Farina | Extra Virgin
Kansas City, MO
Chef Michael Smith developed a passion for cooking at an early age and honed his skills in Nice, France, and Chicago’s acclaimed Charlie Trotter’s, among other high profile cities and restaurants. In 1994, Smith assumed the helm of Kansas City’s revered The American Restaurant as Executive Chef and Corporate Chef. As one of Kansas City’s first James Beard Award-winning chefs and proprietor of popular Kansas City Crossroads Arts District restaurants — Michael Smith Restaurant and Extra Virgin and now Farina, which opened in February 2019 — Smith is regarded for his innovation, use of artisanal products, attention to detail and inspiration gained from world travel. Smith received a Menu Masters Chef Innovator of the Year Award and represents Kansas City and the Kansas City Chiefs for the Taste of the NFL. A culinary philanthropist, he generously gives back to the city that enthusiastically supports locally owned restaurants. Smith continues to elevate experiential dining in one of the country’s hottest food destinations and Farina continues his love affair with Modern Italian cuisine.
Cuisine Solutions CREA
Gerard Bertholon, chief strategy officer since 2012 joined Cuisine Solutions in 1989, as corporate chef. In 1999, he formed Fiveleaf, a concept that brought some of the world’s greatest chefs into people’s homes.
He was trained in his native France by three master chefs, including Alain Chapel who he cites as his greatest inspiration. Prior to joining Cuisine Solutions, Bertholon served as executive chef in top American and French restaurants, including La Panetière in Rye, NY, which he helped earn three stars from The New York Times. In 2012, he was named Maitre Cuisinier de France, one of the culinary world’s highest honors.
In 2013, Bertholon was named Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole Academie du Cuisine, by the French Ministry of Agriculture in and was inducted into the Académie Culinaire de France in 2014.
Sweet Magnolia Gelato
Hugh Balthrop is the founder and creative director of Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co. Hailing from Washington DC, where he owned and operated an art gallery, Hugh followed the love of his life to the Mississippi Delta in 2000.
He started making ice cream at home for friends and family and soon this labor of love progressed, spanning across the south. Hugh attended a course in ice cream making at Penn State University, studied under a gelato master, and researched and read every ice cream/gelato book that he could get his hands on. He uses traditional Italian techniques, flavor profiles and equipment and loves putting a Southern twist on many of his gelato and sorbet flavors. Sweet Magnolia Gelato can be found in more than 100 locations from Nashville, TN to Duluth, GA.
Loulay Kitchen & Bar | Luc
Chef Thierry Rautureau is the Chef/Owner of Luc and Loulay Kitchen and Bar in Seattle. Trademarked as “The Chef in the Hat,” Rautureau was born in the Muscadet region of France. His parents were farmers and the family cooked only what they grew. This has been his main influence for his local, seasonal and sustainable food style culture within his restaurants.
Chef in the Hat has won numerous awards and has been featured in many national shows such as Top Chef Masters and Top Chefs. You can hear him on “Seattle Kitchen Show” on KIRO 97.3 FM, alongside Chef Tom Douglas. When asked about his passion Chef in the Hat answers; “I love teaching people how easy cooking can be and how healthy your cuisine can become by simply being aware of what is in season locally.” Get your glass of wine ready and let’s start cooking!”
Chef Michael Kramer grew up surfing the California coast. He also became an amateur cyclist who was very disciplined and focused in his training. When Kramer moved into the culinary world he brought the same passion and focus to his work in the kitchen.
As a teenager, Chef Kramer got his first taste of the culinary world when he landed a job at a restaurant to pay for his surfing hobby. He didn’t choose to become a chef until college when he attended and graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
Chef Kramer spent his apprenticeship at La Folie restaurant under legendary French Chef Roland Passot where he learned essential cooking techniques, butchery, and, most importantly, seasoning. After graduation, he returned to his hometown to work at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Los Angeles.
From there, he moved to the famed Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas under celebrity chef Dean Fearing until he was recruited to be the Executive Chef at McCrady’s in Charleston, SC.
At McCrady’s, Chef Kramer’s work earned national acclaim, including the AAA 4-Diamond Award, inclusion as one of Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants” and Charleston Post and Courier’s “Restaurant of the Year.”
In 2007, Chef Kramer moved to Houston to take over as Executive Chef of Hotel Icon and the award-winning Voice Restaurant, again gaining national acclaim with numerous awards and accolades, including another coveted slot as one of Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants” and selection as one of Travel and Leisure Magazine’s “50 Best New Restaurants in America.”
In April 2013, Chef Kramer moved to Greenville, SC, to take a position with Table 301 Restaurant Group following his tenure as Executive Chef for the Compass Group in Houston. At Table 301, Chef Kramer works in culinary operations and helps execute strategies and new restaurant concepts for the company. Throughout 2016, he oversaw the development of the group’s modern Italian concept, Jianna, which opened in March 2017 which Chef Kramer at the helm.
Chef Kramer is asked regularly to participate at culinary events and festivals around the country. He has most recently been a guest chef in events such as Chefs & Champagne, Charleston Wine + Food Festival, Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, euphoria food, wine and music festival, the Kentucky Derby, the Cincinnati Food and Wine Festival, among many others.
At home in Greenville, he enjoys spending time with his son, Evan, as well as riding and racing bikes whenever possible.
Cotton Row | Pane E Vino | Commerce Kitchen
Galley and Garden
James Boyce launched his culinary career at New York’s venerable Le Cirque, where he worked for six years under the tutelage of Daniel Boulud. Boyce studied at the Culinary Institute of America and has worked at The Phoenician, Caesar’s Palace and Loew’s Coronado Bay Resort.
Boyce was tapped to be the anchor of Studio when it opened in 2003. After earning a second Mobil Five-Star award for Studio, he relocated his family to Huntsville, AL to begin new culinary endeavors with the development of his own company.
In 2008 he opened Cotton Row, in Downtown Historic Huntsville, and Pane e Vino Pizzeria. In December 2010, he opened Commerce Kitchen.
Jimmy is regularly featured on the Today show, in Martha Stewart Weddings, and on Martha Stewart Living Radio. He and his restaurants are also featured in highly acclaimed magazines from Cooking Light, and Food + Wine, to Men’s Health.
Knox Mason | Emilia
Knoxville native Matt Gallaher began his culinary career in his mother’s catering company and restaurant. He paid for college cooking at restaurants and earned a chemical engineering degree from the University of Tennessee. After college, he worked under Executive Chef John Fleer at Blackberry Farm.
Matt then cooked for Kings of Leon, Wilco, Eagles, Neil Young, and Keith Urban. After cooking across fourteen countries on four continents, Matt was called home to Tennessee to work as Executive Chef for Governor, Bill Haslam.
Matt opened Knox Mason in 2013, offering a contemporary twist on Appalachian cuisine, and Emilia, where Southern hospitality meets simple Italian cuisine, in 2016. The chef and restaurants have received accolades including: MetroPulse Best Chef Knoxville, StarChefs.com’s ‘Rising Star Chef Tennessee/Kentucky,’ Knoxville Mercury’s Top Chef, Travel Channel’s ‘Best Dinner’ in Knoxville and Travel + Leisure singled out Knox Mason as a ‘Highlight’ in their best brunch cities.
Spice Kitchen & Bar
A native Memphian, Chef Dallas graduated from Germantown High School and attended the University of Memphis to study graphic design. Fortunately for the restaurant industry, he decided to pursue a career as a chef, earning a Culinary Arts degree from The Restaurant School of Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA. While attending culinary school, Dallas interned at the Ritz Carlton but one his most influential culinary experiences was a tour of France with Chef Jean Marie Lacroix, the James Beard Award winning chef that made Fountain Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia and Lacroix at The Rittenhouse Hotel famous. Dallas toured the French countryside, Champagne, Burgundy, Beaune, and Paris with Lacroix, learning about wine making, cheese making, and charcuterie.
In 2002, Chef Dallas moved to Seattle and began working at The Herb Farm under another James Beard Award winner, Chef Jerry Traunfeld. In 2011, he returned to Memphis to take the coveted position of Head Chef at The Peabody’s “Chez Phillipe” alongside Executive Chef Andreas Kisler. Before moving to his current residence in Ohio, he was the Head (Executive) Chef at Interim.
In Cleveland, Chef Dallas joined The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, a Forbes Five-Star hotel that opened in 1924, as Chef Garde Manager and then Restaurant Chef under Chef Gavin Stephson. Later, he became Executive Chef at Sorrento Hotel, a boutique luxury hotel that opened in 1909. He currently is a Chef at the exclusive Spice Kitchen & Bar in Cleveland, Ohio.
New Orleans, LA
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.
A James Beard Rising Star Chef and Best Chef South winner, McPhail was named one of the best chefs in the country by TheDailyMeal.com, and as one of Saveur’s inaugural “Tastemaker Chefs”; he co-authored Commander’s Wild Side; and has served on the Nutrition Advisory Board for Cooking Light.
Etch | etc.
For more than thirty years, Deb Paquette has been a fixture in Nashville’s ever-growing food scene. As a trailblazing chef, dedicated mentor and community advocate, her adventurous cuisine and tenacious personality have made their mark on the Music City. Now chef-owner of Etch (downtown) and etc. (Green Hills), Paquette has won countless awards and accolades. From her time at the Culinary Institute of America to her 13-year run at Gourmet magazine “Top 60” winning Zola to today, diners have flocked to her big, bold flavors and return time and again for her next globally-inspired dish.
Nashville has been home to Paquette and her family for many years. After closing Zola and travelling to the beaches of Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Mexico, she was drawn back to the Music City to create Etch with her with 4Top Hospitality partners. Designed with her dream kitchen and every creative luxury, Paquette’s Etch opened in 2012 in the heart of downtown and was quickly embraced by locals and destination diners alike. Ranked #1 in the city by Zagat and with a long list of “best of” mentions, Etch endures as one of the essential restaurants of the Southern city.
Success led to a new concept in Nashville’s Green Hills neighborhood with the opening of etc. in 2016. A smaller, more intimate version of Etch, etc. boasted a swanky vibe with the signature bright flavors and layered dishes that made Paquette a household name. The heavily local crowd enjoys the addition of culinary-minded cocktails, a thoughtful wine and beer menu, and an intriguing brunch menu at the fresh suburban venue.
NICO Oysters & Seafood
Born in Lyon, France, Chef Nico Romo is the youngest-ever US member of The French Culinary Academy (l’Académie Culinaire de France) and Master Chefs of France (Maîtres Cuisiniers de France), one of just 66 French Master Chefs in the country, and the only recipient in South Carolina. Both elite organizations represent and comprise the most highly skilled chefs in the techniques and traditions of the French culinary art.
Chef Romo graduated from the Helene Boucher Culinary Art School in Vénissieux at age 19 and perfected his skill under French Master Chef Patrick Henriroux at the dual-Michelin Starred restaurant La Pyramide in Vienne, France.
Chef Romo spent a decade directing Patrick Properties Hospitality Group’s culinary programs and helmed the kitchen at Fish Restaurant. During that time, he was named a Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Ambassador and member of the Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force recognizing his commitment to ocean-friendly seafood and Lowcountry fishermen.
Chef Romo now brings his European training and appreciation for locally sourced ingredients to his own concept, NICO, which opened in the fall of 2017.
Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Born and educated in France, Frederic Morineau is the Executive Chef of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and has presided in the kitchens of some of Europe and the Caribbean’s finest four and five star dining establishments. He has overseen many Ritz-Carlton premium culinary divisions including those of The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead in Atlanta, The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota in Florida and now in Grand Cayman, where he has won numerous service and leadership accolades. In 2011 he was invited into the ranks of one of the most prestigious associations of chefs in the world: the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France. He is only the second Maître Cuisinier presently working in the Caribbean. Chef Frederic is known for organizing Grand Cayman’s most revered culinary event, Cayman Cookout, for the past ten years alongside Chef Eric Ripert. In addition to organizing this annual event, Chef Frederic ensures each of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s restaurants run smoothly and continuously strives to keep the culinary capital of the Caribbean alive.
Director of Food & Beverage - Restaurants and Culinary
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
One of only 350 Master French Chefs in the world, Jonathan Jerusalmy has worked and traveled around the globe. With 19 years of experience in the kitchen, Jerusalmy has climbed the epicurean ladder, with a Bachelor of Arts in food service, wine technology and hospitality management in 1997 from the Institute Technique des Métiers de L’Alimentation in Tournai, Belgium. Early in his career, he completed several prominent internships at Michelin-rated restaurants in France, studying under Master Chef of France Paul Bocuse and Chef Gerard Boyer. Prior to joining Sea Island, Jerusalmy served as the Executive Chef at St. Regis Atlanta.
His eclectic background includes stints as Executive Sous Chef of St. Regis Monarch Beach in California, Executive Banquet Chef and Executive Sous Chef at Loews Miami Beach Hotel in Florida, and Chef de Partie at Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys. As Resort Executive Chef and Director of Culinary at Sea Island, Jerusalmy is responsible for overseeing the concept and design of restaurant menus, hiring and development of restaurant staff, and ensuring that performance in all venues are consistent with Sea Island’s dedication to genuine hospitality and true five-star service.
Chef Jose Salazar was born in Colombia South America and was raised in Queens NY. Chef Salazar got his start in restaurants as a bartender and waiter at some of New York’s hottest establishments- among them, Donatella Arpia’s Bellini restaurant. Although the front of the house is where he started, it was the kitchen that really caught his eye. This prompted him to enroll in to the culinary program at the New York Restaurant School. Upon graduating in 2001 he landed an internship with famed Chef Jean George Vongerichten at his name sake restaurant; Jean George. After completing the internship, he went on to work with some of New York’s most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs, including Geoffrey Zacharian of Town, Josh De’ Chellis of Sumile, and Eric and Bruce Bromberg of Blue Ribbon. However it was Jose’s four years working with Chef Thomas Keller that made the most palpable impression on his cooking philosophies. In 2003 Jose was hired as chef de partie to be a part of the opening staff of the highly acclaimed Per-Se restaurant. Then in 2006 he was instrumental in the opening of another of Chef Keller’s projects; Bouchon Bakery, where he became the Executive Sous-Chef.
In 2008, Chef Salazar took his knowledge and experience to Cincinnati Ohio, where he was tapped to be the Executive Chef of The historical Cincinnatian Hotel and Palace restaurant. It’s there that Jose was able to hone his style of cooking, incorporating the ingredients and techniques of the Americas, Europe and Japan. Since his arrival to the Queen city, Jose has received many favorable reviews, including 5 stars (the highest rating) from Polly Campbell of The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’s also garnered national attention- In 2011 Food and Wine magazine awarded him the title of people’s choice “Best New Chef”.
In December of 2013 Chef Salazar and his wife Ann opened Salazar, their much anticipated restaurant in the Over the Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. Immediately after opening it was clear that Salazar was going to be a hit. Their modern bistro is packed nightly with diners eating foods such as duck rillettes, fried oyster sliders, and “everything Salmon”. This little forty five seater, is often considered among the best that Cincinnati has to offer.
In 2015 Jose and Ann opened Mita’s, a 135 seat restaurant located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. This restaurant features the food and drinks of Spain and Latin America with a formal, but laid back design. In just a short three years, Mita’s has already set it’s self apart with wonderful food, service and ambiance. Jose and Mita’s have received many local and national accolades, most notably nominations from the James Beard Foundation in 2016, 17’ ,18 and 19’ for best Chef, Great Lakes.
Ken Vedrinski is executive chef, owner and sommelier of his all Italian seafood restaurant that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, Coda del Pesce as well as his charming downtown Charleston restaurant, Trattoria Lucca, both recently ranked among Charleston’s Best Restaurants by Zagat.
Moving deftly through an award-winning career spanning decades, and a variety of haute cuisine styles, Chef Ken Vedrinski found his passion and heritage in Italian fare. A three time James Beard Award semi-finalist, he found his “place” in Charleston, a coastal city rich with fresh bounty from the land and sea, and a long way from land-locked Columbus, Ohio where he was born.
Vedrinski grew up cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen under her passion-infused, Italian-influenced tutelage. He was an eager student with such fervor for food that it led to his degree in restaurant management from Columbus College and a three-year apprenticeship under Certified Master Chef Hartmut Handke. His lifelong passion and career was ignited. Years later, Vedrinski was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University.
His first role as an executive chef was at the acclaimed Opus Restaurant in the former Swissôtel Atlanta, where his talent was quickly lauded when Opus was named “One of the Best New Restaurants in America (1991),” by Esquire Magazine. Chef Vedrinski was an early adopter to the practice and promotion of farm to table freshness as he heralded Georgia homegrown foods, landing him a spot on The Today Show.
Vedrinski also served as executive chef at The Restaurant at Woodlands Inn & Resort where he earned the only Mobile Five-Stars awarded to a South Carolina restaurant. In 2002, the restaurant received the only perfect food score in North America by Condé Nast Traveler.
Vedrinski then moved to Daniel Island, a suburb of Charleston, where he co-owned and operated Sienna Restaurant, his first professional commitment to exclusively Italian cuisine. Once again, Esquire Magazine took notice with yet another, “One of the Best New American Restaurants (2004),” designations. (“Were I award points in this annual restaurant survey, only Sienna would get a ten solely for its cooking.” John Mariani, Esquire Magazine)
Embracing his culinary heritage, Vedrinski embarked on food-fueled expeditions to Italy in search of the most authentic ingredients, olive oils and wines. His journeys took him to Lucca in Western Tuscany, which he claims to be the home of “the best olive oil in the world.” Inspired by the beloved olive oil and his love for the region, Vedrinski opened Trattoria Lucca in 2008, acting as sole owner, executive chef and sommelier of the charming Italian restaurant.
The downtown Charleston restaurant was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant, and Vedrinski was also recognized as a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast. With a devoted local following and industry acclaim, Ken Vedrinski, Trattoria Lucca and Coda del Pesce are redefining Italian cuisine in the Lowcountry. Ken aired on an episode of “Beat Bobby Flay” on the Food Network and beat Bobby with his signature gnudi.
Entirely self-taught, Michelin Starred chef Ken Frank first achieved national acclaim at age 21 at La Guillotine in Los Angeles. In 1979, he opened the first La Toque on the Sunset Strip. After a 14-year run, Frank sold the restaurant and in 1995 opened the award-winning Fenix at the Argyle.
In 1998, the second incarnation of La Toque made its debut in Rutherford, California. La Toque was awarded a Michelin Star in 2007, the first year the organization published a San Francisco Bay Area guide.
In 2008, Frank moved the restaurant to The Westin Verasa Napa. La Toque has continued to be well-received by the nation’s top critics and reviewers. In October 2009 the restaurant was honored again with a Michelin Star, which it still retains today. Most recently in mid-2014, La Toque received Wine Spectator’s Grand Award, the highest honor for a restaurant’s wine list.
Chef Deshaies grew up in a family-run restaurant in Loire Valley of France. After completing his apprenticeship in Normandy at "La Forge"( 1 Micheling Star), Chef Deshaies worked at acclaimed restaurant "Le Pralong" (4-Star International Relais & Chateaux, in France). He Moved to Spain to work at Restaurant Ses Rotges (1 Michelin Star), and then returned home under Jean Michel Lorain at La Cote Saint Jacques (3 Michelin Stars, in Burgundy, France)
Chef Deshaies moved to the United States in 2001, joining Michelle Richard at the acclaimed 4-Start Michel Richard Citronelle in Washington, DC, and quickly rose through the ranks to spend eight years as the Executive Chef of Citronelle. As the company expanded, chef Deshaies became Corporate Chef of Michel Richard's Restaurants in Washington DC, Las Vegas and New York City. In late 2017 he opened his new restaurant, "Unconventional Diner" where he spends more of his time creating these amazing dishes that well belong in a high end dining room, Unconventional Diner is getting recognition by many in Washington DC, including The Washingtonians Top 100 Restaurants and The Michelin Guide.
River Oaks Restaurant
Master 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.
Chef Wally Joe was born in Hong Kong and raised in Cleveland, Mississippi. Wally studied banking and finance at the University of Mississippi but was ultimately drawn back to a career in the kitchen as chef de cuisine at KC’s, his family’s restaurant in Cleveland, where his attention to detail and obsessive quest for quality garnered rave reviews. KC’s is the only AAA 4-Diamond Award winning restaurant in the state of Mississippi.
Wally has been featured in Food Arts, Southern Living, Bon Appétit, Esquire, Indulge, USA Today and Chef. He is one of 20 chefs featured in the Discovery Channel series, “Great Chefs of the South.”
In 2002, he opened the now defunct Wally Joe Restaurant with numerous accolades. In 2011, Wally Joe and Andrew Adams opened Acre which has continuously been viewed as one of the top restaurants in Memphis.
For many chefs, the jump into the culinary professions comes as a second career – often by accident. But Chef Andrew Adams saw chef whites in his future from a least age 8, when he told his dad on video that he was going to be a chef when he grew up.
Andrew started as an apprentice at the nationally renowned KC’s restaurant in Cleveland, MS. He graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
Andrew worked at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans then took a position at a Relais & Chateaux property in Whitehouse, NJ. Andrew returned home in 2002 to help Wally open his eponymous restaurant as Chef de Cuisine.
In 2011, Andrew collaborated with Wally to open ACRE in Memphis, TN.
The Peabody Hotel
Five-Star Chef Andreas Kisler brings a passion for innovative, creative cooking as well as European grace and style to the “South’s Grand Hotel” and its signature fine dining restaurant Chez Philippe.
Chef Kisler, a native of Austria, began his career at the age of 15 through an apprenticeship at the Palais Schwarzenberg Hotel in Vienna, Austria. In 1980, he went to Paris to work as a student chef at La Maree Restaurant where he earned special honors for his workmanship. Upon returning to Vienna in 1981, Chef Kisler became a sous chef at the Hotel Sacher.
His childhood dream of going to America came true in 1982, when he took the helm of the Vienna 79 Restaurant in New York as executive chef. By 1984, he was voted one of the 13 Best Chefs in New York, and participated in a segment for PBS Television’s “Master Chefs of New York” series.
His drive led him to write a cookbook, Viennese Cuisine: The New Approach (Doubleday, N.Y.), which spent time on The New York Times best-seller list in 1987.
In 1986 Chef Kisler moved to California to serve as executive chef of Barnaby’s Hotel in Manhattan Beach, then to La Loggia, Beau Rivage, Wyndham Checkers Hotel and the new Chasen’s in Beverly Hills. In 2000 he made a career move to Memphis, Tennessee, to head The Peabody’s food operation as the executive chef.
Chef Kisler has been honored with the Four-Star Circle of Fame from the California Restaurant Writers Association. He has appeared on KBU Malibu TV, KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, The Food Network’s “Dining Around,” the “James Beard House,” CNN’s “On The Menu,” and has been featured in numerous publications such as Gourmet, which voted Checkers Restaurant in the Top 20 Best Restaurants in L.A., Food Arts Magazine, USA Today, Art Culinaire, and Buzz Magazine.
He supports the Culinary Institute, where he seeks students with a passion for food. He was hand-picked by Wolfgang Puck to appear at the “Spirit Event” for the American Cancer Society.
Chef Kisler was awarded the Five Star Diamond Award from the Academy of Hospitality Sciences. He is a current member of the AIWF (American Institute of Wine and Food). He is also a member of the James Beard Foundation and has cooked at the James Beard House twice, including in 2008 when he led a culinary team from The Peabody Memphis.
In 2019, Kisler was named Chef of the Year by the Memphis Restaurant Association.
The Peabody Hotel
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.
Erling Jensen, The Restaurant
Chef Erling Jensen was born in Frederikshavn, Denmark, and started cooking at the tender age of 14. He has cooked in Washington, DC, Miami, and Memphis where he was hired over the telephone after calling from an ad in the New York Times.
Under Jensen’s hand, La Tourelle was voted Memphis’s “Best French Restaurant” several years in a row.
In 1996 Jensen opened his eponymous, award-winning Erling Jensen, The Restaurant, named Best Restaurant in Memphis several years in a row. Chef Jensen has been featured in Food & Wine, Southern Living, and Virtual Gourmet. Erling has been invited and has cooked twice at the James Beard House and in 2000 was named "Distinguished Restauranteur of the Year" by the Memphis Restaurant Association.
The Majestic Grille
A native of Dublin, Ireland Chef Patrick Reilly apprenticed at the executive dining room of the Guinness Brewery before embarking upon a culinary career that has taken him to New York, Boston, Orlando, and the Michelin Starred Inigo Jones of London. Dedication to approachable, classic food and a culture of gracious hospitality keep earning The Majestic Grille and Chef Reilly recognition, including multiple Best Chef and Best Restaurant nods from Memphis Magazine and Memphis Flyer and a 2012 Congressional Proclamation issued by Congressman Steve Cohen honoring Chef Reilly’s leadership in the culinary and business communities of Memphis.
In addition to the restaurant’s involvement with the arts community, Patrick is Immediate Past-President of The Memphis Restaurant Association, and has sat on the Boards of the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association and the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. He is active in The New Memphis Institute, The Blues Foundation, The Memphis Farmers Market, the Downtown Memphis Commission and is a founding member of Downtown Dining Week.
Patrick is a sought after figure head in the Memphis Culinary & Business Community and can often be found sharing his vast knowledge and expressing his love of Memphis as a consultant and confidant on upcoming projects, in speeches to local trade organizations and community groups, and in interviews on local, national and international media outlets.
Alongside his wife and partner, Deni, herself a hospitality veteran and community leader currently serving on several boards including the Downtown Memphis Commission, Patrick is dedicated to spreading the gospel of Memphis food and the two take every opportunity to shine the spotlight on the City of Good Abode’s exceptional culinary offerings. Together they spearheaded an effort to revamp the Commercial Appeal’s food section, served as advisers for the American Association of Food Journalists Annual Convention in Memphis, and were honored to organize a group of distinguished local chefs in preparing a Memphis themed Dinner at the James Beard House in Spring 2014.
Voted “Restaurateur of the Year” in 2010 by Memphis Restaurant Association, Ben Smith is the owner and executive chef of the award-winning restaurant Tsunami. Born and raised in Memphis, Ben is well known for an innovative culinary style influenced by his extensive travels in the Pacific Rim.
Ben graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and has cooked in San Francisco, Tahiti, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii.
Ben opened Tsunami in 1998. Tsunami was voted Best New Restaurant in 1998 and has been included in the Best Seafood category in Memphis Magazine and Memphis Flyer reader polls every year since its inception, with other categories of recognition including Best Restaurant, Best Chef, and Most Creative Menu. Ben is the author of the Tsunami Cookbook and served as a full-time Chef Instructor at L’Ecole Culinaire from 2010 to 2012.
Chef Ben Smith is a great supporter of the importance of seafood nutrition. Ben was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. His love of seafood and the concept for his Tsunami Restaurant came from time in Australia, Hawaii, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Tahiti, and San Francisco, California.
His time at the Lodge at Koele in Lanai opened his eyes to the vast bounty of the Pacific Region, where he was exposed to a greater variety of seafood than ever before. It was in Hawaii where he first began to form his concept for Tsunami Restaurant. Tsunami has been voted Best New Restaurant, Best Seafood, and Most Creative Menu by Memphis magazine. He resides in Memphis, TN with his wife and three kids.
Nextdoor | Sunrise Memphis | 117 Prime | Sweet Grass | 3rd & Court
Chef Ryan Trimm was in born in Pittsburgh, PA and spent the majority of his early childhood in Southern California. He moved to Memphis at the age of twelve and stayed here through graduation from Christian Brothers High School in 1998.
Ryan went on to study English and Business at Ole Miss. During college he discovered his love for cooking. He worked in his first fine dining restaurant the summer after his freshman year. Ryan worked at The Carlton Restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoyed the summer so much that he started working for a new restaurant in Oxford, 208 South Lamar.
Upon graduation Ryan moved to Charleston, South Carolina where he attended Johnson and Wales University and more importantly found a job working under Chef Frank Lee at Slightly North of Broad. He considers his years spent at S.N.O.B. the most influential in his career, crediting Lee’s direction as the basis for his broad kitchen skills and development of his palate.
Ryan moved back to Memphis in 2005 and started working at the Grove Grill. He spent over four years there as the Chef de Cuisine, until he opened Sweet Grass in April 2010. The following year they opened Sweet Grass Next Door, a casual sports restaurant and bar. In the two years that it has been open, Sweet Grass has won such accolades as Best New Restaurant and Best Bar in multiple Memphis publications. In addition, Ryan was nominated for Food and Wine’s Peoples’ Best New Chef 2011.
Ryan has been invited to cook in several festivals and showcases from Portland to Boston. And in 2014, Ryan was asked to participate in a Friends of James Beard benefit dinner with seven other local chefs; they prepared a six-course “Made in Memphis” dinner at the exalted James Beard House New York City.
In 2017, Ryan Trimm partnered with Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp of Central BBQ to open Sunrise Memphis, an eclectic diner specializing in classic breakfast favorites and house prepared artisan meats.
The trio recently opened 117 Prime to recreate the traditional American steakhouse. The goal is to provide above the bar cuisine with an approachable atmosphere. It was important to the Across the Board Hospitality Group to bring you all of the classic favorites prepared with love and Southern charm that they have become known for.
Jonathan Magallanes grew up in Memphis and Mexico City, spending time in both cities through his formative years. He is a self-taught chef, learning technique and recipes from his father, and from extensive international travel and self study. His passion is for fresh, bright, colorful food with big flavors and meticulous presentation. He is the owner of Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana and proud to be part of the Memphis Food and Wine Festival.
Frost Bake Shop
Frost Bake Shop is a “real” bakery in the old-fashioned sense of the word. No commercial cake mixes, frostings from a bucket or any of the other pre-formulated products that allow almost anyone to produce baked goods. Rather, unique, proprietary recipes combined with high-quality raw ingredients create desserts that customers find irresistible.
Started in 2004 as All American Sweets, the company’s early sales were to restaurants and delis in the Memphis area. Customers quickly noticed the unrivaled product quality and the company became the primary cake supplier to food and beverage locations throughout the city. In 2013 the company opened its first retail location in East Memphis, and will soon add a second in Collierville.
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.
Bounty on Broad
Russell Casey started working in kitchens as a dishwasher at the age of 14. After bussing tables through high school, he quickly realized that the back of the house was where he wanted to be. After working in the industry through college, he continued to pursue his passion for cooking around the country. He cooked in New Orleans and dedicated more than a decade learning from the best chefs. Leadership, fairness, and passion continue to drive Russell forward. “There is always something to learn and success does not come with one good service. It comes with a lifetime of good services.”
Phillip Ashley Rix
Phillip Ashley Chocolates
Designer chocolatier Phillip Ashley Rix has developed an international following for his wildly imaginative chocolates.
High profile clients such as FedEx, Disney, Stevie Wonder and other A list celebrities select the brand for gifts, events and personal treats. His designer chocolates are also sold by national luxury retailers: Neiman Marcus and Horchow.
Phillip Ashley Rix is a rising star in the luxury chocolate and culinary world. He has been named one of the Best Chocolatiers and Confectioners in America by TasteTV. He became FORBES Magazine’s “Real Life Willy Wonka” and Local Palate’s “Memphis King of Chocolate.” The self taught chocolatier hosted the Taste of the Delta at The James Beard House in New York City. Additionally, Phillip Ashley Chocolates were the official chocolate of the 2016 GRAMMYs Celebration® and 2016 OSCARS SALUTE®.
Lucky Cat Ramen
Chef Zach Nicholson credits his love of quality food to former mentor Chef Erling Jensen. After 10 years working alongside the esteemed chef, Nicholson left Memphis to study at restaurants in upstate New York and later Austin, Texas. While in Austin, he discovered the art of Japanese cuisine - most specifically the broad variety of ways to prepare and expand upon the American perception of ramen noodles. He brought his newfound passion for ramen back to Memphis where he developed Lucky Cat Ramen which has quickly become a much-beloved Memphis favorite.
Bringing his eye for innovation, appetite for adventure and more than a decade of restaurant industry experience, Nick Scott serves as Owner/Executive Chef at Alchemy Restaurant & Craft Cocktail Bar in Memphis, Tennessee.
A Tennessee native, Scott moved to Memphis in 1997 and soon became an active part of the local culinary scene. Prior to Purchasing Alchemy in April 2016, he held the position of Executive Chef at Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar. He also served as chef-partner at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and executive chef at Bluefin Edge Cuisine & Sushi Lounge. During his tenure at Bluefin, the restaurant was awarded “Best Japanese” and “Best Sushi” by Memphis Flyer and Memphis magazine. Scott also honed his international culinary skills at Memphis’ Do Sushi Lounge, Stella Restaurant and Wally Joe Restaurant.
Scott’s passion for the restaurant industry began while working as a dish washer at the age of 15. From there, he continued building his cooking repertoire, even traveling to Japan, where he developed his affinity for global cuisine. Driven by creativity and industry trends, Scott aims to deliver a unique culinary experience with each dish he creates.
Born and raised in France, Franck has been working in classic French pâtisserie with Master Chefs since he was 15 years old. Franck has cultivated a rich passion for sharing the culinary arts — by teaching others — as well as producing refined and balanced products. In 2006 Franck became the Executive Chef de Pâtisserie with a Master Chocolatier at one of the popular pâtisseries in the Jura region of France, Aux Plaisirs Sucrés. In 2014, Franck moved to America, following the love of his life, an American who taught English in France and volunteered at the pâtisserie. Franck is the executive Pastry Chef at Interim where the importance of producing high quality dishes that appeal to all of the senses is emphasized.
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.
Born and raised in Tampa, FL, Chef Dave Krog discovered his love of cooking at an early age. Living with his grandmother, who was diabetic, David began to cook healthy meals for her and soon decided he wanted to become a Chef. After moving to Memphis, TN, at the age of 18, he worked in several different kitchens before enrolling in Memphis Culinary Academy. He then began an apprenticeship under Lynn Kennedy at La Tourelle. Following his apprenticeship, he became Sous Chef of La Tourelle and went on to be the Executive Chef at Madidi, owned by Actor Morgan Freeman and Attorney Bill Luckett, in Clarksdale, MS.
Returning to Tennessee in 2005, David has held positions at Bari, The Tennessean, Erling Jensen's The Restaurant, Terrace at River Inn, and as Executive Chef at Interim Restaurant & Bar. He considers himself a Neo Traditionalist, with an emphasis on using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. Krog has been the recipient of several awards, such as the Great Southern Food Festival Best New National Chef 2001, and the United Cerebral Palsy Silver Spatula Award for Best Appetizer, and has also been featured in Southern Living Magazine, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, At Home Tennessean, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Flyer, 4Memphis Magazine, New York Magazine and on Food Network's Best Of and was recognized by the Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management for Outstanding Service.
With a heavy heart, he left Interim to devote his time to opening his own restaurant. While in pursuit of his dream and working as a private chef in many of your homes, the idea for his pop-up, Gallery, was born. Krog’s pop-up has gained a national following, and has been a growing food destination. David will open Dory, his highly anticipated restaurant, with his wife, Amanda, in the fall of 2019.
Chef David Todd is the Executive Chef of Interim Restaurant and Bar, which has been an East Memphis staple for over 10 years. He enjoys using fresh, local ingredients in creative ways... but feels the ingredients and flavors should always drive the cuisine and speak for themselves. Chef Todd was born and raised in Memphis, and has been working in the local restaurant community for over 22 years.
P.O. Press Public House & Provisions
Formally trained at the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales in Charleston, South Carolina, Gentry began his career in Memphis, Tennessee. He defined his skills at area restaurants and accepted the position of Executive Chef for Erling Jensen: The Restaurant.
During his six year tenure, Chef Gentry led the kitchen to six consecutive “Best Restaurant” awards from publications such as Memphis, Memphis Flyer and the Commercial Appeal. These awards propelled the restaurant to present their cuisine at the renowned James Beard House in New York City.
Gentry then moved to the Grand Casino Resort for a position as Chef de Cuisine at LB’s, the fine dining restaurant in the resort. For two years during Gentry’s reign, the restaurant gained notoriety in DiRONA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) winning the Wine Spectator Award.
Gentry was promoted to Chef de Cuisine over a family of nine restaurants at both the Horseshoe and Sheraton Casinos. In late 2007, Gentry decided to focus all his efforts on opening the Magnolia: A Delta Grille, inside Horseshoe Casino and Hotel, where his culinary vision of incorporating modern flare into meals reminiscent of the Mid-South Delta region.
As he worked with the kitchen staff, Gentry began to focus on training and development. This led him to his position at L’Ecole Culinaire in Memphis, Tennessee. As a Chef Instructor, he has implemented his creativity and skill set to the next generation of chefs by teaching such courses application of techniques ranging from classic French to contemporary concepts of modern gastronomy and Restaurant Operations. Chef Gentry assisted in the development and design of L’École’s Presentation Room Restaurant. His skills have been presented most recently at P.O.Press Public House & Provisions, in Collierville TN, a Chef & Sommelier driven dining experience. Featuring modern techniques and fresh locally sourced ingredients, Chef Gentry creates New American cuisine that takes into account our vast blended culture.
Restaurant Iris | The Second Line
Kelly cooks at Restaurant Iris and The Second Line in Memphis, TN and Magnolia House in Biloxi, MS. He really likes doing that and wouldn't want to do anything else. Sometimes people say nice things about him and his food and they occasionally print it in magazines, like Food & Wine when they named him a Best New Chef.
Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous
Nick Vergos carries on the tradition started by his father at the iconic Rendezvous in Memphis. In a basement restaurant that began in 1948, the Rendezvous has been serving pork ribs — with a vinegar wash – spiced with dry rub, based on a Vergos’ family Greek chili recipe.
Nick loves carrying on his father’s traditions. He is considered the best cook in the family and has been honored to cook at the James Beard House, twice.