TALENT

World-renowned celebrity and local executive chefs are coming together to celebrate the festival. Join us on Saturday and Sunday to experience live cooking demos, tastings and book signings with celebrity chefs while OC’s finest chefs will be in the Grand Tasting Pavilions serving up savory bites and mingling with guests.

Nobu Matsuhisa
Nobu
Hubert Keller
Fleur & Burger Bar
Jet Tila
The Charleston & Pakpao Thai
Duff Goldman
Charm City Cakes
Amar Santana
VACA + Broadway
Michael Mina
Bourbon Steak
Joe Flamm
SPIAGGIA + CAFÉ SPIAGGIA
Richard Blais
Juniper + Ivy & Crack Shack
Bruce Kalman
BK Hospitality Group
Jean-Pierre Dubray
The Resort at Pelican Hill
Philippe Haddad
Cape Dutch
Yvon Goetz
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
Joe Sasto
Florent & Amelia
Marché Moderne
Brian Huskey
Tackle Box OC
Rainer Schwarz
Driftwood Kitchen
Rachel Haggstrom
Balboa Bay Resort
Bryan Brown
Bourbon Steak
Devin Alexander
NBC's Biggest Loser
Carrie Baird
Bar Dough
Fatima Ali
Stella
Christopher Scott
Butterfunk Kitchen
Tyler Anderson
Porrón & Piña
George Neyra
Fig and Olive
Katsuji Tanabe
The Nixon Chops & Whiskey
Linda Johnson
Filomena's Italian Kitchen
Katy Smith
Puesto
Peter O’Keefe
Nordstrom Bazille
Chris Polley
True Food Kitchen
Alejandra Padilla
Five Crowns
Tin Vuong
Bluegold & LSXO
Manfred Lassahn
Watertable
Shin Toyoda
Sushi Roku
Marc Johnson
Pelican Grill
Rufus Bloomfield
Art Institute of Orange County
Mark McDonald
Old Vine Cafe
Greg Stillman
Leatherby’s Café Rouge & Center 360
Kevin Gilbert
Maggiano's
Lauren Lawless
Flawless Cuisine
Donald Lockhart
AVEO Table + Bar
Christian Mayares
On The Rocks Bar & Grill
Andy Arndt
Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa
Leslie Nguyen
Bosscat Kitchen + Libations
David Man
Fashion Island Hotel
Matthew Mintzias
Pizzeria Mozza Newport Beach
Peter Lai
The Blind Rabbit
Roberto Hernandez
Catalina Island Company
Adam Sobel
Cal Mare
Brittany Valles
Oak Grill & Aqua Lounge
Jamie Gwen
Official Newport Beach Wine & Food Host
Jared Cook
Olea, Cellar. Craft. Cook.

SOMMELIERS

The Daytime Festival on Saturday and Sunday will commence with the ultimate experience for wine lovers of all levels. World-renowned master sommeliers will be hosting educational wine panels and tastings.

Michael Jordan
Master Sommelier
Peter Neptune
Master Sommelier
Georg J Riedel
Sommelier

Nobu

Nobu Matsuhisa

Nobu Matsuhisa is the creative force behind Nobu Restaurants, coupling time-honored classic Japanese dishes with inventive new flavors and cooking techniques. Chef Nobu’s cuisine pays homage to his formative years as a Tokyo sushi restaurant apprentice while celebrating his later travels in South America, where experimentation in local spices and cooking techniques created the foundation for his contemporary Japanese culinary style. Chef Nobu assesses both the quality and availability of fish and sushi chefs at each potential new restaurant location. His ability to source promising sushi chef candidates ensures a rich talent pool for the Nobu Restaurants network. As Nobu Restaurants has expanded around the globe, Chef Nobu has increased his focus on quality control, undertaking among the sushi chefs. Chef Nobu is also responsible for teaching his new fishes to head chefs across the Nobu network, passing along his cutting edge culinary innovations without sacrificing consistency.

Fleur & Burger Bar

Hubert Keller

Hubert Keller, a Frenchman classically trained by France’s top Chefs, is now one of America’s most widely recognized and acclaimed chefs. Chef Keller reside in Las Vegas, where he operates Fleur by Hubert Keller, featuring his contemporary French cooking accented with cuisine around the world. With his palate-attuned to America’s evolving tastes, Chef Keller launchedhis widely popular Burger Bar Restaurants in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Beijing.

He has won numerous awards including the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: California and has been elected to the Foundation’s prestigious Who’s Who in Food and Beverage. Food and Wine magazine tapped him as one of the Ten Best Chefs in America, and Restaurant & Institutions gave him its Ivy Award.

Chef Keller has cooked for several United States Presidents and was the first guest chef invited to the White House to personally prepare his sophisticated menu to President Clinton and his family. Chef Keller is also know for his performance as a judge on Top Chef as well as for his grace-under-pressure performance as a contestant in the first season of Top Chef Masters on Bravo. Chef Keller was as well a resident judge on Top Chef Just Desserts on Bravo.

Keller appears frequently in the media including appearances on “The Chew” on ABC, “Regis & Kelly” on ABC, “Rachel Ray”, “The Travel Channel“, “ The Food Channel Network”, “The Real House Wife’s from Orange County”, “Good Morning America”, and “Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern. Chef Keller’s own cooking show, Secrets of a Chef, airs on PBS and is currently in Season 4.

Dubbed a “Rebel with a Cuisinart” in the New York Times for his early championing of original, multi-course vegetarian menu in a 4-start setting. Chef Keller consistently cooks with a light hand and an eye on health. This led to his developing recipes for inclusion in Dr. Dean Ornish’s best selling cookbook, Eat More, Weigh Less.

Chef Keller’s own cookbooks include The Cuisine of Hubert Keller (Ten Speed Press) and Burger Bar, Build your Own Burgers (Willey0. And his latest cookbook “Souvenirs” Memoires, Stories and Recipes from My Life, written with Penelope Wisner, (Andrews McMeel) released October 2012.

The Charleston & Pakpao Thai

Jet Tila

Chef, culinary anthropologist, entrepreneur, culinary world record holder and Food Network star, Jet Tila has roots deeply embedded in the industry and ones that significantly establish him firmly in the art form he is most passionate about: storytelling through food. 

Born from the first Thai food family of Los Angeles, California, a family which established the first Thai markets and restaurants in the U.S.—Tila brings innovation and artistry into the traditional Thai food fold to create a signature style that is at heart, his own.   

As the inaugural Culinary Ambassador of Thai Cuisine, a title and role entrusted to him by the Royal Thai Consul-General, Tila’s repertoire stretches far and wide. Along with a host of accolades and achievements, Tila has made notable appearances and contributions to projects that include No Reservations, Parts Unknown, Chopped, Iron Chef America, Cutthroat Kitchen, Beat Bobby Flay, Guy’s Grocery Games, and the Today Show. Tila is a Dream of Los Angeles Award recipient, a distinction given out annually in honor of Asian and Pacific Islander Month. 

Jet also partnered with Steve Wynn to open Wazuzu, a groundbreaking Pan-Asian restaurant, at Steve Wynn’s Encore Casino and Resort on the Las Vegas Strip. Tila has also inspired and cultivated a concept partnership with the largest foodservice company in the world, the Compass Group, to bring more versatile food opportunities and resources to chefs everywhere.  

In partnership with The Compass Group, a company that serves 9.4 million meals a day in America, Tila has launched a program called VegRev, or rather Veg Revolution. Fruits and vegetables are not only nutritious, but they bring unique and diverse flavors to the plate. Affecting change and inspiring a healthier eating movement has always been a core tenet of Tila’s culinary philosophy and chefs are the tip of the spear when it comes to creating a movement around increasing nutritious and fresh produce consumption. 

In addition to his work with the Compass Group, Tila has also played significant roles in establishing Modern Asian Kitchen, Stir Market, Kuma Snow Cream, Melting Pot Food Tours of Thai Town in Los Angeles, and Bistronomics—a series of pop-up restaurant experiences in L.A.

Further expanding his portfolio, Jet has debuted a café at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley and has a popular Asian food line through Schwan’s Home Service. 

In order to build a foundation for his rich passionate foundation, Jet attended and completed his culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu, establishing a framework of classical French technique to elevate his extensive knowledge of Asian cooking, and allowing him to more fluidly articulate his artistic capabilities and vision.

Along with his education at Le Cordon Bleu, Jet also completed an intensive study program at the California Sushi Academy. 

As Tila moves between chef, media and culinary icon, artist, and father, he is in constant search of, what he calls, authentic flavors. In an effort to discover more of these flavors and to better understand more about his own culture, Tila published 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die: Discover a New World of Flavors in Authentic Recipes. From a kid growing up in L.A. in a Thai and Chinese family to a prominent chef and restaurant owner, this book is both a chronology of culinary tradition and also its rediscovery.

Charm City Cakes

Duff Goldman

VACA + Broadway

Amar Santana

Amar is the Executive Chef and Partner at the famed Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, California and Vaca in Costa Mesa, California. Born in the Dominican Republic, Santana immigrated to the U.S. at age 13 and began his culinary career at 16. He was mentioned by some of the world’s most renowned chefs helping him develop his skills of expressing his passion through food. He has earned many accolades throughout his career, most recently Bravo’s Top Chef season 13 runner up. By combining flavors and culinary traditions from all over the world, Chef Amar provides a truly unforgettable gastronomical experience.

Bourbon Steak

Michael Mina

Michael Mina’s story is one of two decades of influence, passion and achievement.  With the October 2010 opening of MICHAEL MINA, his eponymous signature restaurant in San Francisco, Michael is at the helm at the same location (formerly AQUA) and city where he first established his culinary reputation 20 years ago.  

With accolades including James Beard Foundation “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage” inductee in 2013, Bon Appétit Chef of the Year 2005, San Francisco Magazine Chef of the Year 2005, as well as the International Food and Beverage Forum’s Restaurateur of the Year 2005, Michael continues to dazzle the culinary world with bold dining concepts that have contributed to San Francisco’s reputation as a world-class epicurean destination and made him an integral part of the dining scene across the country. 

Michael’s culinary and business vision led to the founding of Mina Group, with partner Andre Agassi in 2002.  Under the auspices of Mina Group, he has opened over 30 operations including MICHAEL MINA, INTERNATIONAL SMOKE, PABU, THE RAMEN BAR, RN74, CAL MARE, BOURBON STEAK, STRIPSTEAK, PUB 1842, THE HANDLE BAR, BOURBON PUB, LOCALE MARKET, BARDOT BRASSERIE, MARGEAUX, and THE STREET: A MICHAEL MINA FOOD HALL.  

SPIAGGIA + CAFÉ SPIAGGIA

Joe Flamm

Joe Flamm is Executive Chef of Chicago’s Michelin-starred Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia. Working alongside Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano, Chef Joe showcases his Midwestern and Italian heritages through Spiaggia’s tasting, bar and a la carte menus. The menus rotate seasonally and regionally and are inspired by Chef Tony and Joe’s travels throughout Italy.

Growing up in a large Italian family on Chicago’s south side, Chef Joe fell in love with cooking atan early age while spending time in the kitchen with his Grandma Mary making homemade pasta, ravioli and pizza. It was this passion that led him to the Le Cordon Bleu of Culinary Arts, where he received his associate degree.

Prior to joining the Spiaggia team, Chef Joe worked alongside some of Chicago’s mostprestigious chefs, including Stephanie Izard at Girl and the Goat, Art Smith at Table Fifty-Two,and Bill Kim at bellyQ and Urbanbelly. Chef Joe has also staged in some of Italy’s best kitchensincluding Glass Hostaria in Rome and Del Pescatore in Mantova, and cooked for presidents, celebrities, the James Beard Foundation and more.

In his spare time, Chef Joe enjoys spending time with his wife and trying new restaurants. He is involved with Pilot Light, a Chicago charity which helps children make healthier choices by connecting the lessons they learn in the classrooms to the foods they eat on their lunch trays and beyond.

Juniper + Ivy & Crack Shack

Richard Blais

Richard Blais is a successful chef, restaurateur, James Beard nominated cookbook author and television personality. Perhaps most recognizable as a recurring judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and the winner of Top Chef All-Stars, Blais grew up on Long Island working as a “poissonier” at McDonald’s. It was here where he first dabbled in deconstruction in cuisine, serving filet-o-fish sandwiches sans top bun. Blais went on to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America and train at The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse, and el Bulli.

Blais currently owns and operates Trail Blais, a forward-thinking culinary company that has consulted on, designed, and operated popular eateries including multiple outposts of Flip Burger Boutique. In San Diego, where he currently resides, Blais is a partner at the popular Juniper & Ivy and Crack Shack restaurants, which will be expanding to 4 locations in the coming months.
Early 2017 will bring Blais’ second cookbook, So Good (May 16, 2017), and the introduction of Man vs Master on the FYI Network.
In addition to Top Chef, Blais regularly appears on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, Guy’s Grocery Games, Cooks vs. Cons, and Celebrity Food Fight. He will also be appearing this fall on FOX’s MasterChef and MasterChef Junior.

He resides with his wife Jazmin and their two daughters Riley and Embry. When not behind the stove, Blais may be found training for his next marathon, working on his next cookbook or cheering on his favorite English Premiere League soccer team.

BK Hospitality Group

Bruce Kalman

Bruce Kalman’s Northern Italian cooking style embraces the diverse and abundant produce of California to create exquisitely balanced flavor profiles meant to warm the soul at KP Hospitality concepts like UNION in Pasadena, CA and Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market in L.A.’s Grand central Market. His commitment to indigenous ingredients goes beyond the farmers’ market to build strong connections with local providers, keeping the operations’ carbon footprint low, supporting the local economy, and connecting diners to high quality vegetables, meats, and cheeses straight from the source. 

The mindful chef’s culinary career began in his hometown of Paramus, NJ. “I started cooking at 13 in a local family-owned pizzeria, and I never looked back,” he says. “I really enjoy it—beyond the food, it’s about the energy of the kitchen, the camaraderie, the teamwork, it’s awesome. Every day is a challenge.” He solidified his skills through a hands-on culinary program at Jersey City’s Hudson Community College, and, after rising through the ranks of local kitchens, moved to Chicago to serve as executive chef for restaurants including Okno, Green Dolphin, and Coco Pazzo.  Kalman landed in Los Angeles in 2011 to help launch Santa Monica’s Misfit, and later joined West Hollywood’s The Churchill, at which he excelled in producing housemade charcuteries, pastas, and desserts. His innovative success encouraged him to debut Bruce’s Prime Pickle Company in 2013, highlighting his devotion to handcrafted products made from local and sustainable ingredients.

Throughout his career, Kalman has gained recognition from James Beard, with a nomination for “Rising Star Chef,” and has appeared on the Food Network to earn a “Chopped” championship title as well as on Esquire Network to win “Knife Fight.”  Currently, Bruce is a cheftestant on Top Chef, season 15 filmed in Colorado, and opening his newest project The House of Machines in the Arts District in LA.

The Resort at Pelican Hill

Jean-Pierre Dubray

Jean-Pierre Dubray’s passion for food and cooking was home grown. He grew up in the kitchen of his family’s country house in France’s Loire Valley, where they produced much of their own food. He enjoyed helping his mother prepare big family meals and by the time he was 15, when he enrolled in culinary school, he had decided it would be his life’s work.

Dubray came to the United States in 1980 when he had an opportunity to be part of the opening team for La Vie en Rose restaurant in Brea, Calif. – and he has been in the Golden State ever since. In 1984, Dubray joined The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company becoming the first dining room chef of the then newly opened The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. In 1987, he opened The Ritz- Carlton Rancho Mirage in the Palm Springs area, and over the years was sent on 14 overseas assignments as a team trainer for the openings of Ritz-Carlton hotels around the world.

It was in 1991, however, when the opportunity came – to open The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco as executive chef – that would accelerate his career to the highest level. Demonstrating exceptional skills and creativity, he helped make The Dining Room one of the country’s culinary stars and a recipient of countless honors, including the AAA Five Diamond rating and one of only two restaurants in California and 17 in all of North America with Exxon/Mobil’s Five-Star designation. He reached the pinnacle of accomplishment and recognition at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco – establishing the credentials to take the culinary reins of The Resort at Pelican Hill®, where he oversees Andrea Ristorante, the Coliseum Pool & Grill, Pelican Grill at Pelican Hill Golf Club®, the Resort’s pastry and bakery operations, in-room dining to 128 Villas and 204 Bungalows, and catering and special event services, both on-site and off-premise.

Chef Dubray has been a guest chef for a James Beard Foundation event in San Francisco and for numerous charitable events for such organizations as the March of Dimes and Meals On Wheels. He has participated in many promotional events with celebrity chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse and Julia Child. Among the numerous awards he has received, the Orange County Business Journal honored him as Chef of the Year in 2014, the Marin County Branch of the International Wine and Food Society named him “Outstanding Chef of the Year” in 2002, and later the same year the French Minister of Agriculture awarded him the prestigious “Le Merite Agricole.”

Cape Dutch

Philippe Haddad

Philippe Haddad brings 38 years of global, culinary and hospitality experience to Cape Dutch and True Story Brands by offering his innovative cooking techniques and recipe creations along with his life-of-the-party character and passion for food and wine.A native of Bruges, Belgium, Haddad began his culinary journey as a teenager when he exhibited more than a passing interest in the culinary arts. Haddad was accepted to the most renowned hotel institute in Belgium, Hotel School Ter Duinen. Haddad’s passion and elite training allowed him to find work in a numerous regions and countries such as Belgium, the south of France, United Kingdom, Bermuda, the West Indies, the U.S. Virgin Islands and more. Throughout the years, Haddad gained insight into the customs and cultures that surround each country’s culinary traditions.

Haddad has worked in a variety of environments, some of which include hotels, resorts, restaurants, private clubs and private yachts. His impressive career includes L’Escoffier in The Beverly Hilton Hotel, The St. James Club in Antigua and Paris, The Ritz-Carlton in St.Thomas as well as many top country clubs throughout the U.S. In Atlanta, he was the executive chef at F&B, Occidental Grand (now the Four Seasons Hotel), The Abbey and Nikolai’s Roof. By 1999, Chef Haddad broke away from the hotel and resort industry and opened his own Zagat-rated Buckhead hot spot, Philippe’s Bistro. After a half-decade in business, Haddad spent the next three years working in the food and beverage division luxury brand hotels and resorts. In 2017, Chef Haddad was inducted into “The French Culinary Academy,” a worldwide organization based in Paris, France with a delegation of 120 chefs in the U.S.

Chef Haddad has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation as well as received a DiRōNA award. When not in the kitchen, Haddad commits himself to a handful of local charities and volunteer opportunities. From being nominated as a candidate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Man of the Year” campaign in 2015 in honor of his father to working with the Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Meals on Wheels, Haddad enjoys giving back to the community which has given so much to him.

The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar

Yvon Goetz

After spending the majority of his career leading other restaurateurs and culinary groups to success, internationally renowned Chef Yvon Goetz has become a culinary force as Executive Chef and Partner at The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, which has locations in Tustin and Newport Beach, California.

The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar opened its doors in August 2007 at The District in Tustin, and immediately went on to receive the distinction of “Restaurant of the Year” in 2008, 2009 and 2013 by the well-respected and highly influential OC Concierge Association. In 2012, luxury publication RIVIERA Magazine and noted Orange County Business Journal both bestowed the title of “Restaurant of the Year,” and the prestigious Southern California Restaurant Writers Association awarded the group “Restaurateurs of the Year” for their achievements. Most recently, he was presented with the honor of “Chef of the Year” by the Golden Foodie Awards at a grand ceremony that celebrated the best chefs in the region, leading the way to the 2014 opening of The Winery’s second location in Newport Beach.

Goetz, considered one of the most highly decorated chefs in Southern California, has received such accolades and awards as “Alsace’s gift to Southern California” by the Los Angeles Times, “The Best of the Best” by the Travel Guide, one of three recipients in California of the AAA Five-Diamond Award, and “Chef of the Year” by the Orange County Business Journal, the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association, and Golden Foodie Awards. In addition, he was selected by Condé Nast to participate as one of only 14 chefs nationwide for the Bon Appétit-hosted Cadillac Culinary Challenge.

As Executive Chef and Partner in The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, Goetz develops and oversees a cutting-edge menu featuring contemporary California regional cuisine with a focus on specialties and ingredients found in California’s vast Wine Country. He is responsible for hiring, training and directing a culinary team that delivers consistent, quality fare that has set new standards for restaurants in Orange County and beyond.

Joe Sasto

Marché Moderne

Florent & Amelia

Florent and Amelia Marneau are more than the husband-and-wife chef duo behind Marché Moderne, one of Southern California’s most critically- lauded restaurants: they’re the heart and soul of the award-winning French bistro they’ve created together.

Florent’s vast professional experience includes a prestigious tenure that began in 1990, having worked in Paris for legendary master pastry chef Gaston Lenotre before chancing upon the opportunity to work for Orange County’s then-top French chef Pascal Olhats at Tradition by Pascal. From there, Florent moved on to take the helms at Aubergine, which quickly garnered critical acclaim as O.C.’s best restaurant. It was at Aubergine where he would meet Amelia, the restaurant’s pastry chef at the time.

Amelia’s impressive credentials include working as the pastry chef at the Michelin star restaurant Les Ambassadeurs in Hotel de Crillon Paris. Shortly after Florent and Amelia married, Florent was tapped by master chef Joachim Splichal of Patina Restaurant Group to be the executive chef of Pinot Provence. That too, did not take long to become the crown jewel of French dining in Orange County. After a successful decade, the Marneaus decided to strike out on their very own and opened Marché Moderne at South Coast Plaza, a luxury shopping destination. There, the accolades continued to pour in for another decade. Described as “ … the best bistro in Southern California” by the Los Angeles Times, in addition to nabbing the title of Best Restaurant in Orange County by the Orange County Register’s critic Brad A. Johnson, Marché Moderne has also consistently landed on the annual “101 Best Restaurants” list by Pulitzer- prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times.

Throughout the years, the Marneaus worked tirelessly side by side, he in the kitchen, creating what would be his hallmark of pristine French cuisine, with Amelia whipping up delicate confections to complement his cooking – or sometimes, the other way around. In addition to her artful pastries and desserts, Marché Moderne’s longtime guests know to also look forward to Amelia’s warm and gracious hospitality.

Now, the Marneaus are set to embark on their next culinary chapter together. They’ve taken their combined love for market-inspired ingredients and classic French cooking techniques with modern touches to a brand new home for Marché Moderne in Newport Coast, with the Pacific Ocean on the horizon.

When the Marneaus are not in the kitchen dreaming up new dishes, they enjoy doting on their two children, Juliette and Mateo.

Tackle Box OC

Brian Huskey

Chef Brian Huskey is a native of Pasadena, California. After attending and studying economics at UCLA, where he had his first job as a short order cook at The Grove, Brian moved to San Francisco to get his formal culinary education at California Culinary Academy. 

After CCA, Brian went on a culinary journey, traveling to places like the Caribbean but eventually landing back in Los Angeles. For four years, Brian worked directly with Chef Ricardo Zarate in opening his four restaurants: Picca, Mo-chica, Paiche, and Blue Tavern to national praise and accolades. Prior to meeting Zarate, Brian was Chef de Cuisine of LA Prime at the Westin Bonaventure and Executive Chef for Room Forty. He was opening Chef de Cuisine of Eva restaurant and part of the opening team of Fig and Olive both in West Hollywood. As well, he spent 3 years with the Patina group at Cafe Pinot and helped open Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge in Costa Mesa. Throughout the years, Brian has been able to travel and cultivate his culinary voice by learning how to incorporate Asian, French, Latin, and Californian influences into his food.

Brian competed on BRAVO’s Top Chef season 11: New Orleans where he had a national platform each week to showcase his talent. Since Top Chef, Brian has been busy with private and corporate events, consulting projects, and cultivating his concepts. In 2015, he opened his first concept Tackle Box- local grub shack in Orange County at Corona del Mar state beach to a lot of fanfare and accolades from the community. Recently Tackle Box was acknowledged as one of OC’s “2017 Best Restaurants of the Year” as well as “2016 Best New Restaurants” by Orange Coast Magazine. Currently he is evolving his brand Tackle Box with a second location in Costa Mesa at the SOCO complex by adding beer and wine and an evening menu. In his free time, he enjoys the simple things… eating, relaxing, playing tennis, and spending time with friends and family, and of course Penelope, the family basset hound.

@brianhuskey @tackleboxoc

www.tackleboxoc.com

Driftwood Kitchen

Rainer Schwarz

Executive Chef Rainer Schwarz combines a rich cultural past with the finest culinary training to present menus unlike any other found in the region. His style of cooking focuses on simplicity by using only the best possible high quality, seasonal ingredients.One of his passions is to pair each dish on his menu with the best possible wine selection. The exquisite flavor and unsurpassed quality of each dish prepared by Chef Rainer demonstrates his extensive training and expertise in fine dining.

Balboa Bay Resort

Rachel Haggstrom

Balboa Bay Resort / Waterline Newport Beach / A&O Kitchen+Bar

Growing up on her family’s citrus grove in Temecula, California, Balboa Bay Resort’s executive chef Rachel Haggstrom is very much influenced by fresh produce and a farm-to-table cooking style. Prior to leading the team at the four-diamond resort and two on-property full service restaurants, Waterline Newport Beach and A&O Kitchen+Bar, chef Rachel perfected her culinary talents at elite culinary destinations in renowned California destinations. “I enjoy using my training and expertise to create fresh and memorable dining experiences for resort guests and the local community.”

Her culinary journey began when she headed to Northern California where she attended and graduated from the California Culinary Academy – Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco. Post-graduation, chef Rachel honed her skills at elite culinary destinations including “The Dining Room”, the one-star Michelin restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, “Postrio” with Wolfgang Puck at the Kimpton Hotel San Francisco and at Thomas Keller’s three-starred Michelin restaurant, The French Laundry, where she developed her signature “farm-to-table” cooking style.

After spending the next two years as the sous chef at the five-star St. Regis Monarch Beach, in March of 2014, chef Rachel accepted the position as chef de cuisine at Balboa Bay Resort. She then was promoted to executive chef of the resort in June of 2015.

In her current position as executive chef of the four-diamond resort and two full service on-property restaurants, chef Rachel heads a culinary team that services catered events, banquets, galas and weddings, in addition to the restaurants – where she successfully implements her farm-to-table style into every dish. “There is never a dull moment. Every day is like a new adventure.”

When chef Rachel is not in the kitchen, she enjoys spending time with her young daughter and husband, snowboarding and reading.

About Balboa Bay Resort

Balboa Bay Resort, the only waterfront resort in Newport Beach, offers stunning bay views and sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. The resort features 159 newly renovated guestrooms and suites, each with a private balcony and modern furnishings. Additional features include destination and waterfront dining at Waterline, the resort’s signature; A&O Kitchen+Bar, a waterfront gastropub and bar; BlendTM, an Italian inspired coffee shop, as well as a recently renovated full-service 10,000-square-foot spa; more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space; a wealth of outdoor recreation that includes a recently renovated pool locale with a heated swimming pool and whirlpool, along with a wealth of water activities available to rent: Duffy boats, stand-up paddleboards, and kayaks. For information and reservations, please contact Balboa Bay Resort at 949.645.5000; or visit the website at www.balboabayresort.com.

About Waterline Newport Beach

With its contemporized nautical design, Waterline Newport Beach is a California coastal seafood-inspired and refined full-service restaurant along the waterfront featuring an alluring water-to-table experience. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, Waterline offers a seasonal menu focused on the freshest seafood and highest quality ingredients – a perfectly comfortable and relaxed environment to enjoy delectable cuisine in a beautiful waterfront location.

ABOUT A&O Kitchen+Bar

A&O Kitchen+Bar is a waterfront social gastropub featuring inspired gastropub fare, craft cocktails and beer, daily social hour from 4-6pm and live music Thursday – Saturday evenings (Sunday afternoons from 1-4pm in the summer) – the perfect balance of fun and comfort in a picturesque location along the water’s edge. The interiors are casual and rustic with wood floors, reclaimed barn siding wall and floor accents and live edge wood communal dining tables and bar top.

Bourbon Steak

Bryan Brown

A culinary professional with more than 10 years of experience, Executive Chef of Bourbon Steak, Bryan Brown leads the opening of the new restaurant, leads the development behind the restaurant’s menus, oversees operational procedures and event planning of Michael Mina’s modern American steakhouse while continuing to uphold the James Beard award winning chef’s philosophy of constructing bold yet balanced flavors. Brown most recently served as Executive Chef at Bottega Louie, a restaurant, gourmet market, patisserie and café in downtown Los Angeles where he oversaw a staff of more than 40 culinary professionals while managing the food production and back of house operations. Prior to this role, he was Executive Chef at Vintana Wine + Dine in Escondido where he developed menus, hired and led a staff of more than 30 and mentored chefs and cooks.

NBC's Biggest Loser

Devin Alexander

 Media Personality, Multi-time New York Times Bestselling Author, Restaurateur, Keynote Speaker, Healthy Comfort Food Chef, and Weight Loss Expert, Devin Alexander, was the Chef of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”.  Devin’s unique approach to healthy cooking and her motivational personal story have landed her regular, major, national television appearances for over 10 years, making her America’s Go-To Expert on Decadence without Consequence.  Having maintained her 70-pound weight loss for close to 20 years, she lives and eats her message: you don’t have to deprive yourself to be fit and healthy.  

Devin has shared her Devinly™ Decadent secrets as the host of Healthy Decadence on Discovery Health and Fit Tv from 2007-2011, as Host of “America’s Chefs on Tour” on PBS and through frequent appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Biggest Loser, Dr. Oz, Access Hollywood Live, The Doctors, Dr. Drew, The View, OMG Insider, Dr. Phil, FOX, CNN, HGTV, USA, Style Network and others as well as through over 500 magazine features including Prevention, Women’s Health, Men’s Health and Shape. She’s served as Culinary Advisor to Men’s Fitness Magazine and as Cooking Expert to Women’s Health in addition to penning columns in Clean Eating, Muscle & Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Hers, American Fitness and others.

Devin is the author of nine cookbooks. Her first cookbook, Fast Food Fix (Rodale, 2006) was featured as an editor’s top pick in USA Today and her follow-up The Biggest Loser Cookbook (Rodale, 2006), a companion to the hit NBC show, spent months on The New York Times Bestsellers List as did her The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook (Rodale, November 2008).  Devin’s The Most Decadent Diet Ever! (Broadway, 2008) revealed her secrets to living healthy without sacrificing the foods we all love  and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening” (Broadway 2010) provides the answer for people who think they are too busy to cook. It sold out on QVC.  Next she wrote The Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook (Rodale, November 2010), The Biggest Loser Flavors of the World Cookbook (Rodale, March 2011) and The Biggest Loser Quick & Easy Cookbook (Rodale, 2011), which spent weeks on The New York Times Bestsellers List.  Devin’s upcoming bestseller, “You Can Have It” is being released March 20, 2018 through the American Diabetes Association.  

After 9 years as the Owner and Executive Chef of Café Renee Catering, Devin now travels the country lecturing and consulting for major U.S. food and cookware companies.  She’s a proud Ambassador of the American Diabetes Association, a Blogger for The American Heart Association, served on the Advisory Board of the American Culinary Federation’s Chef Child Foundation and spent years as Larry King Foundation’s Go-To-Chef to speak on “Obesity in America”. Her dessert line, Devinly Delites™ is heading to mass market soon.   

When she’s not in her kitchen or traveling, Devin spends every possible minute with her precious foster daughter, “Jelly Bean” who she hopes to soon adopt! 

Bar Dough

Carrie Baird

Bar Dough Executive Chef and Partner Carrie Baird has made a name for herself leading the kitchens of some of the most highly regarded restaurants in Denver over the last two decades, including Rioja and Euclid Hall. Baird’s signature style fuses locally sourced ingredients with twists on both classic and innovative dishes. A native of Idaho, Baird trained in Colorado with an emphasis on classic Mediterranean, Italian, and French techniques. She believes great food comes from cooking from your heart and is passionate about working with Colorado’s local farmers and ranchers to develop her menus. “Colorado has the most amazing proteins and produce,” says Baird “and here at Bar Dough, we have the wonderful opportunity to cultivate a relationship between the consumer and the farmer through our food.” Most recently, Baird was a competitor on Top Chef Colorado, the 15th season of the acclaimed cooking show, where she quickly became a fan-favorite among her Denver audience and all the way across the country and finished the season as one of the final four chefs.

Stella

Fatima Ali

Fueled by an intrinsic passion for food and cooking, Fatima Ali left her hometown in Pakistan to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America. For 18 year old Fatima, there were no two ways about it – she started cooking at five and this would be her future. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Fatima found her home with the Patina Restaurant Group in New York City. Starting as a Junior Sous Chef at Cafe Centro, in just eighteen months, Fatima climbed the ranks to settle into the brand new Italian restaurant establishment at Macy’s, Stella 34, as Executive Sous Chef – one of the youngest the company has seen. Fatima was determined to hone her skills while working in New York City, enabling her to meld the bold flavors and spices she grew up with, with the modern techniques of her training. During her career in New York City, she competed on and won Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ at the age of 21, which garnered much media attention and opened the doors for her to continue winning and participating in various chefs competitions. Most recently, she competed in Top Chef Season 15 which is set to air in November 2017, being the youngest and only international chef in the cast, at the age of 27. Her plans, currently, revolve around introducing the wonders of Pakistani flavors to the public like never before. Her desire to pioneer the movement of eclectic, modern Pakistani cuisine matches her passion to be a role model to all young women from her country as well. She hopes her determinations and successes can serve as proof that any goal is attainable as long as you push hard for what you believe in and always remember who you are.

Butterfunk Kitchen

Christopher Scott

Chef, Humanitarian, and Jazz Aficionado in Brooklyn, New York

Chef Chris began his culinary career in Philadelphia when the city was in the midst of a culinary revolution.

Philly was shaking off its old school style and moving into a world of new ingredients, new cooking techniques, innovative ideas and bolder, cleaner flavors. Chef Chris is proud to be a part of that movement.

He worked alongside notable chefs such as Kevin Sbraga (Top Chef season 7 winner) Mike Isabella (Top chef season 6 finalist) Al Paris ( Executive chef of Heirloom Restaurant) and Michael Solomanov (Zahav, Marigold Kitchen, Federal Donuts, Percy St. BBQ).

After spending 15 years in Philly honing his skills and running two major restaurants with the Starr Restaurant Group with chefs Marcus Sammuelsson and Franklin Becker, Chef Chris moved to New York City.

In New York, Chef Chris began as Executive Chef for CNN and Time Warner, overseeing major dining events with L’Oreal, NBA, NFL, HBO, Chris Rock, and the city government of New York. In addition, he has cooked for elite dignitaries such as Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, South African President Nelson Mandela, Actors Jerry Seinfeld and many other professional athletes and media personalities.

In November 2010, Chef Chris opened Brooklyn Commune with his wife Eugenie. They both shared a love for food and community and vowed to save the world through food. Three years into a stellar opening, they have provided food, clothes and further education for children in India. They helped build a victory garden for a local women’s shelter and provide food for them prepared by Chef Chris and local children in Windsor Terrace at a monthly kids cooking class. In addition, Chef Chris has twice been part of a team that the James Beard Foundation has recognized with the prestigious “Dinner of the Year Award.” In September 2011, he had the honor of having his name and Brooklyn Commune grace the marquee headline for the “Best of Brooklyn” dinner. In February 2014, he has been invited back to cook for the James Beard Foundation at an event at the legendary Lincoln Center. Chef Chris was also invited to cook at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. In February 2016, Chef Chris and his wife opened Butterfunk Kitchen. a soul food/juke joint restaurant that is heritage cooking at its finest. It prepares authentic soul food based on seven generations of family recipes. They received BEST new restaurant in 2016 by Brooklyn Magazine. They were also written up in the New York Times.

  • WORK
    • Butterfunk Kitchen, BK Commune
  • EDUCATION
    • Coatesville High School, Temple University, French Culinary Institute

Porrón & Piña

Tyler Anderson

Chef Tyler Anderson started his Culinary career at the age of sixteen, working in a range of well respected kitchens throughout California and Chicago. During this time Tyler had the opportunity to cook with some of the best Chefs in the Country.

Tyler opened his first restaurant Millwright’s in Simsbury, CT in 2012. Paying homage to strong New England traditions, Millwright’s prides itself on local purchasing and utilizing ingredients from the 11 acre farm that it will manage this year. Millwright’s has received perfect reviews from The New York Times, CT Magazine and Hartford Magazine, becoming one of the most award winning restaurants in the history of Connecticut restaurants.

 His most recent venture The Cook & The Bear in West Hartford, CT transported Tyler into the world of casual dining. The Cook & The Bear is a delicious collaboration between Tyler and famed Pitmaster Jamie MacDonald, and is the epitome of chef inspired BBQ. The result has been a perfect marriage of two acclaimed Chef’s expertise. The restaurant opened in mid 2017 and was named Best New Restaurant (in state) by CT Magazine.

 Tyler and his team are embarking on their next venture Porrón & Piña, a Spanish inspired restaurant and wine bar set to open in the historic Goodwin Hotel in Hartford, CT in 2018. His team will handle all food and beverage for the entire hotel, including all functions, a donut and coffee shop, and a throwback cocktail bar. Tyler also has plans to create an accredited hospitality and culinary program in the hotel, adding an educational element that will shape young Chefs and replicate the same sort of experience that inspired him at sixteen.

 Tyler has twice been named Chef of the Year in Connecticut by the CT Restaurant Association. He has been nominated as Best Chef Northeast from the James Beard Foundation for the last four years in a row (2013-17). He was a Cheftestant on the most recent season of Bravo’s Top Chef, and also appeared (and won) on Food Network’s Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay. Tyler supports many charities including Share our Strength (a national organization working to end childhood hunger in the United States, of which he’s been the Hartford Chair for the past four years), as well as The American Liver Foundation, March of Dimes, and numerous others.

Fig and Olive

George Neyra

Chef George Neyra, a talented chef with 14 years of kitchen experience at prestigious award-winning hospitality venues, oversees the back-of-the-house operations at Fig and Olive located in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island.  He brings his culinary prowess and enthusiasm to this French Riviera influenced restaurant after serving as executive chef at The Ritz Prime Seafood located along Newport Beach’s scenic Mariner’s Mile. He was executive sous chef at Patina Restaurant Group’s Ray’s and Stark Bar at LACMA. Prior to that, he was executive sous chef at Michael Mina’s Forbes Four-Star Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Monarch Beach, where he led and mentored a staff of passionate professionals. He has worked as executive sous chef at BlueFire Grille in Westin Tysons Corner in Virginia; as sous chef at AAA Four Diamond The Vue at the Marriott Laguna Cliffs, Dana Point, CA; and at Hush Restaurant in Laguna Beach. Neyra, who was born in Truillo, Peru, is fluent in English and Spanish and received his Diploma in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu, Pasadena, CA in 2004.

The Nixon Chops & Whiskey

Katsuji Tanabe

 Chef Katsuji Tanabe is the son of a Japanese father, and Mexican mother. Born and raised in Mexico City, Katsuji spent his formative years watching and learning from chefs in the homes of the city’s elite, picking up recipes, techniques and sparking a lifelong passion for Mexican cooking along the way.

After his parents separation, a previously privileged Tanabe, found himself living in a one room apartment without a refrigerator, with his mother and siblings. Living conditions were poor and Katsuji recalls putting perishable foods by the window in an attempt to keeping it from spoiling. Determined to have a better life, Tanabe left for America in 1999, arriving in the country on a 6-month tourist visa and embarking on his culinary journey.

Filomena's Italian Kitchen

Linda Johnson

Chef Linda Johnsen is the Owner/Executive Chef of Filomena’s Italian Kitchen in Costa Mesa and Filomena’s Italian Market, opening in Fall 2016. Linda grew up in South Philly in a traditional Italian American family where she spent Sunday’s with her Grandmother, Filomena, and Aunt Rosemary making a pot of Sunday Sauce and learning the secrets to making “homemades” or pasta. This is where the tradition and techniques of Italian cooking were passed down to Linda and what she now shares with her guests in both her restaurants.

The Italian Kitchen has been named one of the Orange County Register’s 2015 Best Top 10 Italian Restaurant’s in the OC, and for a second year in a row, one of the 75 Best Places to Eat in the OC.   Her award-winning pizza has been honored in 2016 by ranking #9 in the Register’s Top 20 Best Pizzas in Orange County, and #4 in Orange Coast magazines Best 28 in the OC.  The Italian Kitchen was also ranked the #1 Restaurant in Costa Mesa by Trip Advisor.

Linda spends the majority of her time making sure her guests are being properly fed as a true Italian mother would do. She currently resides in Newport Beach with her family and can be contacted at linda@filomenasoc.com.   Follow Filomena’s on Facebook & Instagram at “filomenascafe” for the latest events and to see what Linda is whipping up for her customers.

Puesto

Katy Smith

Born and raised in Irvine, Calif., Chef Katy Smith uncovered her love for the food industry while working in restaurants during college. Deciding to forge her passion into a career, Smith earned her advanced culinary arts degree from Baltimore International College while working as a cook at Michael Mina’s Wit & Wisdom at the Baltimore Four Seasons Hotel.

A jack of all kitchen trades, Smith has held a wide range of jobs within the culinary industry including time in a 5-star hotel kitchen and owning and operating a personal chef business. Most recently, Smith served as the test kitchen director and culinary assistant to culinary legend Rick Bayless in Chicago.

While in Chicago, Smith received national recognition as the culinary director for the James Beard winning podcast The Feed and served as kitchen director for Bayless’ Emmy-nominated, Season 10 of PBS Mexico’s One Plate at a Time. Smith also oversaw recipe testing and developing for Bayless’ most recent cookbook, More Mexican Everyday.

Smith brought her talents back to Southern California in Summer 2016 as Puesto’s Executive Creative Chef. At Puesto, Smith is constantly experimenting with new ingredients and testing recipes to give a fresh and innovative spin to authentic Mexican cuisine.

Nordstrom Bazille

Peter O’Keefe

A Laguna Beach native that was exposed to European cuisine at a young age and continued to build his culinary foundation by exploring the culinary world throughout Europe, Mexico, and the US. Peter sharpened his culinary skills in various kitchens throughout California, New England, Hawaii, and Southern Italy. He has lead the helm as Chef and Consulting Chef at various Laguna locations, Malibu and now with Nordstroms in Orange County. Peter enjoys his free time with his wife of 10 years and his two daughters. 

True Food Kitchen

Chris Polley

Five Crowns

Alejandra Padilla

Chef Padilla comes to Five Crowns and SideDoor from Hillstone Restaurant Group, where she served as Culinary Manager since 2015. Prior to joining Hillstone, Padilla moved up the ranks at Patina Restaurant Group where she started in 2010 as Sous Chef at La Fonda Del Sol in New York before moving to Los Angeles to take a position as Sous Chef at Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse. She was quickly promoted to Executive Chef, a position she served at two different Market Café locations in Los Angeles. Chef Alejandra appeared on Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats in 2010 and was also the winner of the Season 6 premier episode of Food Network’s, Chopped in 2011.

Inspired to become a professional chef at an early age, Chef Padilla has worn many hats in the restaurant industry and has found a fitting home as Executive Chef at Five Crowns and SideDoor.

 

Bluegold & LSXO

Tin Vuong

Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, Chef Tin developed an affinity for worldwide flavors at an early age. Tin graduated from UCLA with a degree in Economics, and after dabbling in finance and an array of other industries, he traded excel sheets for baking sheets and enrolled in the California Academy of Culinary Arts. His culinary career has taken him around the world, which has allowed him to curate truly unique and globally inspired menus at each of the Blackhouse concepts.

Bluegold celebrates Southern California’s land, from citrus groves to the rocky coast, with a renewal of the coastal California eatery (Bluegold’s name was inspired by the point where the sunset hits the ocean on the horizon). With Bluegold, the Blackhouse team seeks to take farm-to-table back to its roots; to a time where leisure met cuisine and culture was drawn from the earth and sea. From fresh oysters in the steam kettle to a savory steak grilled over charcoal, Bluegold reimagines the seaside dining experience.

21016 Pacific Coast Highway Ste D200
Huntington Beach, CA 92648 | 424.398.0237
Hours: Monday-Sunday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Behind an unmarked door adjacent to the wine room, guests are transported to District 1 (China Town) in Saigon via Blackhouse’s 28-seat restaurant-within-a-restaurant, LSXO. A spinoff of the Little Sister brand (Manhattan Beach and Downtown Angeles), LSXO is a love letter to the culture, heritage, and lineage of Vietnam (Vuong’s relatives hail from the region). While Little Sister is known for its French Vietnamese menu, LSXO follows the same Southeast Asian inspiration with a more refined, expat feel.

 

Watertable

Manfred Lassahn

Hospitality industry standout, Manfred Lassahn is the executive chef of the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa and the mastermind behind Watertable, recently named to Open Table’s Diner’s Choice Top 100 Restaurants in North America. Watertable, the resort’s wildly popular, signature restaurant that newly opened in Spring 2014 has been featured in Coast, LA Times, Orange County Register Magazine and Rivera OC as a visionary putting a new, creative spin on American-style cuisine, Chef Lassahn continues to evolve the dining concepts throughout the resort with his innovation and passion.

With a history that spans nearly three decades in executive-level culinary roles within the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Chef Lassahn is uniquely equipped to lead the resorts’ award-winning restaurants into ever-new phases of culinary excellence with seasonally dictated, naturally raised and sustainably sourced offerings. Chef Lassahn oversees all aspects of the resorts cuisine, including Watertable, the stately and sophisticated Red Chair Lounge, Pete’s Sunset Grille and all special events and banquet functions.

Throughout his career, Chef Lassahn has served as executive chef at various high profile Hyatt properties including the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, Hyatt Valencia and most recently at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. A polished industry expert, Chef Lassahn was recognized in 2011 as Hyatt Hotels’ Chef of the Year. He has played an active role in introducing leading food and beverage trends into the resort dining experience by heading the development of Vines restaurant at the Hyatt Valencia, renowned for its seasonal menu changes and quarterly wine-pairing dinners, consulting on the Hyatt Hotels “For Kids by Kids” innovative menu concept and the brand’s “Culinary Diversity Taskforce Boot Camp.” Due to his stellar track record, Chef Lassahn was among those chosen to develop and manage Hyatt hotel’s fine dining standards and banquet servicing.

Sushi Roku

Shin Toyoda

With over 30 years of experience, Head Sushi Chef Shin Toyoda, brings knowledge and passion to the Sushi Roku experience. A native of Tokyo, Japan, Chef Shin’s love for working with fish began when he was just 17 years old after gaining the opportunity to train under several esteemed master chefs at Kando Muromachi. It was not until 1998, after moving to Los Angeles that he joined the Sushi Roku brand and inevitably helped to open 4 of the 6 locations. When asked about what he hopes to convey through his dishes, Chef Shin will tell you that “like people, each fish has a different personality, a different way they should be treated and prepared in order to best respect and showcase that fish.” It is with this idea in mind, that Chef Shin hopes to share his love for local ingredients with the best seasonal fish the world has to offer. Kanpai!

Pelican Grill

Marc Johnson

Chef Marc Johnson believes that we eat with our eyes first, then with the rest of our
senses. His thoughtfully presented California cuisine involves simple, flavorful and
balanced dishes made with the season’s highest quality ingredients.

Before he became a professional chef, the native Angeleno was drawn to making food
that tastes just as good as it looks. As a child, Chef Marc independently created after-
school meals in his mother’s kitchen and perfected his first dish, shepherd’s pie, during
a fourth grade cooking class. In high school, he enrolled in culinary arts every semester
and consistently aced the class.

After graduating from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Marc pursued
his culinary passion in restaurants and hotels throughout Southern California, from La
Jolla to Beverly Hills. He honed his charcuterie-making skills at Waterloo & City in
Culver City and now makes his own charcuterie at home as a hobby. Chef Marc headed
up kitchens at Haven Gastropub in Pasadena and Wood & Vine in Hollywood before
joining Pelican Hill Golf Club’s signature restaurant, Pelican Grill, in late 2016.

Art Institute of Orange County

Rufus Bloomfield

Born and raised in Jersey, Rufus never forgot the roots of his great grandparents from the South. “Cooking has allowed me to keep my grandmother’s recipes and flavors alive and it all reminds me of simpler and tasty times,” says Chef Rufus.

Rufus Bloomfield served valiantly in the US Marine Corps. He has fond memories of his time in the Corp, and never forgets what being a Marine has meant to him and taught him. Once he left the Corp, Rufus worked in a variety of roles and spent several years in the rising tech industry. But he was never fulfilled and felt lost in his ways.

Then, on the advice of his wife of over 20 years, Rufus enrolled in Culinary Management program at The Art Institute of California, Orange County. It was here that Rufus found his passion and filled the void after all these years. It was thru his food and his ability to combine flavors and food stylings that allowed him to fulfill lifelong goals and dreams.

Now, Rufus is the Personal Chef for one of the Real Housewives of Orange County and the Corporate Chef for Nobleman Magazine. He is also one of the founding partners of OC Chef Concierge, a catering company that provides jobs and real-life experience thru catering and event management for other students at AiOC.

The future is bright for Chef Rufus, as his clients know him, and thru his experiences and his current role as chef, Rufus is creating Warrior Grill; a concept to help other veterans looking for themselves. Warrior Grill will combine culinary training and entrepreneurship and provide veteran’s an opportunity to build a life and achieve their own dreams and goals, as Chef Rufus has.

Old Vine Cafe

Mark McDonald

Mark McDonald is an internationally recognized chef, restaurant owner, and restaurant consultant.

Chef Mark’s passion for introducing unique foods and wines to customers and clients is built on collaborations with winemakers, sommeliers, and culinary professionals from around the world. He is a chef instructor at the Italian Culinary Institute, Italy, and is frequently invited to international culinary competitions as both a judge and a participant. In recent years he has taught master courses and given presentations at gastronomy events and festivals throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

In 2007 Chef Mark opened his award-winning restaurant, Old Vine Cafe, in Costa Mesa, CA. His menu offerings reflect a commitment to regionalism and the use of local seasonal ingredients, a hallmark of Chef Mark’s culinary training under Master Chef John Nocita at the Italian Culinary Institute in Calabria, Italy (ICI). Chef Mark now partners with the Italian Culinary Institute to lead the annual Splendors of South Italy tour, a culinary-driven trip through Calabria and Sicily that treats travelers to hands-on cooking lessons from master chefs, winery and agriturismo visits, and multi-course meals of regional cuisine. The first Splendors of Northern Italy tour launches in 2016.

Chef Mark also supports his local community. He can be found teaching cooking classes to both young “aspiring chefs” at local elementary schools, and adult students pursuing professional culinary education at the Culinary Lab Contemporary Cooking School.

Leatherby’s Café Rouge & Center 360

Greg Stillman

A lauded veteran of Patina Restaurant Group (PRG) kitchens, Executive Chef Greg Stillman oversees the sophisticated, yet casual Center 360 and fine dining staple, Leatherby’s Café Rouge, both located at Orange County’s cultural epicenter, Segerstrom Center for the Arts. With a focus on Southern California cuisine, he weaves global influences into his menus, and uses fresh, locally- sourced ingredients.

Formative work experiences with two renowned chefs—PRG Chef and Founder Joachim Splichal and Thomas Keller of The French Laundry—shaped Stillman’s approach to restaurant leadership. Both Splichal and Keller passed on kitchen management techniques, advice to attend to the smallest of details, and more. Stillman now pays it forward by mentoring his own teams, “I strive to impart the skills and insights I’ve learned from these seminal figures,” he explains. This includes his commitment to ensuring each guest is well taken care of, “our jobs are done right when every guest leaves smiling,” says Stillman.

Stillman first garnered interest in the culinary arts while participating in a vocational work-study program at his Maryland high school. This gave him the opportunity to work in some of the best kitchens in his community such as Mealey’s Restaurant and Ceresville Mansion Catering. His growing passion led him to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, where he also sharpened his skills in baking and pastry- making. When Stillman graduated in 1997, he cold-called Thomas Keller of the renowned French Laundry for a job—then packed his bags and traveled cross-country to Northern California, to cut his teeth in Keller’s pastry department and then explore the region’s kitchens.

The ambitious chef joined PRG in the late 1990s as a line cook at Pinot Blanc, and worked his way up the ranks to executive chef. Over the years, he served as the executive chef at various PRG concepts, including opening chef at Leatherby’s Café Rouge in 2006, Catal Restaurant, and Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria at Downtown Disney, before leaving the group in 2010 to pursue other ventures. Over the next five years, he would take on culinary leadership at Ponte Winery in Temecula, Rapour in Rancho Cucamonga, and Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs. He returned to PRG in 2015 as executive chef of food services at the iconic Hollywood Bowl, and then joined award-winning Patina Catering. In 2016, he returned to helm the kitchen at Leatherby’s Café Rouge as executive chef, just in time for the restaurants 10-year anniversary.

Stillman’s work at Leatherby’s Café Rouge helped solidify PRG as the celebrated food service operator at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. More than a decade later, he eagerly returns with Leatherby’s Café Rouge and Center 360, rounding out the acclaimed restaurant group’s presence at the Orange County institution.

Outside of the kitchen, Stillman spends his time cycling and with his family, including his wife and their daughter. A passionate BBQ enthusiast, Stillman also enjoys experimenting with new grilling techniques and continuously learning ways to elevate his craft.

Maggiano's

Kevin Gilbert

Executive Chef, Kevin Gilbert, has been with Maggiano’s for over 25 years; creating beautiful recipes by exploring fresh, vibrant, and flavorful ingredients inspired by the produce and markets in Italy. Cooking with the season and having passion for his craft, he has pushed the envelope of traditional Italian cuisine. From celebrations to day to day life, food surrounds us. Gilbert strives to make each and every dish into a memorable experience – allowing guests to travel to a different time and place. That is the power of a great culinary artist.

Flawless Cuisine

Lauren Lawless

Private Chef, TV personality, author, full time student and mother Lauren Lawless is an inspirational, innovative and determined new face in the industry. She got her break as a contestant on Master Chef Season 8 as well as Travel Channels newest show Best in Food and has continued to impress everyone with her out-of-the-box cooking style. You’ll catch her cooking with the best of them. Chef Lawless has been a celebrity guest judge and cooked for hundreds at many events including the most recent 3rd Annual San Diego Mac N Cheese Festival, The Ramen Festival, The Ceviche Chef Showdown, The Pacific Wine and Food Classic and many others. There is a reason why they turn to her for her expertise. She has a beautiful palette for taste, unique style of cooking and a joy for great food like none other. Her in mission in life is to inspire the world through her food one plate at a time. Be sure to keep an eye out for her cookbook soon to be released sometime in 2018 called Flawless Cuisine.

 

AVEO Table + Bar

Donald Lockhart

Inspired by his family’s rich culinary history, Chef Donald Lockhart began his culinary career at a young age. After completing his training, he competed in several regional, national and international competitions, and was awarded a silver medal during the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany. Lockhart began his professional work under Chef Michel Pieton at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach. In the early days of his career, Lockhart pursued various opportunities that helped define his career including cooking with Julia Child at the James Beard House in New York and mastering wine pairings with the Robert Mondavi Winery. His endeavors led him to the role of Chef de Cuisine at Pascal’s and Café Jardin in Corona del Mar. As an Executive Executive Sous Chef, he held positions at the Fairmont Hotel Newport Beach, Michele Richard’s Citronelle in Carmel Valley, and Delphine within Hollywood’s W Hotel. Most recently, Lockhart held the Executive Chef position at Hotel La Jolla and Cusp where he led his staff to exceed Kimpton Hotel’s exceptional standards. Today, Lockhart proudly lends his expertise to the outstanding culinary team at Monarch Beach Resort as the Chef de Cuisine at AVEO Table + Bar.

On The Rocks Bar & Grill

Christian Mayares

Traditionally, a Blue Collar worker is defined as a laborer who works for an hourly wage and who focuses on manual, hand tasks. But in reality – cooks and chefs are just as adept at intellectual work. In fact, their job requires many of those essential skills that define the White-Collar worker as well. Cooks and chefs are problem solvers, planners, designers, researchers, and artists who need to spend considerable time studying the history of a cuisine. 

Cristian Mayares came to the US with a dream. The old but true story of the man with a passion who moved from Mexico to California with a vision of a better life for his wife and kids. The only tools Cristian had was his passion for cooking and his inner zest for hard work which was instilled in him from childhood. With barely any English skills, Mayares started as a prep cook.

Proud to finish a day’s work physically tired, sore from relentless manual work, drained from the heat of the kitchen, yet able to show heart and humor in every days challenges. Chef Mayares has a passion for introducing unique foods with a Spanish Flare.

In 2010, Chef Mayares helped open the first family owned location On The Rocks Bar & Grill Garden Grove. He also opened the second On The Rocks in Long Beach. Chef Cristian is now training our team with our new Newport Beach location.

Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa

Andy Arndt

At the age of 14 Chef Andrew Arndt started washing dishes at a restaurant near his house in Ramona California. After a few months Arndt started to help with the prep work in the kitchen. Quickly became his first kitchen role as Prep cook, His mother always cooked and he helped , the family rarely ate out only on special occasions, so he understood a lot of preparing items in the kitchen. Soon after that I was hooked into the kitchen Family and wanted to make it my career.

While attending the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Arndt had the opportunity to work at one of San Francisco’s best restaurants, Boulevard, with Chef Nancy Oakes, whose mentorship would shape his career. Oakes taught him the importance of focusing on the seasonal ingredients abundant in the Bay area. In 1998, Arndt chose to broaden his culinary horizons and accepted a position at San Francisco’s award-winning Mc2 with Chef Yoshi Kojima. He spent the following two years helping Kojima develop and execute his French-Californian cuisine inflected with subtle Japanese elements.

Eager to expand his repertoire, Arndt left the West Coast for New York City, where he embarked on a series of stages with the city’s leading chefs. His first stop was at Union Pacific where he worked with Chef Rocco Dispirito. The next stop was at March with Chef Wayne Nish. Soon after, Arndt was lured to Gramercy Tavern by Chef Tom Colicchio. There, Arndt spent the next year absorbing Colicchio’s culinary vision and expanding his knowledge of East Coast ingredients. Arndt was then hired as chef de cuisine at Halcyon Restaurant at the Rihga Royal Hotel. While at Halcyon, he managed a kitchen staff of 40. Under his tenure, Halcyon received some of its best critical reviews since its opening. Arndt leapt on the opportunity to stage under iconic chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. 

At Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, where Arndt was executive chef for four years, he was responsible for the food program at all restaurants and banquets with a large focus on seasonality and farm-to-table mentality. During his tenure, the resort acquired a Five Diamond AAA Rating.

Today he lives in Laguna Niguel. And while he took his lessons in seasonal cooking under Oakes to heart, his own -friendly brand of inventive cuisine is all his own. From comfort-driven dishes like short ribs, to wildly inventive fare like gin and tonic Gelee-topped salmon, Arndt’s inventiveness is obvious and continues to astound.

Being back in southern California has been great it feels like coming home, utilizing the local community, farmers etc. and showing our international hotel guests what southern California has to offer.

As The executive Chef at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa Chef Arndt overseas the restaurant, banquets and in room dining.

Arndt is married and has 2 children, Daughter Sabine 12 & Son Milo 9

Favorite Wine – Jayson Cabernet

Hobbies – Surfing, Skateboarding, Assist coaching his son’s Basketball

Food – Authentic Fried Chicken & Bbq Ribs

Bosscat Kitchen + Libations

Leslie Nguyen

Founder and Creative Director, Bosscat Kitchen + Libations

Leslie Nguyen, A.K.A. “Miss Bosscat”, is Founder and Creative Director of Bosscat Kitchen + Libations. Her portfolio includes four restaurants: Bosscat locations in Newport Beach, Calif., and Houston; Ten Asian Bistro in Newport Beach; and BCK: Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures in the Houston Heights.

With more than 20 years of experience in the service industry, Nguyen oversees all marketing efforts for the Bosscat brand. She studied graphic design in college and opened her first bar, the Daily Dose Sports Lounge, in Irvine, Calif., in 2009.

Born in Metairie, LA., Nguyen was raised in Orange County, Calif. She also owns and operates Miss Mini Donuts, a mobile food service business.

DID YOU KNOW?

Despite operating a nationally recognized whiskey bar, Nguyen has proudly been sober since

May 19, 2014 – a date that is tattooed on her shoulder.

Fashion Island Hotel

David Man

Chef David Man features simply prepared, classic dishes with a distinctive California-coastal twist. His food and menus highlight the region’s local purveyors, and his approach is farm-to-fire, allowing the main ingredients to speak for themselves. He has served as executive chef at Fashion Island Hotel since 2012, overseeing all culinary operations for the hotel and its Coastal Catering that provides both on- and off-premise catering services.

Pizzeria Mozza Newport Beach

Matthew Mintzias

At a young age, Chef Matthew Mintzias found his passion working alongside his father at his fast-food restaurant. He attended The Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona. After graduating, he went on to work with Nancy Silverton at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. He quickly worked his way toward a position as Sous Chef at Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach and was recently promoted to Head Chef. Matthew wants to open his own restaurants in the future and hopes to find a way to incorporate his Greek and Korean heritage.

The Blind Rabbit

Peter Lai

Chef Peter Lai oversees the seasonally changing menu development for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch at Oak Grill, boasting one of the largest patios for alfresco dining in Newport Beach for all-day dining and socializing. In addition, he is in charge of creating the popular shareable bites featured at chic Aqua Lounge – also known for its handcrafted cocktails, vibrant entertainment and after-work and late night vibe. Responsible for all culinary operations, Lai will work in tandem with Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge General Manager Kevin Morales, a successful relationship they have enjoyed together in the past.

Lai describes his cuisine as simple modern American. He is devoted to purveying the finest ingredients and handling them with respect to prepare simply delicious dishes. He will continue and expand on Oak Grill’s tradition of using locally sourced products. A proponent of sustainable trends such as root-to-stalk vegetable cooking, he especially enjoys featuring seafood dishes on his menus. Continuing Oak Grill’s popular special wine, beer and spirits dinners and participating in offsite culinary events for Oak Grill and Island Hotel are on his list of future professional activities.

Lai got his start at an early age in his family’s traditional Chinese restaurant and graduated summa cum laude from Texas Culinary Academy. For the last nine years, he has worked with Hyatt Hotels in New Mexico, Texas and California. Most recently, he was chef de cuisine at Watertable, the signature restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, Calif., where he supervised 15 chefs and cooks.
Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge are located across the street from Fashion Island inside Island Hotel Newport Beach and are easily accessible through a pedestrian entrance along Newport Center Drive, along with complimentary valet available at the hotel entrance.

Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge are located at 690 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660. Reservations for Oak Grill can be made by calling 949-760-4920 or visitingwww.oakgrillnb.com, and for Aqua Lounge by calling 949-760-4342 or visiting www.aqualoungenb.com.

Catalina Island Company

Roberto Hernandez

The rich flavors of Mexico that emanated from his mother’s kitchen inspired a young Roberto to pursue a career in the culinary arts. Today, Executive Chef Roberto and his team of sous chefs, from Puerto Rico, Hawaii and St. Louis, draw on their culinary experiences to create the diverse cultural flavors featured on the menu at Catalina’s Avalon Grille.

With a staff that often exceeds 50 during the high season, Chef Roberto manages the food and beverage operations at all Catalina Island Company resort venues in Avalon and Two Harbors, including Avalon Grille, Mt. Ada, Pavilion Hotel, Descanso Beach Club, Ben’s Bakery and Harbor Reef Restaurant.

Chef Roberto began his career in 2000 at The Four Seasons Newport Beach, which later became the Island Hotel. He honed his skills over the next 12 years there, twice earning Manager of the Quarter, as he worked his way up from Chef de Partie to Chef de Cuisine. He was Executive Sous Chef at Santa Barbara’s Belmond El Encanto for three years, before joining Catalina Island Company in 2015 as Executive Sous Chef.

Over the past two years as Catalina Island Company’s Executive Chef, Roberto has embraced the challenges that working on an island presents to creating and managing menus that feature premium meats, local seafood and farmstand produce. “On the mainland, when I ran out of something, I just picked up the phone and had it delivered in a couple of hours. Here on Catalina, it takes a couple of days,” he said.

At the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival, Chef Roberto will be preparing Grilled Octopus, one of his signature dishes at Avalon Grille. He starts by slow-cooking the octopus until tender, before finishing it crisp on the grill. It’s served over heirloom beans, pickled red pearl onions, chick peas and roasted eggplant purée, with savory pimento aioli and a Fresno chile kick.

Cal Mare

Adam Sobel

Adam Sobel is the chef and partner of Cal Mare with locations in both Los Angeles, CA and Springfield, MA. The restaurant evokes the vibrant seaside elegance of Italy’s Amalfi Coast, but also features a nod to the contemporary Southern California and New England settings of each location. Cal Mare is Sobel’s flagship and passion project, supported by partner Michael Mina and the MINA Group, of which he has been a part of for over seven years.
Sobel earned acclaim and success in Las Vegas after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. His first job out of school was opening Bradley Ogden, then moving on to become Chef de Cuisine at Guy Savoy. In 2011, Sobel moved to Washington, DC to serve as Executive Chef at Michael Mina’s BOURBON STEAK. His innovative style landed the modern American steakhouse a three-star review in The Washington Postand consecutive high rankings in Washingtonian magazine’s annual‘100Best Restaurants’ issue in 2012 and 2013.
In 2013, soon after he moved to San Francisco to take on the role of Executive Chef and Partner at RN74, Sobel was crowned the“Kingof Porc” at the prestigious Grand Cochon, in Aspen. In February 2014, Sobel was invited to serve as a guest judge on Food Network’scooking competition show,“Chopped,”and in May 2014, RN74 received a rare 3.5 star review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Oak Grill & Aqua Lounge

Brittany Valles

As executive chef at Oak Gill, Brittany Valles oversees the seasonal menus served at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is responsible for creating the shareable bites menu enjoyed at Aqua Lounge, a chic and vibrant night-time gathering spot. She is a strong proponent of using locally produced ingredients and whenever possible, utilizes the whole plant or animal for her dishes, which feature bold, bright flavors. Prior to working at Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge, she served as chef de cuisine for seven years at now-closed ink.well by Michael Voltaggio in West Hollywood, Calif. Chef Voltaggio remains a cooking and personal mentor to Valles, along with her early teacher Chef Cole Dickenson, who recognized her potential when she worked with him at Wolfgang Puck Catering at the beginning of her culinary career. Valles gained a prestigious nomination for Star Chefs’ Rising Star Chef in 2017 and was the “Sandwich Queen” in an episode on munchies on Chef’s Night Out. She earned an Associate of Arts degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles, Pasadena campus in 2010.

Official Newport Beach Wine & Food Host

Jamie Gwen

Jamie Gwen is a Culinary Institute of America Graduate, a Celebrity Chef and Syndicated Radio Host, a Certified Sommelier and a 7-time Cookbook Author who can be seen stirring up something delicious on television, on the radio and in print from coast-to-coast.  She brings the best to radio with her weekly syndicated lifestyle show, heard every weekend on radio stations across the country and in Southern California on Talk Radio 790 KABC.

Jamie can be seen on L.A.’s #1 morning show on KTLA Channel 5, on the Home Shopping Network and on national television news shows sharing her seasonal approach and her passion for food.  Jamie has been featured on The Food Network, Bravo, HGTV, The Talk, Master Chef, Million Dollar Listing, Emeril Live and Martha Stewart and her 7th cookbook, co-Authored by Lana Sills and entitled “Entertaining In Style”, released last year.  

Jamie is a Contributing Editor and the Restaurant Critic for Modern Luxury Magazine and her Facebook, Twitter & Instagram posts @ChefJamieGwen are followed by food lovers worldwide.

Find her daily dish at www.chefjamie.com and on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram @ChefJamieGwen.

Olea, Cellar. Craft. Cook.

Jared Cook

Jared was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. After graduating from Western Culinary Institute in Portland Oregon, he relocated to Southern California.

Since then Jared worked in restaurants such as French 75 in Laguna Beach, Chat Noir in Costa Mesa, and was promoted to Executive Chef at the Crow Bar and Kitchen, in addition to working at Vine Restaurant & Bar for the third time as a Cook, Sous Chef, and now Executive Chef.

He got into the industry because of a passion for food and horticulture. Jared knew he was going to be a chef from the young age of 14. Julia Child and Great Chefs of the World are his favorite shows during his teenage years. Jared started cooking with his mom as soon as he could reach the stove.

Jared not only is great in the kitchen but brings a new level of farm to table to his cooking style. Jared has a passion in the garden and uses organic heirloom herbs, fruits, and vegetables for Vine Restaurant & Bar. He has created his own garden onsite and there is nothing more local or sustainable than that he quotes.

Various accolades and awards from magazines and periodicals along the way continue to drive Jared to creating unique, out of the ordinary cuisine, blended with flavors people crave each and every day.

Jared Cook is being recognized as an up and coming young chef in Orange County and is excited to elevate Vine Restaurant & Bar to a new level of culinary success! With a last name of Cook, it sure is fitting for him.

Master Sommelier

Michael Jordan

Veteran Restaurateur and “Sommelier for the People” Michael Jordan is Director of Global Key Accounts for Jackson Family Fine Wines. Previously Jordan served three years as vice president of food & beverage for Anaheim’s award winning restaurant and live music venue, THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon (Zagat 28-29-28). Prior to opening THE RANCH, Jordan was president of The Beachcomber Restaurant Group. Before that he served as Global Manager of wine sales & standards and wine education for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts® Worldwide – and also nine years as general manager of the world famous Napa Rose restaurant at Disneyland Resort® in Anaheim. In his career Jordan has been involved with the opening of seventeen restaurants including Pinot Provence in Costa Mesa and was general manager/sommelier of Pavilion at Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach when it received AAA’s Five Diamond Award.

Jordan holds a Master Sommelier diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a Certified Wine Educator diploma from the Society of Wine Educators and is one of only 15 people in the world to hold both these diplomas. Jordan has taught comprehensive wine and beverage courses to well over a thousand students.
Jordan also hosts a weekly radio show, What’s Cookin’ with Wine on CRN Digital Talk Radio and many AM radio markets across the country since 2002.
Personal recognition & awards:

  • 2012 Food & Beverage Director of the Year – Southern California Restaurant Writers
  • 2008 Sommelier of the Year – Whitefish Wine & Food Summit
  • 2008 General Manager of the Year – Southern California Restaurant Writers
  • 2006 Restaurant Professional of the Year – Orange Coast Magazine
  • 2005 American Sommelier of the Year – Cordon Du Vin World Society
  • 2005 Wine Educator of the Year – STARWINE
  • 2005 General Manager of the Year – Orange Coast Magazine
  • 2002 Sommelier of the Year – Southern California Restaurant Writers
  • 2001 Sommelier of the Year – California Restaurant Writers Assn.

“Michael Jordan is one of just 15 people in the world awarded both Master Sommelier and CWE (Certified Wine Educator) Diplomas. And if there were an equivalent for heirloom tomato expertise, he’d have that, too.”
-Priscilla Mayfield’s column “Taste of Orange County” Orange Coast Magazine – August, 2013

Master Sommelier

Peter Neptune

Peter Neptune is one of only 230 individuals in the World to hold the wine industry’s most prestigious title: Master Sommelier. He is a 31-year veteran of the wine business, beginning as a sommelier in New York City, where he trained and worked for 10 years. Upon returning to his native California, Peter entered into Wine Education full time, and has established a nationwide reputation as one of the premier wine educators in the USA. In addition to his MS Diploma, Peter holds the title of Certified Wine Educator with the Society of Wine Educators (for which he was recognized with the Banfi Award for Excellence in 2003), holds a Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in London, and is an Associate of the Institute of Wines and Spirits. He also holds the credential French Wine Scholar, with Highest Honors. Peter is one of the teaching Masters at the Court of Master Sommelier Intro and Advanced Courses, and is an examiner at the Certified, Advanced, and Master Sommelier Examinations. In 2003 Peter began the first WSET school in Southern California. Currently, Neptune School of Wine administers the WSET Level 2 Intermediate, Level 3 Advanced, and Level 4 Diploma Certification programs, as well as the French Wine Scholar program and exam. To date we have taught over 500 students at the various levels.

Sommelier

Georg J Riedel

Georg J Riedel, 10th-generation owner of Riedel, the Austrian leader in fine crystal glassware, served as CEO of the company from 1987 until 2013. His personal philosophy and vision for the business, family-owned since 1756, are one and the same, he says, noting that “I am a person who lives in the here and now, rather than looking back.” Rich in tradition, the European glass manufacturer, with its 1,200 employees, annually produces some 55 million glassware products. Through its proprietary sales companies in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, the family business has a market presence in 125 countries. “Our commitment to quality requires constant innovation; therefore, we regularly invest in the modernization of our production facilities, creating a significant number of new jobs in various markets,” Riedel explains.

Based on a long-standing ethos of forward thinking, the company is guided in this philosophy by the tenth and eleventh generations of the Riedel family, Georg Riedel and his son Maximilian Riedel, who took over the company in July 2013. Georg remains owner and advisor. This approach began in 1956, when the ailing Tiroler Glashütte became a company of international standing, thanks to the success of a fantastic product, first conceived by Claus J Riedel (9th generation), whose creativity and sense of form led to the creation of an ultra-thin glass, which allows the wine to develop its true taste.

From 1987 Georg served as co-CEO alongside his father Claus before taking over as sole Chief Executive in 1994. In this position, Georg led the company to achieve great success, using his operational expertise and economic prowess. Working closely with his father and a team of experts, he vastly expanded the company’s wine-friendly and varietal-specific glass collections. Realizing that wine-friendly glasses should highlight the best expression of wine as determined by winemakers, Georg Riedel approached the world’s leading winemakers, including Robert Mondavi and Angelo Gaja, to enlist their senses in creating the ideal glassware designs. Through various innovations in production technology, Riedel succeeded in expanding the range of hallmark handmade Riedel Sommeliers glasses. In 1986, he introduced the benchmark Vinum glassware series, the first machine-made varietal-specific fine crystal glasses. The Vinum series, with its affordable price point helped the company reach a new audience. This laid the foundation for the brand’s worldwide success and international following. Of his contribution to the company’s growth, Riedel has said “The Riedels are equipped with luck, but we also rely on intelligence, diligence and passion.”

Georg Riedel has advocated his completely new approach to wine glasses on a global scale; function first, followed by beauty, executed with unparalleled perfection. He explains, “We have developed tastings around the world; we educate approximately 40,000 people each year using wines from every region, where we demonstrate how the right glass enhances the experience of wine drinking.” His decades of experience in wine tasting and keen understanding of design have taught him how best to bring out the expression of a wine’s various flavor components for maximum enjoyment. In his philosophy and quest, Riedel’s love and passion for wine have made him an expert in the subject, respected by top winemakers and sommeliers around the world.

Wine critics agree that Riedel produces a perfect glass for every wine lover. Leading critics Robert M. Parker and Michel Bettane have both been convinced of the crucial importance of the glass to a wine. In 2008, Time magazine praised the Austrian glassware family for “contributing more to the delight of wine lovers in the past 50 years than almost any winemaking dynasty.”

Riedel joined the family company as an accountant in 1973, and from 1994 until 2013 served as Chief Executive. For over 40 years, he has travelled the world to share his message, developing new markets and ensuring the company’s solid economic foundation.

He is driven by his family’s legacy and the responsibilities of an executive. “The Riedels lost everything after World War II and needed to once again rebuild from the ground up. My predecessors set their minds to it, with luck on their side, looking to the future and acting accordingly,” he explains. “From this, I derive my sense of duty. I’m not afraid of anything, except failure. I must not be last in the history of the company, and even more importantly, I do not want to lose the company’s reputation. My inner critic will never allow me to be satisfied – it is always pushing me further.”

In 2013 Georg Riedel opened new areas of innovation, applying his knowledge of form and function to non-alcoholic beverages and beginning a new era of product development opportunities for the brand. At the invitation of the Coca-Cola Company, and in close collaboration with Coca-Cola’s Atlanta based flavor experts, Riedel conducted a series of glassware workshops to create a finely-tuned, specific shape to enhance the enjoyment of the world’s most iconic beverage, classic Coca-Cola. Employing the same blueprint for flavor enhancement, Riedel applied his tasted-tested principles to hot beverages by Nespresso, the global coffee leader based in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Aided by the expertise of the company’s top coffee authorities, he developed two machine-blown shapes for Nespresso, which amplify the distinct flavors of the coffee leader’s popular espresso blends.

On his vision for the future of the company, now managed by Maximilian Riedel, Georg offers that “it’s a dream of mine to continue to develop drinking vessels for non-alcoholic beverages, which likewise create memorable experiences for an even broader range of consumers. I envisage vessels not only for high quality coffee, but complex teas and other soft drinks. The sensuality of taste shows that designs of Riedel-caliber can be made for these beverages.”

The Riedel family’s prominence in Central European history – the Bohemian line dates to 1673 – also shapes Riedel’s personality and commitment to continuity and perseverance. “At age 30 I began to run. I have completed ten marathons and now regularly undertake mountain hiking expeditions,” he explains. “They form a fundamental enrichment of my life. There I find the necessary calm to relax and think through things.”

Riedel has been married to his wife, Eva, since 1973 when they met during his time as a student in Vienna. He is a dedicated father to his son Maximilian and daughter Laetizia, and grandfather to her two sons. In them, the twelfth generation, he proudly sees the future of the glassware dynasty.

Georg Riedel was born in 1949 in Innsbruck, Austria. Fittingly, it was a wonderful vintage year for Bordeaux.

TIMELINE

1973 Joins the company, establishing a financial control system
1979 – 2011 Creation of the subsidiary companies in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Japan and China
1986 Introduces Vinum collection, which becomes Riedel’s best-selling series
1996 Decanter magazine nominates Georg Riedel Decanter Man of the Year
2004 Acquires the German glass company Nachtmann, together with the Spiegelau wine accessories brand, merging under the name “Riedel Glass Works”
2006 Award of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria
2007 Award of Honour by the State of Tyrol
2009 Wirtschaftsblatt, the Vienna daily business newspaper, names him Entrepreneur of the Year
2011 Opens subsidiaries and franchises in Japan and China
2013 Becomes President Emeritus of Riedel Crystal, names Maximilian J Riedel President