Two time Best Chef of the South James Beard nominee. CIA Alumni and Chef owner of Town Hall & Prati Italia both in his hometown of Jacksonville.
Tom Gray - Chef/Owner Prati Italia and Town Hall Restaurants:
@cheftomgray (Instagram) / www.culivino.com
Prati Italia @pratiitaliajax (instagram and facebook) / www.pratiitalia.com
Town Hall @townhalljax (instagram and facebook) / www.townhalljax.com
If you love BBQ, there is a very good chance you have heard of Big Jim Stancil, or at least his company, Bare Knuckles BBQ, which was featured during season 3 of BBQ Pitmasters on Destination America. Big Jim is a full time corporate caterer with 2 Grand Championships and a slew of category wins under his belt, which means he likely cooks some of the meanest BBQ you have ever tasted in your life.
Hotel Concierge with over 20 years of experience in 4 and 5 Star Properties. Opened 17 hotels as a Task Force Member, implementing programs, establishing expectations, and refining processes, having the highest levels of customer service as a result.
Chef David Rose was raised with a diverse and curious palate. Born in New Jersey to 2 chef parents, his culinary interest led him to enroll in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary College (Tucker, GA), where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Living in Atlanta for more than a decade, Chef Rose finds inspiration in his surroundings and identifies as a southern chef, creatively reinterpreting classic southern fare by incorporating the refinement of his french culinary training, with his signature bold flavors, and the occasional flair from his family's Jamaican recipes.
Chef Rose is a Food Network/TV personality & serves as a national brand ambassador for Nissan USA and Big Green Egg. Rose is also the founder and creator of the TLC Experience (Tastings • Libations • Cigars), where he partners with spirits and cigar companies to create extraordinary dining experiences. Recently, he has been named as a brand ambassador for Davidoff/Camacho Cigars.
A background 30 years of restaurant experience - from subservient potato-flipping grill slave and floor-mopper at a local family deli in Phoenix to my present position as chief cook, tastemaker, and humble owner of Salsa Brava Mexican Grill in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Chef-Owners Judson and Peter Holt grew up watching their father nurture and grow the first Lupe Tortilla into a success. The first restaurant opened in a 1940’s frame house on the outskirts of Houston in 1983. Both sons are graduates of the Culinary Institute of America. They took over the family business in 1997, and have continued to build a dedicated following.
Since Lupe Tortilla first opened in Addicks, Texas in 1983, the concept has had an unwavering focus on providing excellent food and service to customers with their delicious and unique style of Mexican food made from scratch. With almost 20 locations, dishes are still made to order at each restaurant, and Lupe Tortilla strives to always provide the best food for the best price. The company focuses on offering rewarding employee programs and opportunities for growth, which enable it to be a sought-after workplace. Chefs and owners Judson and Peter Holt have extensive experience and background in hospitality, and both hold degrees from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. This allows them to maintain integrity and taste throughout their locations, food and atmosphere.
Chef Brooke Brantley has been a chef for more than 20 years, having led kitchens in restaurants, resorts and private clubs around the country. Before following his passion for cooking, he was an award-winning videographer, editor and television director.
Blankenship earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of South Alabama. He worked for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) as a marine resources enforcement officer and rose to the position of director of marine resources in 2011.
Blankenship was named deputy commissioner of the ADCNR in March 2017 and acting commissioner in May 2017 following the resignation of N. Gunter Guy Jr. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey appointed Blankenship to the role of ADCNR commissioner in August 2017.
Jim Binner’s cooking career landed him several prestigious awards and recognition at a young age. Then extensive experience in foodservice sales, marketing and business practices, along with a desire to further his education, make him a logical choice for membership on the Alumni Council. Jim holds multiple degrees, including a Masters in Strategic Leadership. As an active member of the American Culinary Federation, New York State Restaurant Association, School Nutrition Association, and holding a seat on the Board of Director of the International Food Service Executives Association, Jim has a broad view of the industry and an acute understanding of the value of learning and teamwork. Jim is an advocate for the CIA in many ways. His support and involvement at the annual Alumni Home Coming weekend, Gift-in-Kind donations, CIA Gala Awards, Flavor Summits, and multiple Alumni Receptions around the country truly show his passion for his alma mater. You may even see a few bricks with his name on them around the Hyde Park campus. Jim truly believes “Food is Fun” and says he “bleeds CIA Green and Gold”.
The South African beauty queen, award-winning baker and grill master, Linkie Marais, is more than your average chef!
Michele Ragussis is an American chef. She is best known as a finalist on the eighth season of the Food Network series Food Network Star.
After working in restaurants throughout her teens and earning a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Drexel University, Tio started cooking at Philadelphia’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. Tio moved to Orlando. There she helped open three specialty restaurants for Walt Disney World: Spoodles, Citricos, and Palo. Tio truly made her mark during the following seven years heading the kitchen at Kansas City’s renowned American Restaurant. There she garnered both local and national accolades, including 2005 Chef Of The Year by Chef magazine and the James Beard Foundation’s 2007 Best Chef: Midwest. Chef Tio has gone to open Julian, and recently the Belfry and Collection Restaurant.
Absorbing culture and passing it on through food is part of Executive Chef Nick Liberato's heritage. Raised believing that every day is a holiday which should be celebrated with food, wine, great conversation, and loved ones, Nick has been cooking professionally for 18 years, and now calls the Southern California coast his home. Nick is a personal chef to the stars, a revered cocktail mixologist, world traveler, husband, father & surfer.
As a former collegiate and professional athlete staying in shape and keeping up with my body was a part of the job description. I had to make weight and be able to perform to my fullest capabilities on the field. My diet and the food I put in my body directly affected both of those. I also grew up with a passion for food and love being in the kitchen and around food.
With my athletic background and my passion for food I was able to combine that over my years of playing to create meals to help me achieve my goals. Through trial and error in cooking I learned how to subtract calories out of some of my favorite meals but keep the flavor. Playing days are over however I am still into fitness and taking care of my body.
I spent the last year traveling and learning new recipes and flavor profiles to bring back to the kitchen.
PhreshPlate was soon born after that. I have brought some of my favorite recipes from my playing days and some of my favorite recipes from my travels. PhreshPlate the food truck will provide great tasting meals that are quick, healthy and convenient for the consumer. PhreshPlate is here to help all those who are interested in reaching their fitness goals or those who are wanting something different from the normal food truck scene.
Growing up in South Philly, many would have thought Steve Martorano didn’t stand much of a chance for more than going into the family business. With his father making only $166 a week and his uncle in the mob, Steve knew one thing – he didn’t want either of those lives for himself. But what was he to do? School was never his strong suit, so he set out on his own journey to success, but not without a few failures along the way, which only made him stronger and more determined to show the world what he is made of. After spinning records for a few years as a DJ in the 70s, Steve opened up his first delivery sandwich shop in his apartment. He was a one-man show with an increasingly popular business. His sandwiches became such a hit in South Philly that Martorano outgrew his space and opened a take out restaurant in a strip mall. Here Martorano made pizza, sandwiches, pasta dishes and homemade water ice. A few years later, the demand outgrew his location again, and Martorano moved to a freestanding, sit down restaurant. In the early 90s, the US economy took a turn for the worst and Steve lost everything. He knew it was time for a change. In 1993, he moved to Ft. Lauderdale with merely $40 to his name and opened a new restaurant on Oakland Park Boulevard – Café Martorano. 18 years later, Café Martorano has become a worldwide sensation. The restaurant chain has expanded into five locations – the original one on Oakland Park Boulevard, one at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida, at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, at Paris Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and at Harrahs Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Martorano brand has also launched a wine label, pasta sauces, a Yo Cuz! apparel line, Jewerly line, a self published book “Yo Cuz! My Life, My Food, My Way and his second book “It Ain’t Sauce, It’s Gravy… How Food Saved my Life” published by Knopf. Steve Martorano has raised the bar for the restaurant industry. The “Godfather of Italian-American cooking” has taken the craft of cooking to new levels through a dream, persistence, and hard work. With his self-taught talent, Steve has created a venue in which as owner he is the cook, the DJ and the operator. The Martorano restaurants offer a unique atmosphere that combines exceptional food with extraordinary music and movies. This rare environment has allowed Martorano to create an ambiance that attracts clientele ranging from locals to the sexy, hip crowd to some of entertainment’s hottest celebrities, and has even been featured on television shows such as The Real Housewives of Miami and Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best? and the Jimmy Kimmel show just to name a few. Rags to riches business is the only restaurant that has managed to create a modern and cool atmosphere while maintaining that welcome-to-the-family vibe.
Chef Pete sits down with Robert Kabakoff of RHK Consulting Group. RHK Consulting Group’s founder and owner Robert Kabakoff has led an impressive career of culinary invention. He recognized his passion for cooking and baking at an early age and has been following through on that passion with determination ever since. In 1986, he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America which further fueled his drive. At twenty-five years young, he was named Executive Chef for Troon Golf and Country Club, earning Chef of the Year and winning the National Championship for Hot Food Cooking twice. After eight years as Corporate Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Training for Hillstone Restaurants, Kabakoff branched out to open his own consulting group along with restaurants in Bend, Oregon, Chicago Illinois, Spanish Fort Alabama, Cedar Rapids Iowa and Washington D.C.
Chef Pete Blohme talks to Bob Omainsky of Wintzell's Oyster House!
In this episode of the Hot off the Press Podcast, Panini Pete Blohme interviews Bobby “the Butcher” Marcotte who is a fellow Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives alumnus and winner of Guy's Grocery Games in 2017. He is best known for Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery in a small town in New Hampshire.
Marcotte has been in the restaurant business for 25 years, jumping right into the chaos at age 13 and never looking back. His father was a former Navy chef who ended up working in restaurants. Marcotte’s help was needed in the dish pit one night, and he realized that was where fit in.
He opened Tuckaway eight years ago – a 250 seat butcher shop and steak house. He recently branched out with Hop & Grind, which focus on craft beers and craft burgers.
Marcotte said he learned a lot about the restaurant business by watching people ahead of him. From these people, he realized what he wanted to do and what he didn’t want to do and created his own style. He also reads a lot of books, and he and Blohme discuss some of his favorites and what he’s learned from them.
Marcotte’s style is to go the extra distance for his guests and focus on overall hospitality. He pays his employees well and focuses on food quality. The two restauranteurs discuss this and other important leadership skills.
After losing his daughter to cancer, Marcotte also now focuses heavily on philanthropy and giving back to cancer research. Listen to learn more.
Chef Pete Blohme chats with Lane Zirlott of Murder Point Oysters!