50 states. 50 iconic dishes. 50 chefs to prepare them! Expert and award-winning chefs from across the country are flying to Chattanooga to prepare their state’s dish so you know that what you’re tasting is authentic. They will be at their state’s booth ready to greet you and discuss their dish. Here are this year’s chefs representing America!
Kara Hoxey, 23, is a small-town chef born and raised in Michigan, whose culinary passion began when she learned how to cook with her mother in the kitchen. She was only a server until one day her chef realized her talent, encouraging her to make her way up in the culinary world. Kara later graduated from The Culinary Institute of Michigan in 2014 and moved to southwest Florida to further her culinary career. She is currently the Chef de partie at Harvest and Wisdom at Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs. Kara has been a lead banquet cook at an Emerald awarded country club, has worked alongside a number of CMC’s, and has catered for Major League Baseball teams. Chef Kara strives to stay innovative, yet stay rooted in the home cooking she grew up loving, as you will, too.
Mandy Dixon serves as Within the Wild Adventure Company’s executive chef and is the owner/chef of La Baleine Café in Homer, Alaska. Dixon is responsible for the daily menu at the café as well as coordinating local sourcing of ingredients from the Kachemak Bay area. Dixon served as a Culinary Ambassador of the U.S. State Department American Chef Corps, participating in U.S. Morocco Food Week 2016. She also was a featured chef at the James Beard American Restaurant in the USA Pavilion at the Expo Milano in Italy in 2015. Chosen by Alaska Governor Sean Parnell and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Dixon represented Alaska in the Great American Seafood Cook Off in New Orleans in August 2014. She placed second in Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Great Alaska Seafood Cook Off in 2013. Dixon represented the State of Alaska for the Flavored Nation event in Columbus, Ohio, in 2018. She has been a guest chef aboard both Silversea Cruises and Holland America Line cruise ships and a featured chef at the James Beard House in New York in 2009 and 2019. Dixon co-authored the IACP-award-winning cookbook “The Tutka Bay Lodge Cookbook — Coastal Cuisine from the Wilds of Alaska,” with her mother, Chef Kirsten Dixon. She also was the food stylist for the second edition of the award-winning “The Winterlake Lodge Cookbook,” published in October 2012. No stranger to the hospitality industry, Dixon grew up in Alaska’s backcountry at the lodges her family owns and operates. She left in 2002 to follow in her mother’s footsteps and attend culinary school. She trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, Calif. After working in restaurants for the next four years, Dixon realized her interest in dessert creations. She enrolled in the intensive pastry program at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Calif., in 2006. During school and following her graduation, she worked as a pastry chef for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group in Yountville, Calif., before returning to the family business in Alaska in 2010. Within The Wild Adventure Company is a partnership, in existence since 1983, between Carl and Kirsten Dixon and their daughters, Carly Potgieter and Mandy Dixon. The family owns and operates Winterlake Lodge; Tutka Bay Lodge; the Cooking School at Tutka Bay, and La Baleine Café, all in Southcentral Alaska.
In elementary school, while other kids his age watched cartoons, Keith Breedlove was hooked on PBS, specifically entranced with Julia Child, Martin Yan and the Ragin Cajun. Summer trips across the U.S. led to a discovery of regional cuisines and the start of an impressive cookbook collection. At 15, his grandfather, AKA Papa Dale, gave Keith the piece of advice and direction that forged his career: “Work in a restaurant — you’ll never be unemployed, and you’ll never be hungry.” Ever the literal soul, Keith went to work at Baxter’s in Dublin. Deemed too young for the cook job he had applied for, he started as a busboy. The cooks realized this kid with a penchant for obscure trivia and comic book facts was able to get tasks done quickly and efficiently with only one demonstration. Keith’s world flipped when one Sunday during a very busy brunch, a line cook failed to show up for his shift. Without asking or hesitation, Keith jumped on the line. Thirty years later, he’s still in that beautiful chaos he loves. After high school, he waited tables and cooked at Carrow’s Dublin. With encouragement and support from Papa Dale, he enrolled in the hotel/restaurant management program at Diablo Valley College, finishing at the top of his class. At this point in his life, cooking was just the job, but music was the career. But when Keith landed in Sacramento at the Hyatt Regency under the tutelage of Masa Nishiyama, he put all dreams of musical stardom away and focused on food. Over the following five years, Keith earned earn a BA in Philosophy and rose from line cook to sous chef at a family Italian restaurant, Barone’s in Pleasanton, and then became executive chef for a private club in San Francisco, executive sous chef for a high-end conference center/resort in San Jose, executive chef for Intel’s Global headquarters in Santa Clara (overseeing 250+ employees, seven cafes and an incredible number of foreign dignitaries). A hand injury sideline him from the kitchen for more than a year, so Keith taught high school for a while, but the chaotic world of professional kitchens called him back, with stints as executive chef at a Doubletree, a consultant for several restaurants, and finally corporate chef for a restaurant group owned by Guy Fieri. In the end, his love and passion for food, food science, culinary freedom and learning led to the creation of his Culinerdy brand and food truck, a mobile kitchen where he could create amazing dishes, explore flavors and really see the people. About this time, Keith started putting himself out there on local TV, eventually asked to do bigger shows. “Guy’s Grocery Games,” “Cutthroat Kitchen,” a few pilots and multiple pitches for Food Network; “Man vs. Child” and “Food Factory: Night Shift” for FYI Network; “Bar Rescue” for Spike TV; “Home and Family” for Hallmark and monthly segments on Fox 40 and CW 31 in Sacramento. In 2015, Chef Breedlove was selected to be the official chef of the California State Fair, representing the agriculture of California. Embraced by the Sacramento community, he has been featured on the covers of Comstock Magazine, The Sac Bee, and San Joaquin Magazine, with feature stories in Sacramento Magazine, Sacramento News and Review and California Bountiful.
Tommy Leffingwell was born in South Louisiana and grew up in Luling, Louisiana, where he learned to cook from his mother, Libby Leffingwell. She cooked everything from scratch, and still does today. When he was 11, he had a friend who taught him to hunt and fish. His mother didn’t want to cook the wild game they came home with, so he had to learn to cook it himself. Tommy’s mother taught him the basics, and he started with ducks and squirrels, among other things. Once he learned the basics of cooking, he felt comfortable cooking anything. Even though he doesn’t cook for a living now, he loves to do so and plans to work at a restaurant one day.
David Stanford is 33 and was introduced into to the culinary arts when he was 15 starting at Big Boy. From that moment on, he knew cooking and food were going to be his passion. David has worked in many different types and styles of restaurants anywhere from mom and pop to fine dining.
Christa Sauers is a classically trained chef who is passionate about culinary education and sustainable clean food practices. She has taught both recreational and professional classes and is very active in purpose-driven organizations such as Slow Foods, ACF and Les Dames de Escoffier. She is also the former Publisher and Editor in Chief of Edible Denver - Boulder - Ft.Collins. In her free time, she likes to cook with her family, friends and her dog Banjo (aka recipe taster).
Sarah Beth Pierno
Sarah Beth Pierno is the chef/owner of Miles on the Water. Growing up in Clinton, Mich., the 34-year-old now resides in Ray, Mich. She has been in the restaurant industry since she was 15 years old, starting off as a waitress in a family diner. In high school she took the culinary arts program and fell in love with cooking. From there Sarah has been doing every job in the industry. Wearing all hats of the industry has really helped in opening up her own restaurant. Right before she and her husband married, they bought a restaurant and called it the Double D Bar and Grill. Double D’s was basic bar fair with a twist. After almost seven years, they changed the concept, renaming the restaurant Miles on the Water. It’s named after Sarah’s 3-year-old son, who is the inspiration for all she does in her life. Miles on the Water is a high-end smoke house with southern cuisine. They have a “scratch kitchen,” and the only thing that isn’t housemade is the ketchup, mustard, and mayo. They couple is now working on opening a new restaurant, which will feature steak and seafood with a speakeasy area. They look forward to starting a new adventure.
Chef Billy Rawstrom is born and raised in Newark, Del. He later moved to Charleston, S.C., to attend Johnson and Wales, where he earned his bachelors degree in Foodservice Management. He stayed in Charleston to continue his education, earning a masters in education from The Citadel. He later moved to Tennessee to start his teaching career. After teaching for three years, he decided to move back to his home state. He opened Maiale Deli and Salumeria in 2009. Maiale specials in specialty sausages and salami. It was recently featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive In’s, and Dives.” Billy continues to run his business as well as teach culinary arts at a local high school.
Whether she is catering for celebrities such as mega producer Timbaland, actor John Corbett, Gym Class Heroes Travie McCoy and DJ Irie, or driving around her gourmet food truck, Chef Robyn Almodovar is serving up South Florida with fresh seasonal ingredients and guaranteeing everyone “A Party in your Mouth.” With a half Puerto Rican, half Italian background, Robyn’s childhood was filled with culture, vibrancy and a deeply ingrained passion for food. In 2005, she graduated from the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta and relocated to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to begin her apprenticeship as banquet cook at The Hyatt Regency Pier 66, a Four Diamond Hotel. Throughout her career, Robyn has methodically mastered every position in the kitchen. From line cook to executive chef position at Jeff’s Beach House Grill in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. In 2008, Robyn took to the high seas and managed the kitchen of a 172’ yacht, Lady Windridge. Robyn spent her days as a yacht chef for two-and-a-half years. Realizing that she missed the “heat” in the kitchen, Robyn decided to go part time on the boat, so that she could pursue new endeavors. She worked at several respectable South Florida restaurants including The Forge and Danny Devito’s Devito South Beach before obtaining an executive sous chef position at the Royal Palm Hotel. This is when Robyn was cast for FOX’s “Hell’s Kitchen” Season 10 and finished as a top finalist. In 2011, with enough courage and tenacity to strike out on her own, Robyn purchased a 24 foot food truck and founded Palate Party, a fresh, mobile food café that utilizes locally sourced ingredients. Palate Party was the first female-owned, non-dessert food truck in South Florida, and it’s the only truck with a custom stage built on top for live entertainment, dancing and musical performances. In 2013 Miami New Times voted Palate Party Best Food Truck in Miami as well as 3rd Best Food Truck in South Florida by Sun Sentinel. In Robyn’s third year as a “food trucker,” she decided to purchase a second truck called Palate Party POP. In the fall of 2014, Robyn was on a new television series, “Food Truck Face Off,” which premiered on Food Network. On each of the 13 episodes, hosted by Jesse Palmer, four teams present their unique food truck concepts to an expert panel of judges. Almodovar was the Miami Food Truck Expert guest judge for 3 episodes. In 2015, she was a winner of Food Network “Chopped” and went on to appear again on “Hell’s Kitchen” and on “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “Chopped Impossible” and “Camp Cutthroat.”
A native of Knoxville Tn, Natasha Carter started her calling for the culinary arts 20 years ago in the front of the house as a server, but always had a passion for cooking. In 2011 she enrolled in the University of Tennessee Culinary Arts Institute program. Upon graduation, she joined the Delta Delta Delta Sorority as their private chef Providing delicious and nutritious cuisine for the ladies of the sorority.
Marcus Meacham is a self-taught culinary guru who has worked his way to the top of the food scene in Columbus, Ohio. He describes his unique style as "Imaginative Cuisine"... anything with bold and creative flavors that has a cool combination of creamy, smooth, bright, and earthy. Meacham’s dishes may seem like a lot to comprehend, but when you taste them, you know what’s up. Chef Meach nows resides on the island of Ohau and is constantly pushing forward with plans of opening his prized steam bun shop, perfectly named STEAM.
Zack McCullough's passion for food started very young. When his dad would cook, he'd always pull up a chair and help where he could, even as young as four or five years old. He held his first knife at age six or seven. A lot of chefs have other chefs who inspire them, but Zack says his inspiration has always been his dad, who can throw anything together and have it be delicious, from everyday dinner to holidays. He found my true calling for cooking when he took a culinary class in high school and started competing for the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America team. After that, he started working for a few locally famous restaurants, starting in the dish pit working his way up. The most prominent was Westside Drive In, where he learned what it meant to be a short order line cook and the kind of chef he wanted to be. In the 5 1/2 years he worked there, he learned everything he could from his mentor, Chef Lou Aaron. After that, Zack moved on to run his own kitchens and continues to better himself as a person and a chef.
My π was started in 1971 by Larry Aronson, a fourth-generation baker, in the Rogers Park area of Chicago. He used his background in baking to create fresh dough each day with three perfect rises, giving his pizza a crisp crunch unlike all other deep dish pizzas. In addition, he flavored his pizza sauce with more than just the toppings of oregano and parmesan cheese. In fact, there are at least eight herbs and spices, according to his son Rich Aronson, who now runs the family business. But only Rich’s dad knows for sure, as he has yet to reveal his secret recipe. To this day, Larry still makes the spice packs for his son. Rich’s father expanded My π outside of Illinois in the early 70’s. It was actually the first deep dish pizzeria ever opened outside of the Chicagoland area. At one point in the 1980s, there were numerous restaurants in nine states across the county. Although, the family has shut down all the restaurants outside of Chicago to concentrate on maintaining their strict requirements for quality, there has been a My π operating in Chicago since its inception in 1971. Rich Aronson grew up working in his father's restaurants before he went on to the University of Illinois and received a Bachelor's in Restaurant Management. Afterwards, he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and worked as a chef in fine dining restaurants until 2000, when he opened an outlet of the family business in the Bucktown area of Chicago. He has owned and operated the My π in Bucktown for the past 19 years. My π has been shipping pizzas nationwide for the past 11 years.
Jean Anne Bailey
Jean Anne Bailey is the owner and operator of Nick‘s kitchen in Huntington, Indiana, which opened in 1908. Jean Anne has owned the restaurant since 1989, when she became the fifth owner. Her parents owned the restaurant for the 20 years prior. At seven years old, Jean Anne started washing dishes on a pickle bucket in the back room. The man that opened the restaurant, Nick Frienstine, was the first to make a breaded pork tenderloin. He wanted to create a quick sandwich that people could get and take with them. Being a German immigrant he wanted to make a sandwich that was similar to schnitzel. Jean Anne has kept up the legacy of the breaded pork tenderloin and Nick's Kitchen. The recipe the restaurant uses today is a lot like the recipe invented in 1908. The sandwich is deep-fried and served on a bun. Nick's Kitchen has been featured on the Travel Channel show "Food Paradise" and the PBS special "A Few Great Places for Pie." People travel all around the United States looking for the perfect breaded pork tenderloin. The folks at Nick's Kitchen never say that theirs is perfect, they just say it’s the most famous.
Originally from the Des Moines area, Executive Sous Chef James Richards brings his Iowa roots into play when creating different dishes. James found his love and passion for cuisine at a young age when he would help his Greek great aunt cook in the kitchen. James attended the Iowa Culinary Institute at DMACC. While in school, James was selected to travel to France on a chef exchange scholarship through the French Association des Cuisiniers de la Loire, for the opportunity to learn about French cuisine. During his time there, he learned all about traditional French cuisine alongside a local French restaurant owner. After studying French cuisine, James pursued the beginning of his career in Las Vegas. While working in Las Vegas, James worked in several Emeril Legasse restaurants and ended up at Emerils Table 10. At the age of 24, he became the youngest person to run a Legasse restaurant kitchen. Shortly after, James returned to Iowa to work at Port of Des Moines. Chef James works to push the envelope and be as creative as possible when creating dishes, while also staying true to the Midwestern flavors and dishes that he grew up with. Fun Fact: “I am an avid Crossfitter, and my favorite genre of music is Metal.” Favorite Food at Port of Des Moines: Chef Erika’s Tamales.
At age 16, Joe West started a career in the Kansas City culinary community at 40 Sardines, working under award-winning chefs Michael Smith and Debbie Gold. He continued his culinary education by winning a full-tuition scholarship to Johnson & Wales University in Denver, CO, ultimately graduating on the Dean’s ilst. The Kansas City native brings more than 16 years of culinary experience to The Savoy, having previously worked as chef de cuisine at Bluestem, the 2-Michelin star Alex at Wynn Las Vegas, and the Cincinnatian Hotel as executive chef – which earned a AAA Four Diamond rating under his direction. After working in cities across the country, West returned to Kansas City as executive chef at Stock Hill, followed by the launch of Kusshi, his award-winning pop-up dining experience set in secret locations throughout Kansas City. Inspired by the community’s reverence for The Savoy’s rich history, West showcases American classic cuisine, utilizing old world technique with the precision of modern day standards, and a focus on local ingredients – a true expression of both the chef and the seasons. He won the Iron Fork Competition in Cincinnati, and was named one of Eater’s Young Guns in 2014. In 2015, he went on to win 435 Magazine’s Best Supper Club award. West was a Feast Magazine Best Chef nominee, and a National Finalist for the Ora King Awards in 2017.
Chef Sterling Wright is married to Shancey Wright, and has two children, a son, Sterling Jr., and a daughter, Diamond. He is also step-father to Shancey’s children, Latasha and Danshea. Sterling grew up in the J.C. Napier Homes, a housing project in South Nashville. While attending McGavock High School, a teacher introduced him to cooking, and through her class, he realized that cooking was his passion. He spent the next 20 years working in various Nashville restaurants. Sterling attended the Johnson Wales University Culinary School where he began perfecting his craft. Over the years as a professional chef, Sterling has served presidents and CEO’s, music legends and celebrities, and appeared on "Hell’s Kitchen." As Nashville’s first contestant on the show, Sterling was known as “Mr. 100” and “The Chef With The Smile.” He was the only contestant in the history of "Hell’s Kitchen" who was allowed to keep his "Hell’s Kitchen" Chef Coat even though he was eliminated from the show by episode 12. Since the show, Sterling has served as a private chef, and as a chef for the Slider House. He is presently employed as a supervisor in the St. Thomas Medical Center’s Food Program. In May of 2018, Sterling took part in a "Hell’s Kitchen Takeover" in New York. Giving back is Sterling’s heartbeat, and he uses his platform of cooking to educate, and inspire, and encourage others. He shows his love for others by cooking at The Nashville Mission, walking children home from school each week through predatory neighborhoods to the safety of their homes, and putting on community events for the youth, single parents, and others to show them how much they are valued and appreciated. In 2017 he was afforded the opportunity to attend a trip to Haiti with the Hands & Feet Ministries team where he taught cooking and ministered to the orphans and citizens of Haiti. Chef Sterling also partners and supports several organizations such as Papa Joe’s ministries or Elijah Heart’s, #IMINVISIBLE Bullying and Suicide Campaign, and the Nashville Peacemaker. For Sterling, the most memorable moment he ever experienced was when he donated his bone marrow to a young woman diagnosed with cancer who he did not know, ultimately saving her life with the gift of LOVE.
Originally from Houma, Louisiana, Peyton Leffingwell went to Louisiana Culinary Institute in Baton Rouge after high school then moved to New Orleans where he honed his skills as a cajun creole chef. Peyton furthered his career after he was invited to cook at the Augusta National Golf Club during the Masters. He has since been back for the past five tournaments. He is currently in Sarasota, Fla., cooking at Sage, an international cuisine fine dining restaurant that takes modern cuisine and fuses it with international cultures. Peyton enjoys the art of cooking and coming up with new ways to perfect dishes, especially those close to his cajun roots.
Jamar Jackson is a combat veteran who followed his passion for cooking after returning home from Afghanistan. He attended Dorsey culinary school and was a student of the 2019 Michigan chef of the year Matt Schellig and food Olympic gold medalist Gabriel Vera. After graduation Jamar worked in various places picking up a vast number or techniques along they way. This would eventually lead him to Oakland hills country club the top country club in Michigan and number 26 in the nation. There he would train under chef Daniel Vallone and chef Sara Rougeau both chef of the year award winners them selves. Jamar draws his inspiration from nature utilizing fresh sustainable ingredients to bring his dishes to life.
Costas Inn is a Baltimore, Md., restaurant that has been family-owned and operated since 1971. Pete Triantafilos has been the chef owner operator for 36 of the 48 years, cooking the line for 15 of those years developing recipes and menus to create the unique Baltimore Seafood experience. Now, Pete has a culinary team that he oversees and manages, as well as the front of the house, to ensure the best in quality of entrees and service.
Jefferson Magalhaes & Vince Lombardi
Jefferson Magalhaes landed a job at Jasper White’s Summer Shack - Mohegan Sun in 2003. He started his career as a dishwasher, and within a few months was offered a line cook position. While working as a line cook, his passion and respect for food grew. After mastering all the stations in the kitchen, he was promoted to kitchen supervisor and shortly after to a sous chef position, where he was taken under the wing to learn from chefs Timothy Willis and Jasper White. In 2014, Jefferson was promoted to executive chef where his can show his passion for food. Vince Lobardi is the Director of Operations for Jasper White's Summer Shack and has been in the culinary industry for over 20 years.
Bradly Bobkin practically grew up in the restaurant industry, beginning a long love affair with the culinary arts in his teen years. Starting as a waiter in Coney Island, the traditional "coney" became a staple comfort food. While traveling abroad in Europe, Central America, or even domestically in the United States, he realized you just can't get a decent coney like back in Detroit. Now he's here to share his love of the hometown classic: a hot dog with chili, mustard, and onions. (He honestly doesn't mind if you put ketchup on it, too).
Timothy Fischer brings his award-winning culinary expertise to Loews Minneapolis Hotel as executive chef. Fischer, whose 25 years of experience spans some of America’s top-rated restaurants, oversees all dining operations for the property, including Cosmos, Apothecary, Relevé, in-room dining, and banquets. Fischer, a St. Paul native, partners with local farmers and purveyors – in addition to having established an urban garden on the hotel’s rooftop – to infuse his cuisine with the freshest ingredients. Fischer came to Loews Minneapolis Hotel from the Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, New Jersey, where he spent two years as executive chef and culinary director, and was featured as the James Beard House Best Chef Dinner. Previously, Fischer made history in North Dakota by earning the first-ever AAA Four Diamond rating for Hotel Donaldson in Fargo, where he was executive chef and food and beverage director. He went there after working as executive chef at Canoe Bay, a Mobil Four Star-rated Relais, Chateaux resort in Chetek, Wisc. He also served as executive chef and restaurant director at two Minnesota resorts, Big Sandy Lodge in McGregor, and Lost Lake Lodge in Lake Shore – which earned its first-ever AAA Three Diamond rating during his tenure. Fischer was also chef de cuisine at the AAA Four Diamond- rated La Mansion Del Rio in San Antonio and sous chef at The Inn at Little Washington, a Mobil Five-Star/AAA Five Diamond/Relais and Chateaux in Washington, Va., where under his leadership, the James Beard Foundation recognized his team member as "Best Chef," a ranking that placed the group as No. 4 in the world. While sous chef at The Little Nell, another Mobil Five-Star/AAA Five Diamond address in Aspen, Col., Fischer's team was once again recognized by the James Beard Foundation for "Best Chef in the Southwest." Fischer got his professional start as sous chef and roundsman at Grandview Lodge in Nisswa, Minn. He took a break from the kitchen in 2012, spending six months as a professional musky fisherman. Fischer has also been actively involved in professional and benevolent organizations over the years, including the Texas Hotel, Motel Association, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and the March of Dimes. Fischer earned his associates degree in occupational studies and a Dean’s Award from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Gifted, talented, and inspired by nature, Chef Nick Wallace’s mission is to remain focused on the beauty of food. Nick was voted one of 2017’s Best Chef America. He did not stop there, as he was honored to be Mississippi’s first Food Network’s "Chopped" Champion, appeared on "Alton’s Challenge," and Food Network’s "Cutthroat Kitchen" followed by a third appearance on "Chopped." He says he has been blessed to be a recipient of the Bloomberg Art Grant from the City of Jackson and has had the opportunity to present five James Beard Foundation “Mississippi Themed” Dinners in New York. Nick is known for redefining the experience that Southern food has to offer, with an ability to express his understanding of food through the taste and appearance of every plate of food that he prepares. While giving his grandmothers, Queen Morris and Lennel Donald, credit for his beginning in culinary arts, some believe Nick's talents lie within his heart and has been there before birth. Chef Nick combines his family-farm origins with a sophisticated French technique to create his modern Mississippi cuisine that is exceptionally pleasing to the palate. Nick has served as chef for some of the most prominent museums and hotels in the State of Mississippi, including the Mississippi Museum of Art, Marriott, and the historic King Edward Hotel. Through these positions, both his leadership skills and drive for continuous innovation has flourished. Nick is currently founder and executive chef of Nick Wallace Culinary and Creativity Kitchen. To ensure that only foods that are free of preservatives and come straight from the farm to the table, Nick works closely with local farmers. With the ability to produce healthier fresh foods, he has moved his culinary talent and innovative ways into Jackson Public Schools and is touching the lives of middle school students through his company, Creativity Kitchen, which provides better-tasting and healthier food for scholars. Nick's vision for culinary innovation, understanding of flavor and technique have formed an exquisite growing innovative cuisine. Chef Nick continues to reach out to the community by partnering with organizations such as The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, that work towards providing healthier choices and foods to the community. With several visions, written out, but not yet to be seen, he will continue to use his gifts, abilities and talents to touch lives through his innovative, palate-pleasing cuisine.
Originally from a small town outside of Asheville, N.C., Greg King’s culinary roots began in his grandmother’s kitchen, helping with the family garden, picking beans and canning chow-chow and tomatoes. Though born in the Carolina’s home of great BBQ, he has deep roots in the midwest, where he spent 16 years. Living in a small community developed Greg’s passion for sourcing local, from getting cream from a master cheese maker to procuring pasture-raised beef and the squeakiest of cheese curds to pair with the best beer around. He focused on traditional Italian with mentor and friend Chef Mario Maggi for several years and opened restaurants from Texas to Florida before spending time with Spectrum Concessions and Catering traveling the country to work large festivals and events such as the prestigious Augusta Masters. The company gave Greg the opportunity for tremendous growth, from local-based events, venues and catering to spending a large portion of his time traveling — 44 weeks and 44 cities a year — with Cirque Du Soleil, where he provided food service for 130 people from up to 20 countries with many custom diets. Greg carried his passion for local with him, providing the best product every city and country he visited has to offer, from family owned business like Tennessee’s own Porter Road Butcher in Nashville to as many farmers markets possible. His touring wheels are now parked and professional apron hung up, and King has moved to the brokerage side for Advantage Solutions to spend more time on family, Harleys, craft rye whiskey and great smoked meat.
David Stample has wowed celebrities with his calling-card cuisine – a fusion of Southern soul-food with a spicy Caribbean flavor. These are traits he picked up from watching his family with Caribbean roots create a wide range of exotic dishes. As a personal and private chef, he has catered to South Florida’s elite at the prestigious Coral Ridge Country Club in Fort Lauderdale. He has an impressive list of career achievements: As Culinary Director of CREaM (Culinary-Related Entertainment and Marketing), Stample was responsible for coordinating and ensuring the success of six of Rachael Ray’s signature Burger Bash events. He had an impressive first place victory at the 2015 Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival. His talents have even been recognized on the Food Network, appearing as a contestant on Season 12 of “Guy's Grocery Games” in 2017. His appearance brought his message of culinary philanthropy to a national audience. David has spent much time giving back to the community. As a volunteer with the No Kid Hungry organization, he has earned the title “Hunger Hero.” The organization's goal is one close to his own heart: the fight to end childhood hunger. Chef David also lends his talents to the world of event production. He was on the production/management team of the 2019 James Beard Foundation awards ceremony, held in New York and Chicago. He has also been an integral part of producing Marcus Samuelson's annual Harlem Eatup events since 2016. Currently, you can find Chef Stample at InCucina, a private event space and cooking studio in the Flatiron district, where he serves as the creative director. The Marquee Event of InCucina is Stample's own CitySuppers. This monthly event gives New Yorkers the opportunity to create conversations about what matters most, while receiving personal instruction from David on preparing a gourmet family-style meal. David says his most impressive career achievement to date has been the impact he has made on the youths he taught during the last decade. He teaches teens and young adults from all backgrounds how to be creative and innovative while taking ownership of their lives through culinary arts. He makes them feel proud of their work, while instilling in them the values of personal responsibility and accountability. As a passionate instructor, he shares his wealth of knowledge with his students, many of whom are aspiring chefs.
Samantha is the personal assistant to Chef Brian Duffy and specializes in culinary event coordination and social media management. She is an integral part to Night Club and Bar’s Food and Beverage Innovation Center in Las Vegas as well as Gourmet Shows, TASTE Philly and TASTE Lancaster events. Her bachelor’s degree in architecture from Temple University helps her keep everything streamlined, organized yet still creative. Samantha does get her hands dirty once in awhile and has helped serve up some amazing dishes at a few events, but her main goal is to make sure everyone has a unique, fun and tasty experience wherever they go!
Courtney Armstrong is originally from Boston, where they catch their fresh fish right from the sea and cook it. Her parents, of Caribbean descent, would cook the daily fresh meals of their birthplace. For Courtney, using fresh, seasonal ingredients creatively and using spices and herbs is like using paint to create her custom dishes. Her first dishes were learned watching her aunts and grandmother and by volunteering at church dinners. She also makes pastries, cakes, chocolate sculptures and sugar candy. After high school, Courtney went straight to the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu to hone her culinary skills. Since then she has been working in various hospitality establishments, appeared in a few cooking shows and worked as a traveling private chef and caterer cooking at elite gatherings from state to state. In 2014, she opened her own traveling catering company cooking for clients and private events, where she can showcase her international cuisine with flair. One of her best experiences was cooking on a Holistic cruise in the Caribbean.
Otis Restaurant Chef/Owner Lee Frank has been cooking and living on the Seacoast since 2005. Originally from the West Coast, growing up in LA, he moved to San Francisco to start cooking in 1997. Being fortunate enough to spend time in many kitchens, it was the famous Lark Creek Inn, owned by Chef Bradley Ogden, where he really started to cut his chops. Working his way up to sous chef by age 25, Lee was presented with an opportunity to move to the East Coast. Taking over Bonta Restaurant in Hampton, NH, Lee started to familiarize himself with the Seacoast lifestyle and amazing ingredients readily available. After three years of being executive chef at Bonta, Lee found himself looking for a new place to call home. After a brief stint in Portsmouth at Brazo, he moved onto MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine, working for well known chefs Clark Fraiser and Mark Gaier. Taking the helm of this very busy kitchen and given the opportunity to travel was an amazing learning experience. This position evolved into leading the kitchen at nationally-acclaimed Arrows Restaurant as the executive chef. It is here where Lee was able to execute fine food but also focus on the details that it takes to operate a restaurant. After celebrating Arrows' 25th year and having the opportunity to cook for many legendary chefs, Arrows closed, which is when the opportunity to take over Anneke Jans presented itself. As executive chef of Anneke Jans, Lee once again was afforded the opportunity to learn, push himself, and educate staff in every aspect of running a restaurant. With a close relationship with owner Jason Canty, the ins and outs of running a business were learned. The opportunity to run a restaurant himself came to fruition when the owners of the Inn by the Bandstand reached out. Lee Frank is looking forward to using his 20 years of experience to bring you his vision, Otis. Restaurant.
Josh Brown & Jeffrey Feather
Not only did Jeffrey Feather grow up in Buffalo, NY, but he also grew up at Duff’s Famous Wings. His father spent most of his 20s working as a line cook at the restaurant and was later granted a partnership position. When he was young and his sisters were at school and his mom at work, Jeffrey would often be with his dad at the restaurant. Jeffrey considers his first full shifts to be when he officially started working at the restaurant. At 13, he would do one full dish shift and one full prep shift a week. Thirteem years and half his life later, he is still there, now in a management roll. He first became assistant kitchen manager at the age of 19 when he moved from the original Duff’s location to another opened by his uncle and cousin, where his goal was to train the new staff to the standards of Duff’s and learn form his family what it takes to run the restaurant from top to bottom. During this time, Jeffrey was attending Alfred State College studying mechanical engineering. Throughout his time at Duff’s he has assisted in the opening of three new Duff’s locations, two in the Western New York area and one in Georgia outside of Atlanta. Josh Brown was born and raised in Buffalo, and actually went to college at the University at Buffalo for art, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine art with a concentration in Illustration. Even though art was his first love, he always had a great interest in cooking and, of course, eating food. He’s always enjoyed creating and grilling different types of burgers, and soon got into smoking different meats and creating dry rubs. It wasn’t until Josh enrolled in college that chicken wings became a part of his life. Josh started at Duff’s in March of 2001 as a dishwasher/prepper. He applied for the job almost immediately after his first visit for wings. Not only was working there fun at the time, and a great job during school, but the staff quickly began to feel like another family and the general manager was the best Josh could ask for. He continued working for Duff’s throughout college, and in those years became a line cook, making both sandwiches and wings. It was at this time that he realized the subtleties of the different sauces, and how to find the perfect blend of crispiness, juiciness, and sauciness of chicken wings. Josh realized then, in some respects, he was still making art. By 2001, Josh realized office work wasn’t for him and decided he wanted to return to Duff’s full-time. After a while, he was promoted to management and it was then that be began to learn the procedures of opening and closing a restaurant as well as the business side of the food industry. Josh eventually became GM and because of his predecessor, he was able to learn from him the skills necessary to carry on in his footsteps. Jeffrey has worked every job in the restaurant, including serving tables (although that is not his forte), and at 26 returned to the original location and work hand-in-hand with Josh to run the restaurant as his father and his partner prepared to get their feet out of the door. After all they’ve been through with the business over the years, Duff’s has become much more of a home than place of work. Nearly twenty years after starting with the company, Josh plans on continuing to serve the best ‘wing’ possible to the city that both he and the chicken wing were born in. Together, Jeffrey and Josh strive to maintain the same standard of greatness that has been set by their predecessors, Ron Duff, Ed Conley, and Jeff Feather.
Nikole Dailey is a third-generation New Mexican. Although her mother never liked anyone helping her in the kitchen, Nikole managed to learn how to make traditional New Mexican foods. As Nikole grew up, she would learn from others, including her older brother who had an easier time getting their mom's recipes. Nikole has lived in many different places, but she still has a fondness for New Mexican foods. She has pride in her home state because it marries Spanish, Mexican and Native American foods. Nikole is delighted to share what she loves with others and learn from others as well.
Josh Brown & Jeffrey Feather
Not only did Jeffrey Feathers grow up in Buffalo, NY, but he also grew up at Duff’s Famous Wings. His father spent most of his 20s working as a line cook at the restaurant and was later granted a partnership position. When he was young and his sisters were at school and his mom at work, Jeffrey would often be with his dad at the restaurant. Jeffrey considers his first full shifts to be when he officially started working at the restaurant. At 13, he would do one full dish shift and one full prep shift a week. Thirteem years and half his life later, he is still there, now in a management roll. He first became assistant kitchen manager at the age of 19 when he moved from the original Duff’s location to another opened by his uncle and cousin, where his goal was to train the new staff to the standards of Duff’s and learn form his family what it takes to run the restaurant from top to bottom. During this time, Jeffrey was attending Alfred State College studying mechanical engineering. Throughout his time at Duff’s he has assisted in the opening of three new Duff’s locations, two in the Western New York area and one in Georgia outside of Atlanta. Josh Brown was born and raised in Buffalo, and actually went to college at the University at Buffalo for art, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine art with a concentration in Illustration. Even though art was his first love, he always had a great interest in cooking and, of course, eating food. He’s always enjoyed creating and grilling different types of burgers, and soon got into smoking different meats and creating dry rubs. It wasn’t until Josh enrolled in college that chicken wings became a part of his life. Josh started at Duff’s in March of 2001 as a dishwasher/prepper. He applied for the job almost immediately after his first visit for wings. Not only was working there fun at the time, and a great job during school, but the staff quickly began to feel like another family and the general manager was the best Josh could ask for. He continued working for Duff’s throughout college, and in those years became a line cook, making both sandwiches and wings. It was at this time that he realized the subtleties of the different sauces, and how to find the perfect blend of crispiness, juiciness, and sauciness of chicken wings. Josh realized then, in some respects, he was still making art. By 2001, Josh realized office work wasn’t for him and decided he wanted to return to Duff’s full-time. After a while, he was promoted to management and it was then that be began to learn the procedures of opening and closing a restaurant as well as the business side of the food industry. Josh eventually became GM and because of his predecessor, he was able to learn from him the skills necessary to carry on in his footsteps. Jeffrey has worked every job in the restaurant, including serving tables (although that is not his forte), and at 26 returned to the original location and work hand-in-hand with Josh to run the restaurant as his father and his partner prepared to get their feet out of the door. After all they’ve been through with the business over the years, Duff’s has become much more of a home than place of work. Nearly twenty years after starting with the company, Josh plans on continuing to serve the best ‘wing’ possible to the city that both he and the chicken wing were born in. Together, Jeffrey and Josh strive to maintain the same standard of greatness that has been set by their predecessors, Ron Duff, Ed Conley, and Jeff Feather.
Ben Hart wears several hats as owner and operator of Ole Time Barbecue in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is very active in the community not only where his business is run, but in his local neighborhood, and with his Masonic activities. He comes from a family that has always believed in giving to others and has seen the value of his Father’s generosity returned to him and continues to do so in the same light. Ben became the Pit Master of Ole Time Barbecue in 2006 and has trained several people to cook Eastern North Carolina “Barbeque” the same way he was taught.
Growing up in the Midwest Jeff Tener spent most of his spare time hunting and fishing. It was naturally ingrained in him at an early age to harvest and prepare the bounties that are provided by Mother Nature and says "we are very fortunate to have most of what we need right in our backyards!" Time spent in the woods and on the water with friends and family has always been an important part of his life. Bringing everyone together to partake in the fruits of our labor is something he will always cherish. Preparing the harvests has always been a lot of fun for Jeff whether it be in the kitchen or at one of the many annual hunting/fishing camps he attends each year. Chef Jeff’s Wild Catering could be found at your next hunting or fishing camp. He is always looking for the next adventure in my life and encourages others to get outside! There is so much to appreciate in Mother Nature.
Dawn Altergott is currently a sous chef at Signal Mountain Golf & Country Club and has been a part of this family for just over two years. She started in the culinary field at the age of 15. Fast forward 20 years, and she's since become a Tennessee transplant originally from Chicago. She has an amazing 14-year-old son and a wonderful boyfriend who support her fully on her culinary venture. Dawn says her greatest joy is being able to do what she loves everyday and that it makes people happy. One of the most amazing chef experiences she's had is auditioning for "Hell’s Kitchen" about 5 years ago. All in all, she says, her life is her family and being able to do what she absolutely loves, creating with food for her family and others to enjoy!
Oklahoma native Josh Valentine discovered his passion for food at an early age. To manage the nutritional demands of high school wrestling, Josh began reading cookbooks and food magazines. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Minneapolis, he garnered experience at the best restaurants he could including Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis, Stephan Pyles in Dallas, as well as The Coach House and The Metro in Oklahoma City, to name a few. He opened his first restaurant, Divine Swine, in Oklahoma City, and drew national attention by becoming a finalist on the Bravo Network's "Top Chef" season 10. Following another stint in Dallas at FT33, Josh returned to Oklahoma, working as executive chef at The George, Cultivar Mexican Kitchen, and resident chef at Carlton Landing. He is currently hard at work prepping for his latest culinary adventure, Livegrass Butcher+Bistro, which will further elevate contemporary Oklahoma cuisine in the fall of 2019 in Edmond.
Emilia Tomaszycki is originally from Richmond, Michigan. Specializing in baking and pastry, she has worked at some of the top athletic and golf clubs in the country, most recently having been at the Ritz Carlton Dallas enjoying the “southern spirit and uptown elegance.” Her favorite pastry to make is an intricate entremet or multiple layer torte.
Originally from Philadelphia, Penn., Pattic Speights is a retired veteran who served for 21 years in the US Army. She graduated from Paine College with a bachelor of science in Business Administration, and she also graduated from Helm’s College Culinary Program. Chef P is a two-time employee of the Augusta National’s Gulf Club, serving on the Hospitality Cabins Team. She currently owns her own catering business based out of Grovetown, Ga. She is very passionate about food and cooking. She says the only thing she loves more than cooking is watching other people enjoy her cooking.
Keyhone "KT" Russell
Talented, innovative and revolutionary are just some of the attributes of Keyhone Russell. The 27-year-old Caribbean-American was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in the small town of Poughkeepsie nestled in the heart of the beautiful and scenic Hudson Valley. A former student at the world renowned Culinary Institute of America, Keyhone has worked closely with some of the most talented and established chefs in the United States at both the 2019 James Beard Taste of America (Andy Little) & the NYCWFF (David Stample ). Keyhone is a private/personal chef to NYC’s growing community of entrepreneurs, creatives and podcasters. Keyhone has cooked for comedian Andrew Schulz , rapper Killer Mike as well as other top influencers. Keyhone is continuously challenging and pushing that bar to make the culinary world a healthier and more inclusive place for more ethnic foods such as West African, Caribbean and Hispanic cuisine. His goal is simply to represent something bigger and spread prosperity to all.
La Tasha McCutchen
Chef La Tasha McCutchen, winner of "Hell’s Kitchen" season 13, is a proud native of Lake City, S.C. The 39-year-old former head chef of Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill in Atlantic City, N.J., is currently executive chef and owner of her own private chef catering business, Entertaining with Chef Tasha Mac. La Tasha recently joined the team at Northeastern Technical College in Cheraw, S.C., as their new Culinary Academic Program Director. In this new role, La Tasha will develop and design a culinary program that offers culinary accreditations for all high schools in the county, as well as develop a curriculum for culinary and baking and pastry certificate programs. La Tasha also serves as a brand ambassador for Fetzer Vineyards Wine Company, where she travels across the country, hosting food and wine pairing cooking demonstrations, promoting the "Hell’s Kitchen" featured wine, Casillero Del Diablo, at selected high-end venues. During her eight-year journey in South Florida, La Tasha began making an impact in the culinary industry. Her remarkable work ethic and passion to learn caught the eye of her mentors; Paula Da Silva, "Hell’s Kitchen" season 5 finalist, and Adrienne Grenier, Food Network's "Chopped" Champion. Under their leadership, La Tasha’s culinary journey continued to ignite as opportunities to work at the legendary James Beard House in New York City and invitations to participate in numerous Food and Wine festivals emerged. La Tasha, A.K.A “Chef Tasha Mac,” currently resides in Charlotte, N.C. After a brief term as executive sous chef at the 4 Star/ 4 Diamond Ballantyne Hotel, she returned to her private chef business to continue to make an impact within her community as well as traveling throughout the country to cook for elite clients.
Abby Streyle grew up in Marion, S.D., and graduated in 2012 from Marion High School. After high school, she went to South Dakota State University until December of 2015, when she began working at Meridian Corner as a server and bartender. Around six months later, Abby became the bar manager of Meridian Corner. In May, 2017 she took over managing the restaurant and kitchen. Meridian Corner was voted Best Small Town Chislic in the Sioux Empire by the Argus Leader in 2018, and the restaurant was one of the winners of USA Today's 10 Best Chislic in South Dakota soon after.
Michelle Huffman-Wells, a Chattanooga native, found her passion for food all across the nation, beginning with a great start in Nashville at Mere Bulle on Second Avenue. She worked with Jody Faison at Faison’s, and opened the famed Sunset Grille. Her travels then took her to Phoenix as executive chef of Sam’s Café, where she learned the true flavors of the American Southwest. While in Phoenix she rubbed elbows with the likes of Eddie Matney, Robert McGrath, and Alessandro Stratta. A trip to California landed her at Something Special Events and Catering, one of the largest caterers in the San Francisco Bay area, as director of operations. Her desire to cook as well as the pull of family ties drew her to return to Chattanooga 20 years ago, when she opened The Cupboard Restaurant on Market Street and started Events with Taste Catering. Now located in the South Broad business district, EWT has grown to offer full-service event production as well as award-winning high-end catering. Her innovative menus are handcrafted for all clients, large or small, using the freshest and finest local and organic ingredients when available. When not busy washing dishes at EWT, she enjoys time with her husband, Ted, and their dogs, Delta and General. One of her favorite quotes is “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” - Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright.
Cooking has been Kevin Bell’s passion since he was in high school, and he knew that it would take a lot of time and experience to reach his goals. Starting out as a dishwasher laid the humble path that Kevin took to get to where he is today, and that has fueled his desire to grow, train and mentor others on their culinary journey. Kevin graduated from the Art institute of Michigan with a degree in Culinary Arts and immediately began working at the Assaggi Bistro in downtown Ferndale, Mich. There he learned a fusion of rustic Italian and country French cuisine with a touch of Lebanese. From there, he began working for the Townsend hotel, a Forbes Magazine 4-Star rated hotel, which was listed one of the “500 World’s Best Hotels” by Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2011 with a AAA 4 Diamond rating. Life moved Kevin to Houston, Texas, and he found his current home at Spectrum Catering, Concession and Events. Kevin has been promoted three times to reach his current position as executive chef of Wicked Whist Catering, one of the custom catering divisions of Spectrum.
AJ Wentworth received his training to practice Holistic Health Counseling at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest nutrition school, which is the only nutrition school integrating all the different dietary theories — combining the knowledge of traditional philosophies with modern concepts like the USDA food pyramid, the glycemic index, the Zone diet and raw foods. AJ also received certification as a Live-Foods Instructor, which he earned after completing a hands-on educational apprenticeship at the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center. Known worldwide for its foundation in spirituality and living foods, the Tree of Life Rejuvenation center is a leading fasting, detoxification center, founded by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., a diplomat of the American Board of Holistic Medicine. At the Tree of Life, AJ developed an insatiable love of raw, vegan desserts. He had an especially strong attraction to raw cacao - the beginnings of all chocolate. This led him to develop his business, The Chocolate Conspiracy, where he manufactures chocolate with old traditions in a new way.
Originally from metro Detroit, but now living in Traverse City, Mich., Michelle Rodriguez owns her own company called Amor Comida, in which she is a personal chef and specializes in small catering. Passionate about the local food movement, Michelle is well-connected to farmers, tends to her own large vegetable garden, and spends a lot of time foraging, even with her 4-year-old daughter. While she didn't attend culinary school, Michelle has traveled Europe by herself, gaining a lot of inspiration from different cultures and has worked at or trained under some of the best chefs in the nation, including "Iron Chef"/"Top Chef" winner Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat in Chicago. Food is her passion and she is so excited to cook for the FN attendees!
Graduating in 2010 from Princeton Seminary with Dual Masters Degrees in Divinity and Education, Rachel Pemmington thought her next steps would be pursuing a PhD or entering the non-profit world. Having set her eyes and heart on Charlottesville, Va., she began the initial process of applying for a program or beginning a career. After turning down an opportunity in community organizing and being turned down by a university project management position, Craigslist came into play. She noticed a position for a "skilled baker" at a new restaurant opening on the Downtown Mall in the heart of C'ville. Having no reason whatsoever to be qualified for the position, she applied, interviewed, brought a peanut butter pie, and the rest is history. After spending three years of baking thousands of biscuits, hundreds of pans of honey cornbread, making gallons of bourbon vanilla ice cream, and a multitude of house desserts, the opportunity came to open a sister-inspired pie shop. The Pie Chest was born on 3.14.15 at 9:26am, on "pi" day. This little pie and coffee shop just off the Downtown Mall has become a safe and sacred space in the community, a gathering place for enjoyment and simplicity, a sense of home. Rachel has always viewed her buttermilk biscuit, made with Patrick Henry flour (locally milled in Ashland, Va.), as how she got her start in professional baking, and is excited to bring that biscuit to Flavored Nation!
Cooking alongside his grandmother sparked Patrick Nelson's early interest in food and culinary culture. Self-taught, he started making cuisine professionally at 15 and grew his career one restaurant after another. Patrick has a diverse culinary background that includes Middle Eastern, classic French, Caribbean, modern American, Greek, and hyper-local Pacific Northwest flavors and techniques. He has held almost every position imaginable in the industry, including executive chef, farmer, food/farm coordinator, food/beverage director, and owner. His approach to cuisine is hyper-local and ingredient-focused. His preference for wood-fire, old-world techniques and creative engineering over modern convenience suffuses each dish with authenticity and passion. Patrick co-owns and operates Crowsfeet Farmstead almost 30 miles north of Seattle, where he raises sheep and ducks and grows a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and other plants. They also hosts suppers and events featuring self-produced ingredients. Patrick also helps event organizers achieve their goals and dreams with Brown Paper Tickets, a ticketing and registration service.
Brittany Schwartz, 24, has been in the industry since she first started working. Her passion for cooking comes from her grandma as well as her heart. “I’ve always seen being given a task, or a challenge as if we were on a “Chopped” championship.” She says she is always learning something new. Her first jobs were in fast-casual kitchens., working as a server, kitchen crew, barback, bartender, manager, and then moving forward after schooling. Brittany attended college, learning more about business and advertising, and decided to pursue freelance advertising to help understand the industry a little bit further. Once she was confident in that area, Brittany emailed Chef James Rigato, who gave her an opportunity that she could never turn down. He told her to “laser light” and then gave her the opportunity to work under Brittany and Kristina Conger, some very highly trained and accredited chefs. Under their tutelage, Brittany learned many technical and useful skills and immersed herself in styles of cooking: Southern soul food, Japanese hibachi, dim sum and Ramen, barbecue of all types, pastries, laminate dough and Italian food. She specializes in making medicated edibles. After more than a year with the chefs, she took her skill sets and put them to the test on her own. Currently, Brittany is making a cookbook for her edibles and creations alike. She also will be telling more about her journey along the way of how she learned more about the science behind making edibles during her process. She says “since being a chef is a career I’ll always learn in, I’ll always love it. I hope my children love something as much as I do one day!” You can see her work on Google by searching HalfBakeds MediMenu. Her book will be coming soon. She says she wanted to work her way through the whole industry, which she feels she has accomplished. She has always known hard work pays off, ans says she has never wanted anything more than her own restaurant.
Jeff Reyengae & Aidan Gouran
Jeff Reyenga works at Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisc. He’s been there for five wonderfully eventful years. Jeff started making jams and pickles with his grandma pretty much as soon as he could talk, so cooking has always been a large part of his life. Aidan Gouran grew up in the heart of southwest Wisconsin’s cheese country. For the last six years he has called Milwaukee home and been in the industry for about the same. For the last two years he has proudly captained the Lakefront Brewery food truck. A practicing artist, he is most at home creating, anything from steel sculptures to leather goods. Sometimes he cooks. A native to Milwaukee, Wisc., Kristin Hueneke found her calling when she started making her friends dinner in her 20s because they missed scratch cooking. Inspired by their support, she headed to the back of the house and never looked back. She have 20-plus years of service-industry experience, and has been the executive chef at Lakefront Brewery since 2013. The restaurant is known for great beer, great tours and the best fried cheese curds and fish fry in town. A town where cheese curds and fish fry are on every menu, so that is quite an accomplishment! One of few female executive chefs to grace the city, she is proud to also be a mother of two young wild children.
Michelle Baynes's culinary career began early on, inspired by her grandmother Hazel's southern cooking and her love of spice and traditional Southern dishes. She has since cooked for artist and celebs including Maxwell, UB-40, Gladys Knight, and Anthony Hamilton under Chef Ryan Saltier and plans to open her own catering company in early 2020.
*Chefs subject to change.