Meet Our Culinary Masterminds
Chef Mark William Allison
Meet Chef Mark
Chef Rick Moonen
Meet Chef Rick
Chef Elizabeth Falkner
Meet Chef Elizabeth
Celebrated chef, 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 loves to teach about the importance of creativity in cooking, is an inspiring public speaker and has cooked and spoken all over the United States and in Asia and Europe. 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 are forms of sword fighting fitness and martial arts. She also practices yoga on a regular basis, does cross fit, pilates, half marathons and the NY Marathon in 2016, cycling including ChefsCycle, a 300 mile cycling fundraiser for No Kid Hungry, and is obsessed now with 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, as well as 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 NYC.
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, produced by Oaks Media Group (Amazon, Hulu, 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 does recipe development for brands and continues to cook at events worldwide, live and virtually. She is the head of R&D for a better for you candy company called, “Behave”-launched in 2020.
She is also working on a series of food inspired interactive installations and a memoir.
Chef Jet Tila
Meet Chef Jet
Chef Jet’s culinary operations includes VP Culinary of Pei Wei Group 148 restaurants & Managing Partner Dragon Tiger Noodle Co in Las Vegas. He has partnerships with Compass Group, Schwan’s & NBC Universal/DreamWorks. His food reaches millions of people a year.
He appears as co-host of Iron Chef America and recurring judge on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay and Guy’s Grocery Games. As well as an array of shows ranging from the Today, MasterChef, Rachel Ray and holds six culinary Guinness World Records.
Chef Norman Van Aken
Meet Chef Norman
Chef Van Aken will be launching his “Cooking with Norman” virtual cooking classes in July. He has received great endorsements from nationally renowned Chefs on IG that included Emeril Lagasse, Nina Compton and Scott Conant. Be sure to check out his website, as well as his classes at the link below!
Chef Drew Ward
Meet Chef Drew
After relocating to North Carolina, Drew has served as Executive Chef of Noble’s Grille, Cantina 1511, and Mama Ricotta’s. He then worked with Morrison Living gaining experience in leading and empowering teams. After leaving Morrison, Drew became the opening Executive Chef for Brewer’s At 4001 Yancey. Drew then moved to his current role within the company.
Currently, Drew serves as Corporate Executive Chef for Artisanal Brewing Ventures – one of the largest craft brewing alliances in the country. He oversees the menus of 12 taproom locations in multiple states for Bold Rock Hard Cider, Sixpoint, Southern Tier, and Victory Brewing.
Drew’s southern roots inspire a creative, fun style of cooking that elevate comfortable classics to sought after favorites while incorporating beer into most dishes. He believes in serving craft food with craft beer and cider.
Chef Bryan Hudson
Meet Chef Bryan
Chef Bryan is a Raleigh native with 21 years in the foodservice industry. Bryan’s culinary background is diverse, including being a Grant Writer and Cheese Maker for a non-profit dairy farm in Hudson Valley, NY, Head Baker at Rendezvous Bay Hotel, Anguilla, BWI, Chef at Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, NC, and Food and Beverage Director for Hilton properties. Bryan Hudson joined Sysco Raleigh in 2016 as a Marketing Associate. After six months, he was promoted to the Executive Chef position, which he held for the next three years. Following this role, he moved into the position of Seafood Specialist.
Chef Chris Ivens-Brown
Meet Chef Chris
Chief Culinary Officer and Compass Group Eurest Executive Chef Chris Ivens-Brown was born and raised in the south of England. Chris moved to London after his acceptance into the prestigious Academy of Culinary Arts program at London’s Academie de Culinaire de France when he was just sixteen years old.
In 1995, Chris moved to the States and started his career working for Compass Group, one of the largest food service companies in the world, where he ran Bank of America’s Executive Dining Room in Charlotte, NC. After seven years at Bank of America, Chris accepted his promotion to Vice President of Culinary Development for Compass Group.
Chris is not only a critical part of Compass Group’s culinary scene, but a driving force behind the City of Charlotte, where he is recognized as a local Celebrity Chef. Chef Chris’s passion for advocating culinary sustainability has been discernable over the past decade. His dedication to raising awareness and promoting sustainable solutions for both sea and land based food supplies has led Compass Group to adopt sustainable food practices. Chris has made it his mission to educate the food industry, as well as the home cook, about simple and effective methods for cooking and eating fresh, seasonable, and sustainable foods.
In recognition of Chris’s exemplary performance, achievements, and leadership, he was promoted to Chief Culinary Officer in 2018.
In his spare time, Chris has hosted two successful seasons of Cooking at Home with Chef Chris, with a guest line-up that included sports, government, and media celebrities. Chris has also had the honor of cooking for a myriad of celebrities and public figures – Phil Collins, Martha Stewart and Queen Elizabeth to name a few. In the community, Chris donates his time and culinary talent to numerous fundraising events and charitable organizations including, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, St. Judes, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, The American Heart Association, Loaves and Fishes, and Classroom Central.
Chef Chris has been named as the 149th Distinguished Visiting Chef for Johnson & Wales, Providence and recognized as the 9th DVC at Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte.
When Chris is not wearing his chef coat, he enjoys spending his days with his wife Mikah, their two children Luke and Evelyn, and his daughter, Sophie.
For more information on Chef Chris, visit www.chefcib.com
Chef Jeremy Bevins
Meet Chef Jeremy
Jeremy Bevins started his culinary career almost 2 decades ago and has never looked back. A love for not only food and fresh ingredients, but also fire and knives, paved his future at an early age. With a philosophy of the highest quality ingredients paired with a strong knowledge of fundamental classical techniques, Chef Bevins creates exceptional food while pushing the limits.
Chef Bevins has built his culinary expertise at such restaurants as The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia under the late Master Chef Peter Timmins, and The Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro, North Carolina, a Relais & Chateaux property and the only AAA Five Diamond/ Forbes Five Star property in North Carolina. Locally in Charlotte, Chef Bevins has had the opportunity to continue his craft as Sous Chef at Dean and Deluca, Metropolitan Catering, The Customshop Restaurant, and Executive Chef at The Ivey.
Bevins joined US Foods Charlotte/Fort Mill as Food Fanatic Chef over 4 years ago helping bring culinary solutions to chefs and restauranteurs in the area, and prior to that spent 5 years working as a Culinary Instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Charlotte training the next generation of chefs. Chef Jeremy Bevins currently has his Associate in Culinary Arts, Bachelors in Business Administration, and Masters in Business Administration, and is an American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef and proud member.
Chef Jay Ziobrowski “Jay Z”
Meet Chef Jay Z
Chef Chris Aquilino
Meet Chef Chris
Specializing in recipe development, culinary sustainability, food waste management and recovery, branded content creation, food safety, smart menu design, food styling, and photography.
Chef Chris Aquilino is the Director of Culinary for The LAB @ Swanson- Girard; test kitchen, culinary studio and training facility located in Pineville, NC serving the Carolinas and beyond.
Chef Andres Prussing
Meet Chef Andres
Chef Nancy Waldeck
Meet Chef Nancy
Chef Robert Reinken
Meet Chef Robert
Originally from southern California, Robert graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte North Carolina with a degree in Foodservice Management. Since college, Robert has spent his culinary career in 4 and 5 diamond hotels on both coasts, as well as at some of the top private country clubs in the country. For Reinken, seafood has always been a large part of his culinary inspiration.
Chef Jamie Bostian
Meet Chef Jamie
Chef Peter Reinhart
Meet Chef Peter
Peter Reinhart is the Chef on Assignment at Johnson & Wales University. He is based in Charlotte, NC, where he also serves as the Executive Director of the Johnson & Wales International Symposium on Bread.
Peter is the author of 14 books on bread, pizza, and food and culture (for which he won four James Beard Awards), and serves as a consulting chef and product developer for a number of international companies and restaurants, including Amy’s Kitchen, The Center for Culinary Development, Pizzeria Uno, Pure Pizza, The Noble Restaurant Group, and many others.
His TED Talk on “The Art, Craft, and Meaning of Bread” has been seen by over a million viewers. Peter has also served as a Board member for the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals), The Seventh Street Public Market, and the Community Culinary School of Charlotte. His many appearances on television and radio, as well as his ongoing video podcast series, Pizza Quest (www.pizzaquest.com), and conference presentations and classes, has made Peter a highly recognized figure in the culinary world.
Chef Alex Ricciuti
Meet Chef Alex
A New England native, Alexandra began her career working under Chef Todd English at the Olives Group in Boston. She went on to found Green Delicious Cooking Company, an award-winning Boston-area catering company providing chef services to on-location film productions and professional athletes. She was the 2015 Grand Champion of the Food Games, New York City, a competition put on by WCR (Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.)
For the past thirteen years, she has focused her culinary energy on working with best-in-class foodservice equipment companies, first as Culinary Director for Eurostoves, then spending five years as the Executive Chef for New England for combi oven manufacturer RATIONAL AG.
Currently she is the Corporate Chef for the Eastern US for Wood Stone Corporation, a Bellingham, Washington based manufacturer of stone hearth ovens and wood-fired rotisseries as well as tandoors, planchas and vertical churrasco style rotisseries.
Chef Nico Abello
Meet Chef Nico
Frenchmen Nico Abello was 15 years old when he entered the hospitality industry. He apprenticed for two years in the front-of-house before he began work at Gérard Vié’s two- Michelin-star Les Trois Marches in Versailles. There, Abello remained in FOH but spent much of his time (too much) at the pass. One day, the chef grabbed him and said, if you want to spend more time in the kitchen, put on a jacket. Abello slipped into chef whites and never looked back. He worked for there for three years, earning his chops and collecting the building blocks on which the rest of his career would be built.
Abello then moved to London to work at the restaurant of iconic French chef Pierre Gagnaire at Sketch. He eventually returned to Paris, continuing to cook traditional French cuisine at various restaurants, learning from the disciples of other iconic French chefs like Joël Robuchon. Next, he visited New York, becoming gainfully employed cooking at Daniel. Abello would return to France once more—learning the catering business—before returning to New York permanently.
In 2016, L’Appart opened in Manhattan’s massive French food hall Le District, with Abello cooking as if he’s hosting every guest personally at his own flat, conjuring an intimate fine dining experience that evokes the spirit of a dinner party. Just nine months after its first service, L’Appart was awarded a Michelin star and kept it this recognition since then.
Chef Aaron Deal
Meet Chef Aaron
In my opinion one’s philosophy changes with experience and an understanding of their own beliefs regarding an idea or circumstance. My philosophies of cooking techniques, hospitality, business management and communication have evolved throughout my almost 20 years of experience. My goal is to remain focused on never compromising the growth of these ideas by neglecting to listen to my environment, clients, fellow employees or colleagues.
Chef Richard Gruica
Meet Chef Richard
- Good Eats and Neets — the largest food meetup in the world, with over 22,000 members in 7 cities GEAN unites people who love to eat, drink, and socialize!
- Captivating Croatia Tours — a gourmet travel company where guests SEE & SAVOR Croatia in the most special of
- Gypsy Table pop-up events — a one-of-a-kind experience filled with amazing food, drink and ambiance, surrounded in mystery and
- Sight and Bites (Croatia Food Tour), a unique food/history walking tour of old t‹›wn Dubrovnik,
taking you from starved to stuffed and totally satisfied!
Chef Richard is a true epicure and fan vivant, and never tums down an opportunity to share his knowledge of food and his culinary skills. When he is not leading one of his many tours or dining events, you’ll find him teaching cooking classes, speaking at seminars and round-table discussions, leading Croatian Food and wine events in collaboration with Croatian vendors and product, he is also an active participant in food – and wine -related fairs and festivals in the USA, Europe and around the world.
After launching GEAM in 2007, he was a featured speaker at the 2014Teria Madre Balkan Conference, an event that ultimately led him to launch Captivating CroatiaTours, a gourmet travel company that shmcases the best of Croatia’s food, wines and beauty. He was then inspired to launch Gypsy Table, Eumpes premiere pop-up events and a one-of-a-kind experience, filled with mystery, flayor ard ambiance In 2017 “the Gypsy” came across the pond to delight the USA. Richani also showcases the beauty and charm of Dubrovnik with his Sights and Bites / Croatia Food Tour, where guesk get to experience a unique f‹od/history walking tour of old in Dubmvnik … taking them from starved to stuffed and totally satisfied!
He is a pmud member of the Slow Food movement and is passionate about authentic food experiences that respect local ingredients and tmditions, a supportor of the Farm-to-Table concept.
Richard believes in “giving back” and that is why he includesacharityatevery5ypsyTable event and in addition to that, he donates or sponsors many “causes” from aII4 of his ventures.
Croatia is a real passion for Chef Richard and he has spent many years cultivating relationships with the arésans, pmJucers, and craftsmen of Doatia and recerisy was asked to speak, as an expert on Croatia, at the New York Times Travel Expo (2019). He has been featured in digital and print publications, and has contibuted with articles, interviews and food photography. He is very active on Social Media.
Chef Richard is always on the go to discover and share new and amazing things with Food & Drink. However, he will always stop and take the time to get to km you and what he can offer or share with you.
Chef Peter Spear
Meet Chef Peter
Chef Charles Carroll
Meet Chef Charles
Podcast: The Recipe Podcast: Celebrity Secrets to a Successful Life
Chef Masa Endo
Meet Chef Endo
Chef Kevin Mitchell
Meet Chef Kevin
Chef Matthew Vasquez
Meet Chef Matthew
Chef William Mouchet
Meet Chef Mouchet
Chef Robert Mancuso
Meet Chef Robert
Chef Michael Battocletti
Meet Chef Michael
In 2012, Battocletti moved to Chicago to further his skillset at the Alinea Group restaurant, Next. Rising through the ranks quickly, Battocletti became a sous chef after only a couple of months and continued to work under chef Grant Achatz and Dave Beran for the next four years. After his time at Next, Battocletti began working for Lettuce Entertain You, one of the country’s largest privately
owned restaurant groups. He spent time as executive chef of Mon Ami Gabi, RPM Italian, and RPM Steak, while also helping to develop the RPM Seafood menu.
Chef Laurent Quenioux
Meet Chef Laurent
Chef James Kremer
Meet Chef James
Chef George Georgiades
Meet Chef Georgiades
Chef Ron Duprat
Meet Chef Duprat
Chef Farid Zadi
Meet Chef Farid
Chef Susan Park
Meet Chef Susan
Chef Kaitlin Payne
Meet Chef Kaitlin
Chef Kenneth Scott
Meet Chef Kenneth
Chef George Mandakas
Meet Chef George
Chef Ashten Garrett
Meet Chef Garrett
Chef Iraj Fernando
Meet Chef Iraj
CHEF IRAJ FERNANDO has transformed the foodservice at Bosch LLC and Onsite Business and Institutions by:
• BRINGING creativity to menu selections, which often rival fine-dining restaurants, through fresh cooking and a No Repeats philosophy
• Go above and Beyond introducing American Regional and Global Adventuresome Cooking over 25 years. to B&I Cafes Kitchens and their associates, Home Cooks.
• INCREASING daily participation to as high as 80% through impeccable customer service
• MENTORING his staff to encourage them to produce the best food possible
• BECOMING a Southern ambassador to bring in new accounts
Iraj Fernando has not allowed his 13 years of restaurant experience to be forgotten since his switch to non-commercial. As Senior executive chef for Southern Foodservice Management, at Bosch LLC in Broadview, Ill., Fernando has used his restaurant mentality to dramatically improve the culinary offerings for Bosch’s employees. But it isn’t just the food that has increased his café’s participation to as high as 80%. Fernando’s skills with customers has also made him successful.
Restaurant-minded: Iraj Fernando ‘s culinary career began early on, A native of Sri Lanka, Fernando came to Chicago when he was 18. His original aspiration was to become Sound recording engineer, or an artist but while attending City Colleges of Chicago a friend hooked him up with a dishwashing job. Iraj’s culinary career began early on, Lettuce Entertain you and Levy Organizations, two giant restaurateur their love and respect for quality and tradition. After a stint at his sister’s Po Boy restaurant in Houston, Fernando returned to Chicago, Fernando sought opportunities to further develop his own creativity help by his friend where he took a job as a chef at Bigsby’s restaurant. Partially owned by Michael Jordan,
“I had no formal education as a chef, but I knew I could do it,” Fernando says. “So, I came back to Chicago and within a few days I was working at Bigsby’s. I worked there from 1989 until 1996. Then I heard that this company called Southern Foodservice was looking for a chef. At that point I didn’t know about this side of the business. The rest is history.” Fernando says Southern Leadership gave him the freedom to translate what he did in restaurants to Bosch LLC Kitchens.
Fernando’s dedication to restaurant customer service has also translated to Bosch. This was especially evident when Fernando realized he was losing catering events to some five-star restaurants.
Fernando began a campaign to keep at least some of these events in house, He started by convincing a couple of meeting planners to give him the opportunity to develop a menu like what the event planner was looking at from a restaurant. Iraj and his staff not only succeeded in pulling off the event, but the guests said his selections and the quality of the food rivaled any five-star restaurants they had been to.
Iraj is also the proud father of Daughter Jari and wife Maria. Reside in Schaumburg, IL.
Chef Shea Zappia
Meet Chef Shea
I started my cooking career in my father’s restaurant when I was 13 years old. The restaurant started as a humble neighborhood bar & grill in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY. The restaurant grew into popular casual fine dining destination and I became serious about cooking professionally. I attended culinary school at a local culinary college in Buffalo, NY. Through culinary school I was urged by one of my Chef instructors to try out for the American Culinary Federations Regional Hot Food Competition Team to which I served as team captain for 3 years and won 1 bronze and 2 silver medals. I was nominated as the ACF’s Student Chef of the Year in 2005 and placed second in the Northeast. Competitions are where I feel I gained the “classical training” and set the trajectory for the rest of my career. I was presented opportunities to go elsewhere but chose to stay in Buffalo as it was on the cusp of a large revitalization in the Culinary Scene in which I seen an opportunity to make a name for myself and my food. I left my father’s restaurant at the age of 21 and worked in various private clubs in the city while still competing and coaching young ACF culinarians in hot food competitions. After moving around from private clubs to other restaurants in the city, I got my first sous chef job at 24 years old in a casual fine dining restaurant in South Buffalo. The owners were CIA grads and esteemed local chefs that worked in Switzerland, Austria, Jamaica and Lake Tahoe. They were pioneers of farm to table in Buffalo and also regarded as the first real “fusion” style restaurant, elevating blue collar food with international influences. After 2 years as Sous Chef, I was promoted to Executive Chef and was nominated as Best Chef of Buffalo 2013 by the Buffalo News. I served as executive chef there for 7 years until moving on to Executive Chef of Savor Restaurant in the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute running their fine dining restaurant and retail outlets. I have also worked part time as a private Chef for the Jacobs Family for the past 2 years, who’s patriarch serves as chairman of Delaware North and are the owners of the Boston Bruins. I currently am the Executive Chef for Sysco Foods in Upstate New York working as a Culinary Specialist and consultant.