AJ is 25 years old and is a Sussex county native and was welcomed within the Crystal Springs Culinary family 5 years ago. He is quickly becoming a very versatile cook as he has had experience throughout many of our outlets, thus promoting him to Junior Sous in Restaurant Latour where is learning to refine his technique and hone in focus. His intriguing nature has seen him recently delving into the world of butchery and protein fabrication, but his true passion has always been smoking meats. When AJ is not working he is most likely spending time with his fiancé and 14 month old son.
Emma Bengtsson grew up in the small Swedish fishing village of Falkenberg and originally wanted to be a fighter pilot. In her youth, Emma would go to shooting ranges with her father in preparation for a military career, however, her grandmother was an avid home cook and inspired her to go on to study at the International Restaurant School in Stockholm at the age of 16. Emma went on to stage as a pastry chef at Edsbacka Krog — the only Swedish restaurant to hold two Michelin stars at the time. Here, she discovered she enjoyed working as a pastry chef and after graduating, she continued to work at the restaurant for four years. She then went on to work at Operakällaren within the Royal Swedish Opera as a pastry chef for five years.
After vacationing in Mexico and a quick stop in Manhattan, Emma knew she wanted to move to New York City. In 2010, at 29-years-old, she got her chance when then Aquavit Executive Chef Marcus Jernmark recruited her to join the team as pastry chef. Her interpretation of classic Scandinavian desserts quickly garnered critical acclaim with Aquavit winning a Michelin star. Emma caught the attention of owner Hakan Swahn, who offered her the Executive Chef position in 2014 when Jernmark resigned. Although Emma was initially hesitant and refused, she took her delicate approach to pastry and adapted it to savory dishes which led to the restaurant being awarded two Michelin stars the same year. This award made her the first Swedish woman to hold two Michelin stars and only the second in the United States after Dominique Crenn.
In 2016, under Emma’s culinary direction Aquavit opened a second restaurant in London. At Aquavit, Emma is serving the kind of food she likes to eat. The fare is true to Scandinavia offering light and bright dishes with a focus on fresh ingredients, seafood and traditional methods like pickling and preserving.
Now, Emma has revamped the menu at Aquavit, adding a fresh new take and expanded bar menu. The menu now allows diners to enjoy a full meal at the bar offering an extensive selection of snacks, starters, mains and desserts. In the main dining room, guests can now enjoy her three, five and eight-course tasting menus.
Markus Glocker was born in upper Austria and grew up working in his family’s hotel, where his appreciation for hospitality became a passion. After graduating culinary school in Austria, Markus joined Munich’s renowned Restaurant Vier Jahreszeiten. Over the years, he excelled in top kitchens around the world including Restaurant Eckart Witzigmann in Berlin, Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, Restaurant Steirereck Vienna, and Gordon Ramsay in London and New York (which earned two Michelin stars during his tenure there). Markus’s talent finds full expression at Bâtard, the fine dining Tribeca restaurant he opened in partnership with restaurateur Drew Nieporent. After its May 2014 debut, Bâtard earned a three-star rating from The New York Times, three stars from New York Magazine, and a coveted Michelin star, among several other stellar reviews. In early fall 2018, Markus took on the kitchen at Augustine, located at The Beekman Hotel in the Financial District, where the Executive Chef brings back classic dishes from his native Austria combined with traditional french cooking. A chic and casual dining experience in a beautiful bistro setting that offers daily delight. Paris meets Vienna.
Saydie grew up in a humble household in central Philippines. Her family owned a bakery, and watching her mother as a child instilled a hard-working, creative spark in her that she has never lost. Before coming to the US, she worked for 5 years in restaurants and hotels. Her first stint at Crystal Springs Resort saw her as a cook in the banquet department, she then asked for the opportunity to switch to pastry. She excelled in her department and her easy-going attitude and team-work mentality saw her move to Restaurant Latour one year ago. When she is not working she can be found at a metal band concert or baking at home.
Bob credits his mother and grandmother for his love of cooking. Growing up in Minnesota, it was a trip to Czech Republic where his job was to pound the schnitzels, that he credits planting the culinary seed in his life. Graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, he has 15 years in the culinary field with 6 in NJ/NY at L’amico, The Chefs Garden and Springs Bistro. He gained invaluable knowledge in charcuterie and smoking meats from working under his mentor, Timothy Fischer. While continuing to learn, he is currently concentrating on food sustainability and innovative ways to minimize food waste.
Nick Capaldi is 26 and a native of New Jersey. He is currently enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park N.Y. He grew up cooking in his families restaurants as well as opening his own sandwich shop in 2012 which he later sold to pursue a formal culinary education. An award-winning chef, having already received SJ Magazine’s Best of the Best 2016 Best Sandwich, South Jersey Magazine: Best of Best, and the Reader’s Choice Best of the Best Scratch Made Soups, 2015, and Best of the Best Pretzel Sandwich, 2017; he works diligently at the Crystal Tavern, where he helps develop recipes, creates daily specials and serves as the PM lead chef. With an Italian upbringing he focuses on using Italian preparations with international ingredients.
Julia Choi Rodriguez
Julia Choi Rodriguez is a long-time creator in the culinary world, first working in advertising on major food brands, then as a pastry chef for top restaurants who turned food stylist. She and husband Roger Rodriguez, a pastry chef and chocolate maker/chocolatier now embark on a new collaborative journey combining their collective culinary experience to open their own business Vesta Chocolate in Montclair, New Jersey.
Julia was born in Seoul, Korea and moved to the U.S. at the age of 14. Her two distinct cultural perspectives have been at the core of her creative philosophy, and she regularly returns to Korea for inspiration.
Julia graduated New York University in 2007 with her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and began her professional career in the advertising world as an account executive for major brands such as Baskin Robbins, Quiznos and Bonefish grill, but she found herself yearning to apply her creativity more directly to food and cooking. She enrolled in the baking and pastry program at Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and upon graduation worked for a few years as a pastry chef at top New York City restaurants including Gramercy Tavern, Jean-Georges, and Bouchon Bakery.
From there she decided to branch out on her own into food styling starting her own business, Baby One More Bite where she married her advertising and culinary backgrounds, styling food for some of the most recognizable brands including, Wendy’s, Starbucks, Guinness, KRAFT, Food Network to name a few. When she is not working on set for clients, she spends her time and skills on set volunteering for non-profit groups such as God’s Love We Deliver.
Julia and Roger recently relocated from Manhattan to New Jersey, Roger’s home state. As a child violinist, she once participated in a radio show with Yo-Yo Ma.
Roger Rodriguez wears many hats. Pastry chef, bean-to-bar Chocolate maker, Chocolatier to name a few. He now joins forces with his wife Julia Choi Rodriguez, a seasoned culinary professional, to open their own chocolate shop, Vesta Chocolate in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. This blend of his professional and personal experiences makes him a truly unique chocolate maker who is celebrated internationally.
He grew up in the beautiful Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where rich cultures of the native Taíno and European influences wonderfully coexist. His grandfather owned a cacao plantation and his grandmother made the best hot chocolate, so it was only natural for Roger to embrace the culture of chocolate. The indigenous flavors of the Dominican Republic are consistently at the core of his work. His family immigrated to New York when he was a teenager, so he retains a blend of the culture from his native motherland and the melting pot of culture of New York City.
After studying graphic design in college, Roger enrolled himself at the esteemed ICE culinary school in hopes to marry the synergy between his love for sweet things and his ability to create. He quickly found his sweet spot in the pastry kitchen. After graduating from ICE, he got his first job at Anthos in New York City, where he started honing his skills as a pastry chef. He went on to some of the city’s most respected kitchens such as Jean-Georges, Gramercy Tavern, and Del Posto where he not only grew as a seasoned pastry chef but also learned his passion for working with chocolate.
While most pastry chefs avoided working with chocolate, Roger was drawn to the challenge and opportunity to explore the infinite possibility of flavor transformation that chocolate offered. Dissatisfied with commercially available chocolate, he sought to create his own to realize the flavors he envisioned. He spent seven years at Cacao Prieto, a small chocolate factory in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Here, Roger applied his creativity and roots creating bean to bar chocolate exclusively using cacao beans from his native Dominican Republic creating a collection of terroir inspired flavors such as Dominican Spice, Orchid, Vanilla + Cassia, and more.
Roger firmly believes in late Steve Jobs’ philosophy “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” He hopes to keep reimagining the ways he can transport people to a different place, a different dimension through what he creates with chocolate. Lastly, he adds that the very secret to a great chocolate bar is nothing but 100% love.
Prior to relocating to Southern California, Joe Sasto dove head-first into the restaurant industry by mentoring under some of the Bay Area’s most acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs. Early in his career, Sasto found it difficult to get a foot in the door in the culinary industry after forgoing the traditional path of culinary school. Instead, he spent his undergraduate years at University of California at Davis, largely sustained by cooking gigs and a driving passion for food, which he learned at a young age cooking by his mother’s side.
Following a break to travel through Europe, Sasto brought his newfound international inspiration to Quince, where spent three years at the three-Michelin-starred restaurant. Under Chef Michael Tusk, Sasto was trusted to manage the handmade pasta program at Quince, learning the ropes and roots from one of America’s most celebrated Italian-influenced chefs.
Later, as Executive Sous Chef at Lazy Bear, Sasto maintained his strong, cultivated relationships with local farmers and is passionate about showcasing their work on the plate. At both Quince and Lazy Bear, Sasto has been an integral member of the team, impacting the rise from one to three-Michelin stars, and one to two-Michelin stars.
After relocating to Los Angeles, Joe has begun focusing on pursing his personal goal of opening his own restaurant, and is currently traveling the country hosting private events, fine-dining dinner parties, and pop-up feasts. Joe has appeared on two seasons of Bravo TV’s Top Chef, Season 15 where he was a finalist and the upcoming Season 17 Top Chef All Stars.
After hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine at the age of seventeen, Chef Jason Pfeifer developed a passion for foraging, farming, and cooking. Jason graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and went on to work at Gramercy Tavern and Thomas Keller’s Per Se before joining the opening team at Maialino, where he became Executive Chef in 2016. Jason opened Manhatta as Executive Chef in 2018.
James Gop is the chef, founder and creative mind behind Heirloom Fire. Born and raised in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, it was inevitable that the farms and forest would inspire him.
The trail to Heirloom Fire was paved with intensive farm to table and seasonal food study. After graduating from The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, James took the helm as chef at a farm to table restaurant in The Berkshires. During this time, the relationships he built with local farmers and food producers transformed his approach to cooking. The farmers were passionate about their livelihood and combined with James’s love and attention to detail, it was a powerful union. The care taken in crop selection and soil management made for an undeniably superior product; you could literally taste the passion.
James worked at other locally minded food establishments in The Berkshires to feed his passion and to hone his craft. Determined to fully understand how food goes from the farm to the table, James continues to study both wild and cultivated foods. Raising livestock, foraging the land for wild edibles, and toiling in the fields alongside farmers, James understands local food. Fresh ingredients such as kale, picked when crisp with morning dew, and strawberries, juicy, sweet and warm from the afternoon sun, stand out as the stars of each menu.
James’s interests go beyond food. He is an avid blacksmith, and is often found, in his workshop, forging knives or out exploring the many woodland trails in the Berkshires. You may even stumble upon him visiting with a herd of dairy cows along a back road in The Berkshires.
All of these elements instinctively came together to give birth to Heirloom Fire; a continuous evolution of James’s curiosity and his deeply engrained sense of sustainability and experiential dining.
Chef Eric Adjepong is the co-founder of Pinch & Plate alongside wife and decorator Janell Adjepong. He was a finalist on Season 16 of Bravo’s Top Chef, where he earned consistent acclaim from judges and popularity among viewers. As a first-generation Ghanaian-American born and raised in New York City, Eric sources the flavors and influences in his cooking from many of the West African dishes he grew up eating. He is passionate about introducing diners to West African cuisine and the impact its diaspora has had on South American, Latin American, Caribbean, and American food, all in his elegant, artfully plated style.
Prior to launching Pinch & Plate, Eric cooked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in New York after graduating with degrees in culinary arts and nutrition from Johnson & Wales, one of the country’s premiere culinary universities. He also holds a Master of Public Health in International Public Health Nutrition from the University of Westminster in London.
Danila brings to Bluebird over 15 years of experience working with some of Europe’s leading chefs, including Derry Clarke, Jason Atherton and Gordon Ramsay. Hailing from Romania, Danila has held senior Sous-Chef positions at Patrick Guilbaud’s Two Michelin Star restaurant and Restaurant L’Ecrivain in Ireland. Credits to Danila’s professional background also include being nominated by Zagat as one of the top 30 chefs in the U.K. under the age of 30 in 2012 whilst at Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus and, more recently, being awarded a Michelin Star as Chef de Cuisine of Jason Atherton’s The Clocktower in 2018. In addition to Bluebird, Danila also serves as the Group Executive Chef of queensyard, another recently opened D&D restaurant at Hudson Yards.
Chef Craig Shelton has over 40 years of experience in science-based cooking and teaching in
the hospitality business. He trained in eight of the world’s greatest restaurants, including “El
Bulli”, “Jamin”; “Ma Maison”, “L’Auberge de l’Ill”, “Le Pré Catelan”, “Bouley”, “Le
Bernardin”, and “La Côte Basque.
Chef Shelton has earned countless awards as Chef-Owner of his own restaurants including a
James Beard Best Chef medal, NY Times 4-Stars ratings on four separate occasions, a 5-Star
Forbes rating, the Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef title; and Number One Top Restaurant in
America in 2004 from GQ.
Mr. Shelton is also an instructor at Princeton University in the Princeton Environmental Institute,
where he teaches a freshman seminar on the interrelationships between public policy,
agriculture, diet-related disease and anthropogenic climate change. Mr. Shelton began his
expertise in this area while an undergraduate of Yale where he earned his degree in Molecular
Biophysics and Biochemistry. He is a co-founder of the think tank, Princeton Center for Food
Studies, the founder of King’s Row Coffee, and a co-founder of Aeon Holistic Agriculture, Inc.
He is recognized as a consummate business consultant with specialization in macro finance. He
is known for his ability to generate excitement in his cooks and instill in them the drive toward
excellence by connecting all aspects of gastronomy to the larger intellectual landscape –
chemistry, ecology, literature, art and human physiology. His great passions are reading and
Matthew is a north NJ native and has 12 years in the culinary field with 8 of them at Crystal Springs Resort. During his tenure here he has worked in every department and restaurant ranging from a line cook, to most recently Chef de Cuisine in Restaurant Latour. He is drawn to the culinary field as he likes the challenge of its ever-changing nature as he continues to learn new things each day. When Matthew is not cooking he will be roaming through the woods, hiking or foraging for ingredients. He is continually pushing himself each day to be a better cook, and an even better father to his son Matthew.
A true son of the Garden State, DeRosa brings to the Kitchen Step a wealth of relationships he has harvested throughout the course of his career, from established and respected purveyors such as Zone 7 and Local 130 Seafood, who share in his philosophy.
At the Step, DeRosa builds on executive chef Ryan DePersio’s locally-driven cuisine via a vibrant, creative and faithfully seasonal menu that spotlights the talent of New Jersey’s purveyors, transforming ingredients via techniques such as curing and smoking – all done in-house – into something vibrant, daring and unforgettable.
Christopher Albrecht was born and raised in Central New Jersey. Growing up he spent most of his time either down the shore on Long Beach Island, playing baseball or immersed in the theater at Plays in the Park. It was the theater that instilled in him the appreciation and electricity for the nightly rise of the curtain. If he wasn’t at the theater he could be found on the baseball diamond all over New Jersey and eventually at the University of Southern California, where three years of varsity baseball would teach him the dedication and sacrifice needed for success.
But it was his time on Long Beach Island that would lead him to his first cooking job at the Gourmet Mooring in Beach Haven, a busy seasonal Seafood and Steakhouse. Here Chris got his first taste of kitchen management eventually working his way thru the entire kitchen.
Since then he has worked with some of the worlds most renown chefs. After college Albrecht returned to New Jersey to work with chef Richard Baulis at the acclaimed Mulberry Street Restaurant in South Brunswick. Simultaneously Albrecht worked at the Princeton Hyatt, before being inspired to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park New York, graduating in October of 1996.
Albrecht then went to Manhattan to work at Danny Meyer’s world renown and Zagat rated, Gramercy Tavern. There he worked closely with “Top Chef”, and James Beard award winner Tom Colicchio for 3 years becoming the Saucier. He then studied the next 3 years with James Beard award winning pastry chef Claudia Fleming, working his way to Assistant Pastry Chef. As Claudia’s right hand, Albrecht worked directly with her to publish The Final Course, while traveling extensively to promote Gramercy Tavern, Danny, Tom and Claudia.
Chris then went on the participate as a sous chef in the opening of Colicchio’s innovative Craft Restaurant in New York City before assuming the role of Executive Chef at Craftsteak Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino for 4 years, ultimately overseeing the entire Craft operation there including the Wichcraft Sandwich concept. Under his guidance Craftsteak in Las Vegas was named the Best New Restaurant, Best Steakhouse, and Best American Restaurant by Las Vegas Life magazine. It was also named Best Overall by the New York Times and Best Steakhouse in North America by Travel and Leisure magazine. Following his time in Las Vegas Chef Albrecht returned to New York City to open the eagerly awaited Craftsteak New York, completing a 12 year run with Chef Colicchio.
From there Chef Albrecht partnered with the Terra Momo Group opening Eno Terra in Kingston, NJ, and subsequently Canal Farm the two acre farm that produced most of the produce used at Eno Terra; soil fertility, seed selection and crop diversity were at the forefront of Canal Farm. Eno Terra received 4 stars from the New York Times, 3.5 stars from the star Ledger, and was a perennial top 25 in NJ Monthly’s Top Restaurants. After 7 years at the helm of Eno Terra, Albrecht left his home state of NJ to work with the Farmer’s Restaurant Group in the Washington DC Area. After almost two years on the road, missing his home state and family, Albrecht returned to the Garden State to assisted in the reopening of the legendary Park and Orchard Restaurant in East Rutherford NJ.
Since then, Albrecht’s awareness and disgust of the processed food industry has lead him back to the soil, the place where flavor and nutrition intersect. Feeling a responsibility to feed people not just delicious flavorful food but food that makes you feel good about eating, has lead Albrecht to arguably the most prestigious restaurant in NJ, The Ryland Inn. “I am thrilled to put my mark on the great legacy of the Ryland Inn, there is no better platform for all things Food & Beverage in the Garden State” says Albrecht and thus the stage is set. Albrecht continues “My food reflects an understanding of technique, seasonality, flavor, and nutritional density, while taking inspiration from American, French and Italian regional sensibilities”
Albrecht has worked in charity and industry events such as the Masters of Food and Wine, Taste of the Nation, Bon Appetit Focus, and frequent dinners at the James Beard House. He has cooked with a veritable who’s who of America’s culinary celebrities such as Thomas Keller, Jean-Louis Paladin, Jacques Pepin, Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Nancy Silverton, and countless others.
He has often been invited to lead cooking seminars, give a Tedx talk, participate in panel discussions at Princeton University and give live demonstrations, besides appearing on numerous radio, and television segments as well as trade magazines.
His culinary style focuses on high quality, nutrient dense, seasonal ingredients from small Family owned and operated Farms and Ranches, delivered at the peak of flavor, and combining those ingredients with the attention to details, integrity and technique he has learned over the past twenty-five years. “Food is Medicine, and we don’t need a prescription to reap the benefits, just a table and a fork.”
Chef Albrecht also has two wonderful daughters, Olivia and Lily, both of whom enjoy spending time in the kitchen and exploring local farms and food.
EXECUTIVE CHEF, CAFE BOULUD NEW YORK. THE FINAL TABLE CONTESTANT, SEASON 1.
Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, chef Aaron Bludorn developed a passion for food and service early on, which led him to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Upon graduating in 2006, Bludorn moved to Napa where he spent three years at Cyrus Restaurant working under Michelin-starred Chef Douglas Keene, who taught him about cooking with quality, integrity and finesse.
When New York City began to beckon, Bludorn researched his next move by opening the Michelin Guide. Chef and mentor Keene encouraged him to seek out Chef Daniel Boulud, stressing that his kitchens offered all of the foundations Bludorn was seeking: a culture of excellence, high-quality cuisine, opportunity for growth and mentorship. After four days of trailing, observing and interacting with the group’s chefs, he’d found a new home at Café Boulud.
Bludorn arrived to Café Boulud in 2009 and was introduced to recently appointed Executive Chef Gavin Kaysen, who was in the midst of building a team of dynamic, young chefs. In five years, he learned the importance of tradition and dedication, and worked his way up from Chef de Partie to Executive Chef in 2014, joining the ranks of Andrew Carmellini, Bertrand Chemel, and Gavin Kaysen.
As Executive Chef, and as a leader within Boulud’s empire, Bludorn is devoted to mentoring the next generation of culinary leaders and is deeply involved with the non-profit Careers Through Culinary Arts Programs (C-CAP) as a board member. He regularly welcomes the program’s students and graduates into his kitchen, and judges the organization’s annual scholarship-granting competition. With the restaurant’s four “muses” as his guide – La Tradition, La Saison, Le Potager, Le Voyage – Bludorn’s cooking is an exploration of the traditional French roots, combined with modern, seasonal and international influences. In 2018, he competed on Netflix’s blockbuster culinary competition show The Final Table.
Edmund Konrad is currently Chef de Cuisine at Laurel, a French-inspired New American restaurant in South Philadelphia. Eddie was born and raised in Philadelphia where he attended Mercy Vocational High School and studied culinary arts. After he graduated, Eddie attended Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. Eddie has worked in many influential restaurants in New England and across the Mid-Atlantic including Del Posto in New York City and Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia. With training in Italian and French techniques, he is focused on refined, ingredient driven cuisine.
Originally from South Korea, Angela Borah grew up in Spain, Ghana and Peru before calling New York her home. Her journey began in art history and the arts, before coming to the realization her true passion lies in pastry and chocolate. She garnered experience at various establishments in NYC until she landed a position at the notable Del Posto restaurant. Her trajectory led her to the Michelin-starred mainstay, The Modern, where she helped manage the pastry kitchen under the guidance of Executive Pastry Chef Marc Aumont. In 2014, Angela was awarded first place in the Plated Dessert category at the Pastry Live competition in Atlanta. Thereafter, she continued to hone her skills and augment her training at Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-starred Per Se as well as New York boutique MarieBelle Chocolate. 2016 reunited her with Chef Marc Aumont to be on the opening team of two-Michelin-starred Chef Gabriel Kreuther’s atelier, Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. As Head Chocolatier, she oversees the already celebrated chocolate program where more recently, Angela helped win silver medals for two signature chocolates from the chocolate shop in the 2018 International Chocolate Awards World Final.
Chef Jessica Phillips — a New Jersey native — is the chef/founder of A Taco Affair in Little Falls, NJ. She puts a unique, non-traditional twist on tacos by creating tacos inspired by classic flavors and dishes from around the world. The flavor profiles she creates in a tortilla are bold, refreshing, and nicely balanced. The restaurant opened in 2017 and quickly attracted customers due to its unique concept. Its popularity is not showing any signs of slowing down. A Taco Affair has received numerous local accolades. It was voted number 9 in New Jersey for best Mexican food by Yelp and recognized as one of the Best Places for Lunch by the Bergen Record. The restaurant was also featured on ABC News New York’s Neighborhood Eats. Jessica had always dreamed of owning her own restaurant – A Taco Affair is a tribute to everyone that has supported her in pursuing that dream. She hopes that her food will continue to make people smile for years to come.
Shortly after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 2007, she found herself working in one of New Jersey’s top restaurants, Restaurant Serenade, as a line cook under Chef James Laird. While there, she sharpened and developed her culinary skills. She absorbed the passion and dedication that Chef Laird and his staff demonstrated towards every plate and person that came in and out of that their kitchen. This is where she learned first hand that cooking is more than just a job to earn a paycheck. It’s a love for the food, the people you work with, and the smiling faces of your customers. After leaving restaurant Serenade, Jessica moved to Boston for eight years where she took her first sous-chef job with Restaurant Associates. While at the company, she served as a chef for Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Google.
Missing her family, Jessica moved back to New Jersey and took a sous-chef position at New Jersey’s premier catering hall, The Grove. For five years, she worked side by side with Executive Chef Anthony Garruto to produce fine dining food on a grand scale – executing large parties of 600 people to small functions of 50 people. Here she learned the finer side of catering and was given the opportunity to really showcase her love of global flavors. In 2017, Jessica felt she was at a point where she could pursue opening her own restaurant. Her drive to make her lifetime dream a reality allowed her to see how an old convenience store could become A Taco Affair, and her passion for cooking food for people has made A Taco Affair a success. She is constantly creating new tacos, which only make it on the menu if her official taste-tester, her English Bulldog Diesel, gives it the paws up.
As the Executive Chef, Humberto Guallpa showcases his culinary knowledge and personal style by creating exquisitely tasty and aesthetically appealing dishes that seamlessly blend cultures.
As child growing up in rural Ecuador, where his family managed a small farm of vegetables and livestock for the sole purpose of feeding the family, Humberto displayed his intense interest in the culinary arts by assisting his grandmother in the kitchen and learning everything he could about the preparation of healthy, balanced meals. He entered the restaurant business as a dishwasher at the age of 17. This highly talented and motivated future chef worked his way up through the kitchens as Garde Manager, Line Chef and Sous Chef to his current title of Executive Chef. Humberto’s formal training led to his combining regional Ecuadorean preparations and ingredients with French technique to create unique, mouthwatering masterpieces.
Before move to run Freemans restaurant. Chef Humberto’s most recent projects included Calle Dao Cuban-Chinese fusion Restaurant Play, the sultry restaurant at the Museum of Sex; Vandaag, the Nordic-inspired restaurant which received two stars from the New York Times; and Sag Harbor’s Page @63 Main, where his cuisine was inspired by the local farms on Long Island. Prior to that, he worked at perfecting his craft alongside many of New York City’s top-rated chefs, including Mario Batali, Marco Moreira, Paul Zweben, Larry Forgione, Marcus Samuelsson, Rocco Dispirito, Julian Alonzo and Franklin Becker. He also worked as a stagiaire in some of the country’s finest kitchens, including New York’s Per Se and Eleven Madison, Chicago’s Alinea, and Guy Savoy in Las Vegas.
When not working on his craft, Chef Humberto enjoys playing soccer, eating, hiking, biking, and yet he still resourcing for new ingredients in the forest for new flavors.
Chef Sam Freund is not only a chef, but also a culinary artist deeply passionate about creating experiences for his guests that will leave pallets wanting more. Freund’s commitment to local purveyors, comes from his childhood roots of growing up in a small New Jersey farm town, where his family owned a restaurant. He spent many summers in the kitchen learning about hospitality, and how food has the power to bring people together, ultimately inspiring Freund to pursue a career in Culinary.
His career began in New York City at One Hudson Catering and Eleven Madison Park under Chef Kerry Hefferman, before achieving Executive Chef at One If By Land, Two If By Sea for 4 years. He decided to leave the east coast to explore new possibilities and hone his artisanal talents. Freund landed in Denver, and met Troy Guard, (of TAG), where he learned and expanded his talents to Asian Fusion and the local ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. Under Guard, he executed the opening of TAG Raw Bar and TAG Burger Bar, both receiving acclaim to be top restaurants in Denver. Freund has worked under critically acclaimed Chefs Gary Robins and Craig Hopson. His accolades include: Beer and Bacon Festival Winner (Denver); James Beard Outstanding Contribution Award (NY); Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Featured Guest Chef.
In 2013, Freund returned home to New Jersey where explored his creativity at The Café & Wine Bar in Long Valley, creating seasonal tapas menus and monthly wine dinners. He went on to open Slamwich Scratch Kitchen in Madison, NJ, a concept of what a real delicatessen should be where everything is homemade, from the cured pastrami to the house bread and pickles. Since inception, Slamwich has been named critic’s choice for lunch in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
October 2018, Freund open the doors to White Birch Restaurant in Flanders, NJ, returning to his 14 years of high-end experience. The menu, New American Fare with playful twists on classic cuisines, while focusing on local purveyors and seasonal market ingredients. Freund aims to bring a unique dining experience to the community and impact the culinary landscape of Northern New Jersey.
Emanuel Miranda’s culinary career began early on, inspired by his Cuban American parents and their love for tradition and farm to table cuisine. After graduating in 2008 from the University of Havana, Miranda sought opportunities to further develop his culinary Career.
Miranda’s culinary repertoire flourished during his first seven years under Chef Julio Rodriguez at Los Nardos Restaurant in Havana, Cuba. After four years working together, he became Chef Rodriguez’s Sous Chef and then decided to take on some new challenges. In 2015, Miranda moved to the United States and shortly after started to work under Chef Corey Hepburn at Minerals Resort and Spa as Junior Sous Chef, where he developed and refined his culinary techniques. He proceeded to further his career at Smoke Rise Village Inn under Chef Chris Tate for a short period of time. It was there that he finally achieved the position of Executive Chef. For three years Chef Miranda received many accolades for his culinary creativity and participated in several culinary events such as: Taste of Spring, NJ Wine and Food Festival and several NJ wedding expos. After spending three years with Smoke Rise, Miranda has now taken the role of Executive Chef at Taphouse 15 in Wharton, NJ.
Now preparing for a busy year of, Miranda will be again participating at the NJWFF at Crystal Springs, Taste of Home alongside Chef Tim Schafer and several beer dinners with award winning NJ Breweries. Chef Emanuel has been giving back to the community by hosting and participating in events to raise money for awareness of cancer, heart disease and mental illnesses. Today, Chef Emanuel Miranda is working on several projects including his first cookbook.
Chef and Owner at Ariane Kitchen & Bar
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Her passion to cook and learn have taken her to some of the country’s finest restaurants, The Terrace in NYC, Star Canyon in Dallas, Trio in Chicago and Vine in NYC.
She currently owns and operates Ariane kitchen & bar in her hometown of Verona, NJ. She competed on Top Chef Season 5, won the premiere season of “Cook Your Ass Off” and in December 2015, she defeated Bobby Flay on a special holiday episode of Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay.”
Leia Gaccione is the chef and owner of south+pine american eatery and CENTRAL+MAIN AMERICAN EATERY. She grew up in Passaic, New Jersey, with her brother and mother. As a child, while her friends were playing outside, she stayed behind to watch cooking shows like “The Frugal Gourmet” and “Julia Child”. Because her mother worked two jobs to support her family, Leia began cooking at home at a young age.
When Montclair State University lost her college application, Leia decided to attend New York Restaurant School, and obtained her Associates Degree in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management in 2003. She moved on to work in many restaurants over the years, including five of Bobby Flay’s fine dining restaurants. She also appeared as his sous chef on “Iron Chef America” three times, twice on “Iron Chef Showdown”, and as a competitor on two episodes of “Beat Bobby Flay”.
Leia pursued her dreams with opening two of her own restaurants, south+pine american eatery in 2015 and CENTRAL+MAIN in 2018. Both locations are American restaurants, focusing on using local+seasonal ingredients to create her dishes. She aims to make south+pine and CENTRAL+MAIN neighborhood staples, where her guests are treated as if they are coming over her house for dinner. The environment is casual and inviting, and she hopes to give New Jersey diners a very special experience that they can enjoy over and over again.
Chef Brandon Campney graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 2012. Shortly after graduating he worked his way up to his first sous chef position. He worked in multiple restaurants in the Hudson Valley of New York before moving to New Jersey to work at The Stirling Hotel in the summer of 2015.
During his tenure at The Stirling Hotel the restaurant received NJ Monthly People’s Choice Best Burger in 2015 and 2016 as well as Best American Restaurant in 2016. After proving himself to be a strong team player and key cog in the every day success at The Stirling Hotel, the decision was made to have Chef Campney help open Stirling Tavern in Morristown.
Stirling Tavern opened in October 2016 and right from the get-go it was extremely busy and quite popular, due in large part to the creative and expertly crafted menu designed by Chef Campney. NJ.com quickly recognized Stirling Tavern as one of the hot restaurants to check out in New Jersey. At the young age of 27, Chef Campney is still pushing himself to experiment with new ingredients, techniques, and ideas to help fuel his passion for food and cooking.
By mining New Jersey’s farms and waterways, artisan food products and homegrown beverages for the best and only the best AJ Capella has become the leading under-30 voice working today in a Garden State restaurant kitchen. The winner of the Garden State Culinary Arts Foundation 2017 Rising Star Chef Award, Capella has been working in restaurants and cooking for half his life. After graduating from CIA, AJ spent a bulk of his career being the chef de cuisine at the Ryland Inn. AJ has also spent time working with Anthony Bucco at Uproot as well as Grant Achatz’s restaurant the Aviary at Columbus Circle. Currently, he is the head chef at A Toute Heure in Cranford.
Ever involved and engaged with trends, benefits for social causes, and teaching aspiring chefs, Capella has done pop-ups with his best friend from childhood, Robbie Felice, of Viaggio in Wayne; dinners in conjunction with Ben Walmer and the Highlands Dinner Club and Ironbound Hard Cider. His abundance of close personal relationships is a reflection of his work ethic, as well as his commitment to using locally sourced ingredients, which you will see highlighted whenever you come into A Toute Heure. You would call his style of cooking “modern American” because his influences come from all over the world, but utilizing what’s in season and what’s local will always be his guide. Ultimately, A.J.’s mindset is simple – making the best food possible at all times.
A longtime resident of New Jersey, Sean Hutchinson is proud to be a part of the Crystal Springs Resort culinary team. With a primary focus in private country and golf clubs, he has spent the last 20 years in the food and beverage industry working positions ranging from dish staff to line cook and now, The Crystal Tavern Chef.
With a background in psychology and extensive back-of-the-house experience, Sean has a solid foundation on which to build and pursue not only his personal ambitions, but that of the team and the operation as whole.
He looks forward to continuing to grow his culinary passion and its offerings of a creative and inventive career as an integral part of the operation at the The Crystal Tavern.
Having grown up in his grandmother’s kitchen, Chris DiGiandomenico, knew from an early age that cooking was his passion. While his grandmother, who came from Italy, spent hours making homemade spaghetti, Chris absorbed not only a flair for cooking, but an appreciation for hard work.
Starting as a line cook in 2011 at Sirena in Long Branch, NJ, Chris went on to work in the kitchens of Blue Rooster Bakery and Cafe and Stanton Ridge Country Club. It wasn’t until 2015 when he began as a line cook at Osteria Morini in Bernardsville, NJ, that Chris had that same feeling he had working side by side with his grandmother many years earlier. He was, again, in a kitchen where he was not only learning, but also challenged daily. Chris eventually went on to become the sous chef, working alongside Chef Kevin Knevals. Due to his passion and creativity, Chris currently holds the role of Chef di Cucina of Osteria Morini, bringing the soulful cuisine of Emilia-Romagna to the Bernardsville neighborhood.
Chef Seger is a 1978 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. As a student, he apprenticed at the Rainbow Room in New York City. After graduation he joined the Rainbow Room to serve as saucier until 1979. The following decade he worked on the culinary teams of several fine restaurants in New York City.
Lu Nello, opened in January 1990. Each of Chef Seger’s dishes reflect the care and attention of its preparation. While the restaurant offers a classic Italian menu, the Chef prides himself on innovative specialties prepared with the finest, freshest ingredients. Enticing presentation, courteous service, and professional staff are integral to LuNello’s long success.
Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Chef Marita Lynn is a natural ambassador for Peruvian cuisine and culinary tradition in the United States. Growing up in a family that entertained frequently and with gusto, especially her grandmother, food has been woven into the fabric of Marita’s everyday life. As a child, she took part in neighborhood cooking clubs and she still has fond memories of creating ceviches for her family when she was only 14
Marita moved to the U.S. in 1991 and worked for Continental Airlines as a budget analyst. Although Marita’s career path took some twists and turns, intuitively she ended up going back to her roots, and her love of food and entertaining eventually led her to the food world. She attended the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City where she graduated with high honors. She then trained and worked at a number of highly regarded restaurants, including the acclaimed Jean Georges, Daniel Boulud’s Feast and Fetes Catering, Trump International Golf Club, The Ryland Inn and The Bernards Inn in New Jersey.
Deciding she not only wanted to cook but also create the entire event experience, Marita founded Catering by Maria as a full service event planning and catering company in 2004. The company catered to individuals and businesses in New York and New Jersey, with clients including E! Entertainment, Celebrity Designer Sam Fine, BBC Productions, L’Oreal, Charles Schwab and the New Jersey Governor’s Mansion. Marita also cooked during the 2007 Cannes Film Festival as part of the American Pavilion and has participated in Share Our Strength’s “Taste of the Nation.”
Eager to share her culinary background, Marita started offering special all-Peruvian menus to her clients in 2008. Then she created Marita Lynn Catering which purpose is to provide amazing foods with a Peruvian Flair that are delicious and also good for her clients dietary needs.
In 2014 Chef Marita Lynn opened Runa Peruvian Cuisine in Red Bank, the only Peruvian restaurant in the Jersey Shore area. In less than a year, Runa Peruvian Cuisine has obtained many accolades such a 3 star review from the NJ Star Ledger and 4 Star review from the Examiner.com, along other great reviews and multiple articles in magazines such NJ Monthly, Industry Magazine, Vogue, Inside F&B and more. Runa Peruvian Cuisine has been called Best Diner’s Choice two times in a row and Neighborhood Gem by Open Table and by critic’s choice best Latin American Restaurant in New Jersey Monthly Magazine.
The multifaceted cuisine of Peru, one of the world’s most varied and delicious, has been heavily influenced by Incan, European (Spanish, Basque, Italian, French), African and Asian elements that reflect its history and colonial past. Dating back at least six thousand years and boasting the most diverse crops (4,000 varieties of potatoes, 2,000 of fish), Peruvian food combines flavors of four continents. Tapped as the “next big cuisine” in the past few years (including by Bon Appétit magazine), it is poised to finally get the attention – and champion – it deserves.
Chef Marita Lynn is a member of various business and food associations such Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, Savor the Success and a big supporter of charity foundations along the Jersey Shore and New York City. She has become an advocate of change through food, inspiring others to follow their dreams as well as being involved in leadership and personal development. She is currently back to catering and her blog My Kitchen Intuition, she also plans to launch her own internet show in 2018.
She currently lives in New Jersey with her two children Matt and Aly.
Born in Brent, England in 1976, David C. Felton knew at a young age that a passion for food and cooking would be his calling. As a young child, David was always in the kitchen helping out with whatever he could, even if for a few short seconds.
After graduating from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Culinary Arts, David began an apprenticeship of his own design. He set out to journey around the country to live, work and most importantly, eat in as many diverse settings as he could. This culinary expedition led him through an impressive 42 out of the 50 US states. An early stop was in Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked under Chefs Michael Smith and Debbie Gold at the American Restaurant. They later recruited David as chef de Cuisine to help them launch 40 Sardines. It was here that he was honored as one of “America’s Top Ten Sous Chefs” in a nationwide competition, sponsored by Bertolli Olive Oil.
Not satisfied with this career path, David came to New York City and connected with famed Manhattan chef Gary Robins. David joined Gary to help oversee the opening of the kitchen of The Biltmore Room which received a 3-star rating from The New York Times. However, David found himself searching for more and left The Biltmore Room to accept a teaching position at a small culinary school, The Natural Gourmet Institute of Health and Culinary Arts. While at The Institute, David re-discovered his zest for using local and sustainable food sources.
After working at The Institute for a few years, David realized he missed the long hours and crazy pace of kitchen life. He became Executive Chef of Blue in Surf City, New Jersey, which was named “Best of the Shore” by Philadelphia Magazine. David then became the Executive Chef of The Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster, NJ where he was finally at liberty to put his stamp on the food he creates.
As soon as David heard about Natirar the project happening in Peapack-Gladstone NJ, he started campaigning for the executive chef position. To not only serve food farm to table, but to have a farm at the table was this young chefs’ dream, and he knew he was the right person for the job. With 14 acres of farm with livestock and produce growing steps away from his Ninety Acres kitchen, David is ready to put his personal food philosophy to the test. New Jersey has an abundance of products available to him and what he cannot raise or grow himself he will purchase from other farmers in the area. Sweet dreams are made of this.
Julian Valencia has spent over 15 years learning and perfecting the art of cooking Japanese food. Born in Colombia, he emigrated to the United States, at age 15, since then New York had been his home. After graduating from high school he started working at a Japanese restaurant in the west village ( Aki on West 4th) where he initiated his fascination of the flavors, ingredients and techniques of Japanese cooking. He then spent his time immersing himself in the culture and history of Japan and working in many restaurants in New York City, where he learned traditional to modern Japanese cuisine. His style is unique his food is a representation of the cultural diversity found in America his love for food and the respect for each ingredient shows in his dishes. His philosophy is that cooking well requires more than a good recipe, but the desire to offer your customers with the best, just like our moms do at home.
Chef Phil Deffina has been synonymous with the New Jersey dining scene. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Deffina has worked his way around the country from Icarus in Boston to La Folie in San Francisco to David Burke restaurants in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Chef Deffina has been known to whip up David Burke’s similar slam dunks with his own innovative twists and has been considered the new Burkean acolyte. “After working for two of the most playful and master minding chefs in the country, you start to look at things from way out of the box, melding flavor combinations and creating well thought out presentations.” Chef Deffina recently opened Wave Resort in Long Branch for the Kushner Family. He is currently at the helm of one New Jersey’s most popular hot spots, Char Steakhouse located in both Raritan and Red Bank, and soon to be the first of many, Char Burger & Creamery in Bridgewater.
Francesco Palmieri is currently the Executive Chef of the esteemed Calandra’s Il Vecchio Cafe and La Taverna restaurants based in Caldwell, New Jersey. An accomplished and visionary chef, Chef Francesco spent eight years working at top New York City restaurants and owned and operated his own acclaimed restaurant, The Orange Squirrel, in his hometown of Bloomfield, New Jersey for eight years.
Chef Francesco’s culinary interest was sparked at an early age by his mother’s Italian home cooking that was prepared with organic vegetables grown in their garden. This started the path to his education at Culinary Institute of America (CIA), which included a culinary externship in Frankfurt, Germany. Upon graduating CIA in 2000, Chef Francesco’s first foray into the culinary field began at the world-renowned Windows on the World restaurant in the World Trade Center in New York City where he trained with his mentor, Chef Michael Lomonaco for two years until the tragic events of 9/11.
Immediately following Windows on the World, Palmieri joined Pino Luongo’s team at Coco Pazzo as Sous Chef where he honed his skills under Chef Marta Pulini. During his two years at Coco Pazzo he cooked for a host of celebrities and notable clientele and finished as acting Executive Chef. He then spent three years as Sous Chef with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian at Town, a Three Star restaurant.
At The Orange Squirrel, his innovative culinary style is reflected in the contemporary American upscale comfort cuisine with European accents made with premium, fresh ingredients that include house-made pastas; ‘couture’ pizzas and a selection of main entrees with an extensive assortment of side dishes. A multi-creative talent, Chef Francesco also attended the Fashion Institute of Technology for Interior Design, which proved beneficial as he personally designed and hand-crafted The Orange Squirrel. His inspiration for the décor was a modern, art deco style featuring a one-of-a-kind Wood Stone oven, a custom made “floating” Brazilian birch and limestone bar, and imported Italian furniture and lighting.
He is married to Elaine, a make-up artist and currently lives in his hometown of Bloomfield, NJ. A 21st century Renaissance man, he is passionate about applying his creativity in all his artistic endeavors.
Emily Downs creates objects at the intersection of art and artisanship. Currently she crafts unique pizzas at her mobile wood fired pizzeria, Emily’s Hearth, utalizing the local regions seasonally produced and foraged foods.
An art graduate of Smith College, Emily considers each pizza a uniquely sculpted work of edible art. As a baker, Emily worked at Balthzar bakery, managed the wood fired bakery at Bobolink Dairy and served as Jim Lahey’s apprentice at Sullivan Street Bakery during the opening of his first restaurant and the release of his first book. As a pizza maker, Emily has worked at three of the top pizza restaurants in the country: Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco, and Co. and Keste in NYC. An instructor at heart, Emily is enthusiastic about sharing the fun and practical skills of wood fired baking and pizza making.
Jeff Sytsma is a Chef and Partner at RBC Hospitality Group. After graduating from Johnson & Wales with a B.A. in Pastry, he embarked on an exchange program in Northern France. It was during the life changing experience of working on organic farms in Normandy that he cultivated a love for peak-season produce and appreciation for small farms, the core fundamental of his philosophy.
Upon returning to the city, he worked at the Plaza Hotel as Pastry Sous Chef of The Oak Room under Chef Eric Snow, Michelin-starred Oceana under Jansen Chan, John Fraser’s pop-up concept What Happens Next at La Silhouette, and The Elm. Using many of the techniques he learned abroad coupled with the valuable time spent working as a pastry chef in Chicago and New York, he crafted his own unique style of making elegant pastries and rustic breads.
Jeff, Richard, and Chantelle met while opening the Loews Hotel on Park Avenue together in the Upper East Side. Jeff is known for taking those familiar favorites and putting an interesting spin on them. His homemade ice creams, savory croissants, and his dreamy cookies leave you swooning for more. Jeff’s brings a wealth of experience in pastry arts and appreciation for classic French technique to his whimsical bakeshop at Bell Works.
Chad was born and raised in Kansas, where a life in food was almost preordained. With his father as a butcher and his grandfather a farmer, great food and fresh local ingredients have always been a focal point in his life. Whether it was working summers on the farm or having friendly butchering competitions with his father, Chad always had the opportunity to see start to finish where the meal began, how it was prepared and the enjoyment of his friends and family eating it. It was no surprise that a career in food was what Chad would end up pursuing as an adult.
For over 20 years, Chad has been working in restaurants holding just about every position you can think of from dishwasher to corporate chef. He is an alumnus of Wichita State University, where he majored in Business Entrepreneurship. Chad realized that cooking was his passion; the sense of accomplishment he received after preparing a great meal for his friends and family, and the love for fresh local ingredients that was ingrained in him as a young man eventually led him to California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Having worked at Gary Danko, Ame, and Michael Mina he found a deep connection to Japanese ingredients and the chance to work with some of the best seafood in the world.
In 2009, Chad opened a restaurant for two Michelin starred Chef Michael Mina, which turned out to be one of the best decisions of his life; not only is this where he met his wife, but he gained the experience needed to take on the next challenge in his career: running the Bacchus Management Group as the Corporate Chef. From 2012 to 2017, he called this his home, opening and operating 9 different restaurants, two which hold Michelin stars and Wine Spectator Grand Awards. Chad joined the RBC Hospitality family in 2017 as Chef / COO and is one of the founding Partners of the Food Hall at Bell Works.
Richard began his career in restaurants while studying at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, NJ. Richard excelled in engineering at Vanderbilt and Rutgers University but his passion for cooking led him to Italy, where he attended The Culinary Institute of Florence. Various appointments and stages in restaurant kitchens across Italy shaped his style and gave him the chance to craft his skill in making bread, pizza, savory pastries, and pasta.
Tremont 647 Boston, NYC landmark Union Square Café, and Restaurant Gary Danko remain the most influential work experiences of his career. In 2007, he opened Ducca in San Francisco, showcasing his urban, modern take on regional and rustic Italian food. The San Francisco Chronicle awarded Ducca 3 Stars, and named Corbo one of its 5 Rising Star Chefs of 2008. He was nominated by the James Beard Foundation, a semi-finalist for the Rising Star Award.
Upon returning to New York City, Richard became the Chef de Cuisine of the Standard Bar & Grill, where he honed in on a NYC bar and grill style of cooking working alongside Dan Silverman. In 2015, Richard joined Myriad Restaurant Group with Drew Nieporent as Executive Chef of Tribeca Grill to continue the restaurant’s tradition of contemporary NYC cooking, paired with a world-class Grand Award-winning Wine List. In 2017, Richard and his wife Chantelle formed RBC Hospitality Group, opening a vibrant food and wine destination in Bell Works this December. Richard is known for bright, fresh, evolved Italian cuisine that always reflects the land it came from. Known for his health influenced technique, Richard is an advocate of working with organic, sustainable, local produce – and is passionate about how food can make a community flourish.
Chef Chris is the Founder and CEO of Culinary Bad Boy Productions and NY Catering Service, a New York based catering service. Influenced by his family’s heritage, which ranges from Argentinean, Italian and French, Chef Chris began his culinary career at The French Culinary Institute in 2009, where he became classically trained in French and Italian cuisine.
Chef Chris has cooked in several acclaimed NYC restaurants such as Celsius at Bryant Park, World Yacht, North River, to mention a few, and cooks for notables such as Puff Daddy, Chaka Khan, Jason Kidd and Orlando Magic, to name a few.
Chef Chris is a brand ambassador for Gotham Steel and can be seen on QVC. He often appears on networks such as CNN, NBC, Dr. Oz, Fox & Friends, Martha Stewart Radio, the Daily Connection, Better TV and The Daily. His culinary competitions include Food Network Season 7 (Finalist), Chopped All Stars and MTV House of Food which he has also hosted. Chris has been featured in ZAGAT, Manhattan Magazine and among several other publications. Each year chef Nirschel participates in the Food Network’s Annual Food & Wine Festival in New York, Atlantic City and Miami.
Chef Chris works with children and adults teaching them culinary skills needed to prepare some of his favorite recipes, which have been voted as “New York City’s Most Delicious” by his culinary peers. Chef Chris also lends his time to many charities such as encourage-kids.org, NY Food Bank, and Gods Love we deliver.
Currently, Chef Chris is filming a new food show and cooking weekly for some of the top names in sports and entertainment as well as many families in the Tri-State area.
Owner and Executive Chef Joseph’s passion and love for food began at a very young age. He began his culinary career at the age of 14 working in a local restaurant. He sought out formal training at the Culinary Arts Institute at Hudson Community College at 16; while still attending St. Joe’s Regional High School in Montvale,NJ. Studying under some of the most influential restaurateurs in the industry; Chef Joseph upheld the standards set forth by those who have taught him this craft. Chef Joseph worked for Drew Nieporent at Mia House Vietnamese Restaurant in Tribeca, NYC under the direction of then Sous Chef Spike Mendelsohn. Chef Joseph then continued his culinary career by working for companies such as Sterling Affairs Catering and BarCara under Chef Ryan Depersio. Chef Joseph has also holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Montclair State University. His view on food and this industry is one of quality, integrity and approachability.
“Food is not meant to be pretentious. Food is meant to enhance your senses, heighten your emotions, and transport you to places you have never been. We are dedicated to creating this experience simply by using the best ingredients, sharing our passion for food, continuing to hone in on our craft, artistry, and vision. We invite you into our world, our home, and our hearts for an exceptional culinary adventure.” -Chef Joseph Cuccia
Like many Chefs, Agricola’s Mitresh Saraiya’s earliest food memories—and influences—came from his Grandmother, when she came from India to live with his family. She had a small catering business, and he vividly remembers helping her knead dough, under her watchful and instructive eye.
Mitresh’s first early introduction to the hospitality industry in high school when he worked as a host in a restaurant. Most of his peers would have seen the position as just another job, but Mitresh was learning more, in the front and the back of the house, and he came to see it as an industry where he thought he could have a future.
Along with his parents’ suggestion, he went to college and got his degree–in Psychology. But the restaurant world was always on his mind. After graduation, he seized on the opportunity to attend Pittsburgh Culinary school…and for him, the stars aligned. As soon as the handle of the pan fit his hand, he felt that he was a natural cook. He rose to the top of his class, always doing extra credit to expand his horizons; this ambition landed him as Valediction of his class.
For Chef Mitresh, he is rewarded by the integrity of scratch-made dishes, by the time and care that goes into them, and the enjoyment the guests get out of them. He found great satisfaction in positions at New Jersey’s renowned The Frog & The Peach, where every single item on the menu was made in house.
Next step was to find a new place to call home. Mitresh joined Fenwick Hospitality Group in 2014 as a line cook, and through his signature hard work, dedication and love of pushing the limits in the kitchen, he rose to the position of Executive Chef at Agricola, where his dedication to creating ingredient-driven, creative dishes has maintained Agricola’s standing as one of the state’s top restaurants.
Inspired by his family’s own kitchen and garden growing up, it seemed natural that Craig Polignano would, from the age of 13, choose to work in an array of local NJ restaurants before making the decision to attend the Culinary Institute of America in pursuit of his career in food service. After completion of his studies, Craig’s relentless enthusiasm landed him a spot in the kitchen of The Ryland Inn of Whitehouse, NJ. There his passion and dedication prompted him to enhance the existing 3-acre organic garden by building a 15-bed specialty herb garden with dozens of varietals.
Craig went on to expand his knowledge base and worked as Sous Chef at Copeland in the Westin Governor Morris in Morristown, NJ. Then shortly took over as Chef de Cuisine at The Bernards Inn. Following his experience at the Bernards Inn, Craig was offered an opportunity to work for the Michael Mina group at the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, California as the Executive Chef of the Stonehill Tavern.
After experiencing California, Craig returned home to New Jersey to take the Chef de Cuisine at the restaurant where he started, The Ryland Inn. After two years of honing his skills, Craig was promoted to Executive Chef, a position he had for two more years.
Craig then had the opportunity to be the opening Chef de Cuisine of Mistral in King of Prussia, PA. The much anticipated opening was met with rave reviews, rating Craig the “Chef to know” (Philadelphia Style Magazine), receiving three bells (Craig Laban, Philadelphia Inquirer), and three stars (Philadelphia Magazine).
Craig has decided to return home to New Jersey again to lead the team at Jockey Hollow Bar and Kitchen. Joining powers with Managing Partner Christopher Cannon, he is excited for the opportunity to bring his experience and talents to Morristown, NJ yet again.
His energy and diligence will enable him to join two complementary halves of fine restaurant service: the marriage of art’s passion and sensory explosiveness with an earnest commitment to service.
Michel Desjardins is a dynamic and inventive addition to the Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas team in Clifton, NJ. Serving as Chef de Cuisine, Desjardins has made great strides to continue producing imaginative and authentic cuisine.
Originally from rural Haiti, one of the first jobs Desjardins took in the United States was a line cook position in the famed Essex County Country Club in West Orange. Frankly, he initially took the job to help pay the bills – but the hustle and bustle of the country club’s kitchen ended up inspiring a career. Desjardins graduated from the culinary program at Hudson County Community College at the top of his class, and has spent time working in kitchens throughout the Garden State, including George & Martha’s American Grille in Morristown and Atrium West. He also held a coveted externship at Daniel’s in New York City. His experience as a line cook still influences the Union, NJ native today.
Desjardins relishes in the tapas concept at the Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas Kitchen. The small plates design of the menu – a style of dining he personally prefers, as he is not a fan of sticking to one main entrée – has allowed him to experiment with portion size and unique pairings, providing his customers with a diverse culinary experience in one sitting. With over 25 years of culinary experience, Desjardins has been able to build a strong relationship with food. His eagerness to mix innovative with traditional techniques has truly shined at Spuntino Wine & Italian Tapas.
Desjardins’ culinary influence reaches far beyond the walls of the Clifton restaurant, as he also works to support the local food industry. He regularly teams up with City Green, a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating the establishment of urban farms and gardens in northern NJ, to help emphasize and bring attention to the importance of farm-fresh foods. Desjardins also makes regular appearances at the Ramsey and Montclair Farmers Markets, hosting cooking demonstrations that bring the farm-to-table concept to life.
Rachel Wyman is an award-winning lifelong baker, who learned to write her name in buttercream with a pastry bag before she could hold a pencil. She started her career at Bread Alone, during her time as a student at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. After completing her studies, she went on to manage the night production at Amy’s Bread in New York City.
Shortly after moving to Montclair, NJ with her family, she opened the Montclair Bread Company in 2012. On a whim, she and her staff began frying up doughnuts one morning, and soon Montclair Bread Co. became known as a bread bakery with a doughnut addiction! Rachel was featured on the Food Network’s “Donut Showdown,” where her tres leches doughnut took home the top prize.
Rachel continues to innovate and create new doughnuts and artisan breads, all taste-tested by her three kids.
Chef – Creator – Dreamer – Storyteller
Michael Carrino, Chef and owner of Pig & Prince Restaurant, and creator of the renowned French restaurant, Passionne, is considered by many to be a pillar of the culinary world, and staple of the NJ restaurant scene. Carrino is known for creating progressive French-centric cuisine, utilizing both classical and modern techniques all the while remaining hungry to innovate and expand his repertoire. Staying true to his Garden State roots, Carrino is steadfastly committed to using local and sustainable raw materials to keep his cuisine purely, Jersey Fresh; a direct reflection of the place in which he works, plays, and resides.
A graduate of the acclaimed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Carrino embarked on what is now a quarter century journey starting as a dishwasher/porter and honing his craft in every corner of the kitchen working towards Executive Chef and owner. Carrino worked vigilantly through hotel kitchens in New Jersey, New York City and Virginia expanding his knowledge in cooking, baking, patisserie and butchery. Within his tenure, he helped build and maintain four and five diamond dining status’ for the likes of Benchmark Hospitality International, and the Hilton Corporation before venturing out on his own.
Chef Carrino was inducted into the prestigious society of wine gurus, chefs, hotel executives and restaurant owners, known as The Chaîne des Rotisseurs, at the impressive age of 28. On ten separate occasions, Chef Carrino was invited to the prestigious James Beard Foundation in New York City to present his views and philosophies through food. He was also invited to assist the chefs of Colonial Williamsburg for the 400th anniversary celebration of Jamestown, cooking for the likes of President George W. Bush, former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, and dignitaries such as Margret Thatcher and Tony Blair.
Carrino supports local food, education and civic organizations including the NJ Foodshed Alliance, Food bank of New Jersey, Buy Fresh-Buy Local and Jersey Fresh. He is a registered mentor at the Culinary Institute of America and served on advisory committees for Nutley High School, Newark Vocational High School and Bergen Community College. Chef Carrino volunteers as a Culinary Mentor for the Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI) Pro start culinary competition team. In 2017/2018, he helped guide them as State Champions and National competitors. He also supports local charities including the Montclair Salvation Army where he has prepared and donated over 15,000 Thanksgiving meals over the course of a decade, Vincent Care Kitchen in Nutley, Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair, and has served as a participant and board member for St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson’s Cooking for Kids fundraiser which has raised over one million dollars in donations over ten years for various wards of the hospital.
He has made guest appearances on NBC’s Today Show, Good Day New York, CBS 2 Saturday Morning, PIX 11, ABC Morning Show, Today in New York, LX New York, News 12 New Jersey and has been featured in The New York Times, Bon Appétit, New Jersey Monthly, The Star-Ledger, Inside NJ Magazine (NJ’s Best Chefs 2013), Edible New Jersey (Local Hero “Chef” 2015), Wall Street Journal, New York Post and Zagat Dinning Guide and more. He was also declared the winner of Food Network’s inaugural season cooking competition “Chopped.”
Recognized as one of New Jersey’s most talented and respected chefs, executive chef Ryan DePersio brings a wealth of epicurean knowledge and award-winning experience to Battello. DePersio oversees all culinary aspects of Battello, delivering on a promise to provide its guests with progressive, modern Italian dishes that – as found at the finest establishments in Northern Italy – feature market-driven and seasonal ingredients.
Since his debut, DePersio has made an indelible mark on the New Jersey culinary scene. In July 2003, a then 25-year old DePersio opened his family’s new-Italian restaurant – Montclair’s Fascino – where his concept of Italian without borders paired flawlessly with the establishment’s impeccable and attentive service. Fascino piqued the attention of the region’s most discerning food critics and reviewers, steadily earning his menu three-star reviews, the highly-coveted and allusive New York Times rating of Excellent and mention that he was born to run a restaurant”.
Growing up in Nutley, DePersio’s first and fondest memories of cooking are of the legendary meals prepared by his grandmothers and pastry chef mother Cynthia DePersio. It was their influence that ignited Ryan’s passion to pursue a career in the culinary arts and attend New York Restaurant School.
After graduation, DePersio worked at NYC’s famed Bouley Bakery and Judson Grill, where he received the opportunity of a lifetime – to relocate to Paris and work at the one-star Michelin rated La Braserie. It was there where DePersio advanced his craft and appreciation for creating food that electrified one’s palate just as much as one’s senses matured. Immediately upon his return to the United States, DePersio’s reputation as a talented and disciplined chef piqued the interest of master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, for whom he worked at Vong and then at Vongerichten’s self-titled four-star restaurant, Jean-Georges. After two years, opportunity in Europe once again beckoned and DePersio relocated to Florence to work at the two-star Enoteca Pinchiorri.
In addition to his work at Battello, Fascino and The Kitchen Step, chef DePersio regularly appears in the media, having served as a guest on NBC’s Today Show, the Food Network and with Tony Tantillo’s CBS morning segment.
A graduate of Johnson & Wales Culinary Program, Kevin Felice also studied economics at Seton Hall. Kevin started his career at the Hilton Short Hills where he worked under the direction of Chef Richard Kennedy. While there he spearheaded the re-opening of their dining room which received some of the highest accolades in New Jersey. In his early career, Kevin was Owner and Executive Chef of The Cargo Cafe in Staten Island, NY. Now, as part of the 40NORTH Restaurant Group for 4 years, Kevin spearheads the creative development of all 40NORTH kitchens and menus. “Flavor should be clean and simple. I enjoy taking familiar flavors and dishes and presenting them in a new and exciting way that surprises my guests. Comfort can be cutting edge if you are innovative in your technique.” Recent accomplishments with 40NORTH include the conception and opening of The Office Tavern Grill, Piattino Neighborhood Bistro and George + Martha’s American Grill.
Paul Holzheimer is chef and co-owner of The Grand Tavern in Neptune, NJ. After graduating from The French Culinary Institute, Paul worked in kitchens in New York City before moving to Nantucket, where he and his partner Ashley Coyte spent the season cooking. Upon return to their home, the Jersey Shore, Paul and Ashley quickly began working for The Smith Group. Paul became executive chef of Porta in Asbury Park, NJ, and also opened Pascal & Sabine, the group’s French bistro, serving as executive chef, as well. In 2016, Paul and Ashley opened The Grand Tavern, a small, intimate restaurant serving European-American bistro fare, great wine, and cocktails, in an unpretentious, friendly environment.
PASTRY CHEF/ OWNER /AUTHOR
Heather Bertinetti Rozzi is an award-winning pastry chef, owner of Stella Artisan Italian and noted author of acclaimed cookbook “Bake it, don’t fake it!” published by Atria Books. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America with a degree in baking and pastry arts, she then went on to open and receive rave reviews at Marea helping to win the James Beard 2010 best new restaurant award. Heathers career was spent working as a corporate pastry chef to some of Manhattans most acclaimed restaurants such as Carbone and The Four Seasons Restaurant. Heather has been lauded by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and was named in Zagat’s 2011 “30 under 30: New York’s Hottest Up-and-Comers”. In 2017 Heather became chef and owner of Stella Artisan Italian located in Ridgewood NJ. Her and her husband man the helm and are expanding their business next door. Their approach to food is simple; fresh, seasonal and memorable.
Chefs Grace Crossman (right) and Laura Brahn (left) met as executive and sous (respectively) of Porta Pizzeria in Asbury Park, after working and living eerily close to one another for years, but having never crossed paths. Once they finally met, they found in one another a culinary soulmate— and honed that relationship for years both at Porta and at the numerous other restaurants opened under the same parent company. From Neopolitan pizzerias, to high-end vegan, to classic French, the chefs always approached food in the same way- with great care for ingredients, attention to detail, and passion for local, sustainable foods.
Grace and Laura opened their casual restaurant, Cardinal Provisions (or Cardinal for short), in 2016 quickly receiving nods from media like Bon Appetite and Food and Wine for their scratch-made brunch. On site, they offer seasonally inspired bites for all eaters, and an ever-changing specials board that keeps the people of Asbury Park on their toes. They roll croissants by hand each day, and have an eclectic pastry case that has gained a reputation in line with that of the restaurant.
Cardinal also offers pop up dinners each month and catering in every which way: from intimate dinner parties to elaborate fire-lit farm weddings. Whatever the setting, Cardinal is the commitment to and passion for craft and hard work. It’s a blissful space for the exploration of simple culinary musings.
Julio Cesar Ramos was born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico, and spent much of his childhood with family, learning how to prepare various types of fresh seafood caught along the Western Coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
At the age of 19, Cesar moved to the United States and began working as a dishwasher at La Piazza in Santa Monica, California and quickly moved up the ranks within the kitchen. After working at Michael Mina in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and Cipriani in Miami, he moved to New York to work at Cipriani Downtown. Following two seasons working alongside Chef Gabriel Frasca in Nantucket, Massachusetts, Cesar moved back to New York in 2010 to join the Altamarea Group team in opening Osteria Morini in SoHo, where he was quickly promoted to Sous Chef.
Recognizing his talent and dedication, Cesar’s mentor, Chef Bill Dorrler asked Cesar to help open a second Osteria Morini in Bernardsville, New Jersey, where he worked for two years before being promoted again to Chef de Cuisine at Due Mari in New Brunswick. Today Cesar brings the same passion and expertise for preparing fresh, seasonal cuisine to the vast seascape of Due Mari’s menu.
Born in Baltimore, Matthew Kirkley’s relationship with seafood began on the docks of Chesapeake Bay, where he often went crab fishing with his father. There he developed the reverence for pristine fish and shellfish, honestly treated, which still shapes his culinary point of view.
Kirkley entered the Culinary Institute of America in 2001 and began his career at Philadelphia’s Striped Bass. In 2003, he moved to Chicago to work at Seasons Restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel and then NoMI in the Park Hyatt Hotel. In 2006, Chef Kirkley took a sabbatical from work in the Unites States to stage in Europe at the Fat Duck and Le Gavroche in London as well as Le Meurice in Paris. Upon his return from Europe, Kirkley would move to Las Vegas to become sous chef at Restaurant Joël Robuchon. In 2008, Chef Kirkley returned to Chicago to open L2o under Chef Laurent Gras, followed by Ria in the Elysian Hotel. In 2011, Chef Kirkley returned to the kitchen of L2o as Chef/Partner, leading L2o’s team to two Michelin stars for three consecutive years. In the Fall of 2015, Chef Kirkley moved to San Francisco to take the helm of COI, following in the footsteps of celebrated Chef Daniel Patterson. He was awarded a third Michelin star in the fall of 2017. Simultaneously, Chef Kirkley would win the National selection for Team USA to represent his country in the Bocuse d’Or 2019. He is currently training for the competition in the Napa Valley.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America where she earned a degree in Culinary Arts, Melissa spent time cooking with Elaine Bell Catering and Oceana. In 2006, she was hired as a line cook at Daniel Boulud’s flagship Restaurant Daniel, where she quickly rose the ranks to Sous Chef. After five years at Daniel, Melissa joined the team at Del Posto in 2011 where she was promoted to Chef de Cuisine in 2015. Two years later, she became Executive Chef and Partner.
Gabriel Kreuther is the Two Michelin-starred and James Beard-award winning chef behind the eponymous French restaurant Gabriel Kreuther and neighboring chocolate shop, Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. Located adjacent to New York City’s Bryant Park. Gabriel Kreuther Restaurant is a Relais & Châteaux property offering a luxurious, seasonally inspired dining experience driven by Chef Kreuther’s Alsatian roots, masterful classic French culinary techniques, an inventive wine and cocktail program and impeccable yet warm service. The distinguished restaurant has two Michelin stars, AAA 5 Diamond status, and a glowing three-star review from The New York Times. Next door, Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate– named to Eater’s guide to America’s Essential Chocolate Shops–serves chocolate made fresh on-site by esteemed pastry chef Marc Aumont, who has been heralded for his artful presentation and exquisite chocolates and pastries, combining French technique, New York inspiration, quality ingredients and fine craftsmanship.
Chef Kreuther’s esteemed 30-year career has earned him numerous awards and accolades, beginning with the highly regarded Best Apprentice award, during his decade as a young cook throughout Europe. He then brought his talents to NYC, cooking at celebrated restaurants such as La Caravelle and Jean Georges and helming the kitchens at Atelier at the Ritz Carlton and The Modern. He was named to Food & Wine’s Best New Chef’s list in 2003 and won a 2009 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef NYC. Throughout his career, Chef Kreuther has put a strong focus on mentorship and is a long-standing mentor for the Bocuse d’Or USA Culinary Council, whose team won gold at the 2017 World Competition.
I grew up in Australia and have lived in India, The Philippines, Hong Kong, Canada, The Channel Islands, Austria, England and now the USA. I apprenticed under Matt Moran, one of Australia’s most successful chefs and honed my skills in some highly successful (and tough) Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. These included Pierre Gagnaire’s London establishment, The Lecture Room, Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner by Heston, The Atlantic Hotel in Jersey, as well as The Hotel Kristiania in Lech am Arlberg, Austria and as Head Chef at The Cottage Point Inn in Sydney.
This international experience has greatly influenced my sense of culinary adventure and style, which I now bring to our first restaurant, Common Lot.
Chef Ronaldo Linares is the author of Sabores de Cuba: Diabetes Friendly Traditional and Nueva Cubano Cuisine and America’s leading expert on healthy Latino cooking. He is also the Chef/COO of Martinos Cuban Restaurant in Somerville, NJ. Over the last ten years he steadily grown the business with a militant style approach.
Ronaldo describes his cooking – and his approach to life – as Cuban-inspired, passion infused, and Ronaldo gives mas sabor to everything he does – as CEO and Executive Chef of his family’s restaurant: Martino’s Cuban Restaurant in Somerville, NJ, as a brand partner with Healthfirst, American Heart Association National Spokesperson for the Healthy for good campaign, AARP caregivers program and of course being a husband and a father.
He was born in Colombia during the turbulent Cartel wars of the 1980s, cooking has saved him in many ways and has been the main ingredient in Ronaldo’s journey from young immigrant to rebellious teen to successful chef and media personality.
While he first honed his knife skills as a teen clocking long hours in his family’s restaurant, Ronaldo’s “food voice” began to take shape while he was a Sergeant and Food Service Specialist in the Marines, serving 6000 men daily. There he learned about regional American food and began to infuse it with his Cuban sazon.
Following the Marines, Ronaldo enrolled in ICE (Institute for Culinary Education) in New York City, graduating with high honors.
In 2016, Ronaldo was named an Influencer of the Year by LATISM (Latinos in Tech Innovation & Social Media) and honored by the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey as Culinary Person of the Year. Taking that momentum into 2017 he was able to do work with BMW, be a featured speaker and panelist at various conferences. He also had the great honor of being selected as a delegate for The Social Media Summit held at the United Nations.
Ronaldo has showcased his culinary style on Food Network’s Chopped, BBC America’s cross-country chef competition “Chef Race,” and appearances on WNBC, Fox News and Telemundo, ESPN radio “The Lockerroom 1050am”. He is a popular featured chef at live events including the Food Network’s “Food & Wine Festival,” Diabetes expo, the International Restaurant and Food Service Show and guest lectures at ICE.
Ronaldo would like to bring his experience on to the DSA board not only as a restaurant operator but one that understands what the people need and a relentless passion to execute those needs.
When not in the kitchen, Ronaldo is active in CrossFit as a Level 1 certified trainer and in the community, speaking to schools, youth groups and corporations about his life journey. How can he help you?
Joseph Gramaglia is the Executive Chef and Owner of Saly G’s Restaurant and Tavern in Warren, New Jersey. Saly G’s Restaurant and Tavern is an elegant eatery known for its traditional Neapolitan-style cuisine with a fresh and modern twist.
Chef Gramaglia, a completely self-taught chef with no formal culinary training grew up cooking alongside his Italian mother and father. He poured over cookbooks and cooking television shows with his food-focused family. His family is also known for their New Jersey Italian Eateries, A&G Italian Fine Foods and Verdis Ristorante. Verdis Ristorante was awarded three stars by The Star Ledger and was later renamed Zio Ristorante in 2003.
Chef Gramaglia’s deeply rooted passion for food has come from growing up in the restaurant industry his entire childhood. He often found himself wondering into the kitchen aspersing to be a part of the kitchen staff.
From day one, passion and tradition have driven Chef Gramaglia to transform Saly G’s Restaurant and Tavern from an American Bar and Grill to an upscale family run Italian eatery. Saly G’s offers homemade family recipes that can be traced back for more than eighty years. Chef Gramaglia, is fueled by the power everyday to grow and transform this industry. He also believes in the importance of staying true to tradition while using the best ingredients.
Chef Gramaglia is known for his hospitable nature to his customers and greeting many by first name. Everyday he is elevating recipes he was raised on with a contemporary twist and personal touch. Saly G’s has blossomed into a New Jersey local legend. Much of the success is due to their customers who come back time and time again craving both the restaurant favorites and the chef’s newest creations.
“Cooking is the only art form that utilizes ALL your senses,”says Mistral Chef Ben Nerenhausen. “Taste, smell, visual appeal and the textures you feel in every bite. Even the way it sounds, sizzling fresh from the grill. It’s a chance to be adventurous, with potential to do anything on the plate.”
That’s what people can look forward to at Mistral: Art that tells a story, taking all who visit on a sensory journey, with influences from France, Spain, North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and beyond. “Mistral is a wind in the Mediterranean, like a breath of fresh air,” Nerenhausen adds. And like its namesake, Mistral in Princeton will bring refreshing surprises to a seasonally changing menu. Locally sourced ingredients from nearby farms, New Jersey’s coastline, and the restaurant’s own herb garden will be combined in eclectic, exciting dishes using flavors from all over the world.
Trained in California at award-winning restaurants including Michelin-starred “The 5th Floor,” “Salt house,” and “Restaurant at Meadowood,” Nerenhausen brings a broad background to Mistral. “Our food here will be unique, yet approachable. Never intimidating but always enlightening.
The relationship between people and food has always guided and inspired Greg’s culinary style; from the farmer to the chef to the restaurant patron, food has a role and a meaning. Building on his understanding of this connection we all have with food, Greg developed a simple vision to create dishes using the only the finest, freshest ingredients sourced as locally, sustainably and ethically as possible.
Greg began pursuing his culinary aspirations at a young age. Over nearly two decades, Greg worked in some of the best kitchens across the globe. Specifically, his experience with Sergi Arola of Arola, Bruno Menard of the Dining Room, and Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin had him plying his craft and learning alongside a handful of the most respected industry leaders. Serving as Sous Chef at Blue by Eric Ripert, was a transformative and invaluable experience for Greg, instilling a respect for seafood to complement his deep appreciation for the terroir of farm-fresh ingredients.
Greg continued his upward trajectory as Chef de Cuisine at The Brasserie by Dean Max in the Cayman Islands. Here, Greg began to develop a signature style, bringing unconventional techniques to French and American classics. During his tenure at Brasserie, Greg was honored to be invited to cook alongside a team of chefs at the James Beard House in New York City. His second invitation to The James Beard House came during his tenure as Chef of the five-diamond restaurant L¹Escalier at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. This time as Featured Chef.
L¹Escalier gave Greg a chance to showcase his skill in haute cuisine, producing many exciting creations such as pumpkin gnocchi with white truffle foam and his extraordinary Garden Landscape – a whimsical miniature garden replicated and styled entirely from edible ingredients. Finally, Greg worked as Chef de Cuisine for The Penrose Room at the Broadmoor, Colorado’s only Five Star, Five Diamond Restaurant.
Despite his extraordinary skill with contemporary haute cuisine, Greg brings an honest simplicity to even the most complex of dishes: never masking the quality of the ingredients in the experience of the dish. In the fall of 2105, Greg joined the Brick Farm Tavern in Hopewell, NJ as a Partner and Executive Chef to continue the successes he has earned fulfilling his vision of connecting people to their food through expertly crafted dishes made with the best ingredients to be found.
As the pastry chef of Gabriel Kreuther and Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate, Marc Aumont creates modern, seasonal desserts rooted in classical French technique that celebrate New York.
Born in Tours, France, Aumont spent his childhood in Chamonix-Mount Blanc surrounded by the world of pastry at his parent’s bakery, La Gerbe d’Or. From a young age, he spent many hours in the shop with his father, learning classic French pastry techniques and flavor combinations, while developing a deep fascination for the delicate art of chocolate and sugar sculpture.
After 12 years with the family business, Aumont enrolled in the Culinary School of Pastry in Groisy, France for his professional pastry chef degree. After graduation, he moved on to the Ecole Nationale Superieure de la Patisserie in Yssingeaux, France, where he spent six years focusing on confectionary, ice cream and chocolate studies.
Aumont relocated to New York City in 2000 to work with chef David Bouley at Bouley Bakery. There, he developed traditional French recipes with a modern flair, before moving into a restaurant setting at Compass restaurant, where he was praised for his artful desserts by New York magazine, New York Observer and The New York Daily News.
Aumont was first introduced to chef Kreuther in 2004, when he joined the opening team of Kreuther’s restaurant at the MoMa museum, The Modern, as executive pastry chef. The two worked together for ten years, garnering praise from local, national and international press, as well as a three-star review from Pete Wells of The New York Times, who called Aumont’s mignardise trolley an “unexpected delight.”
At Gabriel Kreuther, Aumont continues his collaboration with chef Kreuther, and brings his singular touch to the dessert menu, calling upon his experience, travels and dedication to seasonality to create beautiful and delicious desserts with universal appeal.
In November 2016, Aumont teamed up again with chef Kreuther to open Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate right next door to the restaurant. The chocolate shop has been awarded Gold and Silver at the International Chocolate Awards 2018 and was named to Eater’s guide to Essential American Chocolate Shops. At the chocolate shop guests can select from a dynamic menu of freshly made chocolates inspired by everything from the changing seasons of New York City to classic American flavor combinations.
Vice President of Food and Beverage, Island Hospitality Management, Inc.
Executive Chef/Partner, Chakra Restaurant (Paramus)
Thomas Ciszak is one of the Northeast’s most acclaimed chefs.
Under his direction, Blue Morel offers modern, local, American farm-to-table cuisine. Accessible and approachable, Blue Morel’s new menus feature dishes that range from old family recipes to playful twists on contemporary American favorites—in addition to the award-winning sushi and raw bars for which Thomas is famous.
Born in Germany and trained at top schools and restaurants in his home country, Chef Ciszak came to the United States in 1994. His work grew noticed and he gained great popularity first at The Manor in West Orange, then at Tavern on the Green in Manhattan. From there, he joined The Fireman Hospitality Group as opening Executive Chef at Shelly’s New York. In 2005, Chef Ciszak launched Copeland (now Blue Morel) at the Westin Governor Morris to universally outstanding reviews.
Building on his culinary talent and business acumen, Chef Ciszak launched TC Culinary Solutions in 2006, consulting nationally for a number of high-end hotels and restaurants. In August 2010, Chef Ciszak announced the merger of his company with Jason and Peter Longo and Philip Chiaramonte, owners of Chakra in Paramus, NJ, to form The TLC Restaurant Group, which owns, operates, and manages a variety of restaurant concepts in the New Jersey region.
TLC’s first project was the relaunch of Chakra, with Chef Ciszak as Executive Chef/Partner. His newly energized and reconfigured menus there received a rave 3-1/2 star review from The Record‘s Elisa Ung, who noted, “The space is as dramatic as ever, but the real star is what’s on your plate.”
Chef Ciszak’s appealing international, multicultural menus are sophisticated but accessible. His food is presented thoughtfully and without pretense. A unique style that melds his European approach and American experience.
Executive Chef Blue Morel Restaurant and Wine Bar
MORRISTOWN, NJ – Dennis Mathews returns home to The Westin Governor Morris’ esteemed Blue Morel Restaurant and Wine Bar.
Mathews is a native to New Jersey from a German/Irish family. He has always been close to the kitchen, even as a youngster, he had an interest watching his German grandmother cook culinary master pieces from scratch. He had a keen interest in Culinary Arts, assisting his father to prepare dinners for a local volunteer fire department.
Mathews worked in local restaurants throughout high school; when he realized his passion for the culinary arts would lead him to the Pennsylvania Institute for Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh, PA in August of 1997. From 1997 to 1999, he worked under Executive Chef Gary Simpson at 7th Street Grill in the cultural district of Pittsburgh. Mathews moved back to his hometown working at South Street Bistro, and eventually took over as head chef. Continuing on in his career, he became the Executive Chef at The Hilton East Brunswick, NJ.
In 2007 he had the opportunity to work with Executive Chef Thomas Ciszak of Copeland Restaurant and was appointed as Executive Sous Chef in the Westin Governor Morris. Copeland was ranked Top 25 Restaurants of NJ, Best Raw Bar and participated at the James Beard House dinners. Over the years, Copeland then transformed into the award winning farm to table, Blue Morel Restaurant. Blue Morel was rated “Top 10 New Restaurants in the US” in Gayot Guide under Executive Chef Kevin Takafuji. Mathews then transitioned to the Executive Banquet Chef allowing the hotel to receive distinction as a “Best of 2014 Weddings” by The Knot Magazine.
In 2014 he joined Executive Chef Kevin Sippel as Executive Sous Chef at Jockey Hollow Bar and Kitchen and stage at the Michelin 3 Star Alinea Restaurant in Chicago.
In 2017, Mathews returns to Blue Morel Restaurant as The Executive Chef. Here his responsibilities will include overseeing of all phases of Culinary menu, design and presentation at one of New Jersey’s most prestigious hotels.
José Ramón Andrés Puerta, known as José Andrés, is a Spanish-American chef often credited for bringing the small plates dining concept to America.
David Kinch is an American chef who owns and operates Manresa, a restaurant in Los Gatos, California, which has been awarded three Michelin stars in 2016.
Chef Seadon Shouse is an award-winning chef with more than 15 years of experience in the kitchens of acclaimed restaurants throughout the United States. Growing up in a small fishing village in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, he developed an affinity for seafood at a young age—harvesting wild mussels and fishing for mackerel in front of his house.
He worked from Nantucket Island to Florida before he was tapped by Myriad Restaurant Group to help open the lauded Proof On Main in Louisville, Kentucky. After five years in Louisville, he moved to New York to head up the kitchen of Zylo at W Hotel Hoboken. He made significant changes to the restaurant before moving on to take over as Executive Chef of the Relais & Chateaux property, Glenmere Mansion in Chester, New York. During his tenure as Chef of Glenmere Mansion, Bon Appétit magazine named it one of the ‘Top 40 Hotels for Food Lovers’.
More recently Chef Shouse was Executive Chef of the French seafood brasserie Millesime inside the Carlton Hotel in midtown New York. While at Millesime he worked directly with owner and Two Michelin Star Chef Laurent Manrique.
In 2015 Chef Shouse re-joined the W Hotel to open and lead the kitchen of Halifax, a new concept inspired by his experiences growing up in Nova Scotia, rich culinary career, as well as his passion for North-Eastern farm and coastal fare prepared with local and sustainable ingredients.
In 1975, at the age of eight, André had a copy of the catalogue from The Culinary Institute of America. He knew then that this was the school he would attend. In 1988 he graduated from the Institute where he was voted “most likely to succeed.” André cut his chops and a finger or two at such New Jersey favorites as The Manor, Park One Eleven and Rosemary & Sage. In 1998 with the help of his wife Tracey, Andre’s Restaurant was opened in Newton, New Jersey. The restaurant has received rave reviews including an “Excellent” in the NY Times and Three and a half Stars from the Star Ledger. Andre’s has also been voted Best of the Best in North Jersey twice by the readers of New Jersey Monthly Magazine and named one of New Jersey’s most romantic restaurants by the Artful Diner. Andre’s will reopen at it’s new location on Seneca Lake in Sparta, NJ in the Spring of 2015. With a twice monthly changing menu, Chef Andre has the opportunity to take advantage of all of the local seasonal bounty that Sussex County has to offer. Any given menu will offer a balance of comfort and adventure, garnering inspiration from Europe, California and Asia. His mantra being; Eat a lot and pay attention! Zagat rated Andre’s a 27-“Excellent” for food and 26 for service. Also “Worth The Trip” which makes Andre’s a destination restaurant for many visitors to Sussex County. The current restaurant location- 188 Spring St in Newton has been reinvented and renamed “dre’s”. The more casual version of Andre’s. The same attention to detail just with a more casual vibe. André has cooked at the James Beard Foundation Awards as well as many charity benefits in the tri state area. These events have allowed him to cook alongside some of the great chefs that he admires.
After making a name for himself as a trailblazer in New Jersey’s farm-to-table movement, Chef Todd Villani is charting a new path on the culinary scene. As Executive Chef of East Rutherford’s Vesta Wood Fired, Chef Villani is taking the best of the region’s locally sourced foods and preparing them over and in a Wood-Fired charbroiler and hearth. Chef marries seasonal ingredients with wood-fired heat to create distinctive flavors. This old-world method of cooking builds on Chef Villani’s culinary repertoire, blending his farm-to-table ethos and appreciation for simple fresh ingredients with French and Italian technique and exotic flavors that inspired his passion for food.
He acquired his eclectic palate through a diverse food journey that began with waiting tables from coast to coast – from some of the finest steak houses to fish restaurants on the strip in Miami, accumulating along the way an appreciation for various cuisines, authentic ingredients, and techniques that truly define a culture. His journey took him to Greece and some of Europe’s finest dining establishments and back to the U.S. where he worked at World Yacht, a subsidiary venture of acclaimed “Top Chef” Marcus Samuelsson where he gained an appreciation for Scandinavian-inspired cuisine which includes pickling and curing. These experiences – and his newest foray into wood fired cooking – build on his signature approach to preparing foods with an international flair.
Chef Robbie Felice has been in restaurants since before he could walk. His father, Joe Felice had owned multiple restaurants during the course of his childhood. After a childhood surrounded by the industry, he was accepted into the Culinary Institute of America where he graduated with an Associates Degree in 2011. Shortly following his graduation, he put in multiple years of work between the legendary Babbo in New York City and B&B Ristorante in Las Vegas, where he became Sous Chef along with running the Salumi Program at the Company’s many Las Vegas locations.
He also worked in several other restaurants across the country. Hungry for more, he put in numerous stages at Michelin-Starred restaurants across the globe; including Sergio Herman’s 2-Michelin-Star Pure-C in The Netherlands and 2-Michelin-Star The Jane in Belgium. From there he travelled throughout Europe, touching France, The UK, Italy, and Spain where he was exposed to various cultures and cuisines, refined his technique, and forged his own unique signature and style.
Robbie landed back in New York City in 2015, joining 2-Michelin-Star The Modern. Felice was able to transform the lessons and experiences he learned from an early point in his career into his own culinary success.
In 2016, at just 26 years of age, Felice and his father decided to open their first restaurant together, birthing Viaggio Ristorante in Wayne, New Jersey. In his pursuit of authenticity, Felice unveiled a restaurant true to his cooking philosophy— locally sourced ingredients used to create traditional Italian fare with a modern touch. Viaggio earned him a spot on NJ Monthly’s 30 Best Restaurants in New Jersey, NJ Monthly’s Talent on the Rise, The Record’s 17 People to Watch in 2017, and two 3 ½ star reviews from both The Record, and New Jersey’s largest publication, The Star Ledger.
A multitude of accolades paved the way for Robbie to open his second restaurant, Osteria Crescendo in 2019 at just 28 years old where he specializes in large scale “for the table” entrees, and Italian street food at its bar. After five short months, Osteria Crescendo joined Viaggio with a spot on NJ Monthly’s 30 Best Restaurants in New Jersey, making him one of two chefs in the state to have two spots on the list. Osteria Crescendo brought Felice a glowing review from North Jersey Media Head Food Editor, Esther Davidowitz, where she referred to him as a “Culinary Superstar”. Multiple James Beard House appearances, including a solo dinner on August 19th, 2019, a nomination for Eater Young Guns 2020, being named New Jersey’s Industry Chef of the Year, and finally receiving recognition as one of the most important people of the past decade in the New Jersey restaurant scene by northjersey.com. His food is described as taking modern spins on the classics, and it has done anything but fail to date.
Felice keeps a strong social media presence, and continues to use everything he has been taught to his own advantages. Never settling for the minimum has been his career outline thus far, and his strive to be the best he can be has cemented him as one of the great chefs in not just New Jersey, but the entire country.
As the daughter of a nutritionist, New Jersey native Aishling Stevens learned early on to pay attention to the impact that high quality, seasonal ingredients have on the body and how important it is to be mindful of that while cooking. She first started working in restaurants at the age of 12 and over the subsequent two decades held nearly every position possible in both the back and front of house. This wealth of experience, along with her serious culinary talent, laid the foundation for her new position as Executive Chef of Crystal Springs Resort and Restaurant Latour.
After graduating with a degree in Commercial Recreation & Hotel Management from East Stroudsburg University, Aishling took a position with The Atlantic Club, but found the mostly office job wasn’t a fit. Looking for some adventure, she headed off on a backpacking trip to Australia. The trip eventually turned into eleven years living and working in the country. There, she found herself more and more attracted to what was happening in the kitchen and committed to training to be a chef.
Aishling spent her time in Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. This resort destination was well known for its dining scene and offered her the opportunity to get to know the local farmers and fishermen supplying the restaurants, which she has continued to do throughout her career.
She later moved to the U.K. for a year and worked as a sous chef at The Walpole Arms, a Michelin Bib Gourmand farm-to-table country pub. The restaurant was owned by a farmer and hunter who would bring the game back to the restaurant. She reveled in working with such fresh products.
Planning to return to Australia, she stopped in the U.S. to visit family and though she wasn’t actively looking to work here, the Americana Hospitality Group offered her a job. There she oversaw more than 20 employees as she introduced new culinary philosophies to the team while also developing farm partnerships, catering and operational initiatives. For her work, Aishling was named an Edible New Jersey “Restaurant Local Hero” in 2014.
Aishling joined the Crystal Springs team in 2017 as resort sous chef, overseeing Crystal Tavern and the seasonal outdoor Chef’s Garden. She was promoted to Executive Chef of the Resort in February 2018 and now runs the culinary operations including the kitchen at four-star Restaurant Latour.
Chef Bryan Gregg is a native of Pittsburgh and a graduate of the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts. Early in his career, he staged at Michelin-starred restaurants in France and England. From there, he continued to hone his culinary skills at some of the most highly-regarded restaurants, and with acclaimed chefs, in New York and New Jersey.
Chef Gregg, whose résumé features Escape Montclair, his award-winning southern fine cuisine restaurant, Executive Chef responsibilities at Ho-Ho-Kus Inn and Michael Anthony’s in New Jersey, and key culinary consulting projects, is a crusader for local New Jersey food producers.
Chef Gregg is the Executive Chef of Café Chameleon in Bloomingdale, New Jersey. At Café Chameleon, his New American menu features inventive dishes showcasing pristine local ingredients. Café Chameleon, situated in the quaint town of Bloomingdale in Passaic County, offers an elegant setting with an exceptional beverage program.
The serial entrepreneur is the founder of Think Local Foods, a leading restaurant consulting firm that formulates groundbreaking strategies and drives concepts to help clients enjoy enhanced bottom-line profits.
The award-winning Chef has been a repeat Featured Chef at the prestigious James Beard House. He was named Best Jersey Seafood Chef at the 2015 Jersey Seafood Challenge and as a result, represented the Garden State at the 2015 Great American Seafood Cook Off in New Orleans where he won the Seafood Showdown.
Although Michael White’s soulful, flavorful interpretations of Italian cuisine indicate otherwise, Michael is in fact a Midwesterner who spent his childhood in Beloit, Wisconsin. By whim or intuition, White decided to enroll in Kendall Culinary Institute and then secured a position in Chicago’s Spiaggia. He studied for seven years at the acclaimed San Domenico in Imola before returning to the United States. In 2007, White partnered with Ahmass Fakahany to open Due Terre and Due Mari in New Jersey. One year later, Fakahany and White officially formed the Altamarea Group to open Marea, which garnered three stars from The New York Times, and holds two Michelin stars. From Marea, Fakahany and White extended their culinary vision and opened Michelin-starred Ai Fiori; Osteria Morini restaurants in Soho, New York; Bernardsville, New Jersey; and Washington, D.C.; Vaucluse, their French brasserie on Park Avenue, New York; and Nicoletta Pizzerias in New York City, Citifield and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Outside the United States, Altamarea has properties in London, Istanbul, and Hong Kong.
Chef White has received the highest recognition in his career from Michelin, Relais & Chateaux, The New York Times, James Beard Foundation, Zagats and many other organizations. White was also named of the “40 Most Influential New Yorkers under 40” by Crains, New York. He has also been requested to cook for several U.S. Presidents.
After cooking with world-class chefs, including Bobby Flay, Anthony Bucco, and Michael White, and sharpening his skills in world-class kitchens such as Eleven Madison Park, and Two Star Michelin restaurant Villa Joya in Portugal, Chef Viana received distinguished recognition as the Executive Chef at The Kitchen at Grove Station, receiving three stars from the New York Times who described his dishes as “magical” and “hypnotizing.” At Heirloom Kitchen, Chef Viana continues to impress, receiving three-and-a-half stars from The Star-Ledger within weeks of joining the team. In December 2017 Chef David Viana was invited to The James Beard House to cook a solo dinner titled “Heirloom Holiday”. Shortly after he was nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Mid Atlantic in 2018. David is currently a contestant on Top Chef: Kentucky Season 16. When David is not at work he spends his time with his 3 year old son Cole taking him to the Jersey Shore and Chuck E Cheese!
Chef Martyna Krowicka fell in love with cooking during her childhood summer visits to Poland where she spent many hours in her grandmothers’ kitchens. She would wake up early to fetch the hen’s eggs and crisp the farm-fresh potatoes baked in the dirt from the night before. Martyna loved working with the Polish classic, soured milk – the raw, unpasteurized milk left to ferment on the counter awakened the breakfast potatoes with a spark of delicious creamy tang.
Krowicka had been sous chef of the acclaimed Ryland Inn along with a stint as sous chef at Empellón Taqueria in the West Village. The New York restaurant is part of the Alex Stupak empire. Martyna brings a wealth of culinary insight and a sensitivity to ingredients.
Martyna’s Polish roots, love of the kitchen, culinary school, plus her professional experiences all led her to the role as Chef de Latour of Restaurant Latour, where her thoughtful approach to food is in line with the wood to table ethos of Executive Chef Anthony Bucco.
Hollingsworth recently opened his first solo project, Otium. Located in the historic Bunker Hill neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles, Otium is a restaurant that strips away the formalities of fine dining while focusing on quality and execution. It is designed to be a social restaurant with a dramatic open kitchen merging indoor and outdoor spaces. The restaurant’s name, Otium, has its roots in Latin. A word that is meant to emphasize a place where time can be spent on leisurely social activities, both eating and drinking; adjacent to one of Los Angeles’ most important cultural streets — Grand Avenue — and next to its newest, most vibrant addition, the Contemporary Art Museum, The Broad.
Shortly after leaving his post at The French Laundry in 2013, Chef Timothy Hollingsworth moved to Los Angeles and opened Barrel & Ashes in 2014, an updated take on traditional American BBQ that pays homage to the food that Hollingsworth grew up on. As Chef Owner of Barrel & Ashes, Hollingsworth works alongside Chef Rory Herrmann to bring chef-driven Southern food to Studio City.
Prior to his time in LA, Hollingsworth worked as chef de cuisine of The French Laundry in Napa Valley, where led the kitchen in the continued evolution of its world-renowned cuisine. Hollingsworth exemplifies Chef Thomas Keller’s commitment to mentorship and personal development, with nearly 12 years of tenure at the restaurant. Beginning as a commis in 2001, Hollingsworth learned from former chefs de cuisine Eric Ziebold and Corey Lee, internalizing the heritage of the restaurant’s cuisine. In 2004, Keller selected Hollingsworth as part of a core team that traveled to New York City to train and prepare for the opening of his fine dining establishment in Manhattan, Per Se.
During his time off from The French Laundry, Hollingsworth would travel around Europe and staged under acclaimed European Chefs including Alain Ducasse and Gordon Ramsay. In 2008, Hollingsworth competed in the Bocuse d’Or USA, where he was awarded the opportunity to represent the United States at the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest— the biennial global cooking competition first envisioned in 1987 by revered French chef Paul Bocuse. Hollingsworth subsequently completed a rigorous training process, during which he worked with some of the industry’s most influential figures. In early 2009, Hollingsworth traveled to Lyon, France to compete in the prestigious event, where he placed sixth out of 24 prominent chef teams from around the world.
In his current role, he looks forward to being a mentor to the next generation of aspiring cooks. Hollingsworth recently received the Rising Star Chef Award from The San Francisco Chronicle as well as the Rising Star Chef of the Year Award presented by the James Beard Foundation.
Chef Philip Tessier won international acclaim in 2015, winning the Silver Bocuse at the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most difficult culinary competition. Just a few points shy of gold, Chef Tessier became the first American ever to mount the podium in the 30 year history of the competition. In 2017, Chef Tessier returned as Head Coach for Team USA and again was a part of history as the United States at last won gold, establishing America as the new standard bearers at the Bocuse d’Or. His newly released book, Chasing Bocuse: America’s Journey to the Culinary World Stage, offers a behind the scenes view of this incredible journey in pursuit of establishing America as the new standard bearers at the Bocuse d’Or.
Tessier’s culinary career began at the Williamsburg Inn in Virginia, before enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Over the course of three decades, Tessier has worked at some of the world’s most renowned restaurants including Roger Verge’s Le Moulin de Mougins, Eric Ripert’s Le Bernadin, as well as Thomas Keller’s Per Se, Bouchon and The French Laundry.
Today, Tessier is a founding member and Director of Culinary and Media at Hestan Smart Cooking, adding his culinary expertise to a talented team of engineers and scientists to develop a new platform for cooking in the home. Tessier is also in the beginning stages of pursuing his lifetime dream of establishing his own restaurant and mentoring the next generation of chefs in America.
Raised in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Richard Rosendale was exposed to strong culinary cultures at an early age, with one Italian and one German grandmother nurturing his love of food (not to mention a woodworking grandfather with a knack for charcuterie). Chef Rosendale eventually became one of the most experienced competitive chefs in the country—leading the U.S. Culinary Olympic Team, representing the United States in the Bocuse d’Or in January 2013, and accruing more than 50 national and international awards for his cooking.
Chef Rosendale opened two restaurants at 31 before settling firmly into a leadership position at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, where he oversaw the most epic culinary turnaround in the resort’s history. As executive chef and director of food and beverage, Chef Rosendale directed 13 kitchens, led the opening of five new restaurants, orchestrated food production for three PGA Tour events, and supervised The Greenbrier’s highly influential culinary apprenticeship program.
Chef Rosendale is one of only 67 certified master chefs in the United States. He currently stars in CBS’s Recipe Rehab and is the founder of Rosendale Collective, which provides private dining, restaurant partnerships, and training services.
Michelle Karr-Ueoka was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her passion for cooking was ignited after an externship at Alan Wong’s. Pursuing her dream, Michelle trained at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and externed at The French Laundry. She rejoined Alan Wong’s where she spent 6 years on the savory side. Moving again, back to New York, she staged at Thomas Keller’s Per Se. It is here that she realized her passion for pastry, and has never looked back. In 2012 Michelle received the Rising Star Chef Award from StarChefs.com as a Pastry Chef.
In October 2013, Michelle Karr-Ueoka and husband Chef Wade Ueoka opened their first joint venture, MW Restaurant in Honolulu where they specialize in Hawaii Regional Cuisine. In February 2014, MW Restaurant was nominated by the James Beard Foundation for Best New Restaurant, and Michelle for Outstanding Pastry Chef. She once again was nominated in 2015 for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
Justin Cogley joined Aubergine restaurant in January 2011. As Executive Chef he oversees Aubergine and all of L’Auberge Carmel’s culinary programs.
Cogley comes to Carmel by way of Chicago, Illinois, where he was instrumental in opening the Elysian Hotel’s new kitchen as Executive Sous Chef. He previously worked at Charlie Trotter’s critically acclaimed restaurant for four years, claiming the position of Chef de Cuisine for the last two. As such, he was responsible for menu creation, special events, and extensive instruction and management of the culinary staff.
Cogley recently became an avid triathlete and long-distance runner and competed in numerous West Coast races. He also created a culinary event: Rediscovering Coastal Cuisine where he invites talented chefs from around the country to come together and collaborate on a twelve-course tasting menu that explores and celebrates the unique biodiversity of California’s Central Coast.
Under the direction of Chef Cogley and his team, Aubergine has enjoyed substantial acclaim. In early 2015 they were nominated for three James Beard Foundation awards including Best Chef, West. 2014 saw Aubergine earn Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence and Forbes Travel Guide’s highest Five-Star rating recognizing excellence in restaurants. Also in 2014 L’Auberge Carmel was named Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards as a Top 100 Hotels Overall and one of the Top Resorts in the Continental United State. In 2013, Cogley was awarded the prestigious title of Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux, joining an esteemed list of internationally celebrated chefs and Food & Wine magazine named Justin Cogley “Best New Chef”.
Former Executive Chef, The NoMad
Former Chef De Cuisine, Eleven Madison Park
A native New Yorker, James Kent started his culinary career as a summer apprentice at Bouley when he was 15 years old. After taking classes at the Le Cordon Bleu in London and Paris and graduating from Johnson and Wales, Kent moved back to New York where he spent time in the kitchens of Babbo, Jean Georges, and Gordon Ramsay.
Kent joined the team at Eleven Madison Park as a line cook in the spring of 2007 and was quickly promoted to sous chef. In 2011, Kent was chosen to represent the United States at the international finals of the Bocuse D’Or in Lyon, France. After a full year of training for this culinary competition, he placed tenth in the world.
Upon returning to New York, James was named chef de cuisine of Eleven Madison Park and during his time there, the restaurant received numerous accolades including four stars from the New York Times, three Michelin stars, and a coveted spot on the San Pellegrino list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. James was promoted to Executive Chef of the NoMad in the fall of 2013. Under his leadership the NoMad was awarded a michelin Star each year, and was considered one of the top 100 restaurants in the world, being ranked 62.
Kent is in the process of using his 20 plus years of restaurant experience to build his flagship restaurant that will be opening in the coming year in New York.
Chef Peters grew up in Meadville, Pennsylvania and began cooking as a teenager with his family. Chef Peters enrolled in culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Pittsburgh. Upon graduation, he moved to Naples, Florida where he worked for the Ritz Carlton in the infamous Dining Room among many other notable chefs.
After years of honing his skills in Naples, he set his sights on New York City and took his first job in the city at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant, Adour. He continued to work at Adour until he was offered a position at Per Se in 2009. He spent over 2 years at The French Laundry, and was promoted back to Per Se as the Executive Sous Chef in February 2013.
In 2015, Chef Peters competed in the US finals and won the coveted spot to represent the United States in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or, the Olympics of the culinary world. Chef Peters went on to become the first American in the history of the competition to ever win Gold in 2017, a huge accomplishment for American cuisine on such a global stage. Now that his Bocuse d’Or journey is complete, he is now working on opening his own restaurant in Austin, Texas.
There is nothing quite like the frenetic and fleeting seasonality of the upper Midwest to inspire a soulful cook. For Chef Gavin Kaysen, an old soul at heart, this idea beckoned him back home to Minneapolis to open Spoon and Stable, a 2015 James Beard Award Finalist for Best New Restaurant, in the North Loop neighborhood in fall 2014. “Cooking is very emotional for me; I have to cook how I feel,” Kaysen says. “There’s something to be said for how you feel emotionally as one season gives way to the next, when it snows, rains, or is sunny. I never thought about that growing up here, but coming back, I see that now.”
Even though the award-winning chef has cooked in top kitchens throughout the U.S. and Europe, Kaysen gravitates most toward traditional Heartland dishes—the kind he grew up eating and cooking. “I love the classics. Starting with my grandmother, we always cooked very classical American dishes, like pot roast and chicken. I’m taking the knowledge I have now to shift, change, and morph those at Spoon and Stable.”
The chef refined his dexterity in contemporary American fine dining by dedicating time to some of the world’s best restaurants. After graduating in 2001 from the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT, Kaysen worked at Domaine Chandon in Yountville, CA; L’Auberge de Lavaux in Lausanne, Switzerland; and the famed L’Escargot in London, before becoming executive chef at El Bizcocho in San Diego, where he was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs. In late 2007, he joined Chef Daniel Boulud as chef de cuisine of Café Boulud in New York City, where he later earned the James Beard Rising Star Chef award and a coveted Michelin star. While there, he discovered so much more than tangible, technical skills. “It was like getting my master’s and PhD with Daniel and his organization,” he explains. “I learned so much about hospitality, about the business, cooking—but more importantly, I learned a lot about soulful food. When he cooks, it’s all about spontaneity, which I have discovered is how I really thrive, too.”
Today, Kaysen helps the next generation of young culinarians refine their skills in the kitchen. He is one of the founding mentors of the nonprofit ment’or BKB Foundation (formerly Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation), for which he currently serves as Team USA’s head coach in preparing for the famed biennial culinary competition that showcases the world’s best up-and-coming chefs. Kaysen brings an intimate knowledge of the Bocuse d’Or competition, as he proudly represented the U.S. in 2007. In 2015, he successfully led Team USA to a record-breaking Second Place victory, the first medal and podium placement for the United States. 2015 set the stage for future success, and in 2017 Team USA claimed first place for the very first time.
Bellecour, Kaysen’s second restaurant, opened in spring 2017. The French bistro is a nod to his friends and mentors Chefs Daniel Boulud and Paul Bocuse, as well as their time spent together in Lyon, France.
Kaysen lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons. In his spare time, he tends to the strawberries, peppers, zucchini, cilantro, basil, thyme, rosemary, and tomatoes growing in his home garden.
Chef Bryan Voltaggio is a true son of the Chesapeake, born and bred in Frederick, Maryland. By the young age of 20 and after having served as sous chef and executive chef at two regional hotel restaurants, Voltaggio made the decision to enroll at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. Upon graduating, Voltaggio staged at Aureole, in New York City, where he met his mentor chef Charlie Palmer. Following a stint at Michelin three-star Pic restaurant in Valence, France, Voltaggio reunited with Palmer as executive chef at Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, DC. After almost a decade with Palmer, Voltaggio took a leap of faith and returned to Frederick, Maryland to open VOLT in 2008.
Voltaggio is now the executive chef and owner of a portfolio of restaurants including VOLT, Lunchbox, Family Meal, RANGE, and AGGIO. As a finalist on Top Chef Season 6 and Top Chef Masters Season 5, Voltaggio is the first chef to compete on both Top Chef and Top Chef Masters. The James Beard Foundation Award finalist co-authored the cookbook, VOLT.Ink, with his brother, Michael, and released his cookbook HOME in 2014. As a father and chef, Voltaggio is a passionate philanthropist and supports Share Our Strength in their fight against childhood hunger. He has raised over three quarters of a million dollars over the last five years to support innovative school breakfast programs, meals for achievement, and the national No Kid Hungry campaign. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their three children Thacher, Piper and Ever Maeve in his hometown of Frederick, MD.
With a well-earned reputation as a stylish, rigorous chef with a strong point of view, Anthony Bucco serves as executive chef | partner of Felina Restaurant.
Bucco has a long established commitment to sourcing locally and sustainably, while honoring the sophistication of his guests’ palates. Felina’s menu philosophy: where humble ingredients get ambitious, matches esthetic, advanced technique and a sensitivity to seasonality. It is at Felina that Bucco’s personal heritage and his professional experiences merge to preserve the balance between the refined and rustic.
As a pillar in the NJ restaurant scene for more than 15 years, Bucco has guided many of the top kitchens in the state. His accolades include being awarded 4 stars in the Star Ledger; for his work at each Stage Left, Uproot, The Ryland Inn and Restaurant Latour. Anthony was instrumental in reopening the storied Ryland Inn, garnering the first four-star review New Jersey Monthly had given in a nearly a decade, with Eric Levin noting Bucco was “a gifted chef whose time has come.” Among other accolades, Bucco has received The New York Times’ highest rating (Excellent), & AAA’s coveted Four Diamond Award.
A long-time supporter of numerous charitable causes, Bucco has focused his energies on improvements throughout the Garden State; whether supporting the small family farmer, improving school lunch programs, feeding the hungry or supporting culinary education. Bucco recently started Heart to Harvest, a charitable endeavor designed to help famers and the community.