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Celebrity Chefs' Dinner #1: October 4, 2018  

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On Thursday, October 4, 2018 food and wine enthusiasts from around the city filled the dining room at River Oaks for the first of four sold-out Memphis Food & Wine Festival Celebrity Chefs’ Dinners.

Host Chef José Gutierrez shared his kitchen with Guest Chef Tory McPhail (Commander’s Palace, New Orleans) and local chefs Konrad Spitzbart, Chad Getchel, and Valarie Hall for this special culinary collaboration. The menu included Mini Lobster Burgers with Carrot Ketchup, Sugarcane and Cayenne Caramel Lacquered Quail with Fois Gras and Black Truffle Stuffed Boudin Blanc, and Waygu Short Ribs over Creamy Polenta.

Guest enjoyed each course paired with a special King Estate wine accompanied by the smooth sounds of Amy LaVere featuring Will Sexton. Special thanks to our generous sponsors Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Tennessee, David & Sandy Benson, and Dan & Chris Patterson.

MFWF continues to support FedExFamilyHouse with each Celebrity Chefs’ Dinner as well as our main Memphis Food & Wine Festival - Saturday, October 12, 2019 at Memphis Botanic Garden

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Featured Celebrity Guest Chef

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Tory McPhail

Executive Chef  

Commander's Palace | New Orleans

Tory McPhail hails from Ferndale, WA. McPhail attended Seattle Community College and received an ACF-accredited degree in culinary science. Compelled by New Orlean’s history, soul, and Mardi Gras, at just 19, he was hired by Commander’s Palace. He worked diligently through all 12 stations of the kitchen, honing his craft.

McPhail later worked at several culinary hot spots in Palm Beach, the Virgin Islands, Michelin-starred L’Escargot in London and the Michelin two-star Picasso Room.

In 2000, McPhail returned to the Commander’s family as executive sous chef at Commander’s Palace Las Vegas. He returned to the original Commander’s Palace as executive chef in 2002.

"Last year was our first opportunity to travel to Memphis and get to know all the amazing people surrounding the Memphis Food & Wine Festival. Our experience with everyone in your hospitality community, the breathtaking venues and cordial locals made for an amazing fall weekend in the South. We can't wait to return and do it all again" 



Host Chef

José Gutierrez

Executive Chef | River Oaks

Chef José Gutierrez’s exceptional culinary creativity can be traced to his French heritage with Spanish roots and Southern influences. Chef José has been a Memphis resident for more than 30 years and hence, is a true Southerner. José studied at the Professional Culinary School in Manosque, France, worked under the direction of several esteemed chefs, and then trained with the celebrated chef Paul Bocuse, creator of Nouvelle Cuisine.

José then move to Houston to serve as chef de cuisine at Restaurant de France at the Meridien Hotel. In 1982, he began what turned out to be a distinguished, unparalleled 22-year career at the Peabody Hotel’s Chez Phillipe.

In 2005, chef José opened Encore Restaurant and Bar. Five years later he joined River Oaks restaurant, which he and his wife, Colleen, now own. Chef José has expertly guided River Oaks to its status today as one of Memphis’ premier eateries. Chef José is one of only 66 Master Chefs in the country.

In addition to Food & Wine’s Best New Chef award in 1990, Chef Jose received the Master Chef of the Year designation in 2011 and Chef of the Century by the American Academy of Hospitality and Sciences in 1998.


Local Chefs

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Konrad Spitzbart – Executive Pastry Chef, The Peabody

Originally from Austria, Chef Konrad comes to Memphis by way of a string of 5-star pastry kitchens in Mackinac Island, Detroit, Beverly Hills, and Memphis.

In 2009, he led a pastry team from The Peabody that competed in “Food Network Challenge: Giant Gingerbread Houses,” and won.

Today, Chef Konrad still relies on the basics he learned early on. “The fundamentals are most important,” he says. “Everything, even the latest pastry trends, comes from the basics. Everything new is derived from something else.” Even peanut butter and banana Elvis cakes.


Chad Getchel – Chef de Cuisine, River Oaks

Chef Chad Getchel has been a vital member of the River Oaks family since 2012.  He began cooking in Lansing, Michigan at age 16. After high school Chad pursued a career in music all the while working in restaurants and building his training in cuisines ranging from Greek to Japanese, American and Italian.

In 2008 Getchel left the music scene and devoted 100% of his time to cooking. He attended Sullivan University in Lexington, Kentucky where he applied his creativity and passion to all things food and received an Associate degree in Culinary Arts.

Upon moving to Memphis in May 2012, Getchel joined the team at River Oaks, working alongside Master Chef Jose Gutierrez.  Within a year, he was promoted to Sous Chef where he was able to let his creativity flourish creating weekly specials. In June 2016, Getchel was made Chef De Cuisine at River Oaks and now manages all daily kitchen operations with a staff of 15 members.  He develops new menu ideas and specials while procuring the freshest and finest of ingredients. 


Valarie Hall –  Executive Chef, Ridgeway Country Club

Valarie Hall’s culinary interest was sparked as a child following her father around the kitchens of prestigious hotels like the Boca Raton Resort and Club and Atlantic City's Taj Mahal. In her teens she worked in her family's restaurants in Delray beach and Boca Raton. At 18 she relocated to Hollywood where she spent seven years at the five-star, five-diamond Four Seasons Beverly Hills Hotel. She then moved to northern California to the world famous Pebble Beach Resorts.

While at Spanish Bay she teamed up with Chef Arturo Moscoso of Peppoli restaurant. During her eight years with Arturo she developed a passion for Italian cuisine. Moving back to Memphis as the Executive Sous Chef at Ridgeway Country Club and was promoted to Executive Chef 16 months later. At RCC she creates classic southern comfort dishes for the membership using the finest local products, along with the freshest seafood from Hawaii to the Caribbean, and quality steaks from Chicago to New York.



Featuring the Wines of

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Sponsored By

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David and Sandy Benson

Dan and Chris Patterson