TALENT



chefs + artisans + vintners + brewers + distillers + musicians




Jeremiah Bacon
David Bancroft
Allan Benton
Nathan Beriau
Lowcountry Boil
Jean-Paul Bourgeois
Tyler Brown
Brandon Carter
Alysia Casebeer
Annie Coleman
Craig Collins
Aaron Deal
Justin Devillier
Chris Dickerson
Drew Dzejak
Desmond Echavarrie
Kelly Fields
Megan & Colby Garrelts
Kenny Gilbert
Steven Devereaux Greene
Jason Heller
Kay Heritage
Matt Jording
Geoff Labitzke
Raymond Lammers
Jamie Lynch
Jordan Mackay
Parker Marvin
Ryan McCarthy
David McCarus
Rob McDaniel
Andrew McNamara
Russ Moore
Kevin Nashan
Erik Niel
Rajat Parr
Orchid Paulmeier
Emily Pickral
Joe Raya
Jesse Rodriguez
Rodney Scott
Aaron Siegel
David Szlam
Michael Toscano
Karl Worley
Jeremiah Bacon

Jeremiah Bacon

Executive Chef of The Macintosh

Charleston, SC

www.themacintoshcharleston.com | @macintoshchs

With a name like Bacon, Jeremiah was destined to be a chef. A native of Johns Island, SC, he learned to appreciate at an early age the seasonal bounty and eclectic flavors that the Lowcountry has to offer.

After graduating from the College of Charleston with a degree in Philosophy, Jeremiah attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. then moved to New York City where he honed his skills in the kitchens of some of the city’s most legendary restaurants, including River Café, Le Bernardin and Per Se.

After refining his skills in the Northeast for 10 years, he returned home to the Lowcountry and incorporated a local-first philosophy into his culinary practices, first at Carolina’s and then as executive chef at Oak Steakhouse.

As executive chef of the Macintosh, Bacon continues to build upon his relationships with local farmers and purveyors to incorporate their food into his menu. His finely tuned talents and palate are reflected in the restaurant’s menu, which serves technique-driven dishes that are locally sourced and seasonally inspired.

David Bancroft

David Bancroft

Executive Chef/Partner of Acre Restaurant

Auburn, AL

www.acreauburn.com | @acrerestaurant

David Bancroft is Executive Chef/Partner of Acre Restaurant in Auburn, Alabama. Acre opened in August 2013. Born in Alabama but raised in San Antonio, Texas, David’s passion for cooking began at an early age, smoking brisket and making BBQ.  David is a self-taught chef, farmer and forager who showcases the sustainable ingredients provided by local farmers in Alabama.

His commitment to the Alabama farming community have earned him recognition on local, regional and national platforms- most recently, as a competitor and winner on the Food Network show “Iron Chef Showdown”.  His cuisine has been featured in Garden & Gun, Southern Living, and on ESPN, USA Today, CNN.com. In 2017 he received his second nomination from the James Beard Foundation for “Best Chef: South”.

To further his philanthropic contributions, David founded, planned and executed the “Alabama Oyster Social”, whose primary goal was to raise funds for Alabama oyster farmers.  The Social has gained support from nationally recognized chefs and restaurateurs, and raised over $40,000 at its fourth annual event in 2018. 

When not cooking, he enjoys hunting and fishing on his family’s farm in LA (Lower Alabama) and spending time with his wife, Christin, son, Walker and daughter, Kennedy.

Allan Benton

Allan Benton

Owner Benton's Country Hams

Madisonville, TN

www.bentonscountryhams2.com | @bentonsbacon

Allan Benton is the owner of Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams, which are slow cured using salt, brown sugar, and sodium nitrite and typically aged 9-10 months. This time-honored practice dates back to the era of our forefathers, when the preparation and preservation of meat was a way of life and sustenance. Although the hands of time and technology have sculpted many aspects of our modern world, Allan upholds the traditional dry-curing process and strives to produce world class country hams and bacon.

Benton’s was started in 1947 by the late Albert H. Hicks, a dairy farmer who began curing and selling country hams out of a painted block building. Since then, Allan and his employees have honed the dry-curing of hams and bacon into a culinary art and have catapulted the products from a simple breakfast mainstay into the world of gourmet cooking, where they have been praised for their characteristic flavor.

Benton’s Country Hams and Bacon are available either unsmoked or hickory-smoked. Hickory smoking is performed in a small, wood stove smokehouse behind the business, imparting a distinct smoked flavor that many customers prefer.

Nathan Beriau

Nathan Beriau

Executive Chef of Palmetto Bluff

Bluffton, SC

www.montagehotels.com/palmettobluff | @montagepalmettobluff

Chef Nathan Beriau, joined Montage Palmetto Bluff in April, 2015, as Executive Chef, responsible for overseeing all culinary operations. A New England native, Chef Nathan began his career working at some of the top restaurants in his home state, eventually accepting the position of Chef de Cuisine at the Harraseeket Inn, a Four Diamond, premiere Hotel in Freeport, Maine. Three years later, he and his wife relocated to San Francisco, where Chef Nathan was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with well-known, veteran chef, Ron Siegel, at The Dining Room of the Ritz-Carlton, a Five Star and Five Diamond Restaurant.

After two years working under the tutelage of Chef Siegel, Chef Nathan joined restaurant impresario, Pat Kuleto, and renowned chef, Jan Birnbaum, as Opening Sous Chef at Epic Roast House in the Bay area. A year later, he was coaxed back to the Ritz-Carlton as Executive Sous Chef, and within 2 years was promoted to the prestigious position of Executive Chef.

Chef Nathan remained Executive Chef at the Ritz-Carlton for almost 5 years, when he chose to move to the Lowcountry and accept the position of Executive Chef at Montage Palmetto Bluff.  His expertise, extensive experience and dedication to his craft, made him an obvious choice, and a perfect match to lead the culinary team.

Lowcountry Boil

Lowcountry Boil

Bluegrass Band

Bluffton, SC

www.facebook.com/Lowcountry-boil-bluegrass-band-338087346263862/

Mike Daly and his son Jevon Daly are joined by Andy Pitts and Gary Pratt in this fun string band that is Lowcountry Boil. The band started in 1997 and has just released its fifth cd full of fun original music you will swear you have heard before. The band is silly one minute and will have you on the edge of your seat the next. With thousands of shows together the band has a loose approach but razor sharp execution onstage and in song. Check them out on itunes and facebook.

Jean-Paul Bourgeois

Jean-Paul Bourgeois

Executive Chef of Blue Smoke

New York, New York

www.bluesmoke.com | @chefjean_paul

Jean-Paul grew up in the small town of Thibodaux, Louisiana, and received his Bachelor’s degree at John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University. In culinary school, Jean-Paul participated in an eye-opening exchange program with the Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon, France. After completing his formal studies, he worked at Étoile restaurant at the Domaine Chandon winery in Napa before moving to San Francisco to help open EPIC Roasthouse as a sous chef under Chef Jan Birnbaum. In 2007, he moved to St. Thomas, where he served as sous chef at two local restaurants on the island. In 2009, Jean-Paul moved to New York and joined the team at Maialino. Over four years, Jean-Paul was promoted several times and ultimately assumed the role of Chef de Cuisine of Gramercy Terrace at The Gramercy Park Hotel. In 2014, Jean-Paul became Executive Chef of Blue Smoke, overseeing both locations of Blue Smoke, Jazz Standard at Blue Smoke’s Flatiron location, and Blue Smoke On The Road.

Tyler Brown

Tyler Brown

Chef

Nashville, TN

www.capitolgrillenashville.com | @capitolgrille

Executive Chef Tyler Brown, recently named one of Esquire Magazine’s Four New Chefs to watch, leads one of Nashville’s highly-praised restaurants. Chef Tyler Brown spends most days divided between the duties of an Executive Chef and those of a farmer. A typical day includes overseeing the day to day operation of the restaurant and then jumping on his John Deere to work on a piece of land at the farm. Overseeing the Land Trust for Tennessee’s Glen Leven Farm, located just 5 miles from the front door of The Hermitage Hotel, Chef/Farmer Brown uses sustainable farming practices to ensure everything comes out of the ground just as nature intended. He then uses these vegetables on the menu in the Capitol Grille. The efforts to operate the farm have been extremely successful and have recently grown to include a herd of cattle as well as bees.

Next, in the Capitol Grille, Chef Brown strives to serve cultural sustainability by paying homage to the great Southern dishes and cooking practices of the past to ensure they are not forgotten. In fact, many of his recipes came from the recipe box of his grandmother.

During Brown’s tenure at the Capitol Grille, the dining establishment has not only earned the coveted Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond designations, but was also voted one of America’s best restaurants by Gourmet magazine, on The Food Network, and was recognized at the James Beard House.

Prior to his position at the Capitol Grille, Brown graduated Magna Cum Laude from Johnson & Wales University in 1997 with an Associates Degree in Applied Science in Culinary Arts and was introduced to the culinary industry by his mother, who is also an accomplished chef. Brown worked at a number of fine dining restaurants including his position as Chef de Partie at Peninsula Grill in Charleston, S.C., a Forbes Four-Star / AAA Five-Diamond, and recognized Relais & Chateaux dining establishment. Currently, there are only 453 recognized establishments worldwide, all of which must meet rigorous criteria for quality. Brown then held the Executive Sous Chef position in 1999 at Fearrington House in Chapel Hill, N.C., a Relais & Chateaux property, before becoming the Executive Chef and Partner in 2001 of Southern Comforts BBQ & Soul, an upscale comfort food establishment in Charlotte, N.C.

Brown became Chef de Cuisine of the Capitol Grille in 2003 and emerged as a leader in the kitchen Brown surfaced as one of Nashville’s most talented chefs, establishing relationships with the local community organizations and producers to become a forerunner in the Southeastern culinary community with progressive, southern cuisine. He is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and is currently on the board of the Slow Food USA – Nashville Chapter. In 2010 and again in 2012, Brown was among the semi-finalists for the James Beard Award “Best Chef, Southeast”.

Brandon Carter

Brandon Carter

Executive Chef / Partner of FARM

Bluffton, SC

www.farmbluffton.com | @farmbluffton

As executive chef and partner of FARM, Brandon Carter works tirelessly to connect the dining experience with the farmer’s culture. Always cognizant of seasonality and availability of ingredients, Carter crafts ever-evolving menus that speak to the bounty of the region and pay homage to the many farmers and artisans who inspire him.

Born in Ohio and raised in Georgia, Carter was inspired by the allure of the kitchen during a family trip to Italy at only thirteen years old. Compelled by the industry’s high energy, Carter took his talents to the Culinary Institute of America where he graduated in 1999. 

Just prior to FARM, Carter was executive chef at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff. He first joined the Inn at Palmetto Bluff as Chef de Cuisine in January 2011, assisting with the management of the River House Restaurant, including menu planning and all aspects of production and service. One year later, Brandon took the helm as executive chef where he oversaw four restaurants, twice as many menus, and was the grand poobah of the nationally lauded Music to Your Mouth food and wine event, which landed Palmetto Bluff on Bon Appetit’s Top Ten Foodie Destination List in 2013.

Previously, Carter served as Chef de Partie and Chef de Cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton Naples in South Florida, assisting with the management of three of the hotel’s restaurants from 2004 to 2008. Carter also gained experience at Mumbo Jumbo Bar and Grill in Atlanta from 2000 to 2003, where he started as Sous Chef and worked his way to Chef de Cuisine.

Carter is supported by his wife, Jessica, and their two children Declan and Bailey, all of whom contribute to Carter’s success at FARM. When he’s not in the kitchen, Carter enjoys spending time with his family, eating pork, quoting rock ballads and late night trips to the taco truck.

Alysia Casebeer

Alysia Casebeer

Peter Michael Winery

Calistoga, CA

www.petermichaelwinery.com | @petermichaelwinery

Originally from Oklahoma City, Alysia Casebeer began her career in the Food and Beverage Industry by way of Gaillardia Golf and Country Club, as their Beverage Manger.  Here she learned the importance of quality driven, smaller production wines, that carried a story behind the label.  Not only did the wines speak to her, coming from a sense of place, but the heart and soul of the wineries are carried through by their great tales.  She moved to Miami, Florida at the age of 27 and began working as the New World Portfolio manager for a small distribution company, Augustan Wine Imports.  Here she forged relationships with some of the greatest wineries coming out of CA, OR and WA. After eight years of managing such great brands in Florida as Dalla Valle, Shafer, Peter Michael, Araujo and many others, she moved to Singapore, where she delved into the International Wine business through consulting for restaurants and bars.  On her journey back to the US, she was offered the National Sales position at Peter Michael Winery and has since been promoted to Global Sales manager, heading up the winery’s Wholesale division.  After eight years with Peter Michael, she could not he happier with her career path and is incredibly grateful to all of those great wines of the world that inspired to be here. 

Annie Coleman

Annie Coleman

Pastry Chef of The Dabney

Washington, D.C.

www.thedabney.com | @annieyesimokay

A native of Beaufort, SC and graduate of the University of Georgia, Annie Coleman followed her passion for pastry and bread baking to Paris. She completed training at Ferrandi Culinary Institute and worked in pastry roles at La Pagode de Cos and Le Gabriel in Paris before moving to Washington, DC in early 2017 to join the city’s blossoming restaurant scene. She is equally inspired by old family recipes, classic techniques, and the challenges of seasonal cooking.

Photo credit Andrew Cebulka

Craig Collins

Craig Collins

Master Sommelier of Vintus

Pleasantville, NY

www.vintuswines.com | @vintuswines

Master Sommelier Craig Collins first became enamored with wine while working at a winery as an undergrad, an interest that led him to study abroad in Italy during his senior year at Texas A&M. He spent the next 20 years immersed in the beverage industry, from wineries to distribution and importing to restaurants. In 2011, Collins passed the esteemed Master Sommelier Exam, a feat mastered by just 200 people worldwide at that time. He now represents some of the most pedigreed wines from Italy as the Italian Specialist for Vintus, one of the premiere import companies in the country. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Court of Master Sommeliers and frequently participates as a speaker and judge at wine and food festivals across the country.

Aaron Deal

Aaron Deal

Executive Chef of The River and Rail

Roanoke, VA

www.riverandrailrestaurant.com | @theriverandrail

Aaron Deal is the Executive Chef of The River and Rail, a convivial restaurant with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients, in Roanoke, VA.

A native of North Carolina, Deal completed his formal culinary training at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, SC, graduating summa cum laude in 2005. His first Executive Chef role came at the helm of Tristan Restaurant in Charleston, SC where he earned a 2009 James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef nomination amidst local praise. In 2009, Deal assumed the role of Executive Chef of Custom House Tavern in Chicago, IL. He earned many accolades during his time at Custom House, including being named a “Best New Chef Under 30” by Chicago Social magazine and one of Restaurant-Hospitality magazine’s “12 to watch in 2012.” After stints at Town House Restaurant in Chilhowie, VA and Cragie on Main in Cambridge, MA, Deal ventured to Roanoke, VA to open The River and Rail in 2012.

In his role as Executive Chef, Deal developed the culinary program for the restaurant from the ground up, creating regional cuisine inspired by the Virginia countryside. Outside of the kitchen, Deal has made appearances on The CBS Early Show’s “Chef on a Shoestring,” The Food Network, and as a culinary demonstrator, Deal has traveled to Johnson & Wales, The French Culinary Institute and the Culinary Institute of America, to lead discussions on sustainable food culture and cooking techniques. “Having recently celebrated our five-year anniversary at The River and Rail, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue exploring the kind of cooking that excites and inspires me as a chef,” Deal says. “I’m also proud to share a distinctive regional cuisine that not many people outside Virginia have had the opportunity to sample.”

Justin Devillier

Justin Devillier

Executive Chef/Owner of La Petite Grocery and Balise

New Orleans, LA

www.lapetitegrocery.com | @justin_devillier

Justin Devillier was raised in a small beach town in California, where the bounty of local seafood inspired him to become a chef. In 2003, Devillier moved to New Orleans and cooked in the kitchens of Bacco, Stella and Peristyle, where he learned the intricacies of French cuisine from his mentor, Chef Anne Kearny-Sands.

In 2004, Devillier joined the team at La Petite Grocery as a line cook, housed in a century-old building with a storied history, and was promoted to sous chef after one year. Following Hurricane Katrina, he helped re-build the restaurant’s infrastructure, and in 2007 was promoted to executive chef. A short three years later, Devillier and his wife Mia took over ownership in 2010. At La Petite Grocery, Devillier puts his creative spin on traditional New Orleans cuisine with dishes like Turtle Bolognese, Panéed Rabbit, and Blue Crab Beignets. He has been named a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: South for the past five years (2012 – 2016), and was also awarded “Chef of the Year” by New Orleans Magazine in 2014.

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

Chris Dickerson

Chris Dickerson

Chef/Owner of Corner Taco

Jacksonville, FL

www.cornertaco.com | @cornertaco

After graduating from Wake Forest University, Chris Dickerson completed the Chef's Apprenticeship program at the Cloister Hotel on Sea Island.  He cooked at The Little Nell in Aspen under Chef George Mahaffey and later worked for Nobu Matsuhisa.  Dickerson has been invited to cook with many notable chefs and was part of a team who cooked for Paul Bocuse.  He is the chef & owner of Corner Taco in Jacksonville; which has been profiled on Alton Brown’s ABRoad Eats and in numerous publications, including The Local Palate

Drew Dzejak

Drew Dzejak

Executive Chef of Alys Beach

Panama City, FL

www.alysbeach.com | @chefdrewdzejak

Chef Drew Dzejak says his inspiration for becoming a chef is the “classic grandmother story.” Growing up in Kissimmee, Florida, Dzejak was always at his grandmother’s side in the kitchen, cooking for family meals and church events. At 15, he was working as an apprentice at Karen Donatelli Cake Designs, baking weddings cakes and developing his first skills as a professional chef. He went on to attend Johnson & Wales in Charleston, South Carolina and graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts.

Upon graduating in 2001, Dzejak applied to work in the kitchen at the Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond Woodlands Inn in Summerville, SC. He was told they were only hiring breakfast cooks, but undeterred, he took the job and was promoted to the dinner team a few months later and worked his way up through the kitchen.

Two years later, Dzejak followed Woodlands Executive Chef Ken Vedrinski to Sienna restaurant on Daniel Island, SC. He was promoted to sous chef and spent three years in the kitchen before packing his bags for Grand Cayman to work for Chef Dean Max at Brassiere for the fall season in 2006. Dzejak then returned to Charleston and became chef de cuisine at the Charleston Place Hotel. In 2008, he left Charleston for New Orleans and was named Executive Chef at the Windsor Court Hotel, where he remained for four years.

After starting a family with his wife Stephanie, Dzejak wanted to return to South Carolina and joined the team at The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, serving as Executive Sous Chef and Club Executive Chef. While at Palmetto Bluff, he was introduced to Food and Beverage Director Jeremy Walton, who would later offer him the role of Executive Chef at Alys Beach, an emerging seaside town in Northwest Florida on Scenic Highway 30A.

 

At Alys Beach, Dzejak will oversee all food operations for the growing community, including existing restaurants and new concepts. He envisions Alys Beach reaching new heights with its culinary offerings, with each offering a sense of place and providing residents and guests with lifelong memories.

 

When he’s away from the kitchen, Dzejak enjoys cooking at home with Stephanie and their two kids Aurora and John, gardening, and playing with his classic cars – a 1965 VW bug and a 1978 Trans Am.

Desmond Echavarrie

Desmond Echavarrie

Founder / Master Sommelier of Scale Wine Group

Napa, CA

www.scalewine.com | @scalewine

By the time Des Echavarrie was 30, he’d accomplished more than many sommeliers achieve in a lifetime of service. He won the Chaine des Rotisseurs Best Young Sommelier U.S. competition in 2004 at age 22 and the U.S. Top New Somm competition in 2011. In 2012, after nearly nine years of study and exams, Des became the 197th person to earn the title of Master Sommelier. Des’s love for wine began after college while working at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale. He secured an apprenticeship under Greg Tresner, MS and knew before he was old enough to legally drink that he would dedicate his life to learning about and sharing great wine. During his career as a sommelier, he earned coveted spots on the wine teams of legendary restaurants.

In 2011, he took a position at The French Laundry and passed the MS exam the following year. After a year spent as senior wine advisor for rare wine merchant Soutirage, Des was ready to work on the producer side of the equation and joined Realm Cellars as Director of Sales in 2014. Successfully managing both wholesale and direct sales at Realm for several years gave Des the experience and confidence to embark on his own entrepreneurial endeavor. He launched Scale Wine Group in August of 2016, with a mission to help small dynamic wineries elevate their brand through wholesale strategy.

Kelly Fields

Kelly Fields

Chef Partner of Willa Jean

New Orleans, LA

www.willajean.com | @willajeanneworleans

Kelly Fields is the Chef Partner of Willa Jean in New Orleans’ Central Business District. Opened in August 2015 and named for Kelly’s beloved grandmother, Willa Jean celebrates Southern sensibilities with fresh, local ingredients. Kelly and the restaurant have received significant praise in Bon Appétit, Garden & Gun, Saveur, Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, and many other national and local publications. Hailed as one of the “Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America” by Dessert Professional, Kelly was named a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2015 and 2016 and a finalist in 2017 and 2018. In addition to her role at Willa Jean, Kelly is also passionate about inspiring, encouraging, and mentoring the next generation of female chefs, locally and beyond. In 2017, Kelly launched the Yes Ma’am Foundation, which strives to provide opportunities within the restaurant and hospitality industries for women across the South through community engagement, mentorship, and personalized continued education.

Megan & Colby Garrelts

Megan & Colby Garrelts

Chef and Owners of Rye

Kansas City, MO

www.ryekc.com | @rye_kc

Megan and Colby Garrelts are the chef-owners of Rye Leawood and Rye Plaza, as well as Bluestem, a 2015, 2016, & 2017 James Beard Semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant, in Kansas City. Chef Colby is a 2013 James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Midwest award winner, 2005 Food & Wine Top 10 Best New Chef and has had his cuisine showcased in the Wall Street Journal and on the cover of Saveur Magazine. Chef Megan is a James Beard Semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef and her recipes have been featured in numerous national publications including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Wall Street Journal and Saveur.

Bluestem opened in 2004 and showcases Colby’s progressive American cuisine and Megan’s new varieties of American desserts. In 2006, the Garrelts expanded Bluestem and opened a lounge next door to the dining room. With Bluestem, the Garrelts offer a flavorful toast to fine-dining and a marriage of outstanding culinary skills. Their first cookbook, bluestem, the cookbook, which was released in fall 2011, showcases the cuisine featured at the restaurant. In 2015, the Garrelts released their second cookbook, Made in America, which is an ode to the Midwestern cuisine they grew up eating and now serve.

Kenny Gilbert

Kenny Gilbert

Chef/Owner of Gilbert's Southern Kitchen & Bar

Jacksonville, FL

www.gilbertssouthern.com | @chefkennyg

Cooking since he could barely reach the kitchen counter at age three, Chef Kenny Gilbert is best known for his appearance on “Top Chef” Season seven, where he displayed big personality and instantly become one of the most likable cheftestants to date. 

Born and raised in suburban Cleveland, Kenny’s curiosity for the kitchen started young.  His mom noticed how captivated her son was when she cooked or entertained and so in an effort to harness it, began teaching him the basics. Kenny’s father, an avid BBQ man, schooled him in the ways of the grill, including homemade sauces and rubs, presenting him with his very own small Weber at the age of seven.  By age 11 Kenny was cooking the entire Thanksgiving dinner solo, and in high school, was cooking for his entire swim team, before and after practice and meets on a portable electric double burner in the locker room.  Cooking had been in Kenny’s blood from day one and so, while still in high school, he enrolled in a local vocational culinary program.

After high school, Kenny attended The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute where he received a degree in Culinary Arts. Upon graduation, Kenny relocated to Jacksonville, FL, where he joined The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company as an apprentice in the garde manger kitchen of their Amelia Island property.  Kenny worked his way up to Chef de Cuisine at the age of 23 at the Ritz, helping to consistently secure the AAA Five Diamond Award for the property throughout his tenure there.

After a two year stint in Naples, FL, opening Caxambas, a members-only fine dining establishment in the Fiddler’s Creek development, Kenny landed in Sea Island, Georgia where he served as Executive Chef, overseeing all four dining concepts at The Lodge Sea Island Golf Resort.  During his tenure at The Lodge, Kenny had the opportunity to cook for the G8 summit while President Bush was in office.  After Sea Island, Kenny returned to the Ritz-Carlton family, taking the position of Executive Chef at their Jupiter, FL location. It was then onto Telluride, Colorado, where he led the culinary team at The Inn at Lost Creek, one of Conde Nast’s Top 40 Resorts in the US – Kenny would then join the opening team for the new luxury boutique hotel, Capella, under West Paces Hotel Group. 

While working in Colorado, Kenny learned of the open casting call for Bravo’s “Top Chef” season seven.  He auditioned and made the cut.  While he didn’t take home the winning title in DC, he did well in the competition and impressed the judges with his skills and finesse.  

After “Top Chef,” Kenny landed back in Jacksonville, FL, where he designed and opened Caribbean-inspired Nippers Beach Grill.  Within one year of opening, Folio Magazine awarded Kenny Chef of the Year, and Nippers, Best Caribbean Restaurant.  Next up, Kenny made his way to Miami where he served as Corporate Chef for 50 Eggs Restaurant Group and was responsible for organizing and designing the future kitchens and infrastructure for James Beard recognized concepts like Yardbird, Khong River House and Swine.  After Miami, Kenny headed back to the turquoise water and sandy beaches of the Caribbean, working as the Executive Chef at Bajan Blue at Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados (the famous internationally themed restaurant grosses over $10 million in sales annually). 

In 2014, Kenny headed north to Edison, NJ where he served as the Executive Chef of Plainfield Country Club, an elite golf facility that hosts the annual Barclay’s Golf Tournament.  He has now settled back in Jacksonville where he opened Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen with his wife Anna, about a year and a half ago.  UK serves seasonal deep southern cuisine and is located in Fernandina Beach, FL.  This Fall, Kenny and Anna opened their second restaurant, Gilbert’s Social, this time in Jacksonville proper, serving seasonal and creative modern Southern fare with international influences.

Kenny is also a consultant for Micfood, an international company based out of Miami that produces organic tropical packaged goods like Plantains and Yuca, while also lending his expertise to the menu at Boston neighborhood restaurant, Tempo American Bistro.

Over the years, Kenny has developed a passion for herbs and spices, and has paired that passion with his culinary prowess to create Chef Kenny’s Spice Blends, a line of spice blends with equally big personality. The product line, which includes Jerk Spice, Raging Cajun and Cinnamon Coffee Rub, is used by luxury hotel brands including The Lodge at Sea Island Company and the Omni Amelia Island Hotel and Resort. The line of spice blends is also available for purchase at www.chefkennygilbert.com, or at Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen.

Throughout his career, Kenny has traveled the world, staging in some of the top restaurants in Japan, Spain, France and the Caribbean.  He has cooked at the James Beard House, participated in wine & food festivals around the country, cooked for the Sports Illustrated Super Bowl party and appeared on the “Today Show,” Jacksonville’s FOX 30 and in the LA Times. Kenny has also recently penned his first book titled, A Chef’s Journal. He has cooked for the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Stedman Graham, Samuel L. Jackson and A.J Calloway, just to name a few.  Kenny has competed on and won Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen,” and beat Chef Bobby Flay at his own game on “Beat Bobby Flay.”

With over 20 years of professional experience in the food & beverage industry, Kenny has run just about every area of Food & Beverage Divisions at the AAA Five Diamond and Mobile Five Star levels. His passion for fine dining is complemented by his vast experience across the entire spectrum of the culinary industry. From banquets to pastries, club and restaurant design to bar and lounge concepts, Kenny’s innovative and creative approach to the restaurant and hospitality industries is unmatched.

Steven Devereaux Greene

Steven Devereaux Greene

Executive Chef of The Umstead Hotel and Spa

Cary, NC

www.theumstead.com | @devereauxgreene

Steven Devereaux Greene is executive chef of The Umstead Hotel and Spa, a Cary, NC, hotel lauded for its progressive American regional cuisine. He is responsible for all food and beverage operations, including Herons restaurant, The Bar & Lounge, and catering. Greene’s passion for using ingredients and products from the rich Piedmont region to drive beautifully refined culinary experiences is evident daily in The Umstead’s award-winning dining program. One of the country’s youngest executive chefs to helm the kitchen of a Forbes Five Star or AAA Five Diamond establishment, Greene has been a 2016 and 2017 semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: Southeast” award. Esteemed restaurant critic John Mariani has noted, “Herons matches everything else of quality at The Umstead, but stands as a culinary beacon in the entire region, a restaurant of great generosity and elegant proof of fine dining's enduring pleasures.”

Greene’s tenure with The Umstead began in 2009. During his post as chef de cuisine, Greene guided Herons to its first Forbes Five Star rating. In 2012, Greene departed to hone his skills as executive chef of Cary’s New World Cuisine, a restaurant that shares ownership with The Umstead. Under Greene’s direction, it received five stars from The News & Observer and was named among “the Triangle’s crème de la crème.” Greene returned to manage The Umstead’s culinary operations in 2014 and continues to provide creative leadership as its culinary director.

His background includes work in some of the country’s most celebrated kitchens. After serving as chef de cuisine at the Dining Room at Woodlands Resort and Inn in Summerville, SC, Greene was inspired to open his namesake restaurant, Devereaux’s, which quickly became a mainstay in Greenville, SC. Devereaux’s would ultimately join the prestigious ranks of the Table 301 Restaurant Group to make way for Greene’s first post with The Umstead. Named a “Rising Star” by Restaurant Hospitality in 2008, Greene has twice cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York, representing Herons in 2011 and Devereaux’s in 2007.

Greene is the consummate Southern gentleman and hails from Ninety Six, SC. He lives in Morrisville, NC, with his wife, and beyond family and food, his next great passion is guitar, which he has played for more 25 years.

Jason Heller

Jason Heller

Master Sommelier of Scale Wine Group

Napa, CA

www.scalewine.com | @scalewine

Jason is the newest partner of Scale Wine Group, having joined the team after spending nearly a decade working with some of the world’s most highly-regarded California producers, including Harlan Estate, Bond Estates, Promontory and, most recently, Dana Estates as Director of Sales and Marketing.

His career with wine began in Hawaii, where he first tasted an older bottling of Domaine de la Romanée Conti and gained experience working for both Chambers & Chambers Wine Merchants as well as restaurants in Honolulu.

In the early 2000’s, Jason moved to Napa Valley, where he managed the beverage program at Thomas Keller’s one-star Michelin bistro, Bouchon, and later took over as the wine director for Redd just down the street in Yountville, Calif.

Jason earned the coveted title of Master Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2011, and since then he has become one of the most respected sommeliers and wine educators in the world. While working his way towards this achievement, he was recognized as the Top New Somm at TOP|SOMM in 2010 and Best New Sommelier by Wine & Spirits Magazine in 2009. He was also awarded the Rudd Scholarship and the first-place prize at the 2009 National Chaine des Rotisseurs Young Sommelier National Finals.

In addition to his role with Scale Wine Group, Jason is also a partner in Band of Vintners, a Napa Valley wine project producing Cabernet Sauvignon founded by seven of the county’s most notable tastemakers.

Before immersing himself into the hospitality industry, Jason graduated from Hawaii Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration—Marketing.

Kay Heritage

Kay Heritage

Founder of Big Bon Pizza

Savannah, GA

www.bigbonpizza.com | @bigbonpizza

We believe good things happen around good food.That’s why Kay and Anna, a Korean mother - daughter duo, teamed up and dove into the pizza business. 

Infusing classic Italian flavors with a Korean flair, we handcraft delicious pizzas from a wood fire oven on wheels. Let’s get back to slow food, fast friendship and long-lasting community, one warm slice at a time.

Matt Jording

Matt Jording

Executive Chef/Owner of The Sage Room

Hilton Head Island, SC

www.thesageroom.com | @mattmx727

Matt Jording, executive chef and owner of Sage Room, was born in Omaha, NE, and grew up in Fairfax, VA. Matt is a self-taught chef who began traveling early on to define his own way of cooking. Matt moved to Hilton Head in 1995 and worked at local restaurants until he opened Sage Room in March of 2002. He built his kitchen in the middle of the restaurant with a ten seat chef’s counter surrounding it. Matt’s intention was to give his customers a one-on-one dining experience. It worked! The chef's counter has proven to be the most popular and memorable place in the restaurant. From prep to plate, everything is done in this extremely open kitchen for all to see. 

Geoff Labitzke

Geoff Labitzke

Director of Sales and Marketing of Kistler Vineyards

Sebastopol, CA

www.kistlervineyards.com

Geoff Labitzke is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Kistler Vineyards.  Kistler Vineyards is an artisan winery dedicated to producing world class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using old world Burgundian techniques.  Kistler has consistently produced some of the best California examples of these varieties for over 30 years. 

Geoff began his career as a retailer in Southern California in 1978.  For five years Geoff managed Bradley’s Liquor in Tustin, California. At the time, the Orange County Fair Wine competition was perhaps the nation’s most prestigious wine judging event. All of the commercial wine judges were either owners or winemakers.  Geoff would later judge amateur wines at the Orange County Fair.  Geoff also was a guest speaker at wine classes at Saddleback College and Orange Coast College.  In 1983 Geoff became Director of Marketing at Hi-Time Cellars.  He organized the Newport Harbor Art Museum’s wine auction and wrote a weekly wine column for the Orange County Daily Pilot. While at Hi Time Cellars, Geoff created a wine sales and presentation course for restaurant servers.

In 1986, Geoff went to work for Wine Warehouse, a Los Angeles based fine wine and beer wholesaler.  After developing a sales territory in Anaheim, Geoff was promoted to Beer Division Manager.  Geoff conducted dinners, educational seminars and staff trainings with some of the greatest beers in the world.  Geoff introduced new brands such as Chimay, and Spaten to Wine Warehouse.  Geoff also drafted analyses and business plans reintroducing draught beer to the company and expanding beer distribution statewide. Despite his success in the craft beer business, Geoff was still passionate about wine. In 1989 Geoff attained the Certified Wine Educator credential from the Society of Wine Educators.  Geoff would later serve on the Society’s board of Directors and he chaired the annual conference held in Sonoma.  In 1989, Geoff earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing at the California State University, Fullerton.

In 1991 Geoff relocated to Northern California and went to work for Vineyard Brands, a prestigious national wine importer. As Pacific Northwest Regional Manager, he was overseeing business development in 6 states.  During that period, Geoff represented some of the greatest Burgundies in the world as well as prominent brands from Europe.  In 1995, Geoff was recruited by Wine Warehouse to be Imports Manager for Northern California.  There he worked with top wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Australia, Italy and Champagne. While at Wine Warehouse, Geoff increased imported wine sales to $25M and was instrumental in developing the Riedel glassware business throughout Northern California.

In 2000, Geoff become the Imports Manager for Young’s Market Company.  Young’s had just created the Estates Group, a division dedicated to fine wine.  There he oversaw imported wine sales for the state of California and directed wine and sales education for the entire company.  During his tenure, Geoff introduced a portfolio of direct imports which became a major profit generator for the Estates Group amongst a group of 60 suppliers. Geoff also directed sales of Bordeaux futures and executed pre-arrival wine offerings to all business channels. In 2006, Geoff was one of two Americans to pass the rigorous Master of Wine examination.  Currently there are only 35 Masters of Wine in the United States.  In 2016 Geoff attained his MBA from Sonoma State University. 

Geoff remains dedicated to the world of wine.  At Kistler Geoff mentors sommeliers nationally and assists in their professional development.  Geoff has been a speaker at the Society of Wine Educators conference and TexSom, a national sommelier convention in Dallas.  Geoff directs national and international business for Kistler Vineyards and is implementing strategic initiatives for future business development.

Raymond Lammers

Raymond Lammers

Executive Sous Chef of Palmetto Bluff

Bluffton, SC

www.montagehotels.com/palmettobluff | @montagepalmettobluff

Raymond Lammers is Executive Sous Chef at Montage Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina. With nearly three decades of culinary experience with a high concentration in pastry, Lammers oversees all day to day resort culinary operations including River House and Buffalo’s, as well as in-room dining, private dining and on-property culinary events. Also integral to his role is overseeing management and staff training.

Lammers joined Montage Palmetto Bluff in 2015 following five years at Montage Deer Valley where, as opening Executive Pastry Chef, he assisted the resort’s Executive Chef in implementing and overseeing key culinary operations. He joined Montage from Stein Eriksen Lodge, a Five-Star/Five-Diamond resort in Park City, Utah, where as Executive Pastry Chef for close to a decade he created menus, recipe books, showpieces and art carvings and oversaw the chocolate program.

Lammers previously was the Pastry Chef for cruise liners Seabourn Goddess I and II; Chef de Partie in the pastry shop of Amstel InterContinental Hotel Amsterdam, whose gourmet restaurant La Rive had two Michelin Stars; and opening Pastry Cook at Salon de Thé Van Straaten, a subsidiary of highly rated Patisserie Van Straaten in Amsterdam. The Salon was the last of several pasty shops to engage Lammers’ talent over the first decade of his career.

In 2005, Lammers was on the Silver Award-winning team at the Amoretti National Pastry Team Championship held at J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix. In 2009, he was honored as one of the country’s Top 10 Pastry Artisans by Dessert Professional magazine.

A native of the Netherlands, Lammers earned diplomas in pastry from De Berkhoff School for Food and Beverage Professionals and College for Food and Beverage Professions, both in Amsterdam. He has continued to develop his craft with professional courses over the years. During downtime away from the pastry kitchen, Lammers enjoys traveling, scuba diving, engaging in home improvement and pursuing personal development.

Jamie Lynch

Jamie Lynch

Executive Chef/Partner of 5 Church

Charlotte, NC

www.5churchcharlotte.com | @chefjamielynch

Jamie Lynch’s affinity for the restaurant business began when he was only 16 years old, working his first job as a dishwasher at a local bar and grill in a Massachusetts fishing town.

“I fell in love with the intense, high-octane kitchen life there,” he says. “That’s where it all started.”A New York native who spent many of his formative years in Massachusetts and Florida, Lynch moved to New Hampshire after graduating high school and began working at a from-scratch Mexican restaurant learning the nuances of cooking. After studying knife skills and how to approach different flavors, Lynch’s passion for food was solidified. “It was the only thing that came naturally to me, and that catapulted me into fine food and upscale kitchens.” While attending the New England Culinary Institute in Burlington, Vermont, Lynch completed an externship at Aqua in San Francisco under famed chef Michael Mina. Cooking at Mina’s four-star restaurant fueled Lynch’s desire to train under the highest caliber of chefs possible. After graduating, Lynch returned to New York City, where he was offered a prestigious position at Le Cirque 2000 in The Palace Hotel. He polished his technique while working under chef Andrew Carmellini, who would become his longtime mentor. Lynch continued his training as a saucier at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole before reconnecting with Carmellini at Café Boulud. Over the course of the next two years, he worked his way through Café Boulud’s kitchen before taking a sous chef position at Tocqueville in Union Square. Then, the events of 9/11 brought him down South, forever changing his culinary style. Upon moving to Charlotte in 2002, Lynch worked at Ethan’s, a new American bistro, and met farmer Sammy Koenigsberg of New Town Farms. “Seeing his produce, the chickens he was raising and the flavors he was cultivating from the earth just blew my mind,” Lynch recalls. “Before I knew it I was spending all my days off there to help. My attention shifted to the product and how it got to the plate.” Lynch’s relationship with Charlotte’s sustainable farming community and the local dining culture grew from there, and in 2012 he accomplished his dream of starting his own restaurant with the opening of 5Church in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. Lynch has since garnered many accolades, such as Charlotte Magazine’s Best Chef award in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018. Lynch considers himself lucky to be part of the “eclectic bunch” of partners behind 5Church and uses this as inspiration for his food. “I don’t stick to one particular type of cuisine; it’s more of a hybrid of flavors from all over the world because it’s important to me that my menus speak to the diversity of our group,” he says. “I try to create dishes that excite the palate and are visually appealing, but I use traditional techniques to tie everything together.”

With the opening of the 5Church location in Charleston, South Carolina, he makes his mark in the two markets by offering both signature dishes as well as items that speak to each city’s geographical differences, from more meat-centric meals in Charlotte to a larger seafood selection in Charleston. Catering to these local tendencies also enables Lynch to remain true to his philosophy of showcasing the ingredients rather than overproducing them.

In his spare time, Lynch enjoys riding motorcycles and spending time with his 12-year-old son, who has grown up in 5Church’s kitchen and already displays a strong work ethic just like his father’s.

Jordan Mackay

Jordan Mackay

Writer

Napa Valley, CA

@jorgrama

Jordan Mackay is a James-Beard-award winning writer on wine, spirits and food. His work has appeared in Food & Wine, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Decanter, The Art of Eating, Wine and Spirits, and many others. His first book, Passion for Pinot, was published in 2009, and his second, Secrets of the Sommeliers (with Rajat Parr), was released in October 2010, winning a James Beard award in 2011. Two in the Kitchen was published in 2012. Franklin Barbecue (with Aaron Franklin) was released in April, 2015 and spent many weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. Knife, written with chef John Tesar, was released in May 2017 by Flatiron Press.  His new book, The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste, comes out October of 2018.  Jordan lives in Napa Valley and travels extensively, speaking about wine, spirits and food. 

Parker Marvin

Parker Marvin

Bartender of Attaboy

New York, NY

www.attaboy.us/nyc | @attaboy134

A native of Portland, Maine, Parker Marvin is a 2011 graduate of Johnson & Wales University where he earned degrees in Culinary Arts and Nutrition. After college, Parker worked in restaurants in San Diego, California and became a Level 2 Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. Parker moved to New York City in 2014 to work for Chef Thomas Keller at Per Se. Parker currently works as a bartender at Attaboy in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which is currently ranked #8 bar in the world by World’s Best Bars.

Ryan McCarthy

Ryan McCarthy

Owner/Chef of Downtown Catering Company

Bluffton, SC

www.downtowncateringcompany.com | @downtowncateringcompany

Downtown Catering Company is an award-winning catering service that has been servicing Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Beaufort and Charleston, South Carolina, as well as Savannah and Augusta, Georgia for over 14 years. 

Husband and wife team, Ryan and Leah McCarthy (he’s the chef, she’s the planner) have a large staff of dedicated professionals to tend to just about every event need. We cater for Events, Weddings, Parties, Private Chef Services, Corporate Events and Golf Tournament Catering. 

Chef Ryan and his wife have been local owners/operators of The Downtown Deli for the past 14 years. We provide the residents and visitors to Historic Bluffton with the freshest, most delicious food imaginable. That is why we have been voted “Best Deli” “Best Lunch” and “Best Sandwiches” each year since 2002!  They recently relocated their catering and sandwich shop operations to 1223 May River Road.  Their new location also has a private event space, “Venue 1223” an inside and outside area for parties up with to 250 guests!

Ryan McCarthy attended Paul Smith’s University, NY for culinary arts and relocated to Hilton Head from Vernon Center, NY, in 1998 where he worked as Sous Chef for Colleton River Plantation. Ryan has been working in food and beverage since 1995. He has three children, ages 13, 11 and 4, and is passionate and dedicated to high quality food and service.

David McCarus

David McCarus

Founders of McCarus Beverage Company

Charleston, SC

www.mccarusbeverage.com | @mccarusbeverage

Beginning in 2013, the McCarus Beverage Company has slowly grown focusing on representing a cohesive family of producers both domestic and international. McCarus Beverage Company imports and distributes wines from California, France, Spain, and Italy’s star producers each of whom share a strong respect for terroir; focused on natural, organic or biodynamic practices in their vineyards. With each producer adding their own personality to the MBC family they all have one characteristic in common, they produce beautifully precise wines of place. "To say the least, we are simply honored to work with each of our producers and to have the opportunity of introducing South Carolina to some of the world’s greatest wines and winemakers. For us, this is the ultimate gift.” - David and Matt McCarus

Rob McDaniel

Rob McDaniel

Executive Chef of SpringHouse

Lake Martin, AL

www.springhouseatcrossroads.com | @robmcdaniel1

Rob McDaniel is general manager and executive chef at SpringHouse restaurant at Russell Crossroads on Lake Martin in Alabama.  He is passionate about his grandmothers’ cooking, supporting local farmers and preserving southern cooking methods.  Rob practices his incomparable skills and knowledge of Southern traditional cooking and presents exceptional products from local producers in a modern way.

After graduating from Auburn University in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management, Rob headed north to Montpelier, Vermont where he studied at the New England Culinary Institute.  During his time at NECI, Rob began to appreciate sustainable living and cooking, supporting local and organic farmers and the importance of using local resources. Before leaving NECI, Rob moved to Grayton Beach, Florida where he worked for chef Johnny Earles at Criolla’s.  Upon graduating from NECI in 2004, Rob moved back to the South, where he worked as sous chef for Chris and Idie Hastings at their Birmingham-based restaurant, Hot and Hot Fish Club.  Using the skills he learned at NECI, combined with the Hot and Hot style, he began to realize that southern food and sustainability are intricately tied.

 In 2007, Rob left the Hastings to continue his culinary path as a chef with Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ.  During his time at Jim ‘N Nick’s, Rob began to appreciate the culture behind southern cooking and its methods.  Two years later, Rob got the opportunity that he had been looking for when Russell Lands On Lake Martin offered Rob the executive chef position at SpringHouse restaurant in Russell Crossroads on Lake Martin.  SpringHouse, opened in 2009, has allowed Rob to express his love for sustainable southern food and the preservation of its methods.  Food has a story, and Rob loves telling that story equally to cooking it.

Rob creates masterful menus daily to highlight the best possible products available featuring meat and produce of the place, and of the time – literally a snapshot of a day in a season.  Some of the signature dishes include SpringHouse Shrimp and Grits; SpringHouse Pimento Cheese stuffed Peppadew peppers; Crayfish Pirlou with Carolina Gold rice, house smoked bacon, asparagus and local corn; Cornmeal-Fried Soft Shell Crab, house-cured bacon, baby lettuces, heirloom tomatoes, and basil aioli on toasted brioche; Fresh from the garden Southern Vegetable Plate with chow-chow and buttermilk biscuits; Gulf Red Snapper roasted in a wood oven with baby carrots, sweet peas, fennel, fresh herbs and lemon oil; Slow-Braised Rabbit with baby vegetables and homemade dumplings; and Chilton County Peach and Tomato Crustada with homemade basil ice cream.

McDaniel is an active participant in charity events such as Chefs To The Rescue --  Alabama Tornado Relief event and has been a guest chef at many other culinary events. As a member of the national Slow Food USA, Rob wanted to create a strong sense of community and educate those in the area about sustainable living through a local chapter.   In 2010, he started the Slow Food Crossroads local chapter where he is the active president with 26 members. He is also a member of Crossroads Gardeners Club which meets monthly, has a guest speaker and the members discuss gardening.   In 2011, a community garden took shape at Russell Crossroads — The Garden at Crossroads — with Rob at the helm.  The first phase of the garden includes fruit trees, the fruit of which will find its way to a menu at SpringHouse.  There is also a raised bed program for local residents with 18 beds and a waiting list for more.  Through the garden, SpringHouse hopes to create a sense of ownership for people in the Crossroads community.  All of the food grown in the beds belongs to the owners of the beds.  Rob’s passion for the Garden is reflective of his childhood memories of a family garden and the way food tastes when a vegetable is picked straight from the garden.

Rob McDaniel and SpringHouse have been featured in publications such as Mother Nature Network where Rob was selected as a Reader’s Choice chef for 40 Chefs Under 40 - Forty rising culinary stars, all working to make great sustenance more sustainable, Alabama Magazine, Birmingham Homes & Garden, B-Metro, Garden & Gun, Lake Martin Living, Lake Magazine, and East Alabama Living.

Andrew McNamara

Andrew McNamara

Vice President of Wine Development and Master Sommelier for Breakthru Beverage Group

Tampa, FL

www.breakthrubev.com | @breakthrubeveragegroup

Andy is the Vice President of Wine Development and Master Sommelier for Breakthru Beverage Group. McNamara oversees the Luxury Wine Team and Augustan Wine Imports in Florida. He works closely with Breakthru’s suppliers and customers to strengthen relationships. He also provides education to both Breakthru’s Sales Associates and customers.

Prior to joining Breakthru Beverage Florida, McNamara was a member of the sommelier team at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. While at the Breakers, Andrew passed the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier Examination in 2005. Following this achievement, Andrew competed in the finals of the Chain de Rotisseuers Best Young Sommelier in America competition in the summer of 2006. Following this, Andrew passed the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination in March of 2007, where he became the 10th person to win the Krug Cup – awarded to the individual who passes the Master Sommelier Exam on the first attempt with the highest score; there are now just 13 other individuals who hold that accolade.

He was named one of the "Best New Sommeliers of 2008" by Wine and Spirits, and has been a featured presenter at TEXSOM, Palm Beach Wine and Food Festival, Kapalua Wine and Food Festival, Charlotte Wine and Food Festival and numerous others.

McNamara served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas from 2015 through 2017. Andrew previously served as Chair of the Education Committee for the Court. He has also previously served on the Board of Directors for the Guild of Sommeliers.

McNamara got his start in the wine business at Arthur’s Wine Shop in Charlotte, North Carolina. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Davidson College in Davidson, NC.

Russ Moore

Russ Moore

Executive Chef of Slightly North of Broad

Charleston, SC

www.snobcharleston.com | @russ_moore_

As chef Russ Moore wears many hats, including management of an esteemed culinary team, cultivating talent, and spearheading the menu development that continues to delight patrons since the restaurant’s opening in 1993.

Moore speaks of these responsibilities with equal enthusiasm. “A lot of what we do at Slightly North of Broad is cultivating young talent. I’m inspired by their creativity and dedication to cuisine.  Being part of their culinary development is incredibly rewarding. The Slightly North of Broad kitchen is a special place.  To be able to serve products that often just came in the back door from someone you consider a friend is priceless.  Having that opportunity makes you strive to be a better cook everyday.”

Within its classic “bistro” concept, Slightly North of Broad offers abundant choices - perennial favorites complemented by daily, seasonal specials. By offering that combination, Moore feels Slightly North of Broad brings diners a unique experience. “We want people to feel they can come here every day, any day, and enjoy what we’re doing.”

A graduate of Johnson and Wales University Charleston, he was named Slightly North of Broad’s chef de cuisine in 2008, chef in 2013, and then executive chef in 2015. Moore is an active mentor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston and the Art Institute of Charleston. He serves as a judge with the National Restaurant Association’s Pro Start program and actively involves himself with local professional organizations. 

Kevin Nashan

Kevin Nashan

Chef/Owner of Sidney Street Cafe

St. Louis, MO

www.sidneystreetcafestl.com | @knashan

Chef Kevin Nashan has been pivotal in putting St. Louis, MO, on the map as a dining destination. The 2017 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Midwest has helmed Sidney Street Cafe for more than a decade. There he crafts dishes with myriad influences, including Spanish, New Mexican, Midwestern, Southern, and French cuisines. He honed his skills in revered kitchens like Commander’s Palace, Daniel, and Martin Barasategui in San Sebastian, Spain. 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. Nashan won the 2013 Cochon 555 Barbecue competition in St. Louis 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, completed six Iron Man competitions and two Chefs Cycle events benefitting No Kid Hungry, and regularly participates in national food events, including Pebble Beach Food & Wine, The James Beard Celebrity Chef Series, Charleston Wine + Food Festival, and Taste of the NFL in San Francisco.

Erik Niel

Erik Niel

Executive Chef of Easy Bistro & Bar

Chattanooga, TN

www.easybistro.com | @easybistro

Erik Niel is a two-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast (2016 & 2017), as well as voted “Chef of the Year” by the Tennessee Tourism & Hospitality Association (2016). Having grown up in Louisiana fishing on the bayou, Erik's upbringing strongly influenced his cooking of Southern-inspired French classics. His restaurant Easy Bistro & Bar, located in what was formerly the world’s first Coca Cola bottling plant, is one of the most well-regarded restaurants in Chattanooga’s burgeoning food scene. The restaurant has a nationally recognized wine and craft cocktail program, and is one of the only raw bars in Tennessee that features seafood from all three coasts. In October 2014, Erik and his wife Amanda assumed operations of Main Street Meats, a neighborhood restaurant and butcher shop that works closely with Chattanooga’s surrounding farmland to explore the distinctive flavors of the region. Erik and his wife Amanda are deeply committed to furthering Chattanooga’s food culture – they have spearheaded a restaurateur collective to promote independent, locally-owned restaurants. In April 2015, the Niels launched the Scenic City Supper Club (SCSC), a guest chef series created to shed light on Chattanooga’s emerging restaurant scene and its dedicated community of chefs, farmers, and producers. The series has already proved to be a defining moment for the Chattanooga food scene.

Rajat Parr

Rajat Parr

Partner/Proprietor of Domaine de la Côte

Lompoc, CA

www.domainedelacote.com | @domainedelacote

Co-founder of Domaine de la Côte, Rajat is a three-time James Beard Award winner and regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on wine.

A trained chef, Rajat grew up in Calcutta, India, before journeying to the United States where he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. It was at the CIA where his interest in wine took hold. After graduation, Rajat chose to pursue the cellar instead of the kitchen, venturing to San Francisco to join the staff of Rubicon, the renowned wine-focused restaurant of Master Sommelier Larry Stone. Rajat quickly rose in the ranks, becoming a protégé of Stone. Here he honed his wine knowledge and tasting skills, while beginning a career that would see him become one the world’s most celebrated sommeliers.

Raj eventually left Rubicon to take over the wine program at San Francisco’s landmark Fifth Floor restaurant before moving to join chef Michael Mina as wine director of that chef’s eponymous restaurant. The Mina Group would eventually spawn over 20 restaurants across the country, wine programs all overseen by Rajat. During this period winemaking began to evermore capture his imagination.

Eternally fascinated not just with the taste of wine, but the question of why it tastes the way it does, Rajat not only frequently traveled to European wine regions; he also made use of his proximity to California wine country, becoming close with several of California’s top winemakers. This ultimately translated into bottling his own wines. At first these were blends selected from wines produced by others, but in short time Raj became more deeply involved—calling picking times, overseeing fermentations, etc. As vineyards and winemaking became ever more an obsession, Raj made the transition from sommelier to producer.

During this period, he became closer to Santa Barbara County winemaker Sashi Moorman, as they found mutual interest in pushing the boundaries of California wine, every vintage seeing how much earlier they could harvest to achieve more balanced alcohols, racier acidity, and purer flavors. In 2011, Rajat and Sashi launched Sandhi, producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from select vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills.  In 2013, they released wines from his new estate vineyard, Domaine de la Côte, located on the westernmost edge of the Sta. Rita Hills. Most recently, in early 2014, Rajat and Sashi took over the historic and acclaimed Seven Springs Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon.

Beyond his wineries, today Raj has also co-authored the James-Beard-Award winning book Secrets of the Sommeliers (with Jordan Mackay), and is now working on their new book The Atlas of Taste. He also co-founded the trend-setting California non-profit wine group, In Pursuit of Balance. He lives in Santa Barbara, though he can still be found frequently traveling the world speaking, educating, tasting, and obsessively learning.

Orchid Paulmeier

Orchid Paulmeier

Chef/Owner of One Hot Mama's

Hilton Head Island, SC

www.onehotmamas.com | @mamaorchid

Owning a restaurant was always part of “Mama” Orchid Paulmeier’s American Dream. “Growing up in a Filipino family in Chicago, I learned the joy of big family dinners with lots of traditional Filipino dishes as well as the fundamentals of home cooking and using what you have in the kitchen,” she said.

She started her culinary career as an ice cream scooper in high school. Intent on learning more about the restaurant business, Orchid accepted an internship on Hilton Head Island in 1994, and decided this is where she wanted to live. So along with her high-school-sweetheart husband, Mike, Orchid settled in the Lowcountry and began digging in to the deep, colorful cooking traditions of this region. Just days before her 30th birthday in 2003, Orchid opened One Hot Mama’ s as part of the SERG Group which owns a number of area restaurants, designing the menu and creating all the signature sauces herself. “I blended Southern favorites like collards, cornbread and slow-cooked barbecue, with my own family recipes,” she said, describing the cuisine as “comfort food with a kick.”

Orchid became familiar to millions of people throughout the country when she auditioned for and won a slot on Food Network Star, Season 7. The series took 15 chefs and put them in what has become a familiar reality TV showdown.  While she didn’t take home the grand prize, her culinary creations were praised by the judges and she was consistently one of the leaders in the fan vote. But that little taste of the spotlight hasn’t change Orchid’s priorities: Family, friends and food. (Because nothing tastes better than that.)

Emily Pickral

Emily Pickral

Master Sommelier of Spire Collection

Calistoga, CA

www.spirecollection.com | @spirecollection

Emily Pickral’s passion for wine began during her early 20’s while living in New York City. She worked as a Captain & Wine Steward at Gramercy Tavern, which gave her first-hand experience tasting the top wines of the world. In 2011, with a desire to learn more about wine production, she relocated with her family to Yountville, CA. There, she has spent the past 6 years working for some of Napa’s top wine producers. She recently moved back to the east coast, and as the region manager for the Spire Collection, continues her to share her love of some of Napa & Sonoma’s best wineries here in the southeast.

In 2009, her passion for learning about wine encouraged her to enroll in the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory Course. Four years later in 2013, she earned the Master Sommelier Diploma. Emily was the 19th woman in the world to earn the title, and is one of 250 Master Sommeliers worldwide.

Joe Raya

Joe Raya

Owner/Creater of Bittermilk

Charleston, SC

www.bittermilk.com | @drinkbittermilk

MariElena grew up with cooking in her genes. Her father Robert owned and operated one of the city’s most popular restaurant institutions—Robert’s of Charleston, where she worked her way up from washing dishes. She and Joe met while attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. After culinary school, together they traveled and worked in Palm Beach, Boca Raton and then back to Charleston where they managed Robert’s for more than five years.

In 2010, the Rayas opened The Gin Joint, a Charleston cocktail bar, to spread the love of pre-prohibition cocktails and fine hand crafted spirits with Charleston and beyond. Joe developed the beverage program and was the bar’s first bartender, and MariElena was chef, developing a menu of sophisticated bar snacks. With countless requests from patrons for The Gin Joint’s cocktail recipes that were just too labor heavy and called for ingredients that aren’t common in the home, the next step for Joe and MariElena was clear - to help people easily make quality, complex cocktails in their own homes.

After two years of tweaking ideas and testing recipes that combined their beverage and culinary expertise, Bittermilk came to the market in August 2013 with three classic cocktails needing only booze to make a complete cocktail. Since then, it has won Garden & Gun’s Made in the South Award for Drinks and has been featured in Southern Living, The Wall Street Journal, and GQ amongst other national media. Bittermilk products can be found in nearly all U.S. states and more than 900 retail stores and restaurants.

In 2015, Joe and MariElena’s business adventures expanded to include Tippleman’s, a line of complex bar syrups developed for bartenders. While Bittermilk is developed as a complete cocktail mixer, Tippleman’s is one ingredient, the sweetener, in a cocktail.

Jesse Rodriguez

Jesse Rodriguez

Director of Wine at Montage Palmetto Bluff

Bluffton, SC

www.montagehotels.com/palmettobluff | @montagepalmettobluff

Jesse Rodriguez is the Director of Wine at Montage Palmetto Bluff, an award-winning hotel and resort in Bluffton, South Carolina. Prior to this position he worked at Montage Laguna Beach where he helped Studio Restaurant receive the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award.

Rodriguez is an Advanced Sommelier by the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers, is credentialed as a Certified Wine Educator by the Society of Wine Educators, and has completed the Diploma level through The Wine and Spirits Educational Trust (WSET). He is a second-year Master of Wine Student. He holds a Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University. He has a passion for education and currently holds positions as Business of Wine Advisory Board for San Diego State University College of Extended Studies and Executive Director of the SommCon Advisory Board.

Prior to being a member of the Montage team, Rodriguez managed the beverage program for The Grand Del Mar, a luxury resort in San Diego County. The beverage program for both the fine dining restaurant on property, Addison, and The Grand Del Mar, received one of ten of “America’s Best Spots for Wine” by Forbes.com. Under Rodriguez, San Diego County and Addison also received the first ever nomination for the James Beard Awards Semi-Finalist for Outstanding Wine Service, The prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award for 2009-13, Wine Enthusiast’s 2010 and 2011 Ultimate Award of Distinction and the 2010 Santé “Wine Restaurant of the Year” Award. The property was also named one of Wine Enthusiast’s “100 Best Wine Restaurants” in 2011 and 2012. The impressive wine list compiled by Rodriguez at this property was also named “One of Seven Winning Wine Lists for 2007” by Food & Wine Magazine.

Before joining the team at The Grand Del Mar, Rodriguez was the Head Sommelier at Napa Valley’s The French Laundry, helping the restaurant become the only dining venue in California to receive a Three Michelin Star rating. Rodriguez was also California Sales Manager for ZD Wines, the Estate Manager for Phoenix-based Alliance Beverage Distributing Company, and a sommelier for The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Rodriguez was named one of “America’s Best New Sommeliers” by Wine & Spirits magazine in 2007 and one of StarChefs.com’s 2010 “Los Angeles-San Diego Rising Stars.” He was also named “Best Sommelier” by the readers, editors and critics of San Diego Magazine and Ranch & Coast: San Diego’s luxury lifestyle magazine for four consecutive years.

Rodney Scott

Rodney Scott

Chef/Owner of Rodney Scott's BBQ

Charleston, SC

www.rodneyscottsbbq.com | @rodneyscottsbbq

Rodney Scott moved with his family to Hemingway, SC when he was just one year old. His family opened Scott’s Variety, a convenience store and grocery of sorts located on the side of the old highway that ran through town. Although they sold local produce and cold drinks throughout the week, every single Thursday they they did a little something extra: the Scott’s smoked whole hogs. The intoxicating smell of smoked pork was enough to bring in all the locals, but the flavor of the Scott family’s whole hog BBQ is what kept them coming back.

The Scott’s built their own hog pits out back behind the store and fired them up with hardwood coals. Young Rodney was just 11 years old when he cooked his first whole hog, and it couldn’t have come a day sooner. As word began to spread about the Scott’s weekly BBQ feast, more and more people were hankering for a taste. It turned out that just one day a week of whole hog BBQ was simply not enough. By the mid 1980’s they moved to smoking hogs two days a week, and before long two days turned into three. Finally, in 2012 they added a fourth day, offering old-fashioned whole hog BBQ every week from Wednesday through Saturday.

But it wasn’t just locals that were eating all those hogs. People drove for hours -- from Charleston, 90 miles south, and even beyond -- having heard about Rodney Scott and the old-fashioned whole hog BBQ they were cooking in Hemingway. Before they knew it, even the New York Times was praising Rodney and the magic of Scott’s BBQ.

In 2010 Rodney was invited down to Charleston to cook at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. Rodney, accompanied by his infectious personality and delicious food, was an instant hit and by the end of the festival people were already calling him the “Charleston BBQ Guy.” Nobody cared that he had traveled 90 miles for the occasion. More event invitations followed, and Rodney traveled distances as far as Australia and Belize to share his passion for whole hog BBQ.

As Rodney’s notoriety grew around Charleston, so did the requests for him to open a joint a little closer to town. Impressed by the hospitality of everyone he met in Charleston, Rodney fell in love with the town and its charm. In July of 2016, Rodney Scott left the family business to start a new chapter and open his own place.

Rodney Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Charleston takes all the things that Rodney values about BBQ and his time in the family business and combines them with a larger space and an expanded menu that lets him incorporate his life experiences into the foods he loves to eat. Whole hog is still the king of the menu at Rodney Scott’s BBQ, but it’s got a lot of flavorful friends to keep it company. From the fan-favorite spare ribs that are covered in a special rub, slow-smoked and slathered in Rodney’s Sauce, to baked mac n’ cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping, there are many items that showcase Rodney’s food lifestyle.

Southern fried catfish and pit-cooked BBQ chicken provide a little variety to an otherwise pork-packed diet, and homemade sides like fresh-cut shoestring fries satisfy a craving like nothing else can. Vibrant memories of his mother making banana pudding on Sunday afternoons led to Rodney adding homemade banana pudding to the menu. And Rodney’s personal favorite Southern comfort food, Chicken Perlo, is crafted with both skill and creativity, offering his Charleston guests the same joy that he receives from eating it.

Aaron Siegel

Aaron Siegel

Operating Partner of Home Team BBQ

Charleston, SC

www.hometeambbq.com | @hometeambbq

An Atlanta native and a graduate of the University of Georgia, Aaron “Fiery Ron” Siegel moved to NYC after college to follow his passion for cooking and attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. After completing an internship at Atlanta’s Nava under acclaimed Chef Kevin Rathbun, he graduated with his culinary degree and moved to Aspen, Colorado. There, Aaron worked as a sous chef at two of the most popular “white table cloth” restaurants — Pinion’s and Cache Cache — and became intrigued with the idea of combining traditional processes and techniques of classical cuisine with the simplicity of comfort food, BBQ, and Southern fare. He returned to the South and was hired by the Hospitality Management Group Inc. (HMGI) as the Executive Chef at Blossom Café in downtown Charleston where he worked for several years. Aaron worked closely with Executive Chef Craig Diehl at sister restaurant Cypress where he learned more about smoking meats and developing a charcuterie program. During this time, he began to scout locations for his barbeque concept and in 2006, together with partners Taylor Garrigan, Tony McKie, and Madison Ruckel, opened Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ in West Ashley. With years of hard work and dedicated service in the Charleston community, came the opportunity to expand for Home Team BBQ’s partners, with a location on Sullivan’s Island in 2009, a location in downtown Charleston in the spring of 2016, and at the base of Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colorado in the winter of 2016.

David Szlam

David Szlam

Founder/CEO of Virgil Kaine

North Charleston, SC

www.virgilkaine.com | @virgilkaine

Virgil Kaine Lowcountry Whiskey Co. founder and CEO David Szlam understands the food and beverage industry in its entirety. Educated at College of Charleston and later the California Culinary Academy, Szlam applies his passions and knowledge of whiskey and food to Virgil Kaine’s products. Thinking outside the barrel, Virgil Kaine is the product of creativity and experimentation to create whiskeys and bourbons with balanced flavors.

Szlam began his culinary background in Charleston under Frank McMahon at Hank’s Seafood where he learned the basics of sauces, knife skills and, most importantly, his love of building experience through ingredients and flavors. In 2001, he moved to San Francisco where he sharpened his culinary skills working in various celebrated kitchens, including Roland Passot, Gary Danko and Daniel Humm. Missing his Lowcountry roots, Szlam relocated to Charleston in 2004, and opened Cordavi, a new American restaurant concept that gained national attention, making Esquire’s list of the Top 20 New Restaurants of America in 2005.

In 2011, Szlam’s passion for whiskey prompted him to transition out of the kitchen and create Virgil Kaine, applying his culinary experiences to the process of blending and creating unique flavor profiles.

The name Virgil Kaine is inspired by the man himself who, in theory, did not let tradition and the influence of his surroundings make him succumb to the visions of the Old South. Much like its namesake, Virgil Kaine whiskey steps outside of the barrel and the traditions of American Whiskey, adding blending and infusing techniques to make a new kind of whiskey that entered the market when there was nothing else of its kind available.

When Szlam isn’t perfecting the art of whiskey at Virgil Kaine, you can find him on a boat drinking Natural Light or spending time with his wife, Chelsey, two sons, Harlan and Dylan, and their bulldog puppy named Biggs. Szlam enjoys fishing, gardening and BBQ.

Michael Toscano

Michael Toscano

CHhef/Owner of Le Farfalle

Charleston, SC

www.lefarfallecharleston.com | @mjtoscano

Michael Toscano is Chef/Owner of Le Farfalle in Charleston, SC, the modern, Italian osteria he opened with his wife, Caitlin, in 2016.

A native of Houston, TX, Michael had goals of playing college golf until a stint working at a local golf course in high school turned him on to cooking instead. He received a scholarship to an American Culinary Federation Apprenticeship at North Carolina’s Pinehurst Resort. After moving to New York
City, Michael began working under Thomas Keller at Bouchon Bakery. By the age of 21, he was working as a sous chef for Mario Batali’s celebrated Babbo. After four years with B&B Hospitality, Toscano was tapped to open the Italian food mecca Eataly as the Executive chef of the fine dining restaurant, Manzo.

Michael ventured out on his own in 2012 to open Perla - a modern Italian restaurant located in Greenwich Village - which received many notable accolades. Through his career Toscano has garnered many accomplishments, such as “New York Rising Star” by StarChefs.com; Zagat 30 under 30; James Beard “Rising Star Chef” semifinalist; selected to be part of the Williams Sonoma Chefs’ Collective; and Charleston Regional Business Journal Forty under 40.

Seeking a slower pace of life and chasing their dreams of opening a restaurant together, Michael and Caitlin moved with their two children to Charleston to open Le Farfalle.

Karl Worley

Karl Worley

Chef/Owner of Biscuit Love Brunch

Nashville, TN

www.biscuitlove.com | @biscuitlovebrunch

Chef Karl Worley grew up in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, where he learned to cook from his grandfather in Bristol, Tennessee. He received his culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University in 2010. After spending time in the kitchens of Rioja in Denver, he further developed his passion for sustainable agriculture and farm-to-table restaurants while working for the Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough, NC. In 2012, Worley and his wife Sarah began Biscuit Love, a food truck that soon became a Nashville breakfast staple for biscuits and brunch. In 2015, they found a brick and mortar home for Biscuit Love in the heart of the Gulch neighborhood where they offer a wide range of breakfast and lunch options. Shortly after opening, Bon Appetit named Biscuit Love one of America’s top 50 best new restaurants and named the East Nasty Biscuit the Best Sandwich of 2015. Through sourcing top quality seasonal ingredients, Worley is known for creating delicious dishes that honor the deep-rooted traditions of the South.