Meet our Chef Advocates

  • David Guas
    David Guas
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    David Guas

    David Guas

    New Orleans-born TV personality and chef, David Guas, is widely familiar from his frequent appearances on “The Today Show,” and his role as host and co-judge of Travel Channel’s summer competition series, “American Grilled.” With no battle for attention, Guas has garnered national praise in publications like Food & Wine, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, Saveur and Bon Appétit for showcasing the soul of the South in his sinfully delicious, Louisiana-style favorites and signature desserts at his neighborhood spot in Arlington, Virginia, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery. And his second Eatery opened at Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, occupying an historic Carriage House on Washington’s Capitol Hill commissioned by President Abraham Lincoln. Not with a moment to spare, Guas just completed his second cookbook with Oxmoor House, Grill Nation: 200 Surefire Recipes, Tips, and Techniques to Grill like a Pro, released April 2015. His first cookbook, DamGoodSweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, New Orleans Style [Taunton Press 2009] was a James Beard Award finalist and was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Dessert Cookbooks.” This hunting, fishing, Harley-riding chef, and father of two sons, is a long-term member of Southern Foodways Alliance; Slow Food USA; Share Our Strength; Chefs for Equality; Real Food for Kids; U.S. State Department and the James Beard Foundation’s Culinary Diplomacy Initiative; spokesperson for the National Honey Board; a former board member of Best Buddies in Virginia; and is a founding member of District Hogs, a group of DC-area restaurant professionals who ride motorcycles for fun, food, and charity.

  • Carla Snyder
    Carla Snyder
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    Carla Snyder

    Carla Snyder

    Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, culinary team building company owner, free lance food writer and co-author of 6 cook books. Her work has appeared in Bon Appètit, Chili Pepper, Better Homes and Gardens, Family Fun and numerous local and regional magazines and newspapers.

    She is co-author with Meredith Deeds of The Mixer Bible,The Mixer Bible 2nd Edition and The Mixer Bible 3rd Edition (Robert Rose 2005,  2009 and 2013),  the 2007 James Beard nominated The Big Book of Appetizers (Chronicle Books 2006), The Take-Out Menu Cookbook: How to Cook IN The Food  That You Love to Order Out (Running Press, 2007), Good Morning America’s top ten pick of 2008, 300 Sensational Soups (Robert Rose, 2008), Fish for Dinner (contributor, Williams Sonoma, 2009), the digital ecook book with apps Serves Two ( 2010, available on itunes) and Everyday to Entertaining (Robert Rose 2011). Carla’s latest offering came out in spring 2013 titled One Pan Two Plates: More Than 70 Complete One Pan Meals for Two (Chronicle Books) and in Fall 2015 the release of Sweet Tart: 70 Irresistible Recipes for Desserts and Savories Made with Citrus. She is currently working on One Pan Two Plates Vegetables: More Than 70 Complete Vegetable Based One Pan Meals for Two (Chronicle Books) which should be released in 2016. She has been a frequent guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio and Dinner Plans. Look for Carla on Facebook (Carla Snyder), Twitter (carlacooks), Pinterest (Carla Snyder) Instagram (carlacooks) and at ravenouskitchen.com where she blogs about everything from cooking for two to easy weekend entertaining for a crowd.

    culinartistic@yahoo.com
    Carla@ravenouskitchen.com

  • Jon Gibson
    Jon Gibson
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    Jon Gibson

    Jon Gibson

    Chef Gibson started his culinary career “flippin’ burgers” at the local Hardee’s restaurant and kept moving by trying his hands at tossing pizza dough at the local Domino’s and Pizza Hut.

    Chef Gibson has always been in or near the restaurant business by either being head bartender, food and beverage director, or a restaurant general manager. It wasn’t until he started traveling around the U.S. and a several years in Sicily, when things just “clicked”. “This is what I want to do”, “this is me.” After returning to the states to he decided it was time for a formal education, at which time he moved to Pasadena, California to attend Le Cordon Bleu.

    While attending Le Cordon Bleu he was fortunate enough to work at the 2006 L.A. Food and Wine Festival and also apprenticed under two star Michelin Chef Edouard Loubet. He has made several appearances performing cooking demonstrations at the 2009/2010/2011 Taste of Newport, KTLA morning news, Orange County Register, “Cooking with OC Chefs”, Coast Magazine, KABC 790AM Chef Irby’s “Bikini Lifestyles” radio show, and published in Chef Irby’s “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cooking Quinoa” cookbook.

    After graduating with honors he moved into the corporate world and after a brief period he discovered that his creative talents and ingenuity was not being utilized to their fullest potential.

    He was then approached by The Beachcomber Café at Crystal Cove and after a few tastings, he was brought on as Sous Chef and after a matter of just a few months he was promoted and was a driving force in Californian Coastal and Southern Cutting Edge Cuisine in Orange/LA County for several years.

    Chef Jon has recently returned to the Alabama Gulf Coast and his southern culture as the Executive Chef of Bill’s by the Beach in Gulf Shores, AL.
    His extensive travels across the U.S. and Europe, classic French and Italian culinary training, as well as access to the best local Gulf Seafood and locally farmed ingredients have added a new dimension and twist on comfort food and Southern cuisine.

    “I prefer to call it coastal comfort cuisine”. “This is when I take comfort food that you or I grew up with and put a different spin on it, but also staying true to the ingredients inside and the hominess of the dish itself.”

    Using all of his talents and experiences and the setting of being on the beach, Chef Jon is bringing an eclectic culinary dimension on Southern cuisine with subtle touches of Californian, Pacific Rim, Southwest, and European cuisines incorporated into the menu’s that changes every six months to reflect the use of fresh seasonal ingredients and proteins.

    He is happy to be back in his home state and looking forward to “turning southern cuisine on its ear”.

    www.billsbythebeach.com
    facebook.com/billsbythebeachgulfshores

  • Stuart Reb Donald
    Stuart Reb Donald
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    Stuart Reb Donald

    Stuart Reb Donald

    A self-taught chef, Stuart Reb Donald started cooking at the tender
    age of five with his grandmother. He was taught too gently knead the
    dough, shown the proper amount of bacon drippings to grease the pan
    and finally allowed to bake his biscuit. A chef was born. After high
    school began the first phase of food industry training, Stuart was
    hired as a busboy the summer before starting college. Fast forward
    twenty-plus years and his passion, dry wit, and culinary acumen have
    established him as a respected chef in his home town of Mobile, AL.

    Stuart has worked under the tutelage of renowned chefs such as Alec
    Naman, Tom Houle, Jon Gibson and Marc Walden. After years honing his
    skills he was named executive chef at Mars Hill Cafe. It was in
    turning around the struggling non-profit eatery that people began to
    take notice. Stints as chef de cuisine at RBS Chicken Shack and Roma
    Café as well as lunch chef at Little House Midtown then followed
    leading up to his current post as executive chef at the acclaimed
    Lucky Irish Pub & Grill in Mobile.

    In addition to his duties at Lucky, Donald is also an award-winning
    food writer having penned hundreds of articles, three cookbooks and
    two anthologies of celebrity chef interviews. On Sunday mornings
    Stuart is one half of the dynamic duo of dining on FM Talk 1065’s hit
    food and wine show “Sip & Chew with Mike and Stu” where he is a
    spirited advocate for local ingredients and locally owned businesses.

  • Natalie-Dupree
    Nathalie Dupree
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    Nathalie Dupree

    Natalie-Dupree

    South Carolinian Nathalie Dupree is a best-selling author with 13 hardback and two softback cookbooks and more than 300 television shows for The Food Network, PBS, and The Learning Channel. She has been prominently featured in the New York Times, Washington post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune as well as Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Southern Living, Coastal Living, Better Homes and Garden, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and Good Housekeeping.

    She has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Morning Show, and CNN Good Morning, among others. Her best selling book, “New Southern Cooking” started an entire culinary movement. She has won James Beard Awards for “Southern Memories” and “Comfortable Entertaining” as well as her most recent book, “Nathalie Dupree’s Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.”

    The Founding Chairman of the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, she also was a founder of Southern Foodways, the Atlanta and Charleston Chapters of Les Dames d’ Escoffier, the American Institute of Wine and Food and the International Association of Culinary Professionals, of which she was two time President.

    She was awarded the prestigious “Grand Dame” of Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international organization of top women in the culinary field, as well as 2013 Woman of the Year by a prestigious organization of French Chefs in America.

    She writes for the Charleston Post and Courier and does short videos for them, as well as occasionally for Charleston Magazine and The Local Palate. Her husband, Jack Bass, is author of nine books on the American South.

  • John Currence
    John Currence
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    About Chef John Currence

    John Currence

    John Currence was born and raised in New Orleans, LA to a family that loved to cook and spend time in the kitchen. His mother’s travels with his father during his childhood, combined with the family’s several years in Europe, brought the dishes of the world to their dinner table, while time spent hunting and fishing in South Louisiana began the education in the foods of his home.

    Currence’s first cooking job was while working offshore as a deckhand on a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, though he saw his first restaurant job while in school at UNC where he started washing dishes at Bill Neal’s Crook’s Corner. An immediate fascination with the business prompted several supplemental jobs (baking bread at an Italian restaurant, butcher shop at a local grocery store, cutting salmon and bluefish at a local smokehouse, etc). He worked his way up through the Crook’s kitchen and after three years, Currence returned to New Orleans at the behest of a high school friend, Larkin Selman, to open Gautreau’s, where he worked as Selman’s sous chef. After several years, Currence moved on to the Brennan family of restaurants to help open Bacco before finally settling in Oxford in 1992 and opening City Grocery. In the time since, the City Grocery Restaurant Group has seen a number of openings, including Nacho Mama’s, Kalo’s, Ajax Diner, City Grocery Catering Company, Bouré, Big Bad Breakfast and Snackbar.

    Currence was recipient of both Restaurateur Of The Year and Chef Of The Year awards from the Mississippi Restaurant Association in 1998. In 2006, he received the Southern Foodways Alliance Guardian of Tradition Award and won the 2008 Great American Seafood Cookoff in New Orleans. In 2009, he was awarded the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef South and was a winner of Charleston Food and Wine Festival’s Iron Chef Challenge.

    He is a contributing editor for Garden and Gun magazine and an avid outdoorsman who enjoys bird hunting of all varieties, fishing and golf. John is active in the community, having served as chairman and president of the Mississippi Restaurant Association and president of the Yoknapatapha Arts Council. He is active with St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Memphis Ballet, Lafayette County Animal Shelter and is a sitting member of the SFA Board of Directors, for which he has served as culinary director from its inception in 1996.

    Current projects include: a cookbook and Adventures of The Big Bad Chef video series, trips through the lesser known food spots of the Deep South.

    He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife Bess.

  • Chris-Hastings
    Chris Hastings
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    Chris Hastings – Hot & Hot Fish Club

    Chris-Hastings

    Chris and Idie Hastings are chef and co-owners of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama.  Housed in an historic building on Birmingham’s south side, the award-winning restaurant has earned a reputation for serving some of the most fresh and refined dishes in the region.

    Chris honed his skills at the Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduation, he moved to Birmingham—where he and Idie met—and worked for Frank Stitt as Chef de Cuisine of Highlands Bar and Grill. Later, he also helped to open Stitt’s second restaurant in Birmingham, Bottega. In 1989, the couple moved to the Bay Area where Chris worked under Bradley Ogden to open the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, California. While on the west coast, Idie enrolled in the California Culinary Academy and could be found in the esteemed kitchens of Jeremiah Towers’ Stars Café, Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio and at Patisserie Francaise. In 1995, the Hastings opened the Hot and Hot Fish Club, which was one of the first farm to table restaurants east of the Mississippi.

    In 1998, they were recognized with the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence and since then have been extensively featured in the media, most notably in The New York Times, USA Today, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Food Arts and Food and Wine. Chris was honored with the James Beard Best Chef: South award in 2012. Idie has also garnered wide acclaim, notably when Birmingham Business Journal named her to their list of the Top 10 Birmingham Women in 2003.  In her free time, she dedicates her energy to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Comprehensive Cancer Center and is committed to animal welfare causes, including Hand in Paw, an animal-assisted therapy group.

    Chris and Idie have also expanded their geographical, if not culinary, boundaries adding the title Restaurant Consultants to their growing list of roles and have helped many operations find success.

    The Hastings actively participate in charity events with the James Beard Foundation and have been guest chefs and speakers at Music to Your Mouth Event at Palmetto Bluff, the Charleston Wine+Food Festival, and the Southern Foodways Alliance. Chris also serves as an advocate for the Alabama Seafood Commission and Director of the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundations Culinary Council.  Idie and Chris continue to call Birmingham home with their two sons, Zeb and Vincent.

  • Chef-Tory-McPhail
    Tory McPhail
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    Chef Tory McPhail – Commander’s Palace

    Chef-Tory-McPhail

    A native of Ferndale, Washington., a small agricultural town on the Canadian border, Tory McPhail grew up on his family’s farm, eating fresh, locally sourced foods and building an early appreciation for their origin. After attending school in Seattle, Chef McPhail opted for a start in New Orleans. At age 19, he was hired at the lowest level of food preparation, with salads and appetizers, but he moved swiftly through all 12 stages of the kitchen. He gained experience in Florida, London and the Virgin Islands and, after a few years, Commander’s Palace (training ground for such prestigious chefs as Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme and Jamie Shannon), requested his demonstrated talent at the restaurant in Las Vegas. In early 2002, he was named executive chef of the original Commander’s Palace in New Orleans’ picturesque Garden District. In the years since then Chef McPhail has been instrumental in rebuilding the dining scene in New Orleans.

    Since 2008 Chef McPhail has hosted his own television show, “Off the Menu.” It is is an original series, produced and aired on Turner South. Some of his segments dwell on hunting, before turning the day’s shoot into elegant fare, worthy of the most sophisticated palate. Or you might see him fishing from an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, then turning the exotic catch into an unforgettable meal. Honors include being named Best Restaurant, Best Restaurant on the Strip, Best in Service in 2002 and Best New Restaurant in Las Vegas in 2001.

    Experience Chef McPhail’s incredible creations at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, where you might sample such Commander’s classics as Turtle Soup au Sherry, Pecan Crusted Trout, Oven Roasted Gulf Oysters, Praline Parfait and many more memorable culinary treasures.

  • Chef-Rob-Stinson
    Rob Stinson
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    Chef Rob Stinson – Mississippi Dept. of Marine Resources

    Chef-Rob-Stinson

    Chef Rob Stinson attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, majoring in business management. He trained under Cordon Bleu Chef Gerald Thabuis; former Chef for President of France, Charles DeGaulle; Master Italian Chef Ciro Cuomo and Creole Chef Nathaniel Burton. Stinson is executive chef and owner of three award-winning restaurants on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His spectrum of work has spanned from five-star dining at the Windsor Court Hotel Grill Room, to managing the highest volume restaurant in the world, Orlando Planet Hollywood. In 2007 and 2009, he was chosen by Governor Barbour to represent the State of Mississippi as official chef in the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans. He is the official chef of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Seafood Marketing Program. Rob, his wife Paige, and children Samuel and Abigail live in Long Beach, Mississippi.

  • Robert St John, American Wild Shrimp Chef, Restauranteur, and Author
    Robert St. John
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    Robert St. John – Purple Parrot Café

    Robert-St-John

    Robert St. John has spent more than three decades in the restaurant business. Twenty-seven of those years have been as the owner, CEO and chef of the Purple Parrot Café, Crescent City Grill, Mahogany Bar, Branch, and Tabella in Hattiesburg, MS.

    St. John is a restaurateur, chef, columnist, and author. For 14 years he has written a weekly syndicated food column for newspapers.

    The Purple Parrot Café was named the best fine dining restaurant in Mississippi and just received its sixth Four-Diamond rating from the AAA Travel Guide. Additionally, in
    2011, AAA named Purple Parrot Café the second-best fine-dining restaurant in the South (just behind Commander’s Palace). Furthermore, The Mahogany Bar was named as one of
    America’s Top 100 Beer Bars of 2014 by Draft magazine, Branch was listed as one of Southern Living magazines “The South’s Top 100 Bars,” and in 2013 Tabella was named “Best Italian Restaurant in Mississippi” by Mississippi magazine.

    St. John has been named the state’s top chef three consecutive years and was honored as Mississippi Restaurateur of the Year. He has served on the board of directors of several
    agencies, organizations and charities. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

    St. John is the author of nine books, including three collaborations with renowned watercolorist Wyatt Waters. His newest book, An Italian Palate, released in the fall of 2013,
    was written in Europe while he, his wife, and his two children traveled through 17 countries on two continents for six months.

    St. John has been featured in USA TODAY and appeared on The Food Network, The Travel Channel, National Public Radio, Martha Stewart Living, and the Turner South network.

    In 2009, St. John founded Extra Table, a non-profit organization that purchases healthy foods and ships them to soup
    kitchens and mission pantries. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Extra Table.

  • Chef-Scott-Varnedoe
    Scott Varnedoe
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    Chef Scott Varnedoe – IPO Restaurant

    Chef-Scott-Varnedoe

    Chef Scott Varnedoe has been cooking up Louisiana cuisine for nearly 20 years. He comes from a family of cooks, including his older brother, Todd, who works as an executive
    chef in Cornwall, England. Inspired to follow in his brother’s footsteps, Varnedoe studied under Louisiana legend John Folse, and so began his journey to become of this state’s
    top chefs.

    Most recently, Varnedoe was the executive chef at Stroube’s in Baton Rouge. While at Stroube’s, he also worked as a consultant for other restaurants, developing menus and
    molecular gastronomy methods for them. Among those who called on his expertise were the owners of Restaurant IPO. They asked him to develop an original menu and assist in the
    hiring of an executive chef before the restaurant’s grand opening.

    Today, Varnedoe is the executive chef and part owner of Restaurant IPO. He has won numerous awards, including the most prestigious of chef honors – an invitation to cook at the
    historic James Beard House in New York City. It’s an honor he’s received now four times. As the newly appointed executive chef at IPO, Varnedoe has rewritten the original menu he
    created, and he continues to study trendsetting recipes utilizing Louisiana ingredients.

  • michael_ann_rowe01
    Michael-Ann Rowe
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    Michael-Ann Rowe

    michael_ann_rowe01

    Michael-Ann Rowe is a cook, restaurateur and TV personality, and now Emmy® award-winning journalist for her three-part food & travel documentary series, Off the Beaten Palate. Her debut series was broadcast several times on DPTV-PBS, and one of the featured stories focused on the seafood industry in the province of New Brunswick, Canada, where she was born.

    Michael-Ann studied acting in Canada, and has lived in New York City since 1992. She was the face of Entree TV for six years – a platform for her to interview many of New York’s talented chefs and restaurateurs discussing their menus and culinary choices.

    Her passion for culture, combined with her success in front of the camera, led her into journalism and writing about food. Michael-Ann is constantly trying to find out more about the roots of our food. She is on a mission to meet the farmers, fishers and global personalities that help us define and distinguish culture on our plates.

    She has become an advocate of seafood and sustainability and is about to launch her next project called, Put Your Best Fish Forward. It will be an all-out seafood cooking series where Michael-Ann serves as your personal Fishionista™ and teaches people how to buy, cook and enjoy sustainable seafood.

    When Michael-Ann visits Canada, it is both work and play at her sister’s two restaurants. The two of them are constantly reviewing menu options, food trends and making up new recipes.

    Michael-Ann is active in many children and hunger relief organizations. She served as the mascot for Canstruction® for nine years (even dressing up in a can of soup!) Canstruction® is an organization recognized for their commitment to innovation, hunger relief and collaboration. Their work has helped raise nearly 30 million pounds of food since 1992.

    For more information on Michael-Ann and her work, please visit www.michaelannrowe.com or https://www.facebook.com/MichaelAnnRoweOfficial.

  • matthew_kajdan01
    Matthew Kajdan
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    Matthew Kajdan

    matthew_kajdan01

    Matthew Kajdan was born and raised in Madison, MS where his mother and grandmother showed him the way around the kitchen. Growing up in a large European family, he developed a taste for gourmet cooking and fine foods. Food being a part of his life at a young age helped prepare him for a life in the culinary arts.

    Chef Kajdan’s professional career started around the age of 16 years old at Bravo! Italian Restaurant. Matthew learned under Chefs Louis Larose and Dan Blumenthal who taught him the basics of line cooking and culinary arts. After his years at Bravo!, Matthew went to work in the kitchen of Nick Apostle, where his skills were honed over the next few years. He left his home state of Mississippi in 2006 to pursue a position in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Matthew worked at the historic Sagamore Hotel under great chefs, including Frank Esposito, Ken Lingle and Pastry Chef Bill Foltze.

    In 2008, Matthew moved back to his home state and returned back to work under his mentor Nick Apostle. In these years Matthew helped open the Mermaid Café as Executive Chef and eventually General Manager. He credits these years and Nick’s mentorship to his understanding of what it means to be a Chef and how to run business without sacrificing ethics. In 2011, Matthew married the love of his life, Jennifer Kajdan. Jennifer keeps Matthew on his toes and supports his hectic and busy lifestyle.

    That brings us to the present day where Matthew oversees daily operations at Parlor Market. As the Executive Chef, Matthew promises to bring us a “New Southern menu”, with progressive ideas and local products in a “Farm to Table Atmosphere”.

    Follow Matthew on Twitter

  • erik_niel
    Erik Niel
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    Erik Niel

    erik_niel
    Erik Niel was raised in Mandeville, Louisiana, a community on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain and an hour away from the Gulf. He describes it as a place where people care deeply about food, and everyone has that special dish they’re known for throughout the community. “In Southern Louisiana, food is a soulful thing. I still remember who made the best gumbos, and who made the best roasts.” Niel spent many an afternoon fishing with his dad and brother in the fresh water near Mandeville, driving west to Calcasieu Lake (where his dad was raised) to fish in salt water, and duck hunting in Cameron Parish. Using techniques passed down from his parents and grandparents and experimenting on his own, Niel learned
    to cook from his catch – gumbos, stews, étouffée, and pot roasts – and how to serve them in various ways. This instilled in him an appreciation for where food comes from and the process of preparing it from beginning to end, something that influences his cooking to this day.

    Niel attended The University of Texas at Austin as a Psychology major and Business minor. He liked the calculated nature of business and knew he wanted to own his own one day. However, his love and appreciation for food and restaurants persisted, and even in college when he entertained for friends or cooked for parties, food was never far from his mind. After summers of working in restaurants and getting the feel for the industry, Niel decided that food was his muse. He enrolled in culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Vail, Colorado, and applied to work at Sweet Basil, a restaurant notoriously resistant to hiring students. He landed the job, and credits the experience with cultivating his appreciation for a formal kitchen and respect for ingredients.

    While Niel was in culinary school, his family transitioned to Chattanooga from Louisiana. His brother tragically broke his back during his junior year football season, and they weren’t sure he would lead a normal life again. It was a turning point for Niel, as he realized he’d never seen his brother play football, and when his brother healed enough to play as a senior Niel packed his bags for Chattanooga. He landed a job as a Floor Manager at the now-closed Southside Grill, with the promise that he could have Friday nights off to see his brother’s football games. Niel didn’t miss a single game that fall. Thinking he would leave at the end of football season, Erik met his future-wife Amanda (a hostess at Southside Grill) and started realizing the potential of owning a business in Chattanooga. After two years as sous chef at Chattanooga mainstay, St. John’s, Niel began writing his business plan.

    In May of 2005, the couple opened Easy Bistro & Bar in downtown Chattanooga, named after his laidback nature and uncanny ability to make the hard work of a restaurant look easy. Here, Niel draws inspiration from both traditional approaches and new techniques. He enhances elements of classic French and Southern cuisines with fresh combinations and ideas, while maintaining the most important principle that “taste can never be sacrificed for presentation or a wow-factor – it must simply taste good, always.” While his style of cooking is a direct product of growing up in Louisiana, he tends to stay away from the rich sauces and rouxes of traditional Creole cuisine. He describes his food as minimalist, letting the ingredients stand for themselves with little manipulation.

    Niel also spearheads the wine program at Easy Bistro & Bar, pushing himself to find unique expressions and stories through wine and food pairings. He feels strongly that wine and other beverages are an integral and often overlooked part of the meal and experience, a passion inherited from his father, a connoisseur and avid wine collector. The restaurant currently offers a wine list with 250 global wines focusing on France and California.

    In October 2014, Niel and his wife Amanda assumed operations of Main Street Meats, a neighborhood butcher shop that works closely with Chattanooga’s surrounding farmland. As Chef/Operator, Niel uses craft butcher techniques to offer quality products and a strong charcuterie program, all exploring the distinctive flavors of the region.

    When he has a moment outside the kitchen, he can usually be found playing with his son, Cade. They enjoy playing in the park, fishing in Louisiana with Erik’s Dad “PawPaw”, and walking in the woods.

    TWITTER
    Easy Bistro: @EasyBistro
    INSTAGRAM
    Erik Niel: @erikniel
    Easy Bistro @easybistro

  • justin_devillier
    Justin Devillier
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    Justin Devillier

    justin_devillier
    Justin Devillier was raised in Dana Point, California, a small beach town in South Orange County. He spent summers fishing for Yellowtail and Albacore tuna, and in the fall and winter he would dive for lobsters just steps from his front door. This bounty of local seafood inspired him to enter the culinary industry and after working in local restaurants right out of high school, he decided to focus all of his time on becoming a chef.

    In 2003, Devillier moved to New Orleans and cooked in the kitchens of Bacco, Stella and Peristyle. While at Peristyle, he worked with Chef Anne Kearny-Sands and learned the intricacies of French cuisine.

    In 2004, Devillier joined the team at La Petite Grocery, housed in a century-old building with a storied history, and became sous chef a year later. After Hurricane Katrina, he helped re-build La Petite Grocery’s infrastructure by managing the daily specials and training the new line cooks. In 2007 Devillier was promoted to Executive Chef, and in 2010 he and his wife Mia bought La Petite Grocery. Here, he puts his creative spin on traditional New Orleans cuisine with dishes like Turtle Bolognese and Blue Crab Beignets. Devillier has been named a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: South in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, and was also named 2014’s “Chef of the Year” by New Orleans Magazine. In March 2014, Devillier and the team at La Petite Grocery proudly celebrated 10 years of operation at the restaurant.

    Devillier’s second restaurant, named Balise after the first French settlement at the mouth of the Mississippi River, opened in the Central Business District of New Orleans in early 2015. Set in a 19th century Creole townhouse, Balise features a menu that celebrates Orleans as a port city and its unique access to a wide variety of ingredients.

    When Devillier has free time, he can be found fishing and hunting, or at the beach with his wife
    and two young daughters.

    TWITTER
    Justin Devillier: @JustinDevillier
    La Petite Grocery: @LaPetiteGrocery
    Balise: @BaliseNOLA
    INSTAGRAM
    Justin Devillier: @that_justin
    La Petite Grocery: @LaPetiteGrocery
    Balise: @BaliseNOLA

  • jay_pierce
    Jay Pierce
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    Jay Pierce

    jay_pierce
    Jay Pierce is the Executive Chef of ROCKSALT Charlotte. A Southern Foodways Alliance board member, Pierce has twice been named as a finalist for best chef in the South by the James Beard Foundation and was nominated for a sustainability award by the Chef’s Collaborative. He has more than 20 years in kitchens from coast to coast, including seven years with Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants and the last eight exploring the underappreciated foodways of the North Carolina Piedmont. There he served as the executive chef for Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro and Cary, North Carolina.

    Jay’s exploration of the area’s traditions and farmers brings his recipes and pantry local acclaim, enlivening the menus with many locally-sourced ingredients. He has always found ways to tell the stories behind the food, with essays published in Edible Piedmont, Savor NC, and Beer Connoisseur, as well as on CNN’s Eatocracy blog and as a guest blogger for The Local Palate magazine and A Chef’s Life. Jay’s book, Shrimp, part of UNC Press’s Savor the South collection, is available on Amazon.

    Twitter: @ChefRaconteur
    Restaurant: Rocksalt Charlotte

  • carl_schaubhut
    Carl Schaubhut
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    Carl Schaubhut

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    Carl Schaubhut assumed the position of executive chef for Café Adelaide in March 2013 after serving as a key member of the Commander’s Palace culinary team for two years. Commander’s Palace Executive Chef Tory McPhail says Schaubhut takes his duties in the kitchen very seriously. “We call him ‘Uncle Carl’ because he is always the responsible one,” McPhail says with a laugh.

    “Our motto here is work hard, play hard,” says Schaubhut. “We take our food, drinks, and service very seriously, and have fun the rest of the way. That’s what we’re all about here – that’s what New Orleans is all about!”

    Schaubhut is a Louisiana local through and through; his parents’ families hail from Des Allemands, Ponchatoula, and Independence. He attended Jesuit High School in New Orleans and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Schaubhut, who had always enjoyed being in the kitchen, was on the path to attend LSU Law School when he had a career-changing conversation in the Commander’s Palace courtyard with Director of Operations Steve Woodruff. “Steve told me to jump in head first, start at the bottom and learn everything I could about restaurants,” he says. “I had to decide if I wanted to cook or if I wanted the life of so many of my Jesuit classmates as a lawyer. After talking to Steve, I realized I wanted to cook.”

    Schaubhut went on to help open the restaurant Fire on Annunciation Street with Brenda Darr, before relocating with the restaurant to Santa Rosa Beach in Florida after Hurricane Katrina. After serving as Fire’s executive chef for four years, the chef decided to move his wife and young family back to his hometown to once again work with the restaurant group that provided the initial inspiration to follow his passion.

    Schaubhut is vested in the New Orleans community, participating in local festivities and organizations including the Corner Club, an Irish marching club; Hogs for the Cause, which aids families battling pediatric brain cancer; and various other local fundraisers. In the 2013 New Orleans Food and Wine Experience, he took home the Gold Medal in the “Soups and Stews” category for his Piquillo Pepper Bloody Mary Gazpacho. “No matter the occasion, he gives 100 percent effort,” Ti Martin Adelaide, Proprietor says. “We look forward to seeing him in action at Café Adelaide.”

    Twitter: @chefcarlwhodat
    Restaurant: Cafe Adelaide

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    Mike Lata

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    Mike Lata is Chef/Partner of FIG Restaurant in Charleston, SC, which he opened in 2003 with Partner Adam Nemirow. FIG has been consistently voted “Best Restaurant in Charleston” by Charleston City Paper readers and continues to be a favorite local destination, and in 2014, the restaurant was nominated in 2014 and 2015 for Outstanding Wine Program by the James Beard Foundation.

    In December 2012, Lata and Nemirow opened The Ordinary, a classic oyster bar and seafood hall in Charleston’s Upper King district, to much local and national acclaim. The James Beard Foundation nominated The Ordinary as Best New Restaurant in 2013, and GQ, Esquire and Bon Appétit also named it one of the best restaurants of the year.

    A native New Englander, Mike started his culinary career at an early age, working in kitchens in Boston, New Orleans, Atlanta and France before landing in Charleston in 1998. Mike is a hands-on, self-taught chef who continues to delight making the most basic things delicious, creating food that is bright, uncomplicated and understated. His longstanding and outspoken commitment to support local farmers, fishermen and purveyors has cemented his position as a notable champion for Charleston’s flourishing culinary renaissance.

    Nominated in 2007 and 2008 for the James Beard Foundation Award, Best Chef: Southeast, Mike took home the award in 2009. His food, philosophy, and contributions to the Charleston community have earned him recognition on national platform, including coverage in Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Esquire, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, The New York Times and many more. Mike competed on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” was featured on the same network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and he was also profiled on Dateline’s “Platelist,” which described Mike’s food as “so good it will buckle your knees.” Mike is also an active member of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

    When he’s not in the kitchen, Mike can be found hitting the links, riding his prized Ducati motorcycles, or enjoying life with his wife, Emilee, and their son, Henry.

    http://eattheordinary.com/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/mikelata

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    Tenney Flynn
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    Chef Tenney Flynn

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    During the past thirteen years of co-owning legendary New Orleans fine dining seafood restaurant GW Fins with co-owner Gary Wollerman, Executive Chef Tenney Flynn has become known as one of the country’s foremost seafood experts, as well as a vocal enthusiast for the bounty of seafood that is available in the Gulf.

    Chef Flynn is known throughout the region for his stringent seafood approval process for GW Fins, and is, as the Wall Street Journal has referred to him “widely acknowledged as the fishmonger czar of the Gulf region.”

    ”One of my favorite aspects of our restaurant is that we print out menu daily, so we don’t have to have any specific item on the menu. That way we don’t have to accept any seafood that isn’t pristine,” states Chef Flynn.

    With the majority of GW Fins’ menu changing nightly, each evening is an entirely unique dining experience. Although there are perennial favorites on GW Fins’ menu such as Lobster Dumplings, Crab Potstickers with Pea Shoot Butter and Sizzling Smoked Oysters, the majority of menu items have evolved since the restaurant opened. Chef Flynn’s creativity has been instrumental in expanding the menu at GW Fins. Many of the dishes draw from his love of both local New Orleans cuisine as well as Asian influences.

    “My culinary philosophy is that if you are working with seafood that already has wonderful flavor, the cooking techniques should respect these natural flavors rather than overwhelm them,” states Flynn.

    Growing up cooking in his father’s restaurant in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Flynn developed an innate understanding of Southern food and culinary traditions. From there he received his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. Chef Flynn officially began his fine dining career with Atlanta’s esteemed Buckhead Life Group, cooking at such famed restaurants as Pano’s and Paul’s, Fishmarket at Lenox and finally as Executive Chef of Chops. Ruth’s Chris Steak House then recruited his talents as the company’s Director of Culinary Operations, a position he held for seven years.

    Since launching GW Fins more than a dozen years ago, Chef Flynn has developed a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and discriminating seafood chefs in the country. Chef Flynn is a master of his craft, but one who is completely unassuming. That is, until you ask him about seafood. Then his wealth of knowledge and passion about seafood is unmistakable. A seafood icon, asked to judge national seafood competitions and provide cooking demonstrations for fellow chefs and consumers, Chef Flynn has become a national celebrity for his weekly cooking segments on the syndicated fishing show, “The Big Fish.” In fact, often guests come to New Orleans to dine at GW Fins after watching him prepare a variety of dishes on this popular show.

    For the second time in the past 13 years, GW Fins’ Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Tenney Flynn has been named “New Orleans Magazine’s Chef of Year,” both in 2004 and then again in 2011.

    GW Fins is open for dinner nightly and is located in New Orleans at 808 Bienville Street (504.581.3467). Please visit their website at www.gwfins.com for additional information.

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    Aaron Cuschieri
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    Chef Aaron Cuschieri

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    Detroit native Aaron Cuschieri joins Chicago’s Kinmont restaurant as Executive Chef, merging well-honed fine dining techniques with a genuine, unpretentious appreciation for food and the experience of dining. Less than a decade into the industry, Chef Cuschieri has already been recognized by Zagat’s “30 Under 30” roundup (2013) and Eater’s “Young Guns” list (2012) and has appeared on Season 11 of Bravo’s popular Top Chef (New Orleans, 2013).

    After touring the country as a drummer in a rock band, Cuschieri realized that, while he’d always be passionate about music, he was ready to retire drum sticks for kitchen knives, turning his “favorite hobby into his job,” advice gleaned from his father’s time-honored recipe for happiness. The then-24 year old, whose every memorable life experience had revolved around food and cooking, enrolled in culinary school at the Art Institute of Michigan. During that time, he staged at Detroit restaurants ranging from casino kitchens to fine dining establishments, spending time most notably at Assaggi Bistro, where he turned a sous chef job into an Executive Chef position in just one year.

    Recognizing the fuel traveling had given to his musical creativity, Cuschieri decided to apply that method to his cooking and take a wider survey of the national dining scene. He staged and eventually received a position at Chicago’s acclaimed Alinea, a time period he credits as a crash course in the finesse of fine dining. Cuschieri then struck up a long-lasting relationship with Chicago chef Takashi Yagihashi. This talented mentor tapped Cuschieri for a chef de cuisine position at Takashi restaurant eventually leading to an Executive Chef position at Slurping Turtle, Takashi’s casual ramen concept in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, which opened in 2011. During his four years at Slurping Turtle, Cuschieri traveled to New York, New Orleans and Los Angeles. He developed a deep appreciation for the soul and passion of street food as well as a keen sense for the business side of the restaurant industry. Now in 2015, Cuschieri takes the helm at Kinmont.

    At Kinmont, Cuschieri is eager to extend the “Field & Stream” ethos of the dining room even further within the kitchen itself. He plans to place more attention on letting the natural fish flavors of the restaurant’s sustainable seafood selections shine, in both raw and cooked varieties, while also bringing on wild game options such as pheasant and quail. New ideas will circulate for pushing the boundaries in both ingredients and preparation — the kitchen will explore a wider variety of new-school and old-school cooking methods and will reinvent a more eclectic menu with items like a new, fish-focused charcuterie board. Cuschieri is excited to explore the vast range of possibilities this unique concept presents while also utilizing the bounty of offerings right within his native Midwest.

    Kinmont Instagram: @kinmontchicago
    Kinmont Twitter: @kinmontchicago

    About Kinmont

    Located in River North, Kinmont is Chicago’s entirely sustainable seafood restaurant from cutting-edge hospitality group Element Collective. Rooted in a unique brand of Americana, the concept harkens to an era when fly fishing and hunting were prominent sources of conservation in the Midwest. With an emphasis on rough fish, fish—often bycatch—that are less utilized than traditional seafood but incredibly delicious and versatile, the dining program places the utmost importance on freshness. The ever-changing menu comes from local and coast-based products sourced daily and innovatively interpreted by Executive Chef Aaron Cuschieri (Takashi, Slurping Turtle). The 6,200 square foot space at 419 West Superior Street reflects the unique era from which Kinmont draws inspiration, seamlessly blending Element Collective’s signature eye for hip, creative design with plush accents reminiscent of mid-to-late 1800s gentleman’s hunting clubs. For more information, please call 312.915.0011 or visit us at www.kinmontrestaurant.com.

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    Chef Jeremiah Bacon

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    Jeremiah Bacon, a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast for the last three years, is Executive Chef and Partner of Indigo Road restaurants The Macintosh and Oak Steakhouse. Bacon joined Charleston’s beloved Oak Steakhouse in November 2010 where he presents classic steakhouse fare in an impeccable setting on downtown Charleston’s historic Broad Street. Along with Indigo Road Restaurant Group managing partner Steve Palmer, Bacon brought new-American cuisine to an inviting Lowcountry table when they opened The Macintosh on Charleston’s upper King Street in September 2011.

    The Macintosh, a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in 2012, showcases a range of local flavors and ingredients throughout its dinner, bar and brunch menus. Under Bacon’s direction, The Macintosh was awarded the coveted recognition as a best new restaurant on Bon Appetit’s annual 50 Best New Restaurants list in August of 2012 and was named an Esquire magazine Best New Restaurant in America in October 2012.

    A Charleston native and College of Charleston alumnus, Bacon attended the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, N.Y. After graduating from the CIA in 1999, Bacon moved to New York City where he worked for the legendary restaurant River Café. Bacon then joined the staff at Le Bernardin, the famed restaurant of chef Eric Ripert. In 2004, Bacon was part of the opening crew of Per Se, which earned Four Stars from the New York Times and Three Michelin Stars.

    After 10 years in Northeast, Bacon returned to the Lowcountry first as executive chef of Carolina’s restaurant. He incorporated a local-first philosophy into his culinary practices by building strong relationships with local farmers and fisheries. When he joined The Indigo Road Restaurant Group, Bacon brought these relationships with him to Oak Steakhouse, and added his personal touch to the menu, taking it in a progressive, yet local direction. He continues to bring that same creativity to the kitchen of The Macintosh, with the goal of new-American cooking rooted in the tradition of Lowcountry favorites.

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    David Dickensauge
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    Chef David Dickensauge

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    David Dickensauge, a Mississippi native, has scaled great culinary heights to learn the best from the best in the restaurant industry. Twenty-one years after venturing out on his own, he is blazing his own path as both executive chef for Bin 77 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and as co-owner and executive chef for Corks & Cleaver in Gulfport, Mississippi.

    Beginning in New Orleans, he worked under James Beard Award-winner Jamie Shannon at Commander’s Palace and at New Orleans’ legendary Galatoire’s. With Shannon’s encouragement, he attended and graduated from the Culinary Institute of New Orleans in 1999. Degree in hand, he moved back home for a short time to help open the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, where he worked with Master Pastry Chef Thaddeus Debois.

    Yearning for more experience, Dickensauge embarked upon a culinary adventure. He worked for Chris Hastings as a line cook at Hot and Hot Fish Club and as a sous chef at Café Dupont with Chris Dupont. He also staged for Frank Stitts during his three years with Birmingham’s Highlands Bar and Grill and Bottega Café. He returned to the Deep South in 2013 after several stops at highly acclaimed restaurants in Miami (Norman’s), Chicago (Charlie Trotters), and New York (Per Se and WD 50).

    Dickensauge was recognized in 2015 as a Best New Chef in Louisiana and as Best New Chef in 225 Magazine. He has also competed at several competitions throughout the South, specifically taking home honors from the Louisiana Seafood Competition.

    Each stop and person along his culinary journey helped Dickensauge cultivate his food style, which he describes as New American Cuisine – complex in nature, built with simple ingredients and abundant in flavor. “Shannon brought out my love for cooking. Hastings taught me how to use local ingredients undisturbed. Dupont taught me how to truly cook with passion and Trotter capped it all by teaching me how to serve my food with excellence at the center of everything,” he said.

    After 20 years of sharpening skills and finesse, Dickensauge believes his new restaurant concept on the Mississippi Gulf Coast will push him to be a greater version of himself, while expanding culinary boundaries in the Deep South.

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    Chef Mike Brewer – Mannings at Harrah’s

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    Mike Brewer has been in the restaurant scene in New Orleans since 1999. He started as a waiter at Brennan’s and quickly moved up to Captain, and then Wine Captain after receiving his entry into the Court of Master Sommeliers. He left Brennan’s in 2005 and was a Maitre D onboard the NCL Ship MS Pride of America in Hawaii. In early 2006, he returned to New Orleans to head a new restaurant, Jackson, in the Irish Channel. Jackson was voted the Best New Restaurant in 2006 by Gambit readers.

    In mid 2007 Jackson closed and Brewer moved to Commander’s Palace to head the wine and liquor programs. After 2+ years , he moved over to Charlie’s Steakhouse as the Executive Chef.

    After a three year foray into equipment sales, Mike opened The Sammich as a pop-up in a bar in Mid-City. One year later, he moved The Sammich to the Riverbend where he rewrote po-boy folklore with his takes on fine dining dishes served up on Leidenheimer’s French bread.

    In July, he competed in the Louisiana Seafood Cook Off where he took the crown and is the 2015 Louisiana Seafood King. When he’s not representing Louisiana Seafood all across the country, he serves as the executive chef for Manning’s at Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans.

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    Chef Tory Miller, Estrellon

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    On any given Saturday at the Dane County Farmers’ Market held in Capitol Square—the heart of Madison, WI—it’s common to see Tory Miller in his chef whites. A wagon brimming with produce tailing behind him, Miller greets the hundreds of farmers, ranchers, cheesemakers, and artisans at the nation’s largest producer-only farmers’ market by name and with hearty handshakes and hugs while he peruses the week’s bounty. He starts updating his menus the moment edible inspiration crosses his path. Farm stand to table takes on quite a literal meaning as the chef brings his market finds to L’Etoile located just outside the square. That’s the way it’s always been—before he assumed ownership in 2005 of the legendary contemporary French-American restaurant, back to when L’Etoile was first established in 1976, long before “farm-to-table” was on the tip of everyone’s tongue. And Miller intends to always keep it that way.

    In addition to his flagship, the James Beard Foundation 2012 Best Chef: Midwest winner also operates Graze, a collocated, more casual counterpart to L’Etoile; Sujeo, a locally sourced, Pan-Asian-influenced take on Korean cuisine; and the new Estrellon, serving inspired Spanish tapas. Miller has also been recognized with Santé magazine’s “Culinary Hospitality of the Year” Grand Award and Saveur’s “Top 100,” as well as has earned the title of Madison magazine’s “2010 Chef of the Year.”

    Outside of the kitchen, the chef spends his spare time with his wife, Kristine, and his two sons, Remy and Miles. When he isn’t building Lego towers with his boys, Miller checks out the nearby Madison farms with his family.

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    Chef Kevin Nashan, Sidney Street Cafe, The Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.

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    Chef Kevin Nashan, James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: Midwest, is chef/owner of the acclaimed Sidney Street Cafe and The Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. in St. Louis. Nashan has been at the helm of Sidney Street Cafe for more than 10 years, where he crafts dishes with a myriad of influences including Spanish, New Mexican, Midwestern, Southern and French cuisines. In August 2014, he opened his second restaurant, The Peacemaker, a lobster and crab shack inspired by the Acadian coastal cuisines of the Northeast and Louisiana. The menu includes lobster rolls, seafood boils, po’boys and more. Nashan won the 2013 Cochon 555 Barbecue competition in St. Louis, having previously competed in Cochon 555, and is a member of chef BBQ team Seersucker Collective. In 2014, he appeared on Esquire Network’s show “Knife Fight”. He has cooked for President Barack Obama, and completed six Iron Man competitions.

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NEW CHEF AMBASSADOR PROGRAM ANNOUNCED

The American Shrimp Processors Association (ASPA) has launched a national campaign promoting the use of Wild American shrimp by chefs, restaurants, food service professionals, retail and grocery stores buyers. A central component of the campaign is the creation of the Wild American Shrimp Chef Ambassador Program. The program was created to inspire and educate chefs and other culinary professionals about the unique qualities of Wild American shrimp, over mass produced imports, and showcase how this succulent and nutritious source of protein from the Gulf and South Atlantic warm waters can be incorporated into a range of inspired culinary dishes. Participating chefs will be featured online and in campaign marketing materials – including a new Restaurant Marketing Toolkit – actively showing their support for this superior ingredient through testimonials, preparation tips and recipes. A viral social media campaign, called the “Chef’s Challenge,” will feature videos of chefs sharing their Wild American shrimp recipes and challenging their colleagues across the country to do the same and become Ambassadors and pass along the message to other culinary professionals, and so on and so on. The 2014 program is being launched with chefs from each of ASPA’s member states who will act as ambassadors in print, television and high profile culinary events. The program will also target the hottest chefs in each of the 50 states who support sustainable American seafood. Past Chef Ambassadors have included television personalities like Emeril Legasse, Mario Batali, Tyler Florence and John Besh, as well as over 30 nationally-recognized, award-winning chefs from across the country. To lend your support and become a Wild American Shrimp Chef Ambassador, contact Brynn Joachim at chefs@americanshrimp.com to learn more.

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