Scottsdale culinary Festival
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Chefs & Personalities


Ray Anderson
Chef de Cuisine
Ray Anderson

Chef de Cuisine
Palm Court, Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center (Scottsdale, AZ)

Festival Event(s):
  • Wine Country Brunch

  • Chef de Cuisine Ray Anderson is the creative force behind the progressive American menu in the newly-renovated Palm Court.  Starting his tenure in the kitchen’s pantry in 1990, Anderson’s talent was rewarded with a rotation through banquets, the position of PM Chef, and ultimately, the chef de cuisine of Palm Court, the resort’s signature restaurant. “I’ve been fortunate to have had a diverse career without leaving this property.  The variety of positions I’ve held has offered me a wealth of experience plus the continuity of being a member of this great resort family.”

    A native Phoenician, Anderson fondly remembers dining with his father in a favorite restaurant and relishing how “the flavors were so distinct and so right that I would think about that meal all day and start looking forward to our return visit.” Anderson strives to create that same sensation for his diners as he “focuses on making the first bite taste just as good as the last bite.”
     
    On the home front, Anderson most enjoys cooking hearty and flavorful soups for his family, but once he dons his toque, his demanding attention to detail drives him and his staff to create brilliant sauces and breathtaking presentations.  “Each ingredient has to be at its freshest to satisfy our standards, which allows for no shortcuts in the kitchen.  But the reward is to create that memorable dining experience for our patrons —like I experienced as a kid--which makes them happy and repeat guests.”


    Akira Back
    Executive Chef & Partner
    Akira Back

    Executive Chef & Partner
    Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant

    Festival Event(s):
  • Cooks and Corks

  • A Korea native and former professional snowboarder who was raised in Colorado, Chef Akira Back brings his sense of adventure and boundless creativity into the kitchen at Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge By Chef Akira Back, which opened in the summer of 2008 at Las Vegas’ Bellagio Resort & Casino. Back’s menu embodies classic Japanese cuisine, which features innovative dishes that utilize fresh ingredients from the world’s top purveyors. As a result, Chef Back was awarded the title of “Rising Star” by Restaurant Hospitality in October 2008. In December 2008 and March 2010 he had the distinct honor of hosting a multi-course dinner at the prestigious James Beard House and recently was awarded Best Chef in Las Vegas in the Las Vegas Weekly publication.
     
    Back spent his early years as a professional snowboarder, showing off his talents in extreme movies, and garnered praise by industry magazines like Snowboarder and Transworld. To supplement his income, Akira started cooking in local Aspen restaurants to earn extra cash. He soon realized that the adventure and thrill he experienced on the slopes also existed in the kitchen. After seven years on the professional snowboarding circuit, Akira decided to pursue a full-time culinary career.
     
    After graduating from The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes in Colorado, Back began his epicurean adventure in earnest in 1993 at Kenichi in Aspen. He was later recruited to expand Kenichi in Austin, Texas followed by Kenichi in Kona, Hawaii.
     
    Akira’s love of travel and culinary exploration took him to Japan and throughout Europe, where he trained under the leading master chefs, including Masaharu Morimoto and Brian Nagao, and learned the value of using rare and exotic ingredients. In 2003 Back returned to Aspen and was hired as the Executive Chef of Nobu Matsuhisa’s namesake restaurant.
     
    In 2008, Back appeared on an episode of the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and battled Iron Chef Bobby Flay. He is a spokesperson for the third generation Japanese knife company Suisin knives. Furthermore, he was featured on a prime time commercial for the International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes in 2008 on the Food Network.


    Julia Baker
    Pastry Chef & Owner
    Julia Baker

    Pastry Chef & Owner
    Julia Baker Confections

    Festival Event(s):
  • The Chocolate and Wine Experience

  • AZ Culinary Hall of Fame - Pastry Chef Extraordinaire

  • Culinary artist and confectioner Julia Baker started her career as a statistician, but ultimately followed her passion for food by enrolling at the world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu Paris to study classical French culinary techniques.

    In 2002, Julia graduated first in her class with the Grande Diplôme de Cuisine and de Pâtisserie—the school’s highest honors for cuisine and pastry. She was granted a prestigious internship under famed Alain Ducasse protégé, Jean-Louis Nomicos, and refined her pastry skills with Sue MacMahon, famed sugar-paste flower artist and chef of The Queen Mum’s 100th birthday cake.

    Though well-versed in all areas of cuisine, Julia realized that her true passion was in creating desserts and chocolate. She moved to Scottsdale, Arizona in 2004 and founded catering company Gateaux & Chocolats before starting Julia Baker Confections in 2006.

    Today, as founder, head chef and CEO of Julia Baker Confections, she focuses exclusively on luxury chocolates and custom desserts—all of which are made from scratch without any preservatives or artificial ingredients. Julia personally creates and writes every recipe and designs and constructs her legendary cakes.

    Singer/songwriter Alicia Keys has called Julia “breathtakingly talented” and she has earned her reputation as “Chocolatier to the Stars” by making her delectable chocolates for numerous celebrities, including Bono and U2, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Aniston, and Britney Spears.


    Wilo Benet
    Executive Chef
    Wilo Benet

    Executive Chef
    Varita & Pikayo

    Festival Event(s):
  • Cooks and Corks

  • Puerto Rican Chef Wilo Benet is owner of two restaurants, Pikayo – his fine dining and flagship restaurant -- opened almost 20 years ago; and Varita a wood-burning rotisserie concept, which craftily places Puerto Rican comfort food front and center.
    Benet has redefined Puerto Rican cuisine and in the process has put the Island's enchanting flavors on display for the whole world to admire.
     
    After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, he worked for various famed restaurants such as Le Bernardin, The Water Club and the Maurice Restaurant, all in NY, which led him to be chosen as Chef de Cuisine for Puerto Rico’s Governors Mansion. After two years, he opened Pikayo, which has been recognized over the almost 20-year span by many culinary-oriented publications such as Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Conde Nast Traveler, Caribbean Travel & Life, Miami Herald and the NY Times, which hailed “Pikayo may be the best museum restaurant in the world”, among many other international publications. So far this year, Benet has been recognized by various key magazines, such as Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, American Express’ Destination Magazine and Food and Wine as well as being chosen as spokesperson for UNICEF’s Puerto Rico Chapter “Tap Water” Campaign. In February he was featured in the cover of Sante Magazine, a publication geared to allure food and beverage professionals, as well as Comercio y Produccion, the Puerto Rican official magazine of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce.
     
    In 2007 he launched his cookbook, “Puerto Rico True Flavors”, featuring more than 100 recipes complemented by outstanding photography, taking readers by the hand into Puerto Rico’s culinary journey. This best-seller was followed by the Spanish translation “Puerto Rico Sabor Criollo”. Last year during Book Expo America in Los Angeles, both his books won awards as Best Cookbook in English as well as in Spanish.
     
    In May 2009, Benet launched his first endeavor in the wine world: DOBLEÚ, elaborated by the "Bodega Ramon Bilbao" in Rioja, Spain of 100% Tempranillo Grape. Wine Spectator’s Robert Parker declared it "Best Buy" in the Wine Advocate 2009 Edition.
     
    In June, Benet will participate in two of the highest ratings culinary shows in TV: Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”, and as a contestant in Bravo TV’s new series “Top Chef Masters”, a spinoff of the award-winning show, “Top Chef”.
     
    Some of Benet’s hobbies include photography (which is where his first studies were formed before becoming a chef), golf and drum playing. He is presently commissioned to photograph all resident and migrating bird species for St. Regis, a huge upscale hotel chain that will open in Puerto Rico in 2010. 


    Todd Berry
    Executive Chef
    Todd Berry

    Executive Chef
    The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa (Scottsdale, AZ)

    Festival Event(s):
  • James Beard Benefit Dinner

  • Leading the imaginative culinary experience at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa is, Executive Chef and Arizona Native, Todd Berry. Known for his inventive regional cuisine, Berry leads a team of nearly 100 members charged with servicing Nellie Cashman's Monday Club Café, J. Swilling's Pool Bar & Grill, The Rim, Waltz & Weizer Saloon, Coffee Flats and Snowbowls, Brittlebush Bar & Grill, and Deseo, a specialty restaurant inspired by Nuevo Latino inventor Douglas Rodriguez.  Berry also oversees all banquet events for the Resort, which offers more than 175,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space.

    Berry is known for his creative execution, forward-thinking approach to cooking and strong desire to teach and mentor his staff. Berry joined the Westin Kierland team in April of 2006 as head of the resort’s banquet department. He was quickly noticed for his ability to keep cool under pressure and for possessing a natural talent and pure passion for cooking. He also gained a reputation for having a genuine interest in the happiness and success of all his team members.

    Prior to joining The Westin Kierland Resort, Berry served as Executive Chef at both the Sheraton Grand Sacramento and Hidden Meadow Ranch in Greer, Ariz. Other previous experience includes the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch, where he worked for 11 years, the Hotel Westcourt in Scottsdale and the French Corner, also in Scottsdale.


    Todd Bostock
    Wine Maker
    Todd Bostock

    Wine Maker
    Dos Cabezas WineWorks

    Festival Event(s):
  • Cooks and Corks

  • Bio coming soon...


    Arthur Bovino
    Senior Editor
    Arthur Bovino

    Senior Editor
    The Daily Meal

    Festival Event(s):
  • Challenge to the Chefs - Judges


  • Cullen Campbell
    Executive Chef & Owner
    Cullen Campbell

    Executive Chef & Owner
    Crudo

    Festival Event(s):
  • Challenge to the Chefs

  • Chef Cullen Campbell has quietly established his reputation as one of the most sought-after up-and-coming chefs in the Valley of the Sun. Now, Campbell is expanding his repertoire to include restaurant owner of downtown Scottsdale’s newest eatery, Crudo Café.
     
    Having cut his teeth in the kitchens of acclaimed eateries throughout metropolitan Phoenix and his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, Chef Campbell has satisfied hungry diners with everything from eclectic fusion to Southwest-inspired international to contemporary to Mediterranean to new American cuisine.  Campbell now joins forces with old friend and colleague, Chef Brandon Crouser, previously of Atlas Bistro, to explore the possibilities of modern Italian cuisine. Partnering on this new venture the two are creating a menu of fresh, affordable fare for breakfast and lunch; with a dinner menu that highlights modern Italian cuisine, beginning with four crudo or fish carpaccio dishes.
     
    Chef Campbell first discovered his passion for the culinary arts in his family’s Memphis kitchen while in high school. Out of necessity, Campbell’s mother began teaching her son how to cook before sending him off to college. The young student quickly caught on and realized a personal affinity for food. When the time did come to head off to college, Campbell first opted for an alternative learning experience, diving headfirst into the chaotic world of the restaurant industry as sous chef of Memphis’ Mantia’s restaurant.
     
    Enticed by the burgeoning entrepreneurial restaurant scene in Phoenix, Arizona, Campbell’s birthplace, the young chef headed back to the Valley in 1999. Recognizing the value of possessing a savvy business mind in the restaurant industry and with the encouragement of his parents, both medical professionals, Campbell enrolled in the top ranking W.P. School of Business at Arizona State University where he earned his degree in business management in 2003. In addition, Campbell also holds a certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers.
     
    In his decade in the Valley, Chef Campbell has continued to hone his skills in the kitchens of lauded establishments such as Gregory’s World Bistro, House of Tricks, La Grande Orange, Atlas Bistro, Camus and Fine’s Cellar, where his unique creations and delicious takes on world cuisine have earned him praise from patrons and food critics alike. Once unmoored from his latest venture, Chef Campbell felt the call to pursue his own culinary interests and wanted to explore new Italian cuisine.
     
    Finding a unique space in the foyer boutique of Steven Paul in downtown Scottsdale, Chef Campbell imagined a small, urban café featuring breakfast and lunch with fresh ingredients, simply prepared. At night, the café transforms into al fresco Mediterranean dining on Crudo’s intimate patio and Chef Campbell and his team will present gastronomic delights and perfect pairings for the foodie and casual diner alike. As owner and executive chef, Chef Campbell is responsible for the design and execution of Crudo’s menu and ingredient selection, which highlights the best in modern Italian cuisine.
     
    When Chef Campbell is not in the kitchen he can be found at home in Phoenix’s Arcadia neighborhood, where he passes the time painting, biking and keeping up on episodes of his favorite Food Network show, Iron Chef.


    Paul Carter
    Executive Chef
    Paul Carter

    Executive Chef
    Il Terrazzo at the Phoenician

    Paul Carter is the Executive Chef at The Phoenician, a 643-room luxury resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Chef Carter oversees a staff of more than 150 along with the kitchen operations for dining outlets including, Il Terrazzo, The Café and Ice Cream Parlor, Relish Burger Bistro, Oasis Grill, Canyon Grill and In-Room Dining, as well as all banquet kitchens.  He also oversees pastry, bake shop, butcher shop and pasta shop operations.  As the resort’s Executive Chef, he is responsible for all menu creations and preparations, along with the daily supervision and training of restaurant staff.   According to Carter, “Perfecting simplicity is the essence of great food.”  

    Chef Carter’s international background has provided him with a culinary expertise that far exceeds his years in the profession.  His love affair with the kitchen dates back to his early teens.  A native of London, Carter attended Colchester Institute of Culinary Arts in Essex at the young age of 15.  Upon earning a three-year culinary degree, he began his cooking career at the Hotel Sonnenhügel in Bad Kissingen, Germany, where he held the title of Commis de Cuisine.  He later served in the same capacity at Chateau de Montreuil in France for three years.  After rising through the ranks in the kitchens, he moved to the venerable Connaught Hotel in London, where he held posts in all kitchen operations from Butcher, to Garde Manger, to Saucier of Fine Dining, to Banquets.  In 1992, Carter moved to the United States to head up kitchens at world-class resorts including the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, California, where he held the position of Saucier for the fine-dining restaurant.  In addition, he served as Executive Sous Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Naples, Florida, and was also the Executive Chef at the exclusive Vinings Club in Atlanta.  Prior to joining The Phoenician, he was Executive Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland.
     
    Carter is the 1991 recipient of the coveted William Heptinstall Award, an honor given to “The Most Enterprising Young Chef in the U.K.”  He also received La Maîtrise des Arts Culinaires Diplôme by Palmes Culinaires in 2002. 


    Tammie Coe
    Pastry Chef
    Tammie Coe

    Pastry Chef
    Tammie Coe Cakes

    Festival Event(s):
  • AZ Culinary Hall of Fame - Pastry Chef Extraordinaire

  • Tammie Coe had a dream of excellence since she was a child.  From playing in her mother's kitchen, as young as 8, she was always experimenting, striving for only the best!   After high school, she attended Johnson and Wales University, in Providence RI, an acclaimed culinary school.  This was the beginning; where she met her husband and partner MJ Coe.  

    After graduation, she continued the pursuit of excellence, working for 5 star 5 diamond properties to include; The Breakers-Palm Beach FL, Ritz Carlton-Naples FL, Scottsdale Princess-Scottsdale AZ,  and Michael's @ the Citadel-Scottsdale AZ.
     
    In 2003, Tammie and MJ opened Tammie Coe Cakes and MJ Breads Bakery, located in the Arcadia District of Phoenix. In 2006 they opened a café/bakery location in the Roosevelt District of Phoenix.  She makes everything from chocolate chip cookies to high end wedding and custom cakes.  Her specialty, is her decadent sugar cookie, adorned in a colorful, light sugar glaze, soft in the center, and tastes like a donut.  Too pretty and delicious to resist!


    Chris Curtiss
    Executive Chef
    Chris Curtiss

    Executive Chef
    NOCA

    Festival Event(s):
  • AZ Culinary Hall of Fame - Chef Extraordinaire

  • Chris Curtiss: Classically trained in French cuisine, Executive Chef Chris Curtiss developed his culinary skills under the tutelage of some of the most decorated chefs and in the finest restaurants in the northern hemisphere. Chef Curtiss accentuates his extensive culinary training and experience with cutting edge creativity and professionalism in order to provide the highest quality dining experience. 

    Growing up in Northern California, Chef Curtiss was introduced early on to the importance of fresh ingredients during his first job at a local farmers market. This experience left an indelible impression on Chef Curtiss and is reflected today in his culinary inspiration and passion which focuses on utilizing only the finest fresh ingredients. 
     
    His experience as an apprentice butcher in a family owned butcher shop during high school provided fundamental skills that he still relies on daily. Shortly thereafter, he was offered an apprenticeship by Chef Denis Soriano who was from Lyon, France. After completing his apprenticeship, he worked up the ranks of some of the most notable restaurants in San Francisco. At the tender age of only twenty three, restauranteur Bob Puccini asked Chef Curtiss to join him in Vancouver, B.C. to open Oritalia (a fine dining fusion restaurant). After Oritalia, Chef Curtiss served under Chef George Marrone at 5th Floor (4 Stars). Chef Marrone is one of two chefs in the San Francisco area to earn the 4 star rating at two different locations (Aqua and Sth Floor). After obtaining invaluable experience at 5th Floor, Chef Curtiss joined renowned Chef Ron Siegel at Charles Nob Hill (4 Stars). Chef Siegel was the opening sous chef at the world famous French Laundry and the first American to compete on and win the show Iron Chef in Japan. Chef Siegel is the second chef in San Francisco to earn 4 stars at multiple restaurants. 
     
    In 2000, Chef Curtiss and Chef Siegel moved from Charles Nob Hill to reopen Masa's. After two years as Sous Chef at Masa's, Chef Curtiss moved to Arizona to rejoin his family who had recently been transplanted from the Bay Area. Upon arriving in Phoenix, Chef Curtiss taught advanced culinary skills while working contemporaneously on the opening of Circa 1900. At Circa 1900, Chef Curtiss served as opening chef and was responsible for the creation of the restaurant concept and all menu planning and execution.
     
    While at Circa 1900, Chef Curtiss was introduced to Eliot Wexler. A friendship quickly developed over a mutual passion for food preparation, and Chef Curtiss began creating tasting menus for Eliot, and the partnership seed between Foodie and Chef was planted.  NOCA (which is short for "North of Camelback") is the fruition of their shared passion and friendship. The restaurant is located directly North of Camelback Road in the Biltmore area. While the restaurant was under construction, Wexler and Curtiss planned a itinerary so that Curtiss could spend time further honing his skills at some of their favorite restaurants including: Quince in San Francisco under Chef Michael Tusk; Binkley's Restaurant in Cave Creek, Arizona under Chef Kevin Binkley; and a quick pass thru the kitchen of Providence in Los Angeles with Chef Michael Cimarusti. NOCA showcases Chef Curtiss's passion for Japanese, Italian and French cuisine by fusing their flavors and techniques into Modern American fare. NOCA has hit the ground running by immediately being recognized by Phoenix Magazine in its "Best New Restaurants in 2008" issue, Phoenix New Times in the "Best of Phoenix" issue being awarded "Best Place to Take a Foodie", and being awarded 4 ½ out of 5 stars by the Arizona Republic.


    Stephanie Dean
    Sunset Magazine
    Stephanie Dean

    Sunset Magazine


    Festival Event(s):
  • Challenge to the Chefs - Judges

  • Born and raised in San Jose, CA, Stephanie Dean developed a passion for cooking early on.  In high school, she extended this passion into small time catering for friends and family.  With her interest in cooking, she also developed an interest in health and wellness and decided to pursue a Bachelor’s in Nutrition at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo upon graduation from High School.  In San Luis Obispo she worked at a gourmet olive oil company and she managed Cal Poly’s student run chocolate business.  On trips back to San Jose, she catered for Restaurant O in Campbell, CA. 
     
    With a Bachelor’s in Nutrition, concentrating in Culinary Science and Management, and a minor in Food Science, Stephanie started a food product development internship with Mattson and Company, one of the foremost food product development companies in the country.  After her internship at Mattson, Stephanie landed at Sunset magazine where she manages their test kitchen, answers reader questions, and develops recipes. She completed her Master’s in Nutrition from San Jose State University in May 2010 and now lectures there part-time, teaching food culture to undergrads. She lives in San Jose and spends her free time cooking, singing, and playing the guitar.


    Michael DeMaria
    Executive Chef
    Michael DeMaria

    Executive Chef
    M Catering by Michael's

    Festival Event(s):
  • Best of the Fest

  • Saturday Cooking Demos

  • Chef Michael DeMaria is renowned throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan region and beyond for his inventive and exceptional American and Italian contemporary cuisines
     
    Chef Michael was trained by the superior chefs at the five-star Arizona Biltmore. His dynamic background includes teaching culinary arts at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and working at well-known destinations such as San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix’s famous Royal Palms Hotel and Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, the Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles and Westin Hotel Corporation. In 1992, Chef Michael was selected as one of 25 chefs to comprise Team U.S.A., which represented the United States in the Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany. For a decade, 1997-2007, Chef Michael’s highly acclaimed namesake restaurant, Michael’s at the Citadel, located in the high Sonoran Desert of North Scottsdale, received recognitions such as the AAA 4-Diamond award, Mobil 3-Star award, Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence and the Zagat Survey’s “extraordinary.”
     
    Business partners Chef Michael and Brandon Maxwell are co-owners of M Culinary Concepts business with operations that include: M Catering by Michael’s, a 36,000 square-foot commissary kitchen and warehouse, is a chef-driven concept serving world cuisine to parties of eight to 8,000; Main Course, Chef Michael’s unique corporate dining experience that offers meal service to businesses within their on-site dining facilities, as well as VIP events, special meetings and holiday parties; and M Restaurants, a cuttingedge, contemporary restaurant concept designed and developed by Chef Michael. His newest venture is Heirloom - An American Restaurant, located at DC Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona, which opened in January of 2009. Heirloom has received high praise from area diners, as well as the media: “…dinner at Heirloom is flat-out delicious.” – The Arizona Republic; “…you’ll love DeMaria’s new place, which focuses on fresh seasonal delights.” – PHOENIX Magazine, October ’09; and One of 23 Best New Restaurants, November ‘09 – PHOENIX Magazine.
     
    Chef Michael continues to receive awards such as Phoenix Home & Garden 2002 “Master of the Southwest” Master Chef; New Times “Best of Phoenix;” Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame Inductee 2002; as well as several PHOENIX Magazine’s “Best of the Valley” recognition awards.


    Tracy Dempsey
    Pastry Chef & Owner
    Tracy Dempsey

    Pastry Chef & Owner
    Tracy Dempsey Originals

    Festival Event(s):
  • The Chocolate and Wine Experience

  • AZ Culinary Hall of Fame - Pastry Chef Extraordinaire

  • It may well have been an Easy Bake Oven, a Christmas gift when she was 5 that started Tracy Dempsey down the path towards a career in the restaurant industry.  While cooking treats made of Play-Do might seem a dubious beginning, this interest in food and cooking at an early age was expanded with imaginary travels afforded by her mother’s Time-Life International Cuisine Cookbook series and in real travels as her father’s career in petroleum geology took the family around the Globe.  Early dining experiences ranging from street food in Singapore to home-cooked meals at Grandma’s house in Arkansas helped expose her young palate to a wide-range of ingredients, flavor combinations and techniques, and although some combinations were not fully appreciated at the time, a sense of both the differences and similarities among various cultures’ dishes was instilled in her at an early age.  

    Food and its enjoyment are always best as collaborative experiences for Tracy, and this may have been influenced by the occasions that her parents would share cooking classes prior to utilizing the newly learned techniques or recently discovered ingredients while hosting elaborate dinner parties for their friends.  By staying up late with the adults, more good food – and occasionally wine - were sampled, and perhaps more importantly for someone destined for the hospitality industry, the joy of successful entertaining was observed first-hand.  Similar dinner parties were hosted by Tracy and her husband during their time in graduate school at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, and in the early days of their Valley residency, and although the occasional bash may have ended with crepes flying, food and fellowship rarely suffered.  New ingredient, sometimes ordered from as far away as New York City, or new techniques gleaned from cooking shows on PBS or various Cable Networks were often unveiled during these endeavors, and menus, guest preferences as well as notable happenings were recorded in a journal for future reference.  
     
    During the early 1990’s, Tracy and her husband moved to the Valley on an alleged temporary assignment for him at the Salt River Project as the onsite presence for an on-going research project led by the National Severe Storms Laboratory.  Tracy’s studies and progress towards a PhD in French Literature were halted, and before the “temporary” assignment became more permanent, Tracy worked a brief tenure at Santa Barbara Catering before returning to a more academic setting as an ESL teacher at ASU.  Although her time with the catering company was less than a year, it was enough to eventually blossom into a desire to leave teaching and enroll in the Scottsdale Community College Culinary Program in the Spring of 1999.  Four semesters of general studies within the culinary program to provide a broad foundation for future endeavors and graduation from SCC continued a culinary education that began with a plethora of cookbooks and low-style yet high-substance television shows such as the Great Chefs series featuring Julia Child, Marcel DeSaulniers, Jacques Torres, Justin Wilson, Ming Tsai and Natalie Dupree. 
     
    Even before graduation from SCC, Tracy gained valuable experience working as a prep cook under the tutelage of Chef-Owner Giuseppe "Pippo" Tedesco-Gueli at the Café Terrace Italian Bistro and during an externship at the Marriot Cottonwoods Resort.  The former venue provided an opportunity to learn the intricacies of making fresh pastas and Italian desserts and to become acquainted with à la minute preparation while the latter offered experience at many of the stations along the “Line” as well as opportunities to help with menu development.  Although helping meet the evening service’s rush at both of these venues had a certain exhilarating aspect, shortly after graduation from SCC, a full-time position in the Bake Shop at the Marriot Mountain Shadows Resort became open.  With a culinary certificate and favorable recommendation from Paul O’Connor the Cottonwood’s executive chef, in hand, this position was offered to Tracy and eagerly accepted as the first step towards a pasty chef position.  The Mountain Shadows had no pastry chef as such, but within a year of taking full advantage of the learning opportunities the bake shop offered while continually receiving encouragement from the Resort’s executive chef Chris Klett, Tracy was fulfilling many of the duties of the pastry chef while still the “junior” member of the bake shop crew.  
     
    Throughout the fall of 2000, a Pasty Chef position for Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn repeatedly appeared among the classified advertisements within the restaurant section and eventually Tracy answered it during her first visit to the property.  An interview led to a try-out, and as part of that, the neophyte chef, lacking any “signature” desserts per the request, produced at least one – a garam marsala pound cake with a dried fruit compote and chai tea ice cream – that pleased the executive chef Patrick Poblete enough for him to offer her the position beginning in February of 2001.  The excitement of attaining the title of Pastry Chef at a highly reputable restaurant quickly gave way to long days and nights in the fast-paced kitchen as a crash course in the Industry at the peak of a busy season ensued.  Four hundred covers on a weekend night were not uncommon, and as Pastry Chef in the Lon’s environment, Tracy was often the first in the kitchen to begin preparation for service and any parties that were scheduled and the last to leave after the final dessert of the evening was served.  
     
    A year in this environment provided more learning and experience within the Industry than a decade in a “typical” kitchen might have, and over the summer of 2002, a different venue was sought and found at Restaurant Hapa.  Although Chef-owners James & Stacy McDevitt’s cuisine at Hapa was from a different genre than Lon’s, it was an easy transition towards using Asian ingredients and creating Asian inspired desserts that complimented Hapa’s Asian fusion menu that was a Valley favorite.  A change in ownership at Restaurant Hapa during the spring of 2003 led to yet another change of venue as Tracy joined Gregory Casale at Gregory‘s World Bistro during the fall of 2003.  Once again designing a dessert program to compliment a different chef and menu was challenging, but working side-by-side and collaborating with Chef Casale made the transition smooth and transformed the challenges into rewarding opportunities.  Unfortunately Gregory’s closed much too early in Tracy’s tenure there, but after Chef Casale announced his intentions, Peter Kasperski contacted her and inquired if she’d be interested in joining his company, Spaghetti Western Productions, whose flagship restaurant is the widely acclaimed Cowboy Ciao.  After interviewing with Peter and Ciao’s executive chef Bernie Kantak, Tracy was offered the position and started her five year tenure as executive Pastry Chef which led her to creating dessert programs for a total of four Spaghetti Western Production endeavors. 
     
    In June 2009, Tracy decided to venture out on her own to pursue the dream of opening her own place. The economy suggested it wasn’t the right time for that, so she revamped and recreated her business model. The result was Tracy Dempsey Originals, a retail and wholesale desserts and confections business. Presently, her desserts may be found at Avalon, The House at Secret Garden, Citizen Public House and Crudo. Her packaged confections may be found at Smeeks, Urban Grocery, The Farm Kitchen and Dos Cabezas Winery. 


    Ron Dimas
    Executive Chef
    Ron Dimas

    Executive Chef
    Orange Sky at Talking Stick

    Festival Event(s):
  • Chef Wine Dinners

  • Chef Ron Dimas brings more than 20 years experience, crafting inspired creations at some of the best local resorts and restaurants, to his latest role as Chef de Cuisine of Orange Sky Restaurant at Talking Stick Resort. A native of Phoenix, Dimas planned a career in broadcasting at Arizona State University. To earn college tuition, he took an entry-level prep cook position at The Buttes Resort's Top of the Rock Restaurant in 1986. Although he hadn’t thought about a culinary career, Dimas found himself captivated by the magnanimous commitment required of culinary teams to transform basic ingredients into refined works of art.   With no formal culinary education, Dimas worked his way up through a variety of kitchens, eagerly learning as much as possible about all disciplines of the culinary arts.

    It was an opportunity at The Boulders Resort that set him on a course to becoming a foremost chef.  There Dimas' cooking flourished under the expert tutelage of Charles Wiley, a highly acclaimed award-wining chef.  Working his way through the ranks from cook, to restaurant chef, and ultimately to Executive Sous Chef, he refined his techniques toward new heights of quality and sophistication.   Dimas developed an appreciation and respect for the highest quality ingredients and how to best showcase them.  He also developed his own personal style and approach to creating fine American Regional cuisine, igniting his culinary creativity to become a budding top chef. 
     
    He continued his culinary rise at The Lodge at Ventana Canyon where he served as Executive Chef at the private club.  Dimas then returned to The Boulders as Chef de Cuisine exercising his freedom of creativity and experimentation with innovation.  Later he moved to The Arizona Kitchen at The Wigwam in Litchfield Park where he held the post Chef de Cuisine, creating authentic Southwestern cuisine. Dimas and Chef Wiley later joined forces again to open the Hotel Valley Ho. As Chef de Cuisine at Café ZuZu, Dimas’ “retro casual” modernization of American cooking classics has been heralded and widely enjoyed.  
     
    Orange Sky patrons can expect meals that are both approachable and creative.    The menu focuses on locally grown produce, naturally raised meats and environmentally responsible seafood, presented alongside unparalleled views and uncompromised service. 


    Richard Dupere
    Executive Chef
    Richard Dupere

    Executive Chef
    Ritz-Carlton

    Inspiration comes in many ways, how everything works, how it came about and how to make it better is the inspiration of Executive Chef Richard Dupere.

     
    In 1993 Rick started his own business that sold fish and fish products wholesale to retail stores and distributors, while still in college. Within a year, though, Rick had met so many talented culinary professionals that he decided that he wanted to do more so, while still running his business, he relocated to Arizona and quickly earned a Culinary Arts degree.
     
    After refining his cooking skills with a couple of Scottsdale resorts (Renaissance Hotels and Gainey Ranch Golf Club), Rick returned to Seattle to work as a Banquet Chef for the Columbia Tower Club. He started is first experience at the Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix in 1999; in 2001 he went to the Ritz-Carlton Boston Common.
     
    Yet another exciting change in 2002 brought Rick back to Arizona and to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge, where he worked closely with catering and event managers designing programs for special events. Always ready for the next challenge, in 2006 Rick became the Executive Chef for Aventura, the Catering Company for the new Phoenix Convention Center. 
     
    In 2007, Rick returned back to the Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix as Executive Chef.  Thankfully Rick’s culinary inspirations have never waned, and we wait with excited anticipation to sample his next masterpiece.


    Kelly Fletcher
    Executive Chef
    Kelly Fletcher

    Executive Chef
    House of Tricks

    Festival Event(s):
  • Challenge to the Chefs

  • Chef Kelly Fletcher has been a staple at Tricks since 2003. By infusing many cooking styles such as classic Spanish, Asian, and French, Kelly brings a unique twist on Classic American Cuisine.
     
    Chef Kelly received his training from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, where he graduated in 1994.  He has worked for many well known restaurants in the valley, including the Wyndham Resort in Phoenix and 6th Ave Bistro in Scottsdale.
       
    Chef Kelly has been featured multiple times in the “Arizona Republic”, “The New Times” and the “Wine Spectator”. He has also had recipes printed in “New Southwestern” cook book, and has been a special guest on most of the local news channels here in the valley.


    Nobuo Fukuda
    Executive Chef & Owner
    Nobuo Fukuda

    Executive Chef & Owner
    Teeter House

    Festival Event(s):
  • AZ Culinary Hall of Fame - Chef Extraordinaire

  • Nobuo has lived and worked in Phoenix as a chef for 30 years. He has gone from working the teppanyaki table at Benihana in the early 80’s to his current position as Chef/Owner of Nobuo at Teeter House. While at his previous restaurant Sea Saw, where he partnered with restaurateur, Peter Kasperski, Nobuo earned the recognition as one of Food and Wine Magazine’s 10 Best New Chefs in the U.S. and was the recipient of a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southwest region category. Nobuo at Teeter House opened in July of 2010 in downtown Phoenix’s historic Heritage Square. Nobuo is pleased to be able to create the special tasting menus he is known for as well as a more casual “izakaya” tapas style menu within the charming atmosphere of The Teeter House.


    Michael Ginor
    Co-Founder, Co-Owner, President & Chef
    Michael Ginor

    Co-Founder, Co-Owner, President & Chef
    Hudson Valley Foie Gras (Ferndale, NY)

    Festival Event(s):
  • James Beard Benefit Dinner

  • Michael Aeyal Ginor is co-founder and Chef of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the most comprehensive Foie Gras producer in the world.  Michael, with his partner Izzy Yanay, modernized the ancient delicacy known to Pharos and kings by utilizing the hi-tech and scientifically advanced production techniques of the twentieth century.  Production is now a unified, controlled and consistent operation based on nature, nurture, and technology.  It is a closed, independent production system where the duck and the egg both come first!

    Michael was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1963.  He is a graduate of Brandeis University and studied for an MBA at New York University.  After four years on Wall Street as a Senior Vice-President with David Lerner Associates he decided to take a revolutionary step: having been born to Israeli expatriates living in America, in 1988 Michael joined the Israeli Defense Forces.  He served as a patrol-commanding Captain in the Gaza Strip and as the Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson.  It was in Israel that Michael first discovered the potential of modern-age Foie Gras processing. Michael pursued his dream by establishing what is today the major Foie Gras producer in the United States. The company distributes its moulard duck products through a network of distributors extending throughout the United States, and beyond.
     
    HVFG has received the 1993 Gold Merit Award from Chefs in America and the 1996 Award for Excellence from The James Beard Foundation. In 1996, HVFG received the Five Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences and the 1998 Award of Excellence from the American Tasting Institute. Michael has served as Honorary Event Chairman for the Spinazzola Foundation and the Cystic Fibrosis Fund.  In May 1996, Michael received the first Olive Branch Award from the Jewish National Fund for humanitarian and professional achievements. He was honored with the 1997 Angel Award from The James Beard Foundation for dedication, contribution and foresight and in 1998, Michael received the American Master Taster Award from the American Tasting Institute. Both Michael and Izzy Yanay were inducted into the James Beard Foundation Who's Who of Food and Beverage. 
     
    While HVFG is the bedrock of Michael’s pursuits, since 1990, Michael has dedicated his time to the many facets of the culinary world, including product development, creating and organizing gourmet and charitable events, workshops and demonstrations. Thus, Hudson Valley Foie Gras is committed to and is associated with: The James Beard Foundation, where Michael serves as a member of the National advisory Board, The Culinary Institute of America, New England Culinary Institute, Meals on Wheels, Share Our Strength, The Robert Mondavi Master Chefs Program, The Television Food Network, The Masters of Food and Wine, The St. Mortiz Food & Wine Festival, Singapore World Gourmet Summit, and the Bangkok World Gourmet Festival among numerous others.  
     
    Michael is also founder of Culinary Brainwaves which consults to the gourmet food industry. He has worked with Rio Suite Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas; Hyatt International; The Regent Group; The Four Seasons Group; Shangri-La Sheraton International; Inter-Continental and the Disney Corporation. He inaugurated the Food and Wine Festivals for Club-Med International. 
     
    Michael organizes culinary events and festivals worldwide. By bringing together celebrated American chefs and local chefs, Michael helps to create an intercultural culinary exchange program, which introduces American ingredients and techniques to world markets. Such events have been organized in Argentina, Canada, Chile, Great Britain, Finland, Hong Kong, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, and Thailand.
     
    Michael is a food and travel contributor to such stellar publications as Food Arts Magazine; The James Beard Magazine; Art Culinaire; Coffee & Cuisine; Singapore’s Cuisine Scene and Great Britain’s Great Hospitality. His cookbook, the internationally acclaimed Foie Gras…A Passion, is a comprehensive reference book accompanied by 84 recipes, received the prestigious 1999 Prix la Mazille for best international cookbook of the year from the International Cookbook Revue in Versailles.
     
    Michael, along with Chef Ken Oringer launched Boston’s La Verdad, a casual Mexican Taqueria and restaurant, which has already been awarded  “The Best Casual Mexican Restaurant in the US” by Bon Appetit Magazine and “One of the best 100 Restaurant in the US” by Food and Wine Magazine.  
     
    In July 2007 Michael opened TLV in Great Neck, NY, a Mediterranean restaurant which is garnishing critical acclaim and has received three stars from Newsday – “An oasis of serious food…. by culinary luminary Michael Ginor” as well as “best new restaurant (Long Island) 2008’. It received a Zagat “most notabl” distinguish in 2009.  In September 2009 Michael opened “Lola”, a new personal cuisine restaurant, also in Great Neck, NY.  Lola is already being hailed as one of Long Island’s best restaurants. 


    Koren Grieveson
    Chef de Cuisine
    Koren Grieveson

    Chef de Cuisine
    avec (Chicago, IL)

    Festival Event(s):
  • James Beard Benefit Dinner

  • Chef de Cuisine Koren Grieveson is one of Food & Wine's 2008 Best New Chefs and a finalist for the 2009 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes.

    Grieveson developed her singular style and meticulous palate during a five-year partnership with Executive Chef Paul Kahan at Blackbird restaurant, where she served as Sous Chef from 1998 until 2003. Working with the collaborative chef, Grieveson was part of the team that launched Blackbird onto the world stage, earning the restaurant accolades for its extraordinary cuisine.
     
    Grieveson's family moved from South Africa to Angola, Iran, England and Brazil before settling in the United States. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1996.
     
    In addition to Blackbird, her professional culinary experience includes work at San Francisco's Aqua under Chef Michael Mina, and in Chicago at Spruce under Chef Keith Luce, and Crofton on Wells under Chef Suzy Crofton. Prior to earning her degree, Grieveson worked in private catering to the entertainment industry and served in the United States Army for nine years.


    Jagger Griffin
    Executive Chef
    Jagger Griffin

    Executive Chef
    Ocean Prime

    Festival Event(s):
  • Best of the Fest

  • Chef Jagger graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont in 1993. He then worked as a sous chef at Christopher's in Phoenix from 1993 to 1995, when he moved to Eddie Matney's and rose from sous chef to chef de cuisine during his three-year tenure. In 2000, Chef Jagger became a part of the renowned Anthem Restaurants of America and was named executive chef of Italian restaurant Furio in Scottsdale. After being named as one of Arizona's Up and Coming Chefs in 2002, Chef Jagger was asked to help develop Anthem's fresh Mexican cantina concept, Salty Senorita, in 2003. Then in 2009, he seized the opportunity to become the executive chef at Ocean Prime. When Chef Jagger isn't in the kitchen, he likes to relax and spend time with his wife Isolda and their two daughters.


    Kim Haasarud
    Mixologist
    Kim Haasarud

    Mixologist
    Liquid Architecture

    Festival Event(s):
  • Cooks and Corks

  • Kim Haasarud is a James Beard-honored mixologist, author, and beverage consultant.   She conceives her signature cocktails much as Alice Waters would create a specialty dish, taking inspiration from market-fresh, high quality ingredients.  “Cocktails, like food, should be culinary experiences,” says Haasarud.  “It is about combining ingredients to create a sensation on the palate and entice all the senses with a combination of flavors, textures, aromas, and garnishes.”
     
    Kim prides herself on creating innovative cocktail programs that demand execution on a large-scale, are informed by current and upcoming trends, and are inspired by a “fresh forward and premium spirits” philosophy.  Her recent programs for Moet-Hennessy, Beam Global, SKYY Spirits, PF Changs, Wyndham Worldwide Hotels & Resorts, Four Seasons Resort Maui, et al are just a few examples; each of them incorporate fresh ingredients, a focus on technique & execution, bar & mis-en-place set-up, cost control, and a sensitivity towards SKUs to create profitable, top-of-class programs.
     
    Kim has been a judge on Iron Chef America, as well doing guest appearances on the “The Today Show,” CBS’ “Early Morning Show,” “Fox & Friends Live,” “Montel Williams Show”, “and Plum TV.  She has been featured on various radio programs including “Good Food” with Evan Kleiman, Martha Stewart’s “Everyday Food”, “Cosmo Radio” and ABC & CNN Radio syndicate.  Her cocktails have been seen in hundreds of magazines and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Saveur, Edible LA, Vogue, SELF, Wine Enthusiast, BRIDES, Woman’s World, Lucky, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Associated Press.  She also created the official cocktail for the 2010 Academy Awards served at the Governor’s Ball – the “Golden Glamour.”  She has also been featured at the Aspen Food & Wine festival (each year since ’06).
     
    Kim is the author of the best-selling “101... “ cocktail series with Wiley & Sons (101 Margaritas , 101 Martinis , 101 Sangrias & Pitcher Drinks, 101 Champagne Cocktails, 101 Blended Drinks and just released: 101 Mojitos and other Muddled Drinks.  She also released  the “Holiday Cocktail Bar” App for iPhone and iPad this past holiday season.
     
    She lives with her husband Kevin, two children Holden & Maddy, and dog Emi in Phoenix, AZ.


    Joshua Hebert
    Executive Chef
    Joshua Hebert

    Executive Chef
    POSH

    Festival Event(s):
  • Challenge to the Chefs

  • Arizona raised, Chef Joshua Hebert became enamored with food at an early age. As a child, he was able to say “breakfast” before most kids can say “mama.” No one knew the foreshadowing. In high school, Joshua took to cooking at home as a way of impressing women. The hobby quickly developed into a passion and during his junior year, Joshua was already cooking professionally at a corporate Italian restaurant, but he had his sights set on fine dining. 
     
    By the time he graduated high school, Joshua landed a spot at Tarbell’s, which had just opened its doors in central Phoenix. He spent five years as a line cook and sous chef at Tarbell’s developing his skill until his thirst for knowledge and curiosity for seasonal ingredients took him to San Francisco. Joshua worked at the world famous Zuni Café and Café Kati, and days off were spent studying wine at Hayes and Vine wine bar. Soon after, the owner of Café Kati sent him to Japan to open Café California, a Tokyo offshoot of Café Kati in the Miyako Hotel.
     
    Upon his return stateside, Joshua took the job as Executive Chef at his old stomping grounds Tarbell’s, which was followed by stints as Executive Chef at North @ Kierland Commons and Dual Restaurant in Gilbert. He opened POSH Restaurant on New Year’s Eve 2008, and has been refining the concept since, hiring the finest group of professionals in the Valley. 
     
    Joshua resides in Scottsdale with his wife of three years and his two herding dogs. When not at POSH, he can be found on the golf course, playing with his dogs or substitute teaching at the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) culinary program. He also regularly guest hosts “Into the Soup” with Heidi Lee, and has appeared on Good Morning Arizona, FoodiesLive, and NBC and FOX in Arizona. 


    Lee Hillson
    Executive Chef
    Lee Hillson

    Executive Chef
    T. Cook’s, Royal Palms Resort and Spa (Scottsdale, AZ)

    Festival Event(s):
  • Best of the Fest

  • Chef Wine Dinners

  • AZ Culinary Hall of Fame - Chef Extraordinaire

  • Few things in life are certain, but here are three sure bets: Executive Chef Lee Hillson will greet you with a smile, leave you smiling, and dazzle you with his creativity and culinary style which he describes as “a lightly polished, rustic Mediterranean cuisine.”

    Chef Lee enjoys the challenge of creating back-to-basic dishes with a tantalizing twist, and he sources phenomenally flavored ingredients in his commitment “to be more in touch with what we use and keep the earth greener.” But it’s his approach to his job that makes him a standout, believing that a “chef cooks from the heart while a cook cooks from the wallet.”

    His fervor for fresh flavors is reflected in the ever-growing list of products he makes in-house. The rows and rows of cured meats in his charcuterie locker are expanding daily with luscious link chorizo, boar prosciutto, pork loin, lardo, pancetta, soppressata, coppa, mortadella, and lamb prosciutto to name a few. A brisk retail business has developed from the demand for his signature Orange Marmalade, made from the citrus hand-picked from the resort’s groves, as well as the T. Cook’s Pesto and Salsa. ”Not only is this a lot of fun, but the more things we can make in house, the more we can control the integrity of what we serve our guests.”
     
    In addition to running the kitchens and tracking labor and food costs on a daily basis, Chef Lee embraces his role as “babysitter, father and big brother” to his staff, all of whom describe him simply as “awesome.”

    Promoted to Executive Chef in 2005 after five years as Sous Chef, Chef Lee has experienced a meteoric rise in a business that now requires top-notch telegenic talent coupled with nerves of steel and razor sharp business acumen.  He has these in spades, as evidenced by his battle with Iron Chef Cat Cora on the blockbuster Food Network show, Iron Chef America, where with his secret ingredient (ham) he created the dishes twice baked ham and goat cheese soufflé and the T. Cooks classic rendition of pasta carbonara. Then there are his numerous stints as a Celebrity Chef on luxury cruises through the Mediterranean, Hawaiian Islands and Alaska. He was tapped by British Airways to create a First Class menu for the Phoenix to London flights and was nominated to the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame. He has created remarkable meals for luminaries such as President George W. Bush, Barbra Streisand, Princess Diana, Richard Branson, Billy Joel and a favorite local celeb, blockbuster author, Clive Cussler.

    His heart is as big as his talent, so his leisure time is filled with commitments to both local and national charity events such as the Maui Charity Golf Classic-Susan G. Komen Hawaii, the Space Coast Early Intervention Learning Center in Florida, Taste of the Nation, Phoenix Cooks, Forks & Corks, and United Food Bank, to name a few. He even strutted his stuff for the Arizona Kidney Foundation as a “celebrity dancer” for their record-breaking charitable event.

    Somewhat of a prodigy, Chef Lee enrolled in culinary school in his native England at the age of 16. Just two years later he was cooking in the heart of Texas at the Hyatt in Austin, and then returned to London as the Chef de Partie at the Roux Patisserie, owned by world-renowned chefs, Albert and Michel Roux. With several prestigious stops as Pastry Chef in England, Hillson again crossed the Atlantic to become Executive Sous Chef at Vanderbilt Hall in Newport, Rhode Island. Within a few short months, he was appointed Executive Chef at this restaurant, ranked as one of the country’s top five by Country Inn magazine.

    After Rhode Island, Chef Lee joined T. Cook’s and has since been part of the lineup that has garnered acclaim from the likes of Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report, Travel + Leisure magazine and a host of Phoenix/Scottsdale food writers. He has repeatedly taken top honors in Zagat Surveys, Gayot.com and the Arizona Republic/azcentral.com Readers’ Choice Awards. Hillson has cooked on many occasions at the James Beard House in New York, hosted a Friends of James Beard dinner at the resort, and tirelessly participated in countless local high profile culinary events.

    With a schedule that leaves mere mortals breathless, he makes time to get out of the kitchen and enjoys reading, yoga, golf, movies, traveling and is widely recognized for his lively and gracious entertaining at home and, of course, his ubiquitous “Cheers!” salutation.


    Greg LaPrad
    Executive Chef & Owner
    Greg LaPrad

    Executive Chef & Owner
    Quiessence

    Festival Event(s):
  • AZ Culinary Hall of Fame - Chef Extraordinaire

  • Chef Greg LaPrad began his kitchen career at 15 years of age in 1998 as a dishwasher, and hes been in the kitchen ever since. In 2002, Greg pursued a formal culinary education at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. He graduated at the top of his class with a perfect 4.00 GPA and Summa Cum Laude distinction.

    Over the past 8 years Greg has worked in kitchens all over the United States, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Alaska, and Arizona. Originally from Connecticut, Greg moved to Phoenix in 2004 to work with Michael DeMaria of Michaels at the Citadel.

    Greg has traveled extensively through Europe and spent a summer in Africa, which helped him develop an understanding of cultural cuisines. He also spent time in Italy working at Il Bottaccio in Tuscany, which is a Relais & Chateaux rated restaurant.

    As Executive Chef at Quiessence Restaurant & Wine Bar, Greg LaPrad is committed to seasonal, local, organic produce, and he enjoys changing the menu often to reflect the freshest local produce available.


    Heidi Lee
    InToTheSoup.com
    Heidi Lee

    InToTheSoup.com


    Festival Event(s):
  • Challenge to the Chefs

  • Saturday Cooking Demos

  • Heidi Lee is the founder and CEO of into the Soup, LLC (www.intothesoup.com) a food and travel media company based in Phoenix, AZ. The mission of her company is to support the culinary arts so that dining doesn't go the way of Wal-Mart and claims that into the Soup is "The Most Fun You'll Have in Your Kitchen with Your Clothes On!" Heidi started her cooking career on Charter Boats in the Caribbean Islands and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in search of boys, booze and new kinds of food. Heidi has travelled all over the world cooking, eating and drinking and brings her love and passion for all that to everyone she meets. Listen in to her tales and those of her very interesting guests during her radio program every Saturday from 2-3 p.m. on KFNX 1100 AM and KWSS 106.7.


    Ella Levinson
    Pastry Chef & Owner
    Ella Levinson

    Pastry Chef & Owner
    Classic Cakes & Confections

    Festival Event(s):
  • The Chocolate and Wine Experience

  • Ella is an award winning pastry chef and has been featured on both local and national television including the WE Networks "Party Momma's", MTV's "My Super Sweet 16" and ABC’s “Good Morning America”.  She has been featured in the pages of magazines such as The Knot Weddings, Arizona Foothills Magazine, Food & Life, AZ Bride, and the likes. Ella is no stranger to the rich and famous, having made cakes for the likes of Kevin Nealon, Harrison Ford, David Spade, rock bands Nickelback, Metallica and Journey to name a few.  Her bakery Classic Cakes & Confections, which she owns with her husband Neil are proud winners of Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award two years in a row (2010-2011).  Ella has won the prestigious Miracle on 24th street gingerbread house contest two years in a row (2009-2010). 


    Kyle Lipetzky
    Executive Chef
    Kyle Lipetzky

    Executive Chef
    Il Terrazzo at the Phoenician

    Festival Event(s):
  • Chef Wine Dinners

  • Chef de Cuisine Kyle Lipetzky is the driving force behind the contemporary Italian Il Terrazzo Restaurant at The Phoenician, where he is responsible for overseeing all culinary aspects of the Il Terrazzo Restaurant, In Room Dining and Thirsty Camel Lounge, including training and development for a team of more than 35 culinary ambassadors.

    Chef Lipetzky hails from sunny San Diego where he began his culinary career at the age of 17 in the kitchens of a local golf club and several free standing restaurants throughout San Diego. Shortly After graduating high school he moved to Arizona to attend Scottsdale Culinary Institute.

    Chef Lipetzky brings over twelve years of experience in the culinary field to his position. In December of 2009 he took the helm of Il Terrazzo, prior to that he held the position of Sous Chef in Mary Elaine’s and The Terrace Dining Room formerly at The Phoenician.

    Kyle has also held positions here in the valley at The Camelback Inn as Sous Chef and Chef de Cuisine; as well as Sous Chef at The Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, California.
     


    Roberto Madrid
    Chef de Cuisine
    Roberto Madrid

    Chef de Cuisine
    deseo at The Westin Kierland Resort, Spa & Villas (Scottsdale, AZ)

    Festival Event(s):
  • James Beard Benefit Dinner

  • Born in Northern Mexico, Chef Roberto Madrid specializes in Southwest cooking with an emphasis on using locally-grown produce and indigenous recipes. Madrid was part of Chef Anton Brunbauer’s opening culinary team and is Chef de Cuisine of the resort’s signature restaurant, deseo. Madrid began his culinary career in Scottsdale in 1982, studying under Chef Tony Fogo at The White Truffle, a French fine-dining restaurant in Scottsdale. He then moved to Jean Carlo to master fine Italian cuisine and spent six years with well-known Chef Michael Salvagio at Steven’s, helping to build the foundation of modern Southwestern cuisine. After opening The Terrace restaurant at The Phoenician Resort & Spa, Madrid joined the newly opened Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort at Gainey Ranch in 1986, where he helped developed The Golden Swan into one of the Southwest’s powerhouses of Mediterranean cuisine.


    Eddie Matney
    Executive Chef
    Eddie Matney

    Executive Chef
    Eddie's House

    Festival Event(s):
  • Best of the Fest

  • One of the biggest personalities in town and affectionately known as “the most colorful chef” in the Phoenix Metropolitan area, Eddie Matney’s approach to New American Cuisine embraces the belief that the “melting pot theory” applies equally well to cooking as to sociology.  According to Chef Eddie, his cooking is a “Mirror of America”, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and utilizes the many flavors that are native to classic American and Mediterranean cooking.  
     
    Prior to coming to Arizona in 1986 to open Steamers, Chef Eddie co-owned and operated the successful Stockbridge Café in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.  In 1988, he opened the award winning restaurant, Eddie’s Gril in Phoenixl.  In September 1998, Eddie and his wife and partner Jennifer Blank-Matney opened a new restaurant, Eddie Matney’s in the tony Biltmore neighborhood of the Valley.  In 2006, Chef Eddie partnered with NBA player Amare Stoudemire to open Stoudemire’s Downtown, located right in the heart of Downtown Phoenix. He also was asked by The Golf Club Scottsdale, one of the most prestigious private clubs in Scottsdale, to enhance its culinary offerings during 2007.  Eddie has now ventured back to do what he does best; cook, and be an entrepreneur. The buzz abounds regarding his latest venture: Eddie’s House, located in energetic downtown Scottsdale, which just recently opened for lunch in addition to dinner.
     
    Chef Eddie is also a co-host on “Your Life A to Z” on Arizona’s Channel 3, two times a month.  Along with being dubbed the “Number One Chef in the Valley” for five consecutive years by Phoenix Magazine, he has been celebrated for his unique culinary style in a number of prestigious publications including Food and Wine, USA Today, Bon Appetit, Food Arts, Nation’s Restaurant News and Money Magazine.  While in New York for his dinner presentation at The James Beard House, Chef Eddie was featured on CBS’ The Early Show.  This is Chef Eddie’s seventh year representing the Arizona Cardinals at the prestigious “Taste of the NFL” event. He also found time to co-author Heartfelt Cuisine, which is a quick and easy heart healthy comfort food cookbook.  He teamed up with Poore Brothers Potato Chips® to produce and market several seasonal flavors including: Chef Eddie's Mediterranean Spiced Chips, 4 Onion Dip Chips, Chicago Style Pizza Chips, s Pesto Chips and Smokehouse Cheddar Chips. Sunwest Distributors designated Eddie the exclusive representing chef of Viking brand in the valley.  
     
    His colorful and innovative approach to the preparation and presentation of food, coupled with his bold individualism and dynamic persona make Eddie a unique force on the national culinary scene. 


    Aaron May
    Executive Chef
    Aaron May

    Executive Chef
    Iruna

    Festival Event(s):
  • Saturday Cooking Demos

  • Raised in the suburbs of Chicago, May developed a love of food at a young age.  Casually working in restaurant kitchens from the age of 15,and after a brief stint at University,  May enrolled in the culinary arts program  at  Scottsdale Community College.  Upon  finishing, May went on to study in Paris. He worked in Arizona hotels and in New York City before returning to Scottsdale to open his restaurant company, Eatwell and Drinlalott.  Aaron can be found at his restaurants around Arizona from the casual tacos and tortas of Vitamin T in Phoenix, breakfast at Over Easy or the Midwestern flair of the  Lodge.  May can often be seen in the kitchen whipping up  Spanish Tapas at Iruna, bellied up to the bar at chic mid-century cocktail lounge Mabels, or in Tucson at May’s Counter serving up southern food with an Arizona twist. 
     
    His critically acclaimed cuisine won him praise from the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame, which named him “Chef Extraordinaire” in 2010. He has appeared on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” The Learning Channel’s "Best Food Ever" and in numerous publications such as Food & Wine, Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.


    Robert McGrath
    Executive Chef
    Robert McGrath

    Executive Chef
    Renegade Canteen

    Festival Event(s):
  • Chef Wine Dinners

  • Don’t let the awe-shucks attitude and well-worn Stetson cowboy hat fool you; Robert McGrath is one of America’s finest chefs and restaurateurs.  Winner of the prestigious James Beard “Best Chef in America: Southwest” Award, and owner of Restaurant REM in Paradise Valley, Arizona, McGrath has been a nationally noted chef for nearly two decades.  Born in Texas, McGrath’s culinary career began with classical training in France, followed by prestigious postings including Chef de Cuisine at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, Texas; Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston, Texas; and Chef/Owner of Sierra Grill in Houston, and Brio Vista in Austin, Texas. 

    In 1988, Food & Wine magazine chose Robert McGrath as one of the “Ten Best Chefs in America.”  The following year, Chef McGrath’s DeVille Restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel-Houston was chosen by Esquire magazine as “One of the Best New Restaurants in America,” and in 1991 he was also the chef for the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations.  

    In 1992, McGrath migrated to Arizona to serve as Chef de Cuisine for Windows on the Green at the Mobil Five Star Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, before moving on to open Roaring Fork in 1997.  Named after the river that flows through Aspen, Colorado, Roaring Fork’s distinctive, ruggedly elegant menu—featuring seasonal ingredients and Old West recipes restored with a new west twist—changed the face of American Western cuisine and broadened McGrath’s already successful career in the culinary industry.  In 2006, he sold his interests in Roaring Fork.

    Nominated five times by The James Beard Foundation as “Best Chef in America: Southwest” (he brought home the honor in 2001), Chef McGrath is also a member of Arizona’s Culinary Hall of Fame.  He’s appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Morning Show on CBS, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Good Morning Arizona, CNN, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and The Food Network, and also written the popular cookbook, American Western Cooking from the Roaring Fork.  Today, this hard-working father of three lives with his wife, Amy, in Scottsdale, AZ.


    Peggy McNerney
    Executive Pastry Chef
    Peggy McNerney

    Executive Pastry Chef
    Orange Sky at Talking Stick

    Festival Event(s):
  • The Chocolate and Wine Experience

  • A native New Yorker, Peggy McNerney is a graduate of New York City Technical College for Hotel and Restaurant Management.  She interned at Patisserie Lanciani, an upscale café and pastry shop in Manhattan, and went on to spend the next seven years perfecting her craft in this creative establishment.  After her time in New York, Peggy was the Assistant Pastry Chef at the Chicago Hyatt Regency and was transferred with the company to Palm Springs, California.  Peggy moved to Arizona in 1990, and was employed with Louis Stevens Catering, the Sunburst Resort, and Continental Catering before joining the Casino Arizona team in 2000.  That summer, she was asked to open the Salt River location as the Pastry Chef and later offered the opportunity to open their Talking Stick Resort location in early 2010.  There, she is coordinating the bakeshop staff to produce the baked goods and pastries enjoyed by patrons throughout the casino and resort.   


    Mel Mecinas
    Executive Chef
    Mel Mecinas

    Executive Chef
    Four Seasons Hotel & Resort (Scottsdale, AZ)

    Festival Event(s):
  • Best of the Fest

  • Chef Wine Dinners

  • Scottsdale, AZ – Meliton “Mel” Mecinas, a 13-year veteran chef of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, was named executive chef of the Scottsdale property in February 2006.

    Mecinas’ passion for cooking began at home, following in his father’s footsteps.  He first began working at Yoshiro, an Asian restaurant in Encino, California. Mecinas gradually began to hone his culinary skills, “learning by doing” and through considerable practice, precision and perseverance.

    Mecinas’ next step found him working with veteran restaurateur Joaquim Splichal, owner of West Hollywood’s Patina Restaurant, Pinot Bistro in Studio City, and Café Pinot in Los Angeles.  Mecinas credits the nine years working with Splichal as the backbone of his training in the importance of service, presentation and attention to detail – all skills that would later serve him well in his career with Four Seasons.

    “I learned the value of elegant presentation, and the importance of using only the highest quality, freshest ingredients,” says Mecinas.  “Mr. Splichal had very high expectations for his staff.  But that’s how I learned to be the best, and the most creative at what I do.”

    In 1997, Mecinas began his career with Four Seasons, at the property in Santa Barbara.  During his time in Santa Barbara, Mecinas cooked the second course in a seven-course 90th birthday celebration dinner for renowned culinary personality Julia Child.  His Smoked Salmon Parfait with Osetra Caviar and Vodka Crème Fraîche Panna Cotta won rave reviews from the culinary great.

    From Santa Barbara, Mecinas joined the team at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, his most recent appointment prior to Scottsdale.  From high-profile celebrity guest requests and impressive gala award dinners to entertaining visiting politicians and dignitaries, Mecinas put his culinary training to the test overseeing Gardens restaurant, the Café, Windows Bar and Lounge, and the Poolside Grille.

    In Scottsdale, Mecinas is responsible for the property’s many dining options, including the two main restaurants – Talavera and Crescent Moon.  Both provide seating indoors and al fresco.  Additionally, Mecinas oversees Saguaro Blossom, the casual poolside venue that caters to guests from lunchtime through pre-dinner cocktails.

    Mecinas also is responsible for all food and beverage service throughout the conference and banquet facilities, juggling everything from a casual Southwestern barbeque for 100 guests on the Resort’s Troon Lawn to plated dinner service for an elegant wedding reception in the new Ironwood Ballroom.

    Following his arrival in Scottsdale, Mecinas reinvented the concept in both Talavera and Crescent Moon.  He introduced a contemporary American menu to the new Talavera signature restaurant, while drawing upon his own culinary heritage from Oaxaca, Mexico, to bring a modern Mexican concept to Crescent Moon.


    Robin Miller
    Food Network Chef
    Robin Miller

    Food Network Chef
    Quick Fix Meals

    Festival Event(s):
  • Cooks and Corks

  • Robin has been a food writer and nutritionist since 1990 and she is the author of the bestselling cookbook Quick Fix Meals.  Her popular show, Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller currently airs on Food Network and she has a weekly blog, Robin’s Healthy Take on www.foodnetwork.com.  She is currently completing her ninth book, Robin Takes 5 which features 500 recipes with 5-ingredients or less and 500 calories or less.

    Robin’s recipes and nutrition features can be seen regularly in Clean Eating, Health, Cooking Light, Parade, Guideposts, Experience Life, Fit Pregnancy and Fitness magazines. 

    Robin has been a guest on hundreds of local and national television and radio programs.  She has hosted home videos (for Jane Fonda), cable television vignettes (for Food Network and a variety of food companies) and spoken at media events in various markets nationwide.  Currently, she appears regularly on local, network and cable television.  Programs of particular interested include: The Early Show (CBS), Regis & Kelly, The View, The Today Show (NBC), Good Morning America (ABC), CNN, Fox News Channel, Food Network, Discovery Channel, and HGTV.

    She has written eight books: Robin Rescues Dinner (Potter, 2009), Robin to the Rescue (Taunton, 2008), Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller (Taunton, 2007), Picnics (Potter, 2005), Verdure (Potter, 2001), The Newlywed Cookbook (Sourcebooks, 1999 and 1991), The Daily Soup (Hyperion, 1999) and Jane Fonda, Cooking for Healthy Living (Turner, 1996). 

    Robin has a master’s degree in Food and Nutrition from New York University, 1998.

    www.robinrescuesdinner.com


    John Mortimer
    Executive Chef
    John Mortimer

    Executive Chef
    Ahnala Mesquite Room

    Festival Event(s):
  • Best of the Fest

  • Jon Mortimer was born into a “food family.” His grandfather, Charles Mortimer, was chairman of General Foods in White Plains, New York. Jon started his first restaurant job at the age of fourteen and instantly knew that this was his passion. He worked at various restaurants while attending the University of Arizona and later the Horst Mager Culinary Academy in Portland, Oregon. Jon furthered his education by serving as a pastry apprenticeship in Geilo, Norway and a hotel apprenticeship in Fiesole, Italy. He then returned to the United States to enhance his career as a corporate chef.
     
    In 1990, Jon returned to Idaho to open his first restaurant and began to explore his culinary style. Mortimer’s opened in 1993, located in the Belgravia Building in downtown Boise. He opened his second restaurant, Franco Latino, in September of 2005 outside of Boise in Eagle, Idaho.
     
    Jon Mortimer has created a bible for “Idaho cuisine” with the release of The Idaho Table. This cookbook showcases the foods of the intermountain west and uses worldly techniques. His other accomplishments include: Certified Executive Chef (CEC) through the American Culinary Federation (ACF); Adjunct Professor at Boise State University School of Culinary Arts; host of the weekly radio show Radio Café on KIDO 580 AM;television chef on KBCI channel 2’s Culinary Tip of the Day;spokesman for the United Dairymen of Idaho; and consulting chef to Snake River Farms.
     
    In 2009 Chef Mortimer switched gears and left Idaho for Sonoma, California to work as Chef de Cuisine at the five star Kenwood Inn and Spa. This experience allowed for an in-depth study of farm-to-table cooking while fine tuning his ability for decadent food and wine pairing.
     
    Currently Jon Mortimer is the Executive Chef at the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Taking the helm at the Ahnala Restaurant and resort banquet kitchen, his goal is approachable fine dining with New American and Southwestern flair.


    Pete Nunez
    Executive Chef
    Pete Nunez

    Executive Chef
    Marcella's Italian Kitchen

    Festival Event(s):
  • Eat Drink and Be Pretty

  • Chef Pete began his professional cooking career in 1999, but credits his grandmother as a major cooking influence during his childhood.  He has an extensive history with Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. Chef Pete has worked at Mitchell's Ocean Club and Marcella's (Short North) in Columbus, OH; as well as at Ocean Prime in Phoenix, AZ.  When he's not in the kitchen at Marcella's, Chef Pete enjoys fly-fishing in the mountains and preparing his most requested dishes -- bacon and ganache for his family and friends.  His advice for aspiring chefs is to "listen, eat everything, improvise, adapt and overcome." 


    Daniel Orr
    Executive Chef & Owner
    Daniel Orr

    Executive Chef & Owner
    FARMbloomington (Bloomington, IN)

    Festival Event(s):
  • James Beard Benefit Dinner

  • Daniel Orr is the chef/owner of FARMbloomington. This establishment is the result of his work around the world, from New York, to France, to the Caribbean. As a chef, Orr draws from a lifelong curiosity about individual ingredients combined with extensive training in the art of finding food’s true essence and flavor. The result is simple, yet sophisticated; the best of American food tempered by classic European training. He calls his cuisine “real food for real people.”

    Daniel spent his childhood in Columbus, Indiana, where his parents were serious food lovers. His first summer job in the town’s only fine dining restaurant further fueled his interest and eventually led him to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in restaurant management, he headed abroad where he worked at some of the top restaurants in France.

    Upon returning home in 1992, Orr settled in at New York’s famed French restaurant, La Grenouille. In 1997, as the executive chef at age 34, he earned a three-star review from the New York Times. That same year, Orr published his first cookbook, Daniel Orr: Real Food(Rizzoli); a collection of recipes for everyday meals, as well as menus for sophisticated entertaining. He also created Kitchen D’Orr, a line of ten spice blends perfected in his own kitchen.

    In 1999, Sir Terence Conran asked Orr to become the executive chef of his first U.S. restaurant: Guastavino’s in New York City. Here Orr was able to experiment and blend all of his training to create menus that defined his signature style. In 2004 he was invited to become the executive chef of the CuisinArt Resort & Spa in Anguilla BWI, where he created a healthy cuisine that was a perfect match for the beauty of Anguilla beaches. Chef Daniel’s third cookbook, Paradise Kitchen, which will be released in the spring of 2011, takes its culinary cues from his time in the Carribbean.

    FARMbloomington is the first Orr-owned establishment. It is also the inspiration for his second cookbook, FARMfood – green living with chef daniel orr and his radio show and podcast, Earth Eats. FARMbloomington is a multi-faceted culinary complex that consists of a restaurant, market, bar, and music venue. The menu focus is on local fresh ingredients and the fusion of island cuisine and Midwest American cooking. It is the culmination of chef Orr’s entire culinary career, from his parents’ kitchen in Columbus, to the CuisinArt Resort & Spa in Anguilla.


    Jeremy Pacheco
    Executive Chef
    Jeremy Pacheco

    Executive Chef
    LON'S, The Hermosa Inn (Paradise Valley, AZ)

    Festival Event(s):
  • Best of the Fest

  • Jeremy Pacheco is executive chef at Lon's at The Hermosa, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant in Paradise Valley, Ariz. Chef Pacheco directs a cuisine staff of 25 and oversees all menu development and food operations, including in-house private dining and in-room dining.

    Returning to the Valley after serving as chef de cuisine at Society Café Encore and Wynn's SW Steakhouse in Las Vegas, Tucson-native Pacheco is pleased to be home and at the helm of the celebrated Lon's.
     
    Pacheco won the "Vegas Uncorked Bon Appetit Award" in 2008, an Iron Chef-themed competition involving master chefs of Las Vegas. He served as chef de cuisine at the former Terrace Dining Room at The Phoenician and began his career at the Sheraton El Conquistador in Tucson where he was lead cook for The Last Territory restaurant. A graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, he earned his degree in culinary arts and sciences, and restaurant management.
     
    He brings new creativity and passion to the culinary program at Lon's at The Hermosa, elevating the restaurant to an even higher level and enhancing the farm-to-table dining experience. His artful American cuisine blends local produce and traditional ingredients with European influences. Growing up on a farm in southern Arizona, Pacheco is fully committed to using only the freshest, best ingredients, working exclusively with suppliers of natural or organic products, in addition to overseeing Lon's one-acre organic garden.
     
    Lon's cuisine has been awarded the coveted AAA Four Diamond award, 
    "One of the Southwest's Most Distinctive restaurants" by Gourmet Magazine, Phoenix/Scottsdale's "Top Five Restaurants" by USA Today, "Award of Excellence" by Wine Spectator, "Best Place to Appreciate Living in Arizona" 
    by Phoenix Magazine and "Most Popular Restaurant in Phoenix/Scottsdale" by Zagat.
     
    The Hermosa Inn is a jewel of a hideaway in the heart of the Valley, just minutes from Scottsdale, yet surrounded by an exclusive neighborhood of Paradise Valley. Originally hand-crafted by cowboy artist Lon Megargee as his private residence and artist studio, the inn's adobe structure has kept its "old Arizona" character and charm. 
    The culinary centerpiece of the inn is Lon's, serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner daily. Pacheco creates a special "Chef's Dinner Tasting Menu" that changes weekly with seasonal produce and ingredients from Lon's garden.
     
    Lon's at The Hermosa is located at 5532 N. Palo Cristi Road in Paradise Valley, Ariz. Further information is available at www.lons.com or by calling 602-955-7878 or 1-800-241-1210.


    Roy Pell
    Executive Pastry Chef
    Roy Pell

    Executive Pastry Chef
    The Phoenician

    Festival Event(s):
  • AZ Culinary Hall of Fame - Pastry Chef Extraordinaire

  • Roy Pell joined The Phoenician in September 2005 as Executive Pastry Chef.  He is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Pastry Department, including training and development; as well as all bread, bakery and dessert products for resort-managed dining venues, including Il Terrazzo, The Café and Ice Cream Parlor, Relish Burger Bistro, Oasis Grill, Canyon Grill, Afternoon Tea and In-Room Dining, in addition to all banquet kitchens.

     
    Pell is a graduate of Westminster Catering College in London, bringing more than 25 years of experience to his position.  Prior to joining Arizona’s premier AAA Five Diamond resort destination, he spent nine years at Ritz-Carlton properties in San Francisco, St. Louis and Phoenix.   His portfolio also includes Harvey’s Restaurant in London, the Amway Grand Plaza in Michigan, the Savoy Hotel in London and Peter Island on the British Virgin Islands.  
     
    In 2010, Pell was named one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America by Dessert Professional magazine.  A member of the 2004 Pastry Team at the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, he was also a member of Team USA for the 2009 Coupe de Monde in Lyon, France.  His signature works at The Phoenician have included numerous artisan creations for special events and programs, as well as the holiday favorite, a traditional gingerbread house, one of the largest in the Valley of the Sun; and a replica of London’s Big Ben Clock Tower, which currently adorns The Café and Ice Cream Parlor.


    Justin Pfeilsticker
    Executive Chef
    Justin Pfeilsticker

    Executive Chef
    Trader Vic's

    Festival Event(s):
  • Chef Wine Dinners

  • Justin Pfeilsticker grew up with a grandfather who loved to cook, and would often help him in the kitchen; this is where his desire to become Chef Justin Pfeilsticker was born. He got his culinary education at Baltimore International Culinary College, with a degree in Restaurant Management and Cooking Skills. He then began his career across the Atlantic, at Chez Pauline in Paris, in 1989. Speaking no French, Pfeilsticker was sent below ground with a shovel to dig in the restaurant’s cellar, where he worked for several months. By the time he left this three-star restaurant, under the direction of Chef André Genin, he had worked his way up to chef de partie and learned extensively about French cuisine and cooking styles.

    After this stint overseas, Pfeilsticker returned to the states, taking a position in Arizona. He worked as a catering chef for Vincent’s on Camelback, then went on to cook as sous chef at L’Orangerie at the Biltmore Resort, which earned a five-star award during his time there. He then took on the position of executive chef at Top of the Rock, located at The Buttes Resort, which received numerous awards during his reign.

    After working at these varied Valley restaurants in the early to mid-90s, Pfeilsticker realized his long-time dream of opening his own restaurant. He opened Café 181 in the outskirts of Downtown Chandler in 1996, serving classic American food to a welcome crowd. Only a few years later, Chandler began redeveloping the downtown area, and Café 181 was changed to Justin’s, with a new, central location downtown. Justin’s offered cooking classes and specialty dinners along with its daily menu, until it closed in 2001.

    After working as executive chef and owner of Café 181 and later Justin’s, Pfeilsticker took a position as executive chef at Jilly’s in Chandler, where he prepared upscale American cuisine for over 350 guests at a time. Two years later, he worked as a consulting chef, offering his expertise by developing menus, planning kitchens, and training servers and cooks. After a year, Pfeilsticker longed to return to full-time restaurant work, and became executive chef of Firebirds in 2004. After three successful years at the restaurant, he left to work at Hotel Valley Ho, where he started as chef de cuisine at Café ZuZu in 2007 and later accepted his current position of executive chef at Trader Vic’s. Here, Pfeilsticker serves a variety of classic Trader Vic’s appetizers, while offering signature dishes of his own creation, infusing Asian and French influences.


    Nicole Plue
    Pastry Chef
    Nicole Plue

    Pastry Chef
    Cyrus (Healdsburg, CA)

    Festival Event(s):
  • James Beard Benefit Dinner

  • Los Angeles native Nicole Plue has long been on the path to becoming one of the nation’s premier pastry chefs. In her most recent role running the pastry program at Michelin-starred Redd in Yountville, Calif., she received three consecutive James Beard Award nominations for Outstanding Pastry Chef and was awarded the title in 2010.

    After pursuing a degree in English from California State University, Plue’s instincts guided her toward culinary school, and she discovered her interest in pastry while studying at the California Culinary Academy.

    Plue began her work in the field with an externship at San Francisco-based Masa’s Restaurant. She then took a position at Hawthorne Lane, where she managed the restaurant’s ambitious bread program. Plue was soon promoted to pastry chef, a position she held for three years. She describes her tenure at Hawthorne Lane as a career-defining experience.

    Plue’s next stop was New York City, where she was recruited as opening pastry chef at Danny Meyers’ Eleven Madison Park. She later opened Terrance Conran’s Guastavino’s before signing on to develop recipes for pastry and baking segments on Martha Stewart Living Television.

    Plue went on to manage the pastry programs at both AZ and Pazo. When Pazo closed, she headed back to California to take the role of pastry chef at Julia’s Kitchen at COPIA in Napa. Her work there drew critical acclaim, and after three years, Plue accepted the position at Redd.

    In January 2011, Plue joined the two-Michelin-star team at Cyrus, where she enjoys the challenge of carrying chef-owner Douglas Keane’s vision through to the dessert courses on the eight-course tasting menu.

    Plue has received universal praise throughout her career. She was named Pastry Chef of the Year by San Francisco Magazine and a “Rising Star” by the San Francisco Chronicle. A dessert she created at Pazo was named “Best Dessert of 2004” by William Grimes for Bon Appétit.

    Plue’s desserts have been featured in Gourmet, Fine Cooking, Food Arts and Food & Wine


    James Porter
    Executive Chef
    James Porter

    Executive Chef
    Petite Maison

    Festival Event(s):
  • Best of the Fest

  • Chef James Porter opened Petite Maison in August 2009 in order to bring great French bistro dining to the Valley. Using classic techniques and the most seasonal ingredients, Porter presents guest with a menu that is both familiar and special.  He makes daily changes to the days’ dishes, and also changes the menu seasonally. The restaurant is indeed “petite” with just 35 cozy seats inside, and 45 al fresco seats surrounding the free standing building, nestled in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale.
     
    Porter strongly believes supporting local independent restaurants is the key to helping the Valley reach our full potential as a culinary haven.  As a champion of local farmers, food producers, and independently owned businesses, Chef Porter is committed to using his culinary talent and business acumen to help the community grow.  After hosting more than 1,000 guests in ’08 alone for his acclaimed “Locavore Dinner”, Porter is considered a leader in Arizona’s local food movement.
     
    Chef Porter received his formal training from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in 1992, and has continually added to his resume by working at an impressive list of kitchens across the country, including as the Chef de Cuisine at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, and at the Gables Biltmore Resort in Miami, to name just two.  He held an apprenticeship at the prestigious Greenbrier Resort, where he worked under Irish born Master Chef Peter Timmons. There, he refined the formal aspects of his profession, and received silver and bronze medals in ACF Culinary Salon.


    Salvador Prado
    Executive Chef
    Salvador Prado

    Executive Chef
    Alto Ristorante e Bar, Hyatt Regency Scottsdale (Scottsdale, AZ)

    Festival Event(s):
  • Best of the Fest

  • After moving to Arizona, Salvador began his culinary career working in various kitchens around the Valley. Fourteen years ago,he was hired by  Alex Stratta  at The Phoenician to work with him.  There he was able to hone his fine dining skills over the next six years.  For the past 8 years, Salvador has been an integral part of Hyatt Regency Scottsdale's culinary team, first in Golden Swan and then Vu under William Bradley and Brian Lewis. Driven by a quality product, it was a given that Hyatt and Executive Chef Eric Howson would want  Salvador  to open their new restaurant, Alto ristorante e bar in the Fall of 2007. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    Donovan Rainbolt
    Executive Chef
    Donovan Rainbolt

    Executive Chef
    New Day Gourmet

    For Donovan, it started around 7 years old, learning from his Aunt Alma on how to cook and bake all kinds of wonderful tasty treats.  Donovan believes it was then that the passion for food was instilled in him. Through his culinary journey, Donovan has had the chance to work with a plethora of amazing chefs, chefs now he calls friends. Being the youngest chef for Glacier National Park, in Montana, Donovan learned to be creative on limited supplies and resources, often times finding himself using locally grown product. Donovan's culinary journey has taken to memorable places and gave him the opportunity to meet great people, all doing this from a kitchen.
     
    Donovan Rainbolt is the Executive Chef UMOM New Day Centers, which is the largest family shelter in Arizona. It is there where Chef Donovan shares his passion and creativity for food with the programs that he is involved with.  Aside from overseeing a kitchen that serves 500 meals a day to residents and to UMOM childcare center, he teaches a culinary class. In the class the students learn the basics of kitchen techniques, proper food handling and preparation. Through the culinary class the idea of a catering business was envisioned, and from that point, today we have New Day Gourmet. The catering gives the students a firsthand look into a full catering operation which also gives them encouragement to succeed in the culinary field. Sharing his craft, Chef Donovan has made an impact on those who come through the class and has shown that everyone has a hand in making a stronger community.


    Anthony Redendo
    Chef de Cuisine / Owner
    Anthony Redendo

    Chef de Cuisine / Owner
    Redendo’s Pizzeria

    Festival Event(s):
  • Eat Drink and Be Pretty

  • Anthony grew up in the restaurant and pizzeria business as a third generation restaurateur. A Queens, NY native he is a Culinary of Institute of America graduate and holds an MBA in business. He has worked in numerous restaurants in the New York Area. He currently is a full time instructor for Phoenix College Culinary teaching a variety of culinary classes. With his beautiful wife Carolyn Redendo they both operate three popular Fountain Hills and North Scottsdale restaurants called Redendo’s Pizzeria and SOFRITA. These restaurants are a place to gather people together; filled with laughter, great conversation, and nourishing food that is prepared on premises daily. They both have a large focus on providing local community outreach and making that philosophy the center point of their mission statements as local community leaders. Chef Anthony is also exploring the concept of starting a restaurant consulting firm. He is currently behind-the-scenes aiding many fellow chef-owners on Facebook. He takes great pleasure in helping local independent restaurateurs cope with the economic woes and realities of restaurant ownership.


    Chrysa Robertson
    Executive Chef & Owner
    Chrysa Robertson

    Executive Chef & Owner
    Rancho Pinot

    Festival Event(s):
  • AZ Culinary Hall of Fame - Chef Extraordinaire

  • Chrysa Robertson's Italian heritage taught her to appreciate and love food early on. She spent time in California fine-tuning her culinary skills with Nancy Silverton and Mark Peel at Campanile and at Terra in Napa Valley.

    In 1993, she fulfilled her dream and opened her own restaurant, Rancho Pinot (along with her ex-partner, Tom Kaufman). Chrysa's uncomplicated yet satisfying cuisine, based on seasonal, locally grown products, has made it on every "best of" list in the region and nationally in Gourmet and Food & Wine magazines. She has cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York as a 'Rising Star of American Cuisine' in 1997. Chrysa also started the first Phoenix chapter of Slow Food, an educational organization dedicated to the pleasures of the table and to the preservation and sustainability of regional culinary and food producing traditions.
     
    Chrysa lives in Scottsdale with her partner, Russ, where they grow herbs and raise hens for eggs for the restaurant. 


    Douglas Rodriguez
    Executive Chef
    Douglas Rodriguez

    Executive Chef
    Alma de Cuba (Philadelphia, PA)
    D. Rodriguez Cuba (Miami, FL)
    Ola, Sanctuary (Miami, FL)
    deseo, The Westin Kierland Resort, Spa & Villas (Scottsdale, AZ)


    Festival Event(s):
  • James Beard Benefit Dinner

  • Regarded as the inventor of Nuevo Latino cuisine, Chef Rodriguez’s westward dining venture landed him in Scottsdale at The Westin Kierland. deseo, which means “desire” in Spanish,” offers authentic Latin-influenced dishes in an upbeat atmosphere featuring a full exhibition ceviche bar as well as floor-to-ceiling windows with vast views of the mountains.

    Douglas Rodriguez is one of America’s most honored chefs. He has owned some of the hottest restaurants in the country including: Chicama, Pipa and OLA (Of Latin America) in New York City, OLA Miami, and Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia. Educated at Johnson & Wales University, Rodriguez’ professional career began in Miami. In 1994 he opened New York’s Patria, garnering three stars from the New York Times in 1996. Awards and honors include the Chefs of America Award (1991), Culinary Master of North American and New York Award (1994), the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef Awards” (1996), and a nomination for Beard's 1999 Best Chef: New York.
     
    Rodriguez is also the author of four cookbooks published by Ten Speed Press: Nuevo Latino, Latin Ladles, Latin Flavors on the Grill, and his most recent release, The Great Ceviche Book.


    Lenard Rubin
    Executive Chef
    Lenard Rubin

    Executive Chef
    The Vig

    Festival Event(s):
  • Challenge to the Chefs

  • Lenard Rubin started his career in the Hotel/ Restaurant Business in 1981 at the Ritz-Carlton Boston where he was the runner for the Café. Over the next few years he worked his way through all the departments of the hotels kitchens including entremetier, broiler cook, garde manger, saucier and chef tournant. He has held Sous Chef and Executive Sous Chef positions at the Inter-Continental Hotel in New Orleans, The Boulders Resort, Ritz-Carlton Phoenix and the Nevsky Palace Hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia. Lenards’ first Executive Chef position, at the age of 26, was at the Inn at McCormick Ranch where he started and put the Pinon Grille on the Culinary map. He has held Executive Chef and Chef de Cuisine positions at Mary Elaines and Windows on the Green at the Phoenician Resort, Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe, Marquesa and La Hacienda at the Scottsdale Princess Resort and Wright’s at the Biltmore Resort. For three years he was Corporate Executive Chef for Rosinter Restaurants in Moscow, Russia where he opened and oversaw 26 restaurants from fine-dining to casual and fast food.
     
    In 1999 he struck out on his own and opened his own restaurant called Medizona which blended Mediterranean and Southwestern Cuisine and earned numerous awards including being chosen by Esquire Magazine as one of the top 22 Best New Restaurants in America for the year 2000. Medizona was also selected that year as the Best New Restaurant in Arizona by the Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times, Phoenix Magazine, Get Out and Citysearch.com.
     
    After selling his successful restaurant, Lenard obtained the position of Executive Chef for both the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs and Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resorts simultaneously; where he revamped all of the restaurant and banquets menus creating a new standard in culinary excellence for the two properties. He held this position for nearly two before being promoted to the position of Director of Food & Beverage for the two Resorts where he spent a total of four and a half years.
     
    For over a year he was the Director of Operations for SouthBridge Restaurant Group where he helped to plan, and then open three new restaurants; FOODBAR, Canal and The Estate House, as part of the exciting new Waterfront District in Scottsdale. He is currently Executive Chef at the ultimate neighborhood gastropub called The Vig.
     
    In 1989 Lenard was chosen by Madeleine Kamman as one of the four inaugural Chefs to participate in what was a long-standing, prestigious scholarship program at Beringer Vineyards called the School for American Chefs.
     
    He has a degree in Business Management from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and has earned a Certificate of Specialization in Food and Beverage Management from the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Motel Association.
     
    Lenard has been a member of the Chefs Association of Greater Phoenix since 1985 and has held various offices including President, Treasurer and Apprenticeship Chairman. He is a Certified Executive Chef with the ACF and a Certified Food and Beverage Executive with the American Hotel and Motel Association.
     
    Over the years he has had many recipes and photos of his work published in cookbooks such as; BBQ USA, Southwest the Beautiful, New York Times Passover Cookbook, Jewish Cooking in America and The Ritz-Carlton Cookbook among others.
     
    Lenard has competed in many Culinary Competitions, most of them Mystery Box/ Hot Food events and has won numerous medals, 11 of them Gold, and was the Grand Prize winner at the US Chefs Open in Tampa and the Ocean Garden Shrimp Cooking Contest in Los Angeles. He also recently traveled to Xi’an, China with a 15 member delegation of American Chefs for an International Food Festival and Competition and took home another Gold Medal.
     
    In 2001 he was inducted into the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame and in 2006 was elected “Chef of the Year” for the Phoenix area by the American Culinary Federation Chefs’ Association of Greater Phoenix. Lenard has also has been a featured Chef at the James Beard House in NYC on two occasions. Recently Lenard was nominated and subsequently chosen as a regional semi-finalist for ACF National Chef of the Year. The competition to decide the finalists will be held on April 30, 2011.
     
    He has traveled extensively as a guest Chef to locales such as Malaysia, Singapore, Boston and Alaska.
     
    In 2004 Lenard was chosen as the Leader of the Quarter at both the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak and Tapatio Cliffs Resorts.


    Ron Ruggles
    Ron Ruggles

    Festival Event(s):
  • Challenge to the Chefs - Judges


  • John Sarich
    James Beard Event Emcee
    John Sarich

    James Beard Event Emcee
    Culinary Director - Chateau Ste. Michelle

    Festival Event(s):
  • James Beard Benefit Dinner

  • Few chefs enjoy access to a greater bounty of world-class wines and fresh foods than Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Culinary Director, John Sarich. “The Pacific Northwest is a chef’s paradise,” says John. “Not only do we have an outstanding variety of ingredients from the land and sea, we also have exceptional wines from Washington’s Columbia Valley, where long summer days and crisp autumn nights produce ideal conditions for well balanced wines.”John’s innovative approach to pairing food and wine has delighted discriminating palates across the country. At Chateau Ste. Michelle, John conducts cooking classes, wine and food tastings, wine dinners, and special events, all designed to further the enjoyment and understanding of wine and food. He also presents training seminars and classes for wine and food professionals and aficionados around the world. Culinary tours have led John from Disney World in Orlando, to the Culinary Institute of America in New York, to hotels in Singapore, China, Bangkok, and Hawaii, to name a few.John joined Chateau Ste. Michelle as a winery guide in 1976, the summer the winery first opened its doors. His incredible knowledge and enthusiasm for wine and food quickly became apparent, and before long he was teaching cooking classes in the Chateau’s historic Manor House. Soon after, he moved into Sales as a wine and food consultant for chefs along the Pacific Coast. In 1980, John took a hiatus from the winery and founded Seattle’s highly acclaimed Adriatica Restaurant. He later opened Dalmacija Ristoran in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. While at Adriatica, John was selected by Esquire magazine as one of the country’s “Hot new Chefs,” and listed by The Seattle Times as one of the city’s “Top Five Chefs.”After returning to Chateau Ste. Michelle as Culinary Director in 1990, John hosted the Emmy-nominated cooking show Taste of the Northwest for four years. He then hosted the nationally and internationally syndicated TV show Best of Taste: Travels With John Sarich, with episodes shot on location in Europe, Asia and across the United States.


    Jonathon Sawyer
    Executive Chef & Owner
    Jonathon Sawyer

    Executive Chef & Owner
    The Greenhouse Tavern

    Festival Event(s):
  • Cooks and Corks

  • Chef Jonathon Sawyer, a Cleveland native, first learned to cook at the age of 13. After attending the University of Dayton and graduating from the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Sawyer went on to work at The Biltmore Hotel in Miami. One year later, he was working alongside renowned Chef Charlie Palmer in New York at Kitchen 22.

    Following his work with Charlie Palmer, Sawyer moved back to his hometown of Cleveland to open Michael Symon’s Lolita as Chef de Cuisine. This relationship opened many doors for Sawyer, and eventually led him back to New York City to open Parea, another venture of Michael Symon’s. As Executive Chef at Parea, Sawyer built upon his culinary repertoire. After receiving a two star review from The New York Times and a five star review from Time Out New York for his work at Parea, Sawyer decided to move back to his hometown to pursue his dream of opening his own restaurant.

    In 2007 Chef Sawyer became the Chef/Partner of Bar Cento, a modern Roman enoteca in Ohio City. His work received many accolades including Restaurant Hospitality & GAYOT’s Rising Star Chef and Northern Ohio Live’s Best New Restaurant. Sawyer left Bar Cento in 2008 to pursue the opening of his restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern.

    Chef Sawyer’s commitment to the use of local ingredients, sustainable food, environmentally conscious building materials, and the eco movement has inspired him to open The Greenhouse Tavern located in the East Fourth Entertainment District of downtown Cleveland. Sawyer also collaborated with the Green Restaurant Association to become the first certified green restaurant in the state of Ohio. The Greenhouse Tavern offers French inspired dishes using local and sustainable ingredients all created with the belief that the proximity of farm and soil directly correlate to its quality.

    The Greenhouse Tavern was recently named one of the top ten best new restaurants in the US by Bon Appetit magazine as well as Best New Restaurant by Cleveland Magazine.  Chef Sawyer was also honored this year as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs. 

    When outside the kitchen, Sawyer enjoys walking his two dogs, spending time with his wife, Amelia, & foraging with his son, Catcher and daughter Louisiana.  Chef Sawyer is also heavily involved in the cooking community both locally and nationally. He has appeared on The Food Network’s Dinner Impossible and Iron Chef America. His local culinary involvement includes organizations such as Slow Foods, the Countryside Conservancy, The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association, and the Green Building Coalition. Chef Sawyer is an avid activist for the green movement as well as a major supporter of local agriculture and farmers.


    Eric Schaefer
    Blogger
    Eric Schaefer

    Blogger
    EricEatsOut.com

    Festival Event(s):
  • Challenge to the Chefs - Judges

  • Eric Schaefer is the author of the popular local dining blog called EricEatsOut.com.  With a slogan of "Sometimes Rude, Occasionally Crude, Always Hungry" EricEatsOut.com is honest, independent and unapologetically direct.  His blog has been voted "Best Local Blog" by Arizona Foothills Magazine and nominated for "Best Dining Blog" by AZCentral.com readers.  He has been quoted in the Arizona Republic, featured in Phoenix New Times and has appeared on Into The Soup radio and NBC's Valley Dish.  Schaefer also writes a monthly column called "Eric Speaks Out" for Desert Living Today.  If you think he is fanatical about food, just ask him about his love of European sports cars and flying airplanes.  He is a husband, father of two and resides in Scottsdale.


    Alex Seidel
    Executive Chef
    Alex Seidel

    Executive Chef
    Fruition Restaurant

    Festival Event(s):
  • Cooks and Corks

  • Alex Seidel, now Chef/Owner of Fruition Restaurant, began his culinary career at age 14 in his home state of Wisconsin. He quickly moved from the line to Sous Chef of Main Street Bistro by age 20. Inspired by food at a young age, Seidel studied at Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, graduating at the top of his class.
     
    After graduation, he wanted to move to the California coast and work with the best chefs, local produce, and bounties from the nearby waters. He found his way at Hubert Keller’s Club XIX at the prestigious Pebble Beach Resort, along with some of the state’s finest kitchens. He went on to become Sous Chef at Antoine Michelle and Chef at Carmel Valley Ranch both in Carmel, California. From there, he left the coast for the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
     
    After a spontaneous trip to the Vail Valley, Alex fell in love with the strikingly beautiful natural setting and quality of life in a mountain town. He found a home as the Chef De Cuisine in one of Colorado’s most renowned establishments, Sweet Basil in Vail, Colorado. Keeping his roots in Vail, Alex’s thirst for culinary knowledge and experience took him to France, Italy and Morocco, where he experienced firsthand the foods that formed his foundation in French cooking techniques.
     
    Following his first love (wife Melissa), Alex moved to Denver and became the Executive Chef at Mizuna. There he stayed for four years compiling the necessary ingredients (Vision, Hard Work and Ethics) needed to grow and understand what it takes to become a successful restaurateur.
     
    Seidel opened his first restaurant, Fruition, in the historic 7th Avenue district tucked between downtown Denver and Cherry Creek. Fruition quickly became popular with a 3 1/2 star rating in the Denver Post. In June of 2007, Gourmet Magazine featured Alex’s new eatery, noting, “Fruition has opened a whole new chapter for Denver.” The next month, Denver’s 5280 Magazine rated Fruition with four stars. “Spectacular technique, innovation and precision define this dining destination that is destined to become a superstar in the metro area”. Gayot.com rated Fruition as one of the top 10 new restaurants in the U.S. for 2007, along with World-renowned Chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, David Burke and Michel Richard. Zagat Guide has honored Fruition by rating the food the highest in the state of Colorado. Seidel has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation with several nominations for “Best Chef Southwest” and also an invitation to cook for the 20th Anniversary “Dinners across America.” Alex has been named “Chef of the year” in Denver by 5280 magazine in 2008 and Denver magazine in 2009. Just recently, Food and Wine Magazine named Alex Seidel as one of its 2010 “Best New Chefs in America”.
     
    In May 2009 Seidel purchased a 10 acre farm in Larkspur, CO. The farm is where Alex and Josh Halder produce fruits and vegetables for Fruition and many other top-tier restaurants in Denver. This small farm is now home to a flock of forty milking sheep. Alex along with Jimmy Warren, Val Landrum, and Josh Halder tend to the flock, milking them twice daily to produce Colorado’s first artesian sheep’s milk cheeses. The sheep’s milk ricotta is being used and sold by several local restaurants and specialty shops in Denver. Chickens, Pigs, and Bees will also be used to help educate Seidel’s staff about the proper techniques used to create several types of farmraised products.
     
    Honored by his success and recognition from the local and national media, Alex’s focus remains on the quality and consistency of his food, the education for his staff and clientele, and the ultimate dining experience for Fruition’s patrons.


    Eugenia Theodosopoulos
    Pastry Chef
    Eugenia Theodosopoulos

    Pastry Chef
    Essence Bakery Cafe

    Festival Event(s):
  • AZ Culinary Hall of Fame - Pastry Chef Extraordinaire

  • Eugenia grew up in Ohio working in her family restaurant, which her grandfather started in 1931. At the age of 13, she was baking pies every day after school with her older sister. Her brothers still own and operate the restaurant. 

     
    After graduating with a BA in Art History from Syracuse University, Eugenia decided to move to Paris to learn French and further her culinary skills at the famous Ecole Lenotre where she studied and worked.  She spent five years in Paris and started a cooking school and catering company called "Le Petit Gourmand" which catered to foreign diplomats, embassies and international executives with very discerning palates.
     
    With Eugenia's background baking in her family's restaurant combined with her experience at Lenotre in Paris, Eugenia developed a passion for desserts, particularly the Parisian Macaron.  In France, she also met her French husband Gilles Combes, who has worked and studied in France, Switzerland, Southeast Asia, and now the United States.  In 1994, they moved to Phoenix and opened Essence Catering.
     
    Essence Catering specialized in catering events that were unique and organized with extreme attention to detail, and no party was complete without a fabulous buffet of desserts, where macarons of all types were the center of attraction.  In January 2007, they opened Essence Bakery Cafe serving breakfast and lunch made with locally grown ingredients in a casual atmosphere. The pastries, desserts and macarons are the main attraction.  Both the macaron and the restaurant won the "Best of Phoenix" award within the first nine months and many more soon after.  The French croissants have also been recognized with many awards.
     
    Eugenia has also been active in Phoenix helping underprivileged teenagers learn about food and cooking.  With Free Arts of Arizona and Les Dames d’Escoffier, she created a 10-week hands-on culinary program to help at-risk kids learn how to cook, shop for healthy groceries and celebrate food.  
     
    She is an active member and officer of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Phoenix, is on the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Food Systems Program of Rio Salado College and is part of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.  
     
    She speaks fluent French and is proficient in Spanish.


    Scott Tompkins
    Executive Chef
    Scott Tompkins

    Executive Chef
    SKYE Fine Dining & Live Entertainment (Peoria, AZ)

    Scott was inducted into the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame in April of 1998. He holds numerous medals from ACF sponsored competitions. As well as the Iron Chef Winner sponsored by The New Times for 2004 & 2005. Scott has been a member of local associations such as the American Culinary Federation; he served on the boards of the Arizona Restaurant Association, Scottsdale Culinary Institute, an Arizona State Board Advisor for VoTec from 1996-2000 and also as Vice President of the International Les Toques Blanc International Chef Association.

     
    Scott appears on Fox Channel 10's Arizona Morning Show presenting live cooking demonstrations and wowing viewers bi-monthly, as he has done for the past eight years.
     
     
     
     


    Jean-Georges Vongerichten
    Executive Chef & Owner
    Jean-Georges Vongerichten

    Executive Chef & Owner
    Multiple Restaurants in the U.S., U.K., Shanghai & Hong Kong

    Festival Event(s):
  • Chef Tribute Dinner

  • Though Jean-Georges Vongerichten is one of the world’s most famous chefs, his skills extend far beyond the kitchen. A savvy businessman and formidable restaurateur, Jean-Georges is responsible for the operation and success of a constellation of three- and four-star restaurants in the United States, United Kingdom and Shanghai. 

    Born and raised on the outskirts of Strasbourg in Alsace, France, Jean-Georges' earliest family memories are about food. He trained in a work-study program at the Auberge de l'Ill and as an apprentice to chef Paul Haeberlin, later working with Paul Bocuse and master-chef Louis Outhier at L'Oasis in the south of France. With this impressive three-star Michelin training, Jean-Georges traveled to Asia for positions in the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, the Meridien Hotel in Singapore and the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong.  It was during this time spent working and traveling in Asia where Jean-Georges developed his love for the exotic and aromatic flavors of the East.

    His signature 'vibrant cuisine' abandons the traditional use of meat stocks, instead featuring intense flavors and satisfying textures resulting from the use of vegetables juices and fruit essences, light broths and herbal vinaigrettes. Jean-Georges’ culinary vision and execution have defined both professional standards for the industry and the way in which Americans eat. 

    Throughout his career, Jean-Georges has published cookbooks reflecting his influential style of cooking, including Simple Cuisine (Wiley, 1990), Cooking at Home with a Four Star Chef (Broadway Books, 1998), for which he won the Best Cookbook Award from the James Beard Foundation in 1999, and Simple to Spectacular (Broadway Books, 2000). In October 2007, he released Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges, featuring beloved recipes from his restaurants Spice Market and Vong. 

    Involved in every aspect of his restaurants, from concept and menu to architectural design, staff selection and finishing touches, he and partner Phil Suarez have worked together for over 16 years to create restaurants that are both timely and enduring. Inspired by his travels, Jean-Georges is constantly creating fresh ideas and evolving as a chef and restaurateur, both adapting to and impacting the global culinary landscape.  For their newest venture, Jean-Georges and Suarez have partnered with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and leading consumer-focused private equity firm Catterton Partners to create international, multi-concept restaurant and licensing business, Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges. This new business develops, owns, operates, manages and licenses world-class restaurants created by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. In a partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and private equity firm Catterton Partners, Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges creates international, multi-concept restaurant and licensing businesses to be utilized both in Starwood’s luxury hotel brands including The Phoenician, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Sheraton’s Luxury Collection, and the St. Regis as well as freestanding locations throughout the world. Culinary Concepts’ current portfolio includes 10 concepts that are either existing or in development. Existing properties include J&G Steakhouse in Scottsdale, Spice Market in New York City, Chambers Kitchen at Chambers Hotel, Minneapolis, and Lagoon at St. Regis Resort, Bora Bora.

    Jean-Georges is the Chef in Residence for CITY magazine, and Master Cook for Food & Wine magazine. He has appeared on Live! With Regis and Kelly, the Today Show, Good Morning America, Martha Stewart Living, Everyday Elegance with Colin Cowie, The Early Show on CBS, and TV Food Network, and in the 1995 PBS series In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs.

    After years of success, Jean-Georges’ favorite retreat is still the kitchen, and one of his favorite meals dished from a street cart in Thailand. Through his sense for the restaurant business and forward thinking, Jean-Georges has made culinary history and a reputation almost as remarkable as his food.


    Jonathan Waxman
    Executive Chef
    Jonathan Waxman

    Executive Chef
    Barbuto

    Working as a successful chef, restaurateur and author, Jonathan Waxman has graced such prestigious kitchens as Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Michael’s in Los Angeles. Waxman went on to open his own restaurant in New York City – Jams, described by the NY Times as 'a culinary comet', as well as the famed Washington Park. Today, Waxman is the chef and owner of Barbuto in Manhattan's West Village. His first cookbook, A Great American Cook, was published in 2007. Giving back is important to Waxman and he works closely with many charities including City Meals on Wheels.
     
    He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children. He participated in this year's Top Chef Masters on Bravo, surviving to the penultimate show. His fellow participant Wylie Dufresne, nicknamed him 'Obi Wan Kenobi'. And Jonathan Gold of the LA Times calls Jonathan 'the Eric Clapton of chefs'. His second book, 'Italian My Way', to be published by Simon & Schuster in April of 2011.


    Jason Wilson
    Executive Chef & Owner
    Jason Wilson

    Executive Chef & Owner
    Crush (Seatle, WA)

    Festival Event(s):
  • James Beard Benefit Dinner

  • Chef Jason Wilson, James Beard Award Winner (Best Chef Northwest 2010) and alumni of Food & Wine magazines Best New Chef’s, class of 2006, is the owner and executive chef of the critically acclaimed Crush Restaurant in Seattle. Arguably one of Seattle’s hottest restaurants and most innovative dining experiences, Crush offers Modern American Cuisine in a contemporary setting with professional service and personal attention. Jason’s seasonally changing menus highlight the highest quality ingredients, and showcase the best that the Northwest and American farmers, producers, and fisherman have to offer. The Crush dining experience continues to arouse diners’ senses at every turn.

    A 1995 graduate of the esteemed California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Wilson’s passion for culinary knowledge and experience brought him to some of the most influential kitchens and patisseries in California, Singapore and France before eventually settling in Seattle. In 1996 Jason joined Jeremiah Tower to open STARS Restaurant in Singapore, learning and working with a South East Asian Staff and an international clientele. Jason moved to Seattle in 1998 to open STARS Bar and Dining, finding the Northwest to be the ultimate culinary hotspot. Jason’s successful experience operating large restaurants and multiple events simultaneously became an asset as Jason and Nicole set out to discover and create a business of their own. After working for notable Seattle families as a personal chef and launching a catering business, Jason opened Crush in 2005 with business and real life partner, Nicole Wilson, as part of a lifelong dream.

    Married on a private estate in Carnation, WA, during the 2001 crush, the name of their first restaurant was pre-determined. Decorated in colors reminiscent of their first venture together at an espresso bar, the exterior walls are a rich cappuccino with milky white trim. Crush is the perfect the expression of their love for each other and the perfect showcase for Wilson’s food.

    His modern approach to cooking,passion for sustainable seafood, and exclusively using seasonally fresh, local, organic, ingredients, has created a modern dining experience in Seattle unparalleled by other restaurants. A personal style of “Crush” cuisine has emerged that can be described as “a dining experience that arouses your senses.”

    An award winning  wine list that focuses on quality wines from around the world with emphasis on California, the Northwest, France, and Italy balances food offerings with great pairings, a breadth of vintages and hard-to-find gems from small producers and notables alike.

    In addition to the numerous accolades and awards that have been bestowed upon the restaurant, Wilson takes great pride in his industry beyond the doors of Crush. He is active in the culinary community and serves as the spokesperson for Piñata Apple; he sits on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute Chefs Congress, Teaches Sous Vide cooking at the Seattle Culinary Academy and has developed new flavors for the popular DRY Soda Company. No stranger to the media, Wilson has appeared on Rachel Ray’s Tasty Travels, has been a guest on Martha Stewart’s show, and has been featured on the Fine Living Network’s “I Want Your Job.”


    Jason Wyrick
    Executive Chef
    Jason Wyrick

    Executive Chef
    Devil Spice

    Festival Event(s):
  • Saturday Cooking Demos

  • Jason Wyrick is the executive chef and publisher of The Vegan Culinary Experience, an educational vegan culinary magazine with a readership of about 30,000.  In 2001, Chef Jason reversed his diabetes by switching to a low-fat, vegan diet and subsequently left his position as the Director of Marketing for an IT company to become a chef and instructor to help others.  Since then, he has been featured by the NY Times, Edible Phoenix, and the Arizona Republic, and has had numerous local television appearances.  He has catered for companies such as Google, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and Farm Sanctuary, has been featured in the Scottsdale Culinary Festival’s premier event, and has been a guest instructor in the Le Cordon Bleu program at Scottsdale Culinary Institute.  Recently, Chef Jason wrote a book with Dr. Neal Barnard entitled 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart.  You can find out more about Chef Jason Wyrick at www.veganculinaryexperience.com.


    Sam Zien
    Sam the Cooking Guy
    Sam Zien

    Sam the Cooking Guy


    Festival Event(s):
  • Cooks and Corks

  •  

    After his attempt at starting a travel show was derailed by the events of 9/11, Sam switched from travel to cooking. And not because he had TV experience – because he didn’t. And it wasn’t because he was an amazing cook – because he wasn’t. He needed a job and thought he could fill a void on TV. A couple of months later he landed a twice-weekly 2-minute cooking segment on a local morning news program.
     
    The segments caught on and grew into a 30-minute show appropriately named Sam the Cooking Guy - an irreverent mix of humor and easy-to-replicate recipes that have now won 12 Emmy awards. In 2007 Sam gained a national audience when Discovery Health came along and ‘Just Cook This! with Sam the Cooking Guy’ was born. It features his same offbeat style with more easy-to-prepare, great-tasting recipes that also happen to be healthy.
     
    Known for his ‘big in taste and small in effort’ philosophy, Sam has become a frequent guest on The Today Show and has two cookbooks, ‘Just a Bunch of Recipes’ (April 2008) and ‘Awesome Recipes & Kitchen Shortcuts’ (April 2010). His 3rd book ‘Just Grill This’ will be out in March of 2011.


    Signature Weekend Events
    Fri, Apr 8   Eat, Drink & Be Pretty Party
    Apr 9-10 Cooks & Corks
    Apr 9-10 Great Arizona Picnic
    Tue, Apr 5 The Kick Off Party
    Tue, Apr 5 Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame
    Wed, Apr 6 Chef Tribute Dinner
    Thu, Apr 7 The Chocolate & Wine Experience
    Thu, Apr 7 Friends of James Beard Dinner
    Sat, Apr 9 Chef Wine Dinners
    Sun, Apr 10 Wine Country Brunch
    Sun, Apr 10 Best of the Fest

     

    Signature Weekend Events
    Fri, Apr 8   Eat, Drink & Be Pretty Party
    Apr 9-10 Cooks & Corks
    Apr 9-10 Great Arizona Picnic
    Tue, Apr 5 The Kick Off Party
    Tue, Apr 5 Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame
    Wed, Apr 6 Chef Tribute Dinner
    Thu, Apr 7 The Chocolate & Wine Experience
    Thu, Apr 7 Friends of James Beard Dinner
    Sat, Apr 9 Chef Wine Dinners
    Sun, Apr 10 Wine Country Brunch
    Sun, Apr 10 Best of the Fest

     

    2011 Event Photos
    2011 Event Photos
    2010 Event Photos
    2010 Event Photos
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