provide a large variety of seasonal, market-fresh, natural and organic meals prepared in a comfortably refined style. FOODĒ Fredericksburg opened in January, 2011. Joy appeared on Season 12 of Top Chef last fall and her signature Chicken & Waffles won the Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Madness Challenge in April. In spring 2015, she opened her second restaurant, Mercantile, in Fredericksburg.
KERRY DIAMOND is the co-founder and editorial director of Cherry Bombe, the biannual indie magazine about women and food, and host of the weekly Radio Cherry Bombe podcast. Previously, she was an editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Wear Daily.
Samuel W. Edwards III became involved with his family’s business at an early age. Initially restricted to performing mundane tasks like sweeping, chopping wood, and cleaning the grease pit, it wasn't long before his father and grandfather began teaching him the art of curing and monitoring Edwards Virginia Country Ham, Bacon and Sausage. Sam III eventually joined the company in the late 1970s as the third-generation Edwards to take charge. He focused on the specialty food trade and mail order while opening two Edwards Virginia Ham Shops in Surry and Williamsburg, Virginia.
Chris Elford has been surfing the delicious waves of food & drink his whole life. He developed at passion for beer, cocktails, and distilling while working in New York, areas he excelled in because of his passion for education and dad jokes. Though this love has taken him to distilleries and bars around the world, he now owns Navy Strength (a proto-tiki bar) and No Anchor (a James Beard nominated beer bar) in Seattle, and considers himself an above average dominos player and a pretty good listener.
When Kevin Gillespie hesitantly signed up to compete on the sixth season of Bravo’s “Top Chef” in 2009, he did it to save Woodfire Grill, his critically acclaimed but financially struggling Atlanta restaurant. Initially, he felt lost in the TV kitchen without his restaurant recipes and his ingredient-splotched cookbooks. He had to rely on his training, intuition and the simple recipes he learned as a kid growing up on Sunshine Circle in Locust Grove, Georgia, where he watched his granny, Geneva Gillespie, cook each day.
“It was the first time in my culinary life where I allowed myself to cook whatever sprang into my mind and let my heart drive where I was going,” Gillespie reflects. “What came out was very soulful and very personal.”
Gillespie’s honest, genuine cooking resonated with viewers across the country. Suddenly, the modest, tattooed Georgia native was a household name. Fans were flocking to Woodfire Grill to see him and sample his rustic yet modern takes on American food with a Southern accent. Even his trademark crimson beard inspired its own Facebook fan page.
And it wasn’t just the city’s business elite clamoring for a table. There were working class folks wanting to meet him; the ones who had to carefully consider how they spent their money. The same people who had rooted for Gillespie each week in their living rooms across the country.
“The experience unshackled me from all my mentors and all my influences and allowed me to really make my debut as a chef,” says Gillespie. “Suddenly, people were interested in what I wanted to cook.”
Six years later, as Gillespie’s national brand continues to grow, he considers those hard-working people with every restaurant deal he green lights, every product he puts his name on and each cookbook he authors. His 2013 James Beard finalist cookbook debut, “Fire In My Belly,” combined favorite dishes from his Woodfire Grill menu with his own artful interpretations of everyday favorites. His 2015 follow-up, “Pure Pork Awesomeness,” was devoted to Gillespie’s preferred protein.
Later in 2013, Gillespie debuted Gunshow in Atlanta’s Glenwood Park neighborhood. It's perhaps the only restaurant in the city where the dim sum-style menu changes nightly and diners get to interact directly with the chefs creating their dishes, all set to a heavy metal soundtrack.
By 2014, Gunshow had landed on Esquire magazine’s “Best New Restaurants” list, GQ’s “12 Most Outstanding Restaurants” and was lauded in the pages of Bon Appetit. Gillespie was named a semifinalist for the James Beard Award Best Chef: Southeast in 2015, finalist in 2016 and a semifinalist in 2017.
Gillespie returned to television to compete on Bravo’s “Top Chef Duels,” advancing to the high-stakes finale. But Gillespie knew he had really established himself as a nationally regarded chef when the animators behind “Squidbillies,” his favorite Cartoon Network Adult Swim show, called and asked him to play himself in an episode of the animated series.
For his next venture, Gillespie did a complete 180° from the innovative tastes and rock star vibe of Gunshow, quietly converting the former Campbell family home at 129 Church Street in Decatur, Georgia, into Revival, his heartfelt homage to Southern family-style suppers.
The idea for the home-and-hearth restaurant was inspired by a conversation with Gillespie’s mother, Cathy, who had conceded to her son that she and his dad, Kevin, Sr. hadn’t been regulars at Woodfire Grill because the starched white linen tablecloths and fussy wine lists weren’t exactly their style.
I feel like I’m living out chapters of my life through my restaurants,” explains Gillespie. “Gunshow represents the rebellious, more obnoxious, fun and brash side of me. It's the tattoo sleeves and the kid blasting rock music in his room. Gunshow represents total freedom of not being chained down to anything, including our own concepts. But Revival represents this very introspective chapter for me. I felt this need, this ache to pay homage to the people who came before me. I wanted to create a place where my family feels at home.” Southern Living magazine took notice of Revival in 2016, including the restaurant in its list of “The South’s Best New Restaurants.”
For Gillespie, his culinary journey came full circle in January 2016, when he and his staff celebrated his granny Geneva Gillespie’s 90th birthday at Revival where photos of the family matriarch hang on the wall. As family-style platters of fried chicken, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese and his grandmother’s favorite pole beans were passed, along with a cast iron skillet of Geneva’s mother’s cornbread, Gillespie took a minute to reflect. “Having an opportunity to finally be the one cooking for her meant everything to me,” he says. “She’s still the best cook I’ve ever known in my life.”
In April 2016, Gillespie added a seasonal beer garden in Revival’s backyard called Communion to bring drinks, food truck snacks and outdoor fun to Decatur. Originally a German beer garden-inspired concept, Communion transitioned to a special event venue in the summer of 2017.
Gillespie’s next concept, Gamechanger, will open on the 200 concourse western end zone of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in August 2017. Sports fans and event goers will order from a lineup of tasty bites inspired by Gillespie’s most popular dishes. From Gunshow’s famous Joey’s West Coast burger to Revival’s craveable Closed-on-Sunday chicken sandwich, the elevated arena food will be perfect fuel for the big football game, soccer match, or concert.
Following the announcement of Gillespie’s venture into gourmet stadium food, he also introduced RedWether Collaborative in June of 2017. RedWether is a partnership between Gillespie’s Red Beard Restaurants and innovative hospitality developers, Meriwether Companies, and aims to take the current food hall trend to the next level. The group has identified sites in Kansas City, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee, for their first locations, with Kansas City’s Crossroads neighborhood scheduled to open in mid-2018.
“I have been wanting to help chefs try a new concept or open their first restaurant, and I finally have the right partner to do this,” says Gillespie. “As a restaurateur, I think mostly about food and service. Meriwether thinks about the setting and the overall experiences. Together, we envision a curated, micro-restaurant environment where aspiring entrepreneurs get to take the next step toward their dreams with RedWether as a support structure behind them. It’s a unique hybrid of restaurant and incubator.”
As his Red Beard Restaurants brand continues to grow, along with his own line of merchandise (including his popular Gunpowder Finishing Salt), and he ponders his next television project, Gillespie never forgets the unique bond he forged with “Top Chef” viewers back in 2009.
Says Gillespie: “Every day of my life someone stops me on the street to tell me, ‘We were rooting for you each week!’ That’s incredibly magical to me, being able to make that connection with people through television. I want to find fresh ways to keep that conversation going. That’s why I cook food for a living, write cookbooks and put restaurants together. It’s my way of being able to express my personal feelings; my way of connecting with other regular, everyday people like myself and my family.”
Even with all the national magazine praise and James Beard Foundation accolades, Gillespie is fiercely protective of one recipe in his repertoire. In a 2015 episode of CNN’s “Culinary Journeys,” Gillespie conceded if a restaurant critic ever goes after his great-grandmother’s sacred cornbread recipe, “I might either cry myself to sleep or punch you in the face.”
“I still feel the same way!” Gillespie says laughing. “In this line of work, you can’t ever be boastful. I’m always up for feedback on dishes. You always need to be striving to get better. But, I get very defensive about our cornbread. It’s the best you will ever have. The way I see it, if you’re the type of person who won’t protect the integrity of your granny’s homemade cornbread, you don’t belong in a kitchen!”
Travis Grimes has worked with the Neighborhood Dining Group since 2003, first as a sous chef at McCrady’s then as Chef de Cuisine at Husk when it opened in 2010. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Grimes’s experience also includes positions at Louis’s Charleston Grill and Cypress Lowcountry Grill. He has a passion for curing meats, pickling, and canning and has elevated both Husk and McCrady’s charcuterie programs.
For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact
Melany Mullens or Adi Noe at Polished Pig Media:
Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef/owner of PRUNE, which she opened in New York City’s East Village in October 1999. PRUNE has been recognized in all major press, both nationally and internationally, and is regularly cited in the top 100 lists of all major food magazines. Gabrielle has made numerous television appearances including segments with Martha Stewart, Mark Bittman, and Mike Colameco and was the victor in her Iron Chef America battle against Bobby Flay on The Food Network in 2008. Most notably, she won an Emmy for her role in Season 4 of the award-winning PBS series Mind of a Chef. Gabrielle has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Food & Wine, Afar, Travel and Leisure, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, Elle, and House Beautiful. Her work has been anthologized in Best Food Writing 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011 and 2013. Gabrielle was nominated for Best Chef NYC in 2009 and 2010 by the James Beard Foundation and in 2011 won the category. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, which has been published in six languages and won the James Beard Foundation’s award for Writing and Literature in 2012. She won her third James Beard award in 2015 for her piece “Into the Vines” published in Afar. Most recently, she wrote the cookbook, Prune, featuring 250 recipes from her East Village restaurant. She is a monthly columnist for The New York Times Magazine and is currently at work on her next book, a memoir, to be completed in 2017. Photo by Melanie Dunea
Chris Hastings is chef of the nationally celebrated Hot and Hot Fish Club and newly opened OvenBird in Birmingham, Alabama, which he owns with his wife, Idie. With years of experience and practice with farm to table philosophy, the award-winning chef has earned a reputation for serving some of the finest and freshest dishes in the region.
In February of 2012, Chris competed in Food Network's Iron Chef America and triumphed over Chef Bobby Flay in 'Battle Sausage." Chris was also awarded Best Chef: South by the James Beard Foundation in May of 2012. In 2013 Chris was featured on Bizarre Foods America. He is a Chef Ambassador for All-Clad. Chris is also a member of the Alabama Seafood Commission. In addition, he is the Director of the mentor BKB Foundation's Culinary Council.
For several years, Chris and Idie have worked toward the idea of opening a second restaurant. OvenBird was inspired by the live fire cooking traditions of South American countries and Spain and Portugal. This casual, small plate restaurant opened in October 2015. The restaurant is known for preparing all of its dishes over live, wood burning fires, with not a single gas line connected to the building.
Today, Chris focuses on creating a great foundation for the new restaurant, maintaining the success at Hot and Hot Fish Club and consulting on restaurants developed by the Hastings Consulting Company. He lives in Birmingham with his wife, Idie. They have two sons, Zeb and Vincent.
Kristen Kish was born in Seoul, South Korea, and adopted by her family in Kentwood, Michigan, at the age of four months. She attended Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, and went on to work for Michelin star chef Guy Martin of Le Grand Véfour at his Boston restaurant. She then worked for Barbara Lynch in Boston, first at Stir, and then at Menton, a Relais Chateaux restaurant which she ran when she was 29. Kish won season ten of Bravo’s Top Chef in 2012 after originally being eliminated and then cooking her way back into the competition through the show’s online companion series, Last Chance Kitchen. Most recently, Kristen was the co-host of Travel Channel’s 36 Hours. @kristenlkish (Photo credit: Kristin Teig)
Pastry Chef and Partner Genie Kwon takes on the challenge of creating the compelling tasting menu finale at two Michelin-starred Oriole in Chicago’s West Loop. Kwon collaborates with her partners Noah and Cara Sandoval on every aspect of the restaurant, including the design of the open kitchen, the comfortable-industrial aesthetic, down to the dishes upon which her creations sit. For Oriole, she amended her culinary philosophy to accommodate the extended tasting-menu format. “We’re creating the best overall experience,” she explains. “The dessert at the end of the meal doesn’t overwhelm or overstuff, but finishes with impact.”
Kwon’s desserts play with familiarity by harkening back to a nostalgic
dish or comfort food, but break from normal by reimagining the recipe or putting
forth new flavor profiles through classic technique. Most importantly, each dessert complements the rest of the menu and impresses the diner, situating the guest at the focus of the meal.
As a child, Kwon once filled her family’s New Orleans kitchen with smoke as she burned a batch of experimental cookies; though the result was barely edible, she recalls that her mother still ate them. This childhood memory stuck with Kwon, a remarkable facet of her lifelong passion for cooking, even as she entered college as a biochemistry student. Intuition soon guided her away from the sciences and into Newbury College’s culinary program in Brookline, MA. Earning a scholarship and experiencing the industry firsthand empowered Kwon to pursue a career in pastry.
While still attending Newbury, Joanne Chang offered Kwon a position as barista and later baker at Flour Bakery + Café in Boston. Chang, a mentor to Kwon, also opened Myers + Chang down the street, where Kwon worked as prep cook and server. These positions put Kwon through school, as well laid the groundwork for her career.
The Big Apple beckoned after Kwon graduated with a degree in culinary management, opening the door to opportunities in such influential restaurants as The Stanton Social, Nobu Fifty Seven, and Eleven Madison Park. Proving herself in New York City gave Kwon the confidence to travel abroad, working with Janice Wong at 2am: Dessert Bar and Makito Hiratsuka at Restaurant André, both in Singapore.
Jetting back to the United States, Kwon found herself in Chicago working alongside Dimitri Fayard at The Peninsula Chicago. Later, she worked at River North’s GT Fish & Oyster and Lincoln Park’s Boka, both Boka Restaurant Group properties. Kwon’s work with the group earned her the 2014 Jean Banchet Rising Pastry Chef of the Year award. Not long after, Kwon became acquainted with her current partners while dining at Senza, where the Sandovals worked at the time. The friendship soon became productive as Oriole was born among aligning philosophies.
When not creating delectable treats at Oriole, the downtown Chicago resident hones her drawing skills by creating greeting cards and studies new languages to heighten her international travel experiences. Kwon also enjoys cooking at home, and she one day dreams of founding a Segway tour of Chicago’s food landscape.
Yoni Levy grew up in California and began his culinary career in the Bay Area working at One Market in San Francisco and The Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur. Levy’s next stop was Boston to help open the Great Bay restaurant, He then moved to Chicago to work at Blackbird, Lula Café, The Bristol, and Old Town Social. Each chef Levy worked with instilled in him a deeper appreciation for building strong relationships with local farmers, ranchers, seafood suppliers, and the local community. Yoni was Chef de Cuisine at Flora restaurant in Oakland before opening Daniel Patterson’s Alta CA as Head Chef. Levy is currently the Executive Chef at Outerlands in San Francisco where he highlights local produce, seafood, and meat. Yoni’s goal at Outerlands is to run an honest, community based kitchen.
Mexican chef Zarela Martinez is one of America’s top culinary professionals and a 2013 inductee into the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. Her achievements as a chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, food television host, and product developer and merchandiser place her as a pioneering woman in the world of the multi-platform food personality. In today’s celebrity saturated culinary world, it’s not uncommon to find the roles of chef, cookbook author, television host, product line developer, and brand representative combined in one food personality. But Martinez wove these fields into a single career when it was uncommon in the profession, and a truly remarkable feat for an Hispanic woman. Her son, Aaron Sanchez, took a page from his mother's culinary playbook!
Hemant Mathur is the COO/Managing Executive Chef of six restaurants located in New York City – Chola, Chote Nawab, Dhaba, Haldi, Kokum and Malai Marke. He brings 30 years of culinary professionalism to this new position of menu development, head of all operations, staff training and catering; and as spokesperson and goodwill ambassador to this group of restaurants specializing in distinctive regional Indian cuisine.
Mathur has earned numerous accolades and esteemed recognition during his career, including the designation of tandoor master and the Yo-Yo Ma of tandoor cooking – a virtuoso whose instrument is the traditional Indian clay oven. In addition, he was the first Indian chef in the U.S. to be awarded a Michelin star, and since then retained this prestigious award at two different restaurants.
His accomplishments include being a featured chef at The James Beard House, the annual Lucky Rice event, New York Wine & Food Festival, Grand Gourmet, Harvest in the Square, DeGustibus at Macy’s and at dozens of cause-related and community events, all in New York City. Hemant also had the honor of being a highlighted chef at the 2005 “Worlds of Flavor” conference at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, California, and he has been a chef participant of The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in Florida. His talents have been appreciated beyond the U.S., as well. He has been the celebrated destination catering chef at special occasion events in Mexico and the Caribbean.
Prior to his present position, Mathur served as the opening through 2014 executive chef of one-Michelin starred Tulsi on Manhattan’s mid-East side, and previous to that he was the opening executive chef at one-Michelin starred Dévi in N.Y.’s Flatiron District, where he helmed the kitchen for six years. The awarding of a Michelin star to Dévi was a landmark distinction because it was the first time an Indian restaurant in the United States was given this recognition.
Mathur has contributed to the success of some of New York City’s top Indian restaurants – laying the groundwork for the popularity and respect now given to this ethnic cuisine throughout Mathur’s home state and beyond. Previously, he was the opening chef in 2003 at Amma and served as executive chef of Diwan Grill in 2002. In 2000, he worked under the late great Raji Jallepelli where their cooking created quite a city-wide buzz at Tamarind.
He first came to America from his hometown of Jaipur, India via professional stints in Mexico and Germany. His career began at the Rambagh Palace Taj Hotel in Jaipur where he first honed his skills by hard work throughout the kitchen – from the bakery to butchering garde manger. His next job at the world-renowned Bukhara Restaurant in the Maurya Sheraton Hotel in Delhi was where Mathur perfected his tandoor prowess. After this early training, he served as a private chef for British financier Sir James Goldsmith in Mexico, and then returned to India as the opening chef for Sonar Goan in Calcutta’s Bengal Hotel before he was recruited by a group of German restaurateurs to bring his craft to Berlin’s Seeterrson and Kashmir Palace.
Mathur graduated from culinary school in India in 1983 and is fluent in Hindi, Rajasthani, English, Spanish and German. He is married to highly acclaimed pastry chef and owner of Bittersweet NYC and they live in New York City with their daughter. Photo by Elsa Ruiz.
Dimitri Moshovitis is Founding Partner and Executive Chef of CAVA Group, Inc., a growing culinary brand that offers a Mediterranean take on bold, better-for-you cuisine. With 40 fast-casual restaurants and a consumer-packaged goods (CPG) line of chef-crafted dips and spreads, CAVA brings modern, authentic Mediterranean eats to a national audience through both restaurant and grocery channels.
In 2006, Dimitri and two childhood friends founded the CAVA Group’s first full service service restaurant, Cava Mezze, a DC-area favorite that puts a modern spin on the authentic Mediterranean food and culinary heritage of their upbringing. Today, Moshovitis leads all culinary development including formulation, quality assurance, and menu development for both Cava Mezze and its sister fast casual concept, CAVA. A graduate of the Baltimore Culinary Institute, Moshovitis learned the culinary ropes in the kitchens of Washington DC’s finest restaurants including Vidalia, Kinkead’s and Bistro Bis. CAVA Group won The RAMMY’s Favorite Fast Bites of the Year and Restaurateur of the Year in 2017 and received Eater’s Editor’s Choice Award for Empire Builder of the Year in 2016.
Chef Rob Newton fell in love with Vietnamese food in culinary school and his passion for the cuisine has deepened during his travels around the country. He has explored open-air markets, eaten countless meals, cooked with different chefs and visited culinary landmarks such as Phu Quoc, the island legendary for the fish sauce that is the centerpiece of so many Vietnamese dishes.
Newton’s love and respect are evident in his treatment of such classics as pho, banh xeo, bun cha and green papaya, and in the seasonal specials he creates utilizing Vietnamese techniques and local ingredients. “Newton… borrows flavors across a distance, finding resonances between the cooking of Vietnam and that of his heritage,” says The New York Times.
Nightingale 9 was named for the old Brooklyn phone exchange NI9. Chef Rob Newton, who resides in Carroll Gardens, is also the chef/owner of the Southern restaurant Wilma Jean and the coffee shop Smith Canteen, located right down the block from Nightingale 9. He opened Black Walnut in the Hilton in the same neighborhood in late 2016. He is about to open a new spot in the recently renovated Central Fidelity Bank Building in Richmond, Virginia.
Sara Place is the Senior Director of Sustainable Beef Production Research at NCBA. Her role is to oversee The Beef Checkoff funded sustainability program, including using life cycle assessment to benchmark the US beef industry’s sustainability. Prior to joining NCBA, she was an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Beef Cattle Systems at Oklahoma State University for four years, with a split research and teaching appointment. At Oklahoma State, her research program focused on the measurement of enteric methane emissions from cattle. Her teaching responsibilities included Animal Nutrition, Dairy Cattle Science, Ethics and Professionalism, and Sustainable Animal Agriculture. From 2014-15, she served on the National Academies of Sciences Committee on Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research that published the report, Critical Role of Animal Science Research in Food Security and Sustainability. She received her Ph.D. in Animal Biology from University of California, Davis, a B.S. in Animal Science from Cornell University, and an A.A.S. in Agriculture Business from Morrisville State College.
With over four decades of food service industry experience, self-proclaimed “Ham Evangelist,”Keith Roberts, has always had a passion for the culinary world. In 2010, Roberts joined the Edwards team, where he works closely with third-generation cure master Sam Edwards III as the company’s National Wholesale Sales Manager. In this role, Roberts has doubled Edwards’ wholesale business and grabbed the attention of James Beard Award-winning chefs like David Chang and Sean Brock as well as spots on their respective restaurant menus, securing Edwards’ place in the modern culinary conversation. Roberts works tirelessly to educate Americans on the company’s time-honored tradition of curing and smoking meats, positioning S. Wallace Edwards & Sons for continued growth and success for the fourth generation and beyond. In the last five years, Roberts’ efforts have helped Edwards land numerous accolades, including the Good Food Awards “Charcuterie Division Award”, the Virginia Department of Agriculture “Best New Product Award”, Specialty Food Associations “Sofi Award”, and multiple National Country Ham Association Grand/Reserve Champion Titles.
Chef, Partner, Long Shot Hospitality
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Kyle Bailey has helmed kitchens from luxury resorts in the Caribbean to great restaurants in New York and DC, including Birch & Barley and Churchkey. He’s learned from great chefs, including Shea Gallante and Dan Barber, and mentored dozens of others, sharing his interest in and knowledge of sustainability in local food systems. Kyle was named “The People’s Best New Chef” by Food & Wine, and culinary talent is a family affair – his wife, Tiffany MacIsaac, owns one of DC’s premiere bakeries, Buttercream Bake Shop in Shaw.
Building on his previous success in Chicago restaurants, Chef Noah Sandoval introduced Oriole to the West Loop scene with the help of his partners, wife and General Manager Cara and Pastry Chef Genie Kwon. Oriole offers a comprehensive experience focused on the guest through informed service, carefully crafted dishes, and a modern industrial ambiance with homey comfort. Oriole was awarded two Michelin Stars in the restaurant’s first eligible year.
Since opening Oriole in March of 2016, Sandoval was recognized as a Food & Wine Best New Chef, received two semifinalist James Beard nominations, and was named Chef of the Year by the Chicago Tribune. Oriole also earned 4-star reviews from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago magazine.
Sandoval and his culinary team develop a large format tasting menu with seasonal foundations and a focus on ingredients and their origin. “My culinary philosophy can change year-to-year, but in approaching food, I always try to find the best ingredients and build dishes around that,” says Sandoval. Taking the concept even further, Sandoval considers each product’s origin in designing a dish, capturing other facets of the region for a deeply rooted collection of flavors. He also encourages collaboration and creativity among the team. “I like to get as much input from those I share the kitchen with as possible,” he says. “We inspire each other.”
With a father in the Navy, Sandoval relocated a lot during his youth, from Virginia to California to Scotland before settling back in Richmond, VA. Upon returning to his birthplace at the age of 16, Sandoval picked up a job washing dishes at local landmark restaurant Helen’s and was soon promoted to the salad station, working under Chef David Shannon. Sandoval then followed the chef to open Dogwood Grille & Spirits. Shannon served as Sandoval’s mentor, showing him a way into a world of creativity, freedom, and families formed in the kitchen; this influence inspired the aspiring chef to enroll in culinary school in New Orleans.
While in the Big Easy, Sandoval continued to develop his culinary chops at Marisol under Chef Pete Vazquez. He then moved back to Richmond for a stint as sous chef at Dogwood until he discovered an unexplored world of food through his travels and made the move to Chicago in 2007 to place himself among international culinary excellence.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s C-House gave Sandoval an opportunity to further explore seasonal cooking before heading to Spring to work under James Beard-awarded Chef Shawn McClain. In 2011, Sandoval took a position alongside another award-winning chef, Michael Carlson, as sous chef of Schwa, known for its seasonal New American menu. At Schwa, Sandoval focused on honing his technique in a demanding environment, often using unconventional ingredients and methods. Prior to co-founding Oriole with Cara and Kwon, Sandoval spent a few years at Senza as executive chef, earning a Michelin star for the restaurant in each eligible year.
Max Sayer is a beloved member of the national bar community whose sense of humor and commitment to education are palpable. He helped open Saison in Richmond Virginia and served as Seattle’s Angel’s Envy Bourbon "Whiskey Guardian” before opening No Anchor in Fall 2016 to critical acclaim (“No Anchor Is Seattle’s Best New Restaurant,” Seattle Weekly.) He appreciates a nice cold pilsner, a sip of mezcal, and an overstuffed burrito.
Ryan Smith is Executive Chef of Staplehouse in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally from State College, Pennsylvania, Smith has called Atlanta home for the last 14 years. Ryan took an interest in cooking while in school and working in the kitchens at Penn State University. He quickly decided that cooking would be his career and chose to attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Ryan received his degree in 2000 and was drawn to Atlanta by a fellow chef, who heralded the emerging national fascination with Southern cuisine.
Since his arrival in Atlanta, Ryan has worked in some of the city's most prominent restaurants including: Bacchanalia under James Beard Award Winner, Anne Quatrano, Canoe, with Food & Wine's Best New Chef & James Beard winner Linton Hopkins as Chef de Cuisine in Hopkin's Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch, most recently with Food & Wine’s Best New Chef and James Beard winner Hugh Acheson as the Executive Chef of Empire State South. While working with a handful of Atlanta's best chefs, Ryan gained great experience and a sincere fondness for the history and traditions of the Southeast.
Chef Chris Tostenson is the Manager and Chef of The Beef Culinary Center. He is responsible for managing the daily needs and operations of the Culinary Center kitchen including: menu planning, food & beverage procurement and inventory control, in-house catering functions, cooking demos, maintaining sanitation standards, equipment maintenance and kitchen safety. He also supports the director of culinary programs. Chris majored in Art Education with a photography emphasis at the University of Northern Colorado, and then majored in Culinary Arts at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge before becoming the Chef at several restaurants. Chris supports NCBA with 9 years of culinary expertise, ranging from four-star fine dining, casual fine dining, large catering events, gastro pub and corporate dining.
Clay and Linda Trainum
Clay and Linda Trainum’s Autumn Olive Farms is a true and complete family farm model. In the Shenandoah Valley, they focus on Heritage breeds with great genetics. Together with neighbor Bill Patterson of Patterson’s Registered Berkshires they breed and birth all the Berkshires, Ossabaws and Berkabaws that they sell. In addition, they work with other small local farms to help supply their Farmers Cross line of Heritage pork.
AOF believes that with great intention, they have in fact captured the amazing terroir of the Central Shenandoah Valley in their products and that is a huge reason for their success. They continue to receive accolades from the top professionals in their industry, including Purveyor of the Year in 2015 for Richmond’s Elbys and having their products featured 10 times at the James Beard House to date.
Michael W. Twitty is a noted culinary and cultural historian and the creator of Afroculinaria, the first blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacies. He has been honored by FirstWeFeast.com as one of the twenty greatest food bloggers of all time, and named one of the “Fifty People Who Are Changing the South” by Southern Living and one of the “Five Cheftavists to Watch” by TakePart.com. Twitty has appeared throughout the media, including on NPR’s The Splendid Table, and has given more than 250 talks in the United States and abroad. His work has appeared in Ebony, the Guardian, and on NPR.org. He is also a Smith fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance, a TED fellow and speaker, and the first Revolutionary in Residence at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Twitty lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. Photo by Bret Hartman.
Chef Jeffrey Vance started out like so many others, working the trenches as a line cook to support his habits--skateboarding and going to punk shows. He honed his skills learning classic sauces and charcuterie in Spokane WA before rising to Chef de Cuisine at one of Seattle’s first modernist restaurants, Spur. Like his motto, “Kraft singles & caviar,” he keeps a sense of humor in the kitchen, and today helms the kitchen at Seattle’s Navy Strength, a proto-tiki tropical cocktail bar, and No Anchor, where his team earned a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant.
Born and raised on Maui, Hawaii Tiffany moved to New York City at the age of 18. Her love affair with food began almost immediately. She attended the culinary arts program at the Institute of Culinary Education and went on to work as a pastry assistant at Union Square Café and Ilo Restaurant in the Bryant Park Hotel. She was later awarded the title of pastry chef at Michelin star restaurants CRU followed by another Michelin starred property, Allen and Delancey.
In 2009, Tiffany and her husband, Chef Kyle Bailey, moved to DC to open Birch & Barley, which not only received 3 stars from The Washington Post but also gave her the platform to be awarded the honor of Best Pastry Chef by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington in 2010. During her 5 years with the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, she ran the pastry program for 14 properties including Buzz Bakery and GBD Fried Chicken and Doughnuts. Tiffany was also selected as a James Beard Award semi-finalist 3 years in a row and was featured in several publications such as Food & Wine, The Local Palate, and Art Culinaire.