Chef, author and artist Elizabeth Falkner was born in San Francisco, grew up in Los Angeles and worked her way up in San Francisco’s top kitchens before opening her first restaurant, Citizen Cake, in 1997. A decade later, she opened four more restaurants in San Francisco and New York. Today, she does recipe development and consults on numerous products and brands. She is an inspiring public speaker and has cooked and spoken all over the United States and in Japan, Europe, Mexico, Canada and China.
Falkner’s style of cuisine is globally inspired and she cooks both savory and sweet, traditional and modern. She is an advocate for people and chefs to think more like athletes and “stay fit to cook.” She played league soccer for 28 years, and has studied Jungshin and Iadō, both of which are forms of sword fighting fitness and martial arts. She also practices yoga on a regular basis, does CrossFit, pilates, half marathons (plus the New York Marathon in 2016), cycling and tennis.
Cooking competitions are a favorite “sport” for Chef Falkner. She has competed and judged for the last 15 years on many of the television cooking competition programs for Food Network, Cooking Channel, Bravo and NBC, and she has also made appearances on many other shows. She is often featured in food and lifestyle magazines, has received multiple awards and was nominated for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef (2005).Falkner was a long-time member of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs and served as president from 2014 to 2015 and again from 2019 to 2020. She sat on the board of directors of Frameline, San Francisco’s premier LGBTQ film festival from 2004–2008.
A graduate from San Francisco Art Institute with a BFA in film, Falkner produced two short films with food themes in 2018, “Food Games - Sustainability” which she also hosted, and a documented performance piece called “Croquembouche Samurai” she performed at SoHo House in New York City. She is one of the chefs featured in “Her Name Is Chef,” a documentary about the “Sheroes” in the restaurant business released March 2021, directed by Peter Ferriero and produced by Oaks Media Group (Amazon, iTunes). Deeply concerned for the hard-hit restaurant industry by the covid pandemic, Falkner is hosting and co-producing a feature documentary currently in post-production, “Sorry We’re Closed”—an insider’s perspective of how the chefs and restaurant industry deals and evolves in crisis. She is also working on a series of food inspired interactive installations and a memoir.
Amaury grew up in the Haute-Savoie region of France, neighboring the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Proving very creative and manual from an early age, he showed little interest for the classic school curriculum, which he left at 14 for vocational school.
After two years studying cooking in Thonon-les-Bains, France, Amaury felt attracted by pastry and went on for a two-year apprenticeship in Geneva, Switzerland. During this time he won a number of local showpiece contests, which, along with several internships, helped him earn the recommendation of seasoned chefs. Amaury went on to deepen his knowledge of pastry at the prestigious Maison Lenôtre in Paris, France; he followed another two-year curriculum, this time in Advanced Pastry Skills. In 2010, he was named one of the best apprentices in the Paris region by the MOF organization, not being allowed to run for the national distinction.
After Amaury earned his Advanced Pastry Skills diploma, he worked for Lenôtre on the French Riviera for a year, where he handled the roles of deputy boutique manager, apprentice instructor and teacher at the Lenôtre School of Cannes (amateur section). In 2012 he won the Regional Contest “Délices de la Méditerranée” organized by famous French chef Yves Thuriès, the first competition in which he was opposed to seasoned professionas.
Amaury then moved back to Paris to handle his first role as boutique manager and head of product R&D at Hugo & Victor. In 2013 he qualified for participation to a nation-wide TV reality show contest called “Qui Sera le Prochain Grand Pâtissier?” (“Who will be the next great pastry chef?”), the concept of which was to have talented young pastry professionals compete against each other under the mentorship of famous pastry chefs Christophe Michalak, Christophe Adam, Pierre Marcolini and Philippe Urraca. Amaury took third place in the contest, which aired on national channel France 2 during the month of July 2013.
After his performance on French TV, Amaury was offered the opportunity to join a high-end pastry company with boutiques at the Bellagio and Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada. He accepted and took the role of Chef de Partie Product Finishing & Product R&D, which he handled for a little less than four years. Amaury contributed in renewing the whole pastry offering and worked on numerous showpieces. It is in 2016 that Amaury decided to start publishing his creations on social media, notably in the form of “how to”/“behind the scenes” videos, which proved very popular, a number of them gathering several tens of millions of views.
Following the success of his videos, Amaury started his own company to consult and teach classes to professionals all over the world. He set up a series of Masterclass and to date, has taught in Russia, Mexico, Ukraine, Sardinia, Paris, Bangkok, Malaysia, Las Vegas, Chicago, Singapore, Italy, Mexico, Greece, Beijing, Melbourne, Charlotte, Indonesia, Bucharest, London, Barcelona and Taiwan.
After seventeen years of devoting his life fully to the pastry industry, Chef Amaury has decided to open his very first pastry school with Chef Michel Ernots! He wanted to put his life experience in the pastry industry to work for everyone else who would like to learn the fundamental and advanced skills of this beautiful craft with an intensive ten-week program covering all bases: pastry, plated dessert, chocolate, ice-cream, danish, bread, candy and chocolate showpieces. Starting from the beginning and going all the way to more advanced skills!
Amaury was born in Cannes (France) in 1991 and moved to the US when he was 22 years old, he now lives with his wife, Fiona Guichon, in Las Vegas.
Chef Amaury Guichon hosts “School of Chocolate” on Netflix, a competition in which contestants construct chocolate sculptures with Chef Amaury both guiding them and judging the final result. The successful 8-episode reality series premiered on the platform internationally on November 26, 2021, and was in the Netflix TOP 10 tv show in over 50 countries.
Chef Amaury Guichon’s desserts are the kind that leave you speechless. In his first book, The Art of Flavor, side-by-side with him, discover his ideas and artistic journey. His first book is a gourmet adventure through which you will be transported to different continents; Chef Amaury makes you discover his 12 signature creations with a step-by-step of about sixty recipes and multitudes of techniques. For a full year, Amaury has been inspired by the flavors of the world to reveal his most precious secrets.
Chef Jeff Henderson started his culinary career in the unlikeliest of places: prison. While serving nearly ten years, he discovered an untapped passion for cooking, which led to executive chef positions at Bellagio and Caesars Palace.
Jeff’s inspiring story has been featured on “Oprah’s Life Class,” “Good Morning America,” “Today Show,” “ABC World News Tonight,” CNN, and “The Steve Harvey Show” and in major publications such as The New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, People magazine, The Washington Post and many others. When Jeff is not traveling the world teaching his life-changing lessons, he resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife Stacy and their five children.
Chef Ming Tsai, AAC’s 2022 Celebrated Chef, is a James Beard Award-winning chef, as well as an Emmy Award-winner. Chef Ming’s PBS-TV’s “Simply Ming” has filmed 18 seasons and he is the author of five cookbooks: Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai, Simply Ming, Ming’s Master Recipes, Simply Ming One-Pot Meals and Simply Ming In Your Kitchen.
Chef Ming Tsai’s love of cooking began at an early age. Raised in Dayton, Ohio, he spent hours alongside his parents at Mandarin Kitchen, the family-owned restaurant. In this, Ming learned about restaurant operations and, most importantly, the art of making customers happy through food.
Ming headed east for high school, attending Phillips Academy Andover. He then continued to Yale University, earning his degree in Mechanical Engineering. Ming spent his summers attending Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, apprenticing at restaurants in Paris. Tsai was a squash player at Yale, playing number two for the team, and he was named an All-Ivy League player in 1986.
After graduating from Yale, Ming moved to Paris and trained under renowned Pastry Chef Pierre Herme and then to Osaka with Sushi Master Kobayashi. While attending culinary school in France, Tsai played squash professionally on the European circuit. Upon his return to the United States, Ming enrolled in graduate school at Cornell University, earning a master’s degree in Hotel Administration and Hospitality Marketing.
In 1998, Ming opened Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He immediately impressed diners from Boston and beyond with the restaurant’s innovative East-West cuisine. In its first year, Blue Ginger received three stars from The Boston Globe, was named “Best New Restaurant” by Boston magazine, and was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as “Best New Restaurant 1998.” That same year, Esquire magazine honored Ming as “Chef of the Year.” The James Beard Foundation crowned Ming “2002 Best Chef Northeast,” and the Zagat Restaurant Guide consistently rated Blue Ginger within the “Top 5 of Most Popular Restaurants.”
In 2007, Blue Ginger received the Ivy Award from Restaurants & Institutions for achieving the highest standards in food, hospitality, and service. In 2009, Ming and Blue Ginger won IFMA’s Silver Plate Award in the Independent Restaurant category. In 2012, Boston magazine ranked Blue Ginger as one of the 50 Best Restaurants. In June 2017, after 19 years of excellence, Ming closed Blue Ginger to pursue other opportunities.
In early 2013, Ming opened his second restaurant: Blue Dragon, an Asian gastropub located in Boston’s Fort Point Channel area. The tapas-style menu features Ming’s East-West approach with a twist on traditional pub favorites. Blue Dragon was named one of Esquire magazine’s “Best New Restaurants 2013” and one of Zagat’s “24 New Restaurants You Need to Know About Around the US.”
In 2017, Ming’s wife Polly was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. As they explored medical treatment options at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Polly decided to transition to a vegan diet with the hope of lowering inflammation by using food as medicine. As a way to emulate his lifestyle and share it with the world, Ming has launched his new product line, MingsBings.
Edward Leonard is one of only 73 Certified Master Chefs in the country and is one of four that also holds the master chef designation from Germany and World cooks society. Past ACF national president, WACS Vice President, ACF Culinary Team Chef/manager 2000 to 2008 and Chair for the CMC committee. Chef was the founder of practical testing for all levels of certification in ACF.
Recent winner of the 2021 ACF Innovation award for Culinary Arts at the ACF national Convention Chef Leonard continues to inspire and lead by doing and still running operations. Chef was also honored in September 2021 receiving the Culinary Excellence Award for Outstanding Executive Chef and Leadership for “Private Golf or Country Clubs” at the third annual Golf Kitchen Culinary Excellence Awards gala.
Chef is now director of culinary operations of Fresh Meadow Country Club where he is building a new culture with his “Culinary pride program.” Chef is recognized at the highest level for his contributions and impact on the profession in the states and globally. His CV includes the famed Westchester Country Club, Le Cordon Bleu North America, and British Hotel, catering Company TrustHouse Forte to name a few.
Chef is a trusted training partner with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace bringing his renowned Culinary Pride#174; program to other clubs and resorts while getting ready to bring a Club Chefs Institute Congress in 2022.
Master Chef Shawn Loving is currently the Executive Chef of the prestigious Detroit Athletic Club and prior the Department Chair of Schoolcraft College’s esteemed Culinary Arts Program located in Livonia, Michigan, since 2007.
He began his career working in numerous acclaimed Michigan restaurants before becoming a chef for the Walt Disney Company at Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida, and supporting a task for a short stint for Euro Disney in Marne de la Valle, France. From there, Chef Shawn would achieve the title of Corporate Executive Chef in Orlando.
Chef became the proprietor at the critically acclaimed Loving Spoonful Restaurant at the Copper Creek Golf Club which uniquely combined quality with innovation, a recognizable trademark of Shawn and his culinary versatility.
Chef Shawn was the Department chair of the most recognized culinary colleges Schoolcraft College’s Culinary Arts program in Livonia Michigan from 2007–2021.
In 2008, Chef Shawn was selected as Executive Chef for the U.S. Men’s and he would serve as Executive Chef for the USAB Men’s Team in Istanbul for the 2010 and 2015 FIBA World Championships, the 2014 summer World Championships in Madrid, the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro and recently the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Shawn has received critical acclaim and conferred a multitude of awards and medals from the American Culinary Federation placing, but his most recent—and highest—honor was to earn the Certified Master Chef designation.
Chef Loving is now one of 72 CMCs in the nation. Chef Shawn continues to cultivate strong interpersonal relationships with professionals around the world.
Certified Master Chef Brian Beland is a graduate of Michigan State University Schools of Hospitality Business and holds a second degree from The Culinary Institute of Arts, Hyde Park, New York. He was certified by the American Culinary Federations as a Certified Master Chef in 2010.
A majority of Chef Beland’s professional career has been in private clubs, he worked at the well-known Westchester Country Club and its award-winning culinary program in Rye New York while completing his degree at CIA. Most notably is his long-term tenure at Country Club of Detroit serving as Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage.
Chef Beland while overseeing his program at DCC is also a Chef Instructor and current Department Chair at Schoolcraft College.
Adept in many culinary disciplines, Chef Beland has medaled in several culinary competitions around the world, from ice carving challenges to the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA), specifically, winning an individual gold medal in 2012, in Erfurt, Germany.
He has been honored as Chef of the Year for MCCA Chapter, and the Central Regional Chef of the Year in 2012 after which he went on to score a gold medal at the ACF National Chef of the Year competition. Chef Beland competed at the inaugural Dubai Hospitality Championships as a member of the ACF Culinary Team USA scoring a team gold and a second place overall.
Chef Shular has a history of embracing challenges and overcoming the odds. As a member of the American Culinary Federation since 1993, he has received over twelve gold medals and eight “Best in Shows” in local and national and competitions. Additionally, in 2008 Chef Shular was a member of the internationally recognized ACF Culinary Team USA, the official culinary regional team representing the United States in international culinary competitions.
The team achievement was gold medal, winning top honors against 63 teams at the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) held every four years in Erfurt, Germany.
His achievement, dedication, talent, and leadership ability earned him the position of team captain for the ICS International Culinary Regional Team that competed at the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) in 2012.
Shular has been recognized and featured in many media publications, including the prestigious American historical archives “The History Makers.” His induction into The History Makers in 2005 made Chef Shular one of the youngest ever and one of only a few African-American chefs elected for this achievement.
Chef Shular is not only one of the most talented and respected chefs in the country, but he is also one of America’s elite history makers! In 2014 Chef Shular etched his name in the culinary history books by becoming the first African American and minority to successfully pass the grueling 130-hour, eight-day test known as the Certified Master Chef exam. After years of preparation and personal sacrifice Chef Shular prevailed and earned the culinary industry’s highest honor, the designation known as Certified Master Chef (CMC).
Chef Keith Sarasin is an author, chef, speaker and restauranteur. In 2012, Keith started The Farmers Dinner. The Farmers Dinner hosts upscale dinners on local New England farms. Since 2012, The Farmers Dinner has hosted over 100 farm to table events across New England and fed more than 19,000 customers raising over $188,000 for local farms. Keith has a deep passion and respect for Indian food which lead him to start Aatma. Aatma is an exciting one-of-a-kind pop-up tasting experience showcasing food from the Indian subcontinent presented with modern techniques and styles. Chef Sarasin is also the author of The Farmer’s Dinner Cookbook, Perfect Turkey and Meat: The Ultimate Cookbook.
Chef Ryan Manning is a restaurateur, culinary consultant and entrepreneur. He is a graduate of the ACF Apprenticeship program and proudly opened MX Taco in early 2019, influenced by pre-Hispanic Mayan culture, gastronomically exciting Pueblan and Oaxacan flavors. His love for Mexican cuisine started in the kitchens of Mexico when Chef Manning’s passion for the culture and cuisine of the country eventually took him south of the border where he worked alongside some great chefs and discovering some of the most unique dishes from towns across the culturally rich country.
Chef Manning began to cater via The Ritz-Carlton to this specialized cuisine including being called upon by the Mexican Embassy to the United States in Washington, D.C., to cook at The Mexican Cultural Institute for special events. Ultimately, though, Chef Manning wanted to return to the city that had become his home, Orlando, Florida, where he built a solid foundation of his culinary career in the heart of some of the largest hotel companies including Disney and The Ritz-Carlton in Orlando.
Chef Mariya Russell grew up in Springfield, Ohio, where she spent most of her time with family and fondly remembers enjoying the comforts of their homemade food. After receiving her culinary degree in Chicago, she spent over 10 years working her way up, building a reputation of excellence. As Chef de Cuisine of Kumiko, Russell’s simple yet precise take on gastronomy enhanced the high-end cocktail bar with an attention to detail that highlighted the honest beauty of fresh ingredients. In 2019, she became the first black woman to receive a Michelin star two days before her 30th birthday. She currently resides in Hawaii, exploring new culinary endeavors and embracing life more fully.
Larry Forgione, hailed as “the godfather” of America cuisine, is responsible for changing the way Americans eat today by embracing the virtues of our national cuisine and using only seasonal, local ingredients, beginning the entire “Farm-to-Table” movement. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and then working in some of the best kitchens in Europe and America, Forgione opened An American Place in 1983, earning three stars in The New York Times.
The Culinary Institute of America has named Chef Forgione “Chef of the Year” and the James Beard Foundation honored him with the “America’s Best Chef” award in 1993. His An American Place cookbook was also honored with a James Beard Foundation award for “Best American Cookbook” in 1996. Larry Forgione’s accomplishments have also been recognized by numerous publications including Life magazine, who named him one of the “50 Most Influential Baby Boomers.” Larry has provided his unique expertise in culinary consulting for numerous hotels and restaurant groups and was most recently the co-founder and Culinary Director of the Conservatory for American Food Studies, located at the Greystone Campus of The Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California.
Anita Lo, a first generation Chinese-American, grew up with her family in Birmingham, Michigan, and fostered an interest in food at a young age. While earning a degree in French language at Columbia University, she studied at Reid Hall-Columbia’s French language institute in Paris. She fell in love with the food culture and vowed to return. Back in the United States, Lo accepted her first kitchen job as garde-manger at Bouley, and after a year, she decided to move back to Paris and enroll in Ecole Ritz-Escoffier, a revered culinary institution.
She received her degree, graduating first in her class with honors, while interning under Guy Savoy and Michel Rostang. Back in New York, Lo worked her way through all the stations at David Waltuck’s Chanterelle. She developed her culinary style during her time at Mirezi, where she earned a two-star review from Ruth Reichl at The New York Times.
In 2000, Lo opened Annisa (which means “women” in Arabic), an intimate, upscale restaurant in Greenwich Village serving Contemporary American cuisine. It was an instant hit, earning a two-star review from The New York Times. Food & Wine magazine named her one of ten “Best New Chefs in America” in 2001, and The Village Voice proclaimed Lo as “Best New Restaurant Chef” that same year.
In 2005, Anita Lo co-founded Rickshaw, a dumpling bar with several locations in New York City and also appeared on the first season of “Iron Chef America,” defeating her competitor Mario Batali. In 2008, she opened Bar Q, an Asian barbecue restaurant in Greenwich Village. The following year, in June 2009, after nearly ten years in business, Annisa suffered an unfortunate blow—a fire destroyed the restaurant entirely.
Lo decided to take some time to travel as plans for rebuilding Annisa got underway. She scoured the globe for inspiration. Meanwhile, Lo appeared on the first season of “Top Chef Masters” where she battled her contemporaries on weekly challenges that tested their culinary prowess. She finished fourth out of 24 chefs.
In April 2010, after a complete renovation of the original Barrow Street location, Lo reopened Annisa. She kept many of the same elements—clean design, welcoming atmosphere, small menu and a few signature dishes—but shook it up with new additions to the menu inspired by her recent travels that ranged from culinary trips to Senegal and Russia to a fishing trip to Alaska. Annisa was reviewed again by The New York Times and received two stars.
In October 2011, Lo released her first cookbook, “Cooking Without Borders,” which highlights her passion for bringing multicultural flavors to her American kitchen. Her recipes celebrate the best flavors and ingredients from around the world at a time when access to international ingredients is greater than ever before. Interspersed are stories from Lo’s life, memories of her travels and tips on cooking.
In February 2014, critic Pete Wells re-reviewed Annisa in The New York Times, bestowing the restaurant with a prestigious three stars. In the review, he calls her food “remarkable” and “impressive,” and the restaurant “graceful and unfussy.”
In 2015, Anita Lo was the first female guest chef to cook for a State Dinner at the White House, under the Obama administration. She prepared a four-course meal for the visiting Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and his wife Peng Liyuan.
In May 2017, after 17 years of business, and holding a Michelin star for nine consecutive years, Lo closed Annisa to pursue her next great adventure. Her second book, Solo: Easy Sophisticated Recipes For a Party of One, was published in the Fall of 2018.
Alan Bergo is the Forager Chef, a leading authority on culinary uses of mushrooms and plants. Thousands follow his work at Forager | Chef, a website dedicated to wild food seasonal cooking and kitchen industry life, for tips on how to maximize what is available to us via the woods (and our backyards, too). The website started as a journal and evolved into a mycelium-like network of wild food authorities and mushroom hunters from around the world.
A Midwestern native, Alan worked for 10 years under Italian chefs and then served as sous chef to Lenny Russo at St. Paul, Minnesota’s, seven-time James Beard nominee Heartland. He led two restaurants as executive chef of the Salt Cellar and then at farm to table cornerstone Lucia’s in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a consultant on everything from foraging for unique restaurant menus to how mushrooms can be used for wild things like grain-free starch fabrication and even as a condiment.
Alan’s work has been featured in various print and visual media, including REI Coop, “The Today Show,” FOX, The Daily Beast, The Heirloom Gardener, Experience Life magazine, The Growler, Heavy Table, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, and Women’s Health. Chef Bergo’s 2021 book Forager Chef: Flora is a study in rare and forgotten plants, herbs, vegetables and culinary techniques and is already in its second print run!
Since his teens, Chef William “Wilo” Benet has dedicated his life to his professional efforts in the food, beverage and hospitality industry. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, Chef Wilo worked at such New York City destination restaurants as Maurice at the Parker Meridien, Le Bernardin, and the Water Club, before returning home to Puerto Rico to work at the Governor’s Mansion. In 1990, Wilo opened Pikayo, his first fine-dining restaurant, at The Condado Plaza Hilton in San Juan. Chef Benet has taped more than 180 television episodes of food television locally and internationally, having been featured on “Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmern,” “Top Chef” and “Martha Stewart Weddings,” and competed on “Top Chef Masters.” His television program, “Sabores De Ensueno con Wilo Benet,” appears on Utilisima Channel Fox Latino and he has developed exclusive culinary programs, “Sabor a Wilo” and “Sabor a Wilo Internacional,” for Direct TV. Chef Wilo’s first book, Puerto Rico True Flavors, was released in 2010. This best seller was followed by his translation in Spanish, Puerto Rico Sabor Criollo.
While Chef Wilo has served A-listers and cooked for two United States Presidents and countless rock stars, he also serves souls in distress and needy children all with the same enthusiasm, intensity, and care. His experience and resiliency has been put to the test having to endure many local and world events successfully such as his self-admitted naivety in his early days of business, as well as a few hurricanes, not to mention Puerto Rico’s very challenging labor laws and fragile economic environment. Most recently, during the pandemic, he did not close operations for a single day, but reinvented his operations to serve his community. Chef describes himself as grateful for the opportunities life has provided and looks forward to the new chapter post-pandemic and to a bright future of our industry.
George Geary is passionate about cooking and loves to share that passion with others. He brings humor, energy, and experience to every cooking class, demonstration, and personal appearance across the country and on luxury cruises. His classes and culinary tours are sold-out months in advance. His wit and humor make understanding culinary concepts fun and exciting.
A former pastry chef for The Walt Disney Company, George is a Certified Culinary Professional and best-selling cookbook author. His 15th and latest book, Made in California: The California-Born Burger Joints, Diners, Fast Food & Restaurants that Changed America, highlights the history of California foods. Currently, George is writing his 16th book, a second volume to L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants.
When L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants was released, George’s calendar was booked tight with appearances at some of the most prestigious clubs in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. George created a 45-minute presentation that thousands and more have seen to this day.
George’s previous titles include 125 Best Cheesecake Recipes, Fair Foods, The Cheesecake Bible, The Complete Baking Cookbook, 125 Best Food Processor Recipes, 650 Best Food Process Recipes, 500 Best Sauces, Salad Dressings, Marinades and More, 150 Best Donut Recipes and 125 Best Biscuit Mix Recipes.
For over 30 years, George has been involved with the judging of culinary contests for major food manufacturers such as Canola Producers and Veg-all. For the past six years, George has been called to work with many major casting companies to help find talent for new “reality” food shows such as “The Taste” with Anthony Bourdain, “Chopped” and “The American Baking Competition” with Jeff Foxworthy. For 24 seasons, George was the culinary coordinator of the world’s largest county fair in Los Angeles. His duties were to implement food contests daily with the coordination of the judges and competitors.
Chef Geary’s travels regularly take him worldwide as he teaches at over 200 schools, spas, wineries and food festivals a year. In addition, for eight years, George had been a featured speaker and lecturer aboard the Holland America Line ships visiting 118 countries and every continent. When not in a kitchen, he leads mouth-watering culinary tours of major cities of America and Europe for some of his students and Fortune 500 companies such as Honda, Disney, Purdue University, and Sony Pictures.
Since 1993, George has shared some of his favorite recipes with television viewers on ABC, The Food Network, Hallmark’s “Home & Family” show, NBC, CBS and PBS. In addition, he has been featured on the pages of many food magazines and blogs.
Currently, George can be seen weekly on CBS8 San Diego News Extra Show and often on WGN-TV Chicago and NBC Daytime from Tampa, Florida. When not traveling to teach, George lives in sunny California. George has over 1 million in his social media reach.
www.georgegeary.com email@example.com #chefgeary
Chef Jessica Quiet began her pastry journey starting in high school by competing in the SkillsUSA baking challenge, and walked away with first place for her home state of Vermont. She then competed in Kansas City, and place fourth in the Nation. She attended Johnson & Wales University, majoring in Baking and Pastry, and graduating Silver Key Dean’s Society and member of the ACF.
Jessica found a home in the hotel industry fresh out of college, where she began work at the Charles Hotel, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A year later, she was ready to challenge herself even further, and move on to Orlando, Florida. There she began work at the Swan and Dolphin Resort under two-time World Pastry Champion Laurant Branlard. She soon progressed on to becoming the chocolatier for the property, customizing in chocolate garnishes, bon bons and truffles, and life sized chocolate showpieces/replicas. She began entering in chocolate showpiece competitions, and took first place at the Festival of Chocolates with her five foot “History of Chocolate” themed showpiece.
At this time, an offer was made to move on to the Orlando World Center Marriott, a 2,004 room property and largest non-pillared convention center in the world. She began as the resorts Chocolatier, executing personalized three-foot-tall chocolate showpieces by the hundreds for groups in house. It is here that she learned the art of mass production, and worked under the World Pastry Team Competition Judge, Felchlin Ambassador Chef Ramon Ramos. She began doing custom wedding cakes, breads, sugar work, and drover her pastry team to success by executing banquets by the thousands. She has assisted the Corporate Pastry Chef at Felchlin Switzerland, Pastry Chef of the Year Anil Rohira, with a few of his demos.
After eight years in Orlando, Jessica further moved her career to the Twin Cities, and became the Pastry Chef for the JW Marriott. At the same time she gained culinary insight/experience in her dual role as the Assistant Sous Chef, and gained television experience, being featured on “The Jason Show” and Minnesota’s own “KARE 11 News.”
Jessica recently moved her career back to her home state, joining The Lodge at Spruce Peak team in February 2019 as the Pastry Chef. She began working with the ACF in the fall of 2021, debuting through an online Chocolate BonBon Seminar class, and continues to do exciting projects through the ACF. Jessica is continuously working to expand her knowledge, and is currently working to earn her CEPC certification. She works on a daily basis to bring her knowledge, experience, and passion to ensure each guest has a unique, special New England-inspired experience.
Alan Batt, better known simply as “Battman,” built a career around his passions for the arts, photography, and food, while always capturing the pulse of New York.
In 1964 his quartet, “The Alan Batt Quartet,” performed during the mayoral race including the World’s Fair and Village Gate. During that time He also starred in Battman’s Magic Show, which was featured at B. Altman’s on Lower Fifth Avenue, and recorded an album with the poet Susan Polis Schutz.
Following his love of the arts, he founded a band, “Battman and the Banana Boys,” in 2002 that performed everywhere for three years around the city. They recorded three albums, Celebrate New York, and sold ten thousand copies. He has been playing the flute for 63 years.
Battman began working as a photographer in the early 1980s. Soon, his shots of city scenes and landmarks were widely published as greeting cards. He spent the next decade chronicling the city as lead photographer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and two decades producing the New York City Firefighters’ calendar, raising nearly $1 million for charities like the Staten Island Burn Center.
Battman’s poster of 42nd Street provided the backdrop for the New Victory Theater’s groundbreaking ceremony. From the late 1980s through 2014, 35 of his images were featured in a permanent exhibition on the 80th floor of the Empire State Building. They are viewed by more than 3 million visitors annually.
To get the shots that were featured there and in places like The New York Times and NYC & Company, Battman climbed the Brooklyn Bridge cable, perched on an Empire State Building ice shield, and tunneled underground to snap the final breakthrough of the wall between the Second Avenue Subway and the F train. He then turned to the culinary arts.
In 2001, Battman took his first food photograph, “Lamb Chops,” at Robert De Niro’s buzzy Tribeca Grill and discovered an awe of chefs’ artistry. Within a year, he’d photographed the signature dishes of 21 of the best chefs in the city, from Marcus Samuelsson to Eric Ripert, and featured them at his Empire State Building show.
In 2004, he published their recipes in his first book, The Great Bagels and Lox Book. Since then, he has published 30 more books and created an annual event and book signing that shines a light on the culinary scene. Known as “The Great Gathering of Chefs,” the event is celebrated for its camaraderie, attracting both established stars and up-and-comers. Proceeds go to charitable initiatives like a line cook program that trains and places the unemployed in restaurants around the city.
Battman is also the founder of The Chef’s Connection, a website that has been connecting foodies with chefs—and chefs with chefs—for more than 10 years. The site regularly attracts 18,000–20,000 views a month. His latest book, Savor, highlights the extraordinary diversity of black chefs from across the country, blending a collection of 101 recipes with personal stories and experiences.
Feel free to contact Battman at firstname.lastname@example.org with an inquiries for photo shoots, book ideas, etc.
Chef Michael Zebrowski is a highly accomplished pastry chef, author and associate professor at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Chef Zebrowski received his training at New York City’s French Culinary Institute, as it was formally known before merging with the Institute of Culinary Education. From there he worked in some of the finest restaurants and hotels honing his craft before transitioning into education. Chef Zebrowski’s numerous accolades include authoring the bestselling pastry reference books, The Pastry Chef’s Little Black Books (Volumes 1 & 2), outstanding alumni of the year at the French Culinary Institute 2009, Grand Prize winner of the Paco Jet competition at StarChefs International Chefs Congress 2008, and Grand Prize winner of the Sorrento Mascarpone Competition 2003, to name a few.
Andrew Freedman is The Cannabis Sommelier. Andrews unique approach to pairing cannabis, food, wine and cocktails have led him to present cannabis-infused fine dining events across North America. Andrew is the award winning author of Terpenes for Well-Being, a book about smell, taste, food, beverage and the world around us and how we can understand it better. Andrew has worked in the cannabis industry for more than a decade, and is known as “The Cannabis Sommelier” on YouTube where his channel focuses on unique pairings of cannabis, beer, cocktail, wine and gastronomy. His expertise in growing and extracting cannabis led to a passion in viticulture and oenology. He soon found himself living on a vineyard working as a cellar hand at an estate winery. While honing his palate he became a WSET 3 and one of few Canadian Wine Scholars.
Andrew is the host and producer of the “Beers With Buds” podcast which and you can also find Andrew writing for various international publications about cannabis, wine and dining. Andrew currently teaches seminars about cannabis and wine pairing, cannabis cocktails and cannabis dining. He also hosts and presents at cannabis dining events across North America. Andrew has been featured by many media outlets including The Hollywood Reporter, LA Weekly, High Times, and The Globe and Mail.
Victor Gielisse is a partner with CIA Consulting Services Group which can help resolve a myriad of operational issues and propose creative and innovative solutions to meet the needs of your organization. His many years of experience and knowledge allow us to effectively troubleshoot problems and “fast track” results to achieve successful business outcomes. Over the past two decades Chef Gielisse played a significant role in the growth and evolution of the CIA, helping to shape the world-class education programs and, by extension, the future of the students and the industry. He served as Dean of the Culinary, Baking, and Pastry Studies Program, overseeing faculty, curriculum, and education for all related courses in the college’s bachelor and associate degree programs. He also served as Associate Vice President and Managing Director of the CIA Consulting Group, and then moved on to the position of Vice President of Advancement, in which he lead the CIA’s most successful capital campaign in history—raising more than a hundred million dollars to fund projects such as the new Student Commons, The Egg, and the Marriott Pavilion. In doing so, he expertly stewarded the CIA’s relationships with the foodservice industry and other external constituencies. Chef Gielisse is one of 70 Certified Master Chefs (CMC) in the United States, earning the Crystal Chef Award for the highest score in the CMC. examination. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree, a master’s in business administration and a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from The School of Administration and Management of California Coast University. He is also a Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) with a graduate diploma from the Educational Institute of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
Chef Gielisse was born in the Netherlands, where he also apprenticed. During his career he has worked in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Southern Africa, and since 1979, in the United States. He has vast Hotel Industry experience working for Westin Hotels group for over 10 years. Prior to joining the CIA administration in 1998, he was the chef/owner of the IVY Award-winning restaurant Actuelle in Dallas, TX and president of the consulting firm CFT/Culinary Fast-Trac and Associates Inc. Chef Gielisse served as the Chairman of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Culinary Competition Committee. He is a coach and advisor to ACF Culinary Team USA; and was a judge of the 2004 and 2008 Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) in Erfurt, Germany, and Culinary World Cup, Luxembourg, 2006 and 2010.
He is the author of several books including Cuisine Actuelle, In Good Taste, A Contemporary Approach to Cooking and Modern Batch Cookery. Chef Gielisse was manager of the CIA’s Culinary Team 2000 that won three gold medals and a silver award at Hotelympia 2000 in England, and five silver medals at the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA). He was a member of the ACF Culinary Team USA 1984 and the 1986 U.S. National Team that won the first Culinary World Cup. In 1999, Chef Gielisse was named one of “The 50 New Taste Makers” in the United States’ hospitality industry by Nation’s Restaurant News and named “Best Seafood Chef in America” by Restaurant Business Magazine.
Paula Jones is a professional recipe developer, food stylist, food photographer, writer, editor, and chief dishwasher behind the hit food blog Bell’alimento. Paula has been featured on sites such as Saveur, CNN’s Eatocracy, The Cooking Channel, and The Washington Post just to name a few. Paula is also a contributing writer on sites such as Paula Deen, Betty Crocker, Disney’s Babble, the Mushroom Channel, Parade, and Dixie Crystals. She is passionate about food, from how it is grown to the people who grow it. Paula lived in Northern Italy growing up, where she where learned to appreciate food and cooking. Today her blog has evolved, and her love of bourbon has grown with it. From roasted cherry bourbon ice cream to short ribs with a bourbon reduction, Paula crafts recipes that compliment the spirit and has immersed herself in education surrounding this American spirit.
Contact Paula Jones at email@example.com.
Executive Chef “To The Stars” and author of Beyond My Chef Coat, Kevin Des Chenes has 25+ years of experience in the hospitality industry and is Culinary Director of Newport Mansions Wine & Food. He was named “Top Chef” by Las Vegas Food & Wine, has been a chef expert for Gordon Ramsey and appeared as a featured chef on Food Network’s “Chef Wanted,” “The Great Food Truck Race” (finalist) and “Beat Bobby Flay,” as well as “The Today Show,” the nationally-syndicated “The Better Show,” CT Style, “Pickler & Ben,” Fox Morning Show and “The Rhode Show” among others. He is also the winner of “Top Celebrity Chef Showdown.”
Chef Kev D. is an advocate for such charities as Boston Children’s Hospital & The Light Foundation. His creativity in the kitchen and on the screen has not gone unnoticed. Having served as Executive Chef at such New England landmarks as 156 Bistro, Centro Martini and Washington Square Tavern, he has since launched a successful event production, consultant and private chef company and become one of the most sought after chefs in the industry, working with some great people including John Legend, Giuliana Rancic, Kathie Lee & Hoda, Isiah Thomas, Jim Courier, Little Big Town, various New England Patriots and Red Sox players and coaches among others. You never know what he will do next so keep your eyes peeled for this seasoned chef and if you find him in a city near you take your taste buds on an epic journey with Chef Kev D.
Chef Melinda Dorn has worked in restaurants for nearly 30 years. While food trends came, went, and came back again, she noticed a few things never left. Addictions, poor mental health and the side effects of workplace culture remained threats to the collective wellness of the industry. Melinda now works for Culinary Hospitality Outreach and Wellness (CHOW), a Denver-based nonprofit led by a passionate team of industry vets. CHOW creates safe spaces for folks to come share, hear new ideas and create a healthier hospitality community by offering support groups and mental health training solely for industry workers.
Chef Jeffrey Schlissel the President of the ACF Palm Beach Chefs Association and is also known as the “Kingpin at the Bacon Cartel.” A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, he is a chef, entrepreneur and proud advocate for mental health and suicide prevention. Chef was the winner of the best Asian Fusion Restaurant in 2012 by Boca Raton magazine, Cutting Edge Awards at the 2016 ACF National Convention and 2017 Chef of the Year for the Palm Beach Chefs Association.
Formerly the Head Chef at Locale Gastropub & Test Kitchen, Chef Schlissel is a true “meatatrian” and is now on the quest for the perfect bridge into what is now referred to as plant-based cuisine. With more than 35 years of culinary experience, he has become an authority on plant-based cooking, though he considers himself more of a mad scientist. Growing up in South Florida provided access to a Latin pantry which introduced Chef Schlissel’s palate to a broader range of taste experiences. Chef Schlissel has extensive knowledge cooking cuisines of all types but has a genuine passion for creating new flavors and experimenting with new dishes.
President of the ACF Greater Indianapolis Chapter, Chef Susanne Ebacher-Grier was bitten by the kitchen bug early in life, working every position from bartender to line cook. Her passion for this work led her to earn her culinary education from École Grégoire Ferrandi in Paris and Sullivan University. She worked in professional kitchens for years before moving into education, where she flourished among curious and inquisitive students eager to learn culinary skills. It was those students who grew to trust her far beyond the confines of the kitchen, and her deep personal connection to her students helps push them to achieve more in their careers and in life. “Real” is a frequent descriptor her students use to describe her, perfectly encapsulating the authenticity and candor she brings to the classroom.
Chef Susanne is passionate about high school culinary competitions such as ProStart, SkillsUSA and FCCLA. Chef Susanne has received several accolades from the ACF Greater Indianapolis Chapter such as Chef of the Year and Pastry Chef of the Year. Recently, she was awarded ProStart New Teacher of the Year from the Indiana FCCLA/ProStart.
Chef Fran Costigan, culinary instructor, cookbook author, pastry chef, consultant and the Director of Vegan Pastry at Rouxbe Culinary School, is internationally renowned as the authority on vegan desserts. Professionally trained, Fran was a chef in both traditional and vegan pastry kitchens before moving into teaching over 25 years ago. Her unapologetically luscious confections lack nothing—except dairy, eggs, white sugar and cholesterol. Fran’s vegan desserts are appropriate for everyone who loves dessert, whether or not dietary restrictions are an issue. She developed and leads the 90-day Essential Vegan Desserts Course at Rouxbe, the world’s leading online culinary school, where she mentors international students of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. Fran’s cookbook, Vegan Chocolate Dessert: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, is available in German, French and Italian editions, and follows the classic More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts.
A native New Yorker, Fran moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, recently, and is enthusiastically visiting Philly’s many renowned plant-forward restaurants. A sought after speaker, you can find Fran sharing her passion across North America and Europe, at schools, conferences, festivals, corporations such as Google, resorts, and spas and on cruise ships, too. A professional member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, ACF, and Les Dames d’Escoffier, Fran is proud to serve on the advisory boards of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Foods and Main Street Vegan Academy.
For more information, visit www.francostigan.com.
Farmer Lee Jones always wears his trademark overalls and red bowtie as a symbol of his commitment to regenerative agricultural practices. Ever since the early days of The Chef’s Garden’s creation over thirty-five years ago, he has remained tirelessly committed to not only ensuring that the family’s 300-acre farm remains one of the most innovative and pioneering in the world, but to fostering a nuanced conversation with the chefs in our industry who look to the farm to grow vegetables that are as aesthetically pleasing on the plate as they are flavorful to the palate.
He is devoutly committed to the chefs he works with in all corners of the world and takes great pride in the relationships he has with the people who have become his mentors, guiding light, and inspiration. These are the bonds that have inspired the highest quality, most flavorful, and extraordinary vegetables in the world—and for Farmer Lee Jones, every day promises a new opportunity to connect with the chefs who have helped to make the farm the pioneering leader in regenerative agriculture that it is today.
Chef Jamie Simpson is the Executive Chef Liaison at The Culinary Vegetable Institute. Chef Jamie hails from Summerville, South Carolina, and began his culinary career in a serendipitous fashion after leaving the music industry and his job at a recording studio. His journey continued to one of Charleston’s most acclaimed restaurants, The Charleston Grill, which gave him opportunities to explore other globally recognized kitchens and work with countless talents. Chef Jamie is passionate about exploring different cultures, the connection between art and food, and the relationship between unconscious process and creativity. Producing beautifully dressed and garnished dishes that marry complex flavors with technical expertise, he uses luxurious ingredients as well as odd cuts and guts.
Chef Jamie Simpson is a passionate ambassador for using “every part of the plant, from root to tip,” and since the beginning has maintained minimal-waste policies in the kitchen as part of an overall mission at the CVI, which welcomes an average of 600 visiting chefs a year. His creative approach of taking raw product and turning it into something unique and inspiring piques the interests of others. Simpson’s reputation for the use of unusual ingredient combinations, tastes and textures has led him to direct one of the most prestigious kitchens in the country. At The Culinary Vegetable Institute, he designs dishes around what is available on the farm that day, and his commitment to micro seasonal cooking opens the door for him to be more creative while respecting the plants. His dishes look astonishing, always play tricks on the senses and are constantly evolving.
Chrissy Jensen, CEPC, is the first and only American Culinary Federation (ACF) Certified Executive Pastry Chef to earn certification with a 100% gluten-free practical exam menu. With her chef husband Paul and their 13 children, she opened the fast-casual restaurant, “The Dotted Lime,” in traditionally meat and three Columbia, Tennessee. There, diners with celiac and food allergies finally had a place where they could share a meal with loved ones without stress or fear. The experience was so unique and valued, The Dotted Lime began drawing visitors from across the country and the world. In the past five years the restaurant has continued to grow and expand to include catering, a gluten-free commercial bakery and manufacturing facility, and Lime & Loaf, a retail “kitchenarium” in partnership with local home goods store Smith & York. Chef Jensen’s goal is to remove the negative impressions among chefs and diners of “allergen safe” foods, especially gluten free baked goods, and raise the bar of expectation for those products.
Chef A.J. Schaller, Executive Chef for Cuisine Solutions, is a 2005 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She worked at Restaurant Daniel and Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group for ten years, starting as an extern, and working nearly every station starting with garde manger and rotisserie and the catering department. Chef Schaller next took on additional responsibilities of testing recipes; ordering and planning food and equipment for off-site events; cooking at wine and food festivals; working on the recipes for Daniel’s cookbooks; and writing plans for staff training. Eventually, she rose up the ranks to Culinary Manager for the entire Dinex Group.
After seven years with Daniel, A.J. received an offer to be the culinary director at sommelier Laura Maniec’s Corkbuzz Wine Studio. In 2015, A.J. moved to Virginia and took a position as a executive chef at the Culinary Research and Education Academy (CREA) in Alexandria, Virginia. Founded by scientist and sous-vide pioneer Dr. Bruno Goussault in Paris in 1991, CREA has trained many of the top chefs on the application of sous-vide cooking including Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, the late Charlie Trotter, and Mark Miller. In fact, almost every Michelin Guide three-star chef has received personal sous-vide training from Dr. Goussault.
Frank Vollkommer is a Certified Master Pastry Chef (CMPC) and the Director of Culinary Industry Development with Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.
Chef Vollkommer is highly credentialed, earning gold and silver medals at numerous international competitions, including the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA), also known as the “culinary Olympics,” in Erfurt, Germany, and is a recipient of the Medal of the French Government. In 2010, Vollkommer was recognized as one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America by Dessert Professional magazine and has been featured in So Good.. magazine, Pastry Arts magazine, Pastry & Baking North America, and the book Food as Art.
Chef Vollkommer also earned a Masters in Education (M.Ed.), and previously held teaching and leadership positions at Johnson & Wales University, The Culinary Institute of America, and the New England Culinary Institute, and is experienced in leading academic programming, curriculum, and instructional design strategies, and assessment.
Chef Tia McDonald Raiford’s exploration of food began at a young age, cooking alongside her mother and grandmother, both from Alabama. Her grandparents migrated to the north as part of the Great Migration, bringing their history and traditions with them. Tia carried that torch as she developed her path through food, and has harnessed her passion and commitment to food and teaching throughout her career.
Chef Tia formalized her culinary education with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. As a professional chef, Tia has cooked in some of the country’s top kitchens, including New York City’s Oceana and Gramercy Tavern, and has worked under Philadelphia-based chef Marc Vetri; she has also served as the Campus Executive Chef at the University of Pennsylvania, the Senior Executive Chef at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, Developmental Chef for Aramark K-12, and Director of Culinary Operations for the Vetri Foundation for Children. Tia, a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier of Philadelphia, also serves as a consultant to various restaurants and non-profit organizations in and outside of Philadelphia, lending her services to help grow and support education efforts to underserved food communities to break the cycle of food insecurities and reconnect our next generation to how food is grown and sourced. She currently serves as Director of Culinary Programs to K-12 by Elior, and is the owner of Zazou Teas, a premium iced tea beverage line, curated with a mission to use anti-inflammatory and all-natural ingredients.
Tia splits her time between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Brunswick, Georgia, with Matthew at Gilliard Farms.
CheFarmer Matthew Raiford grew up on land that has sustained his family for seven generations: Gilliard Farms, a parcel of property in Georgia purchased by his great-great-great grandfather Jupiter Gilliard more than 150 years ago. After leaving home post-high school graduation, Matthew began a two-decade voyage back to his roots—one that spanned a military career, schooling, and a love of food that never waned. It culminated in 2010 when Matthew and his sister were handed the deed to the farm by their grandmother. Since then, Matthew has revitalized Gilliard Farms and, in turn, ventured on a journey of self-discovery.
Matthew was named a 2018 semi-finalist in the James Beard Awards Best Chef in the Southeast category. He has been a featured speaker for TEDxSavannah, featured in The New York Times, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, Golden Isles, Paprika Southern, and Savannah magazines. He has cooked alongside celebrity chef Carla Hall at the James Beard House in New York City and has presented at the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, the Savannah Food and Wine Festival, and the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. He and Tia live at the farm in Brunswick, Georgia.
After graduating from the Florida Culinary Institute and working for over a decade in the foodservice industry, Chef Pamela Bedford, CCE, wanted to give back. Chef Bedford began her teaching career at The Institute of Culinary Arts at Eastside High School in Gainesville, Florida, and became the Director of the Magnet Program in 2016. Truth be told, she didn’t think she’d last longer than a few years shaping the minds of future culinarians; however, as of 2022, she has now completed her 15th year in education and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
During her time as an instructor, Chef Bedford has provided training and pathways for future chefs and restauranteurs to achieve their goals and dreams and gain important life skills and cheered on her students as they succeed. Chef prides herself on the success of her current students and alumni as they pursue a career in the industry she is so passionate about. Her students earn ACF and industry certifications and gain competition experience in her program and cater for many public and school events and functions. Her program at Eastside High produces avid culinary competitors who have competed at the national level at SkillsUSA, ProStart and NASA Culinary Hunch Competitions.
At the 2021 ACF National Convention in Orlando, Chef Bedford herself competed and was awarded the distinction of being named ACF’s national Chef Educator of the Year. Chef gives credit to her students for inspiring her and giving her sense of fulfillment as they go off to start their careers or enroll at culinary colleges, and she also credits her husband Jake and her two children, Lily and Jackson, for supporting and encouraging her in all of her pursuits.
Chef Jacque, also known as “The Chef Jax,” has been in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. She worked in the private club sector for almost a decade before returning to school to finish her degree in pastry/baking. She loves being known as the Jax of all trades, using her talents to work on menu development, marketing, management training, cocktail infusions, and teaching. Whether it’s six-year-olds learning knife skills for the first time or adults enjoying cocktail classes, her love of teaching led her to leave corporate kitchens altogether in 2019.
Rebranding herself as a freelance chef and educator, she developed her own spice line and did live demo events as well as farmers market events throughout the pandemic shutdown. She is a proud ALLY and advocate for human rights and mental health awareness, hosting her own PRIDE events and open forums for discussion on helping the hospitality industry become more supportive, inclusive, and active in creating a healthy work/life balance. Most recently, she moved from Michigan where she had spent her entire life to Texas where she is excited to see where this next chapter in her career will take her.
Anne McBride, PhD, is Vice President of Programs at the James Beard Foundation. In that capacity, she oversees the JBF’s initiatives around industry support, women’s leadership, policy advocacy, sustainability, education, and scholarships. She holds a PhD in food studies from New York University, with research focusing on the changing role of the chef in the 21st century.
Previously, Anne was deputy director of the Torribera Mediterranean Center, a joint project of the University of Barcelona and the Culinary Institute of America that offered curricula, conferences, and editorial material at the intersection of health, sustainability and flavor. She remains a member of its culinary and food studies advisory council, and is also a member of the Menus of Change scientific and technical advisory council and the CIA’s master’s in food systems and sustainability advisory council. As programs director for the CIA’s Strategic Initiatives Group, she was responsible for the acclaimed Worlds of Flavor International Conference and Festival, among other industry leadership programs.
Anne is writing a dessert cookbook for Phaidon, is the co-author of seven other books, and regularly covers professional and experimental cooking for academic and consumer audiences, including past contributions to Plate, New Worlder, Bake from Scratch, Roads & Kingdoms, Food Arts, Gastronomica, The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, Savoring Gotham, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, and Food Cultures of the World. A native of Switzerland, Anne is the past chair of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards and a past board member of the Association for the Study of Food and Society, New York Women’s Culinary Alliance, and Culinary Trust; she is also the treasurer of the North Plainfield Library Advisory Council. Anne is a frequent presenter and moderator at academic and professional conferences around the world.
Chef Ron DeSantis, CMC, AAC, MBA is Chief Culinary Officer at Hungry Planet, serving as their culinary voice, advocating and leading customer-centric food innovation and execution. Chef DeSantis provides leadership and support for Hungry Planet in recipe and menu development and new product R&D, and leads a culinary team to create a competitive advantage.
Chef DeSantis is at heart a passionate culinarian. In his 25-year career at the CIA, Ron taught several courses including a 4-year stint running a full-service teaching restaurant, the CIA’s flagship 4-star Escoffier Restaurant. While at the CIA, Ron was promoted to associate dean for curriculum and developed curriculum for degree programs and for professional education. Following Ron’s work as associate dean, he accepted a position as Director of Education Services. Ron’s responsibilities were the planning and design of teaching kitchens and bakeshops. In 2005 Ron helped launch CIA Consulting, eventually rising to lead this consulting organization.
Ron’s primary responsibility was overseeing the production of over 14,000 meals each day at Yale. This leadership role included culinary concept design, development of innovative menus and cuisine and training of the culinary team. In addition to undergraduate dining, Ron also oversees food production for several university restaurants, cafes, C-stores, and Yale Catering. As the first Certified Master Chef to enter college & university dining, Ron has changed the format for delivering students meals. His approach has been to think and act like a great independent restaurant in a multi-operational institutional environment.
A 1981 CIA alumnus, Ron has received many citations during his professional career, including the highly regarded Certified Master Chef certification from the American Culinary Federation (ACF). In 2010, Ron co-authored Modern Batch Cookery with Victor Gielisse, CMC, AAC. Ron also holds a master’s in business administration (MBA) from Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Plant-Based chef Matt Jackson has had an unwavering passion for all that he does since day one. Chef Jackson strives to bring people’s favorite international cuisines to life while highlighting the versatility of plants. His dishes combine classic favorites with vibrant flavor profiles as he delivers experiences guests don't easily forget. Working as part of the team of The Farmer’s Dinner, he crafts seasonal, inspired and truly memorable vegetarian and vegan dishes served at dinners throughout New England.
Chef Michael Mignano, Executive Banquet Chef at The Pierre Hotel in New York City, has close to 30 years of culinary experience with a passion for the pastry arts. His relationship with The Pierre started in 1998 as the youngest Executive Pastry Chef under Four Seasons. Michael left briefly to expand his career in the corporate world and became an Owner/Entrepreneur. He returned in 2013 through 2019 as Executive Pastry Chef under Taj. In this capacity he was instrumental in planning, revamping menus and implementing for all outlets. He was also a prominent contributor to the banquet functions and overall, 45 million food and beverage operations.
Most recently, Chef Michael partnered to successfully launch the very first halal bakery/restaurant, Farine Baking Company in New York. As an award-winning Chef, Michael brought skillfully crafted dishes to guests and a breadth of knowledge to his culinary team. Michael’s whimsically tempting food at Farine Baking Company evoked reimagined versions of classic and modern flavor pairings.
Chef Michael’s illustrious career has featured stints on the Food Network to serving voluptuous dishes to celebrities. He appeared on Food Network’s “Sweet Genius” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” He won “Best Food Item” on Long Island two years in a row from New York’s Newsday while operating his own bakery and café and making food for 9/11 rescue workers with Chef David Bouley. Michael has also worked alongside Bill Yosses, a chef who went on to become the White House pastry chef. He created the Mignano Bar, a gourmet candy bar which inspired Hershey’s Chocolate to tap Michael for a candy research project. At the beginning of his career Chef Michael worked for such notable New York kitchens such as Bouley, Charlie Palmer’s Aureole, Balthazar and Les Pinasse.
In 2017, Michael was recognized by Dessert Professional magazine as one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America. He won the “Iron Chef: Rooftop Showdown” competition at Food Network’s New York Food & Wine Festival, beating 29 other leading chefs for the coveted $10,000 prize. Most recently, Michael added the title of bestselling author to his many accolades, as co-author of the new cookbook The Pastry Chef’s Little Black Book, volumes I and II. Chef Michael is also fluent in three languages: English, Italian and Spanish.
Brightwater Executive Director Marshall Shafkowitz is originally from New York and credits his mother for opening his eyes to food exploration. He has traveled the world as a cook and chef, learning and exploring before settling in Chicago for 15 years. Formerly serving as Executive Dean at Washburne Culinary & Hospitality Institute, in 2019 he moved to Northwest Arkansas to join Brightwater at NWACC.
Chef Shafkowitz chose to work at NWACC because he believes that Brightwater does culinary school differently. As the executive director, he has enjoyed being able to do more than just talk about food systems, the craft and the business, but give students the opportunity to experience it in a practical manner.
Chef Shafkowitz has a bachelor’s in Culinary and a master’s in the Art of Teaching from he Alan Shawn Feinstein Graduate School at Johnson & Wales University. He was named ACF Chicago Culinary Educator of the Year in 2016; has had articles appear Money magazine, Maxim magazine, and other publications; and serves as a board or committee member for Chicago Public Schools, Pilot Light, and SkillsUSA.
In his free time, Marshall enjoys rock climbing, motorcycle riding, mountain biking, hiking, woodworking and exploring nature with his family.
Les Eckert, CEPC, CCE, AAC, MBA, currently holds the position as Director of Great Lakes Culinary Institute. She has been in the culinary industry for over 29 years. Chef Eckert has a bachelor’s in Culinary Management and a master’s in business administration with an emphasis in Hospitality Management. She has been an active member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) since 1992, was named ACF’s National Chef Educator of the Year in 2013 and Southeast Regional Pastry Chef of the Year in 2014 and was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs in 2015.
Chef Eckert’s previous work experiences have encompassed pastry and baking work in fine dining establishments, artisan bread bakeries and Marriott hotels, owner and operator of a dessert catering company, community culinary instructor and higher education pastry instructor and culinary school program director. Chef Eckert also volunteers time as an active member of a number of local food initiatives and ACF and ACFEF committees and commissions. This Floridian moved to Michigan in 2019 and is enjoying the up-north experience.
Chef Chris Viaud, most recently known for competing on Season 18 of Top Chef, is the Chef/Owner of Greenleaf and Ansanm, both located in Milford, New Hampshire. Chef Viaud’s food is rustic in its approach, yet refined, by classic techniques. Focusing primarily on seasonal products, most of which grown locally, helps to fuel his passion when creating menus. He plans and executes a balanced meal that incorporates different flavors and textures that entertain the palate which allows for a unique dining experience each time.
Upon graduating from Johnson & Wales University, he moved to Boston where he spent three of his most formative years at Forbes Four-Star rated restaurant Deuxave in the back bay, where he worked his way to Sous Chef. He has been also been an essential part of multiple restaurant openings in the Greater Boston and New Hampshire area.
Chef Viaud has continually been working throughout the years to challenge himself by pushing the boundaries and constantly taking himself out of his comfort zone to hone in on his craft. He is constantly exploring new ideas, styles, trends and concepts to keep fueling his passion and believes that everyday there is the opportunity to learn something new.
Thomas Griffiths, CMC, founder of TWG Consulting, has held major roles in Culinary Research & Development, such as VP of R&D Innovation for Freshly as well as Campbell Soup Company’s Senior Executive Chef and Global VP of Campbell’s Culinary & Baking Institute (CCBI). He is an ACF Certified Master Chef, an ACF culinary judge and a Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) gold medalist.
Chef Tom creates innovative, on-trend products while improving the quality of flavors and introducing bold, new and authentic ingredients, while predicting upcoming trends.
Chef Griffiths graduated with honors in 1980 from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and has held chef positions with several renowned establishments, including The United Nations, Le Delices Côte Basque, Regine’s and Le Cirque. He has also owned a restaurant and catering business. After working in the restaurant industry for 15 years, he gave in to his love of culinary education and he returned to the CIA to pursue various teaching positions, including Associate Dean.
Chef Griffiths has been featured on “Fox & Friends,” NBC’s “Today” show, “Good Morning America,” “Cooking Secrets of the CIA” public television program and a variety of regional news programs. He has also written articles for Santè magazine, Hudson Valley Connoisseur and The Valley Table Magazine. In his spare time, he participates in community activism, travels the world to experience new culinary phenomena and deeply enjoys gardening—a tradition he has upheld since childhood. Chef Griffiths routinely tends his own 30×50 ft. garden, where he grows just about every fruit and vegetable you can imagine
Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, CCMS, LMHC, FAND, an award-winning aports and performance nutritionist, professional chef, mental health counselor and certified fitness coach, is founder of CHI Energy Bites™ vegan performance snacks and meals. A former professional triathlete and competitive runner (2:52 marathoner) and member of Team USA for the 2004 Long Distance Duathlon World Championships, Lisa designs, prepares, writes and speaks about delicious plant-forward dishes, menus and diets and travels worldwide sharing the “gospel” of good food, fresh tastes and plant-based cuisine. Her passion for food, fitness, and life is contagious.