Awards Reception | Reception Chefs


Jacques Pépin
Awards Reception Co-Executive Chef
Cookbook Author and Dean of the French Culinary Institute, New York City

Jacques Pépin’s inborn talent for demystifying French cuisine has made him well loved by both home cooks and the fledgling chefs he instructs at the French Culinary Institute, where he is Dean of Special Programs. Once personal chef to Charles de Gaulle, Pépin worked at New York City’s historic Le Pavillon before spending ten years in Howard Johnson’s Research and Development department. Like longtime friend and kindred spirit Julia Child, he is a prolific cookbook writer and has hosted numerous television series; his eighth PBS series, Jacques Pépin Celebrates, debuted in 2001. The accompanying cookbook won a James Beard Foundation/KitchenAid award, as did four of his other twenty-two cookbooks, including IACP winner Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. His television series have fared equally well—three have won Beard Broadcast Media Awards, including Jacques Pépin's Kitchen: Encore with Claudine. In 1997 his books La Technique and La Méthode were inducted into the James Beard Foundation/KitchenAid Cookbook Hall of Fame. The French government has bestowed Pépin with two of its highest honors, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole.

Stephanie Hersh
Awards Reception Co-Executive Chef
Pastry Chef, Educator, and former Assistant to Julia Child
Lyttelton, New Zealand

Stephanie Hersh spent almost 16 years as Julia Child’s full-time personal assistant, but the fact that she’s also a chef nearly cost her the job before she’d landed it. A graduate of the CIA, she apprenticed with Marcel Desauliners at the Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia, before moving to Boston. Following stints in area kitchens and work as a private chef, she decided to augment her business skills at the Katharine Gibbs School. Hersh was on her way to a typing final when Julia Child called the school looking for a secretarial student with culinary experience. But Child was in the market for an experienced secretary and not a chef, so she rejected Hersh’s résumé outright—until Hersh called the doyenne of American cooking and professed the desire to get serious in the secretarial department. The ruse worked, and the next day, Hersh was in Child’s employ. “I never thought of her as my boss," Hersh told R.W. Apple of the New York Times. "I always felt as if I were just helping Grandma. When I joined her in 1989, she warned me that she had given up books and television. After that, she did four more TV series and wrote five more books. She lived right until she died." While working for Child, Hersh found time to earn a Masters of Gastronomy degree from Boston University and run her own business, Chef Steph, through which she sold cakes and pastries and organized cooking parties for children. An active member of the IACP, Hersh now lives and works in New Zealand.

Kevin Zraly
Awards Wine Director
Founder, Windows on the World Wine School
Vice President, Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group

One of the world’s most renowned wine authorities and an outstanding teacher, Kevin Zraly was just twenty-five when he became cellar master at Windows on the World in 1976. He spent his next twenty-five years crafting the restaurant's famed wine list and developing a program that turned out one of the world’s most knowledgeable wine-service staffs. Zraly has shared the pleasures of wine with countless oenophiles through the Windows on the World Wine School, which he founded, the publication of the Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, which has sold over 2 million copies, and as co-host of the Food Network's Wine A to Z. Zraly is a James Beard Foundation/Contessa Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America inductee, and he won the James Beard Foundation/Hudson Valley Foie Gras Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional award in 1993. In 2002, he was the Food and Beverage Association's Man of the Year and won the European Wine Council's Lifetime Achievement Award. He joined the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group as Vice President in 2003.

Jody Adams *
Rialto at the Charles Hotel

James Beard Award winner Jody Adams didn’t always aspire to chefdom—she earned an anthropology degree from Brown University and originally planned to pursue nursing. But good food and happiness were inextricably linked for Adams, thanks in part to a mother who was a deft and adventurous cook. As an apprentice to food writer and teacher Nancy Verde Barr, Adams assisted in the classroom and tested recipes for Barr’s cookbook on Italian immigrant cooking, We Called It Macaroni. Stints in the kitchens of Lydia Shire (at Seasons in the Bostonian Hotel) and Gordon Hamersley (at Hamersley’s Bistro) led to Adams earning the top toque position at Michela’s in Cambridge. After partnering with restaurateurs Michela Larson and Karen Haskell to open Rialto, Adams earned a space on Food & Wine ’ s list of Best New Chefs in 1993 and four stars from the Boston Globe. The kudos kept coming— Adams won the James Beard Foundation/American Express Award for Best Chef: Northeast in 1997 and Gourmet named Rialto one of the World’s Best Hotel Restaurants in 2004. Together with her husband, Ken Rivard, Adams published the IACP-nominated cookbook In the Hands of a Chef: Cooking with Jody Adams of Rialto Restaurant. She cooked alongside Julia Child on In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs.

Anthony Arbeeny *Grand Hyatt New York, NYCAnthony Arbeeny, the executive chef of the Grand Hyatt New York, is a CIA grad who has traveled the world in high style as a longtime Hyatt chef. After running the kitchens at the luxe Grand Hyatt outposts in Hawaii and Florida, Arbeeny took the post of executive chef at the Hyatt Grand Champions in Indian Wells, California, where he created fabulous menus for discerning diners dedicated to the pro tennis circuit. He ran the stoves at the Philadelphia Park Hyatt at the Bellevue before heading to Broadway for his extended New York engagement. Arbeeny is also a double gold medal winner at the American Culinary Federation Food Show and a double silver medal winner at the International Culinary Olympics.

Lidia Bastianich, Fortunato Nicotra

Bastianich’s family immigrated to New York when Lidia was a child, and she grew up in restaurant kitchens. She opened the famed three-star Felidia in Manhattan in 1981, and in 1999, following five previous nominations, she won the James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: New York award. Women Chefs and Restaurateurs awarded Bastianich a Golden Whisk in 2000, and she received the James Beard Foundation All-Clad Outstanding Chef Award in 2002. Bastianich has hosted several public television series, including Lidia’s Italian Table, Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen, and Lidia’s Family Table, which has a companion cookbook. She was also one of five chefs featured in Julia Child’s millennium cooking special, An American Feast. In 1990, Bastianich published La Cucina di Lidia, and wrote companion cookbooks to each of her television series. In addition, she pens a monthly column for Universal Press Syndicate called “Lidia’s Italian Table.”

With so much on her plate, Bastianich entrusts executive chef Fortunato Nicotra with her namesake ristorante. Nicotra graduated from Torino’s Hotel and Restaurant School, and cooked in Liguria, Piedmont, and Germany before returning to his birthplace of Sicily in 1985. There, the twenty-three year old chef landed a career-defining job working under Franco Marzini at the renowned Villa Marchese Restaurant in Milazzo. Nicotra was named executive chef of the Villa’s second restaurant, Saloni Esperanza, in 1991. Both venues earned two Michelin stars under Nicotra’s watch. Nicotra moved to New York to work for Bastianich in 1995.

Rick Bayless

Asked to name his inspiration when he appeared on Iron Chef America, culinary legend Rick Bayless responded “Julia Child, of course.” The admiration was mutual—Child had invited Bayless to share his expertise about Mexican cuisine on In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, and she dined many times at Topolobampo, one of Bayless’s renowned Mexican eateries. "The last time,” Bayless related to Alex Markels of U.S. News & World Report, “she got up after dinner, went into the kitchen, and thanked all the cooks." Bayless, who had studied Spanish and Latin American culture as an undergraduate, hosted the PBS series Cooking Mexican in the late 1970s. In 1981 Bayless and his wife, Deann, embarked on a four-year tour of exhaustive culinary research and exploration in Mexico, and in 1987 they published the IACP award-winning Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico. That same year, they opened Chicago’s landmark Frontera Grill, where the Baylesses provided many Americans with their first taste of contemporary Mexican regional cuisine. Food & Wine dubbed Rick one of 1988’s Best New Chefs. The dynamic duo soon followed up with Topolobampo, which offered the haute Mexican cuisine that helped Bayless win the 1991 James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: Midwest Award. In 1995, he won the James Beard Foundation/American Express Outstanding Chef Award and IACP’s Chef of the Year Award. Bayless was named the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year in 1998.

Mary Bergin, Antonio Bettencourt
Tomasso Trattoria & Enoteca
Southborough, MA

Nineteen-year Spago veteran and award-winning cookbook author Mary Bergin supplies Tomasso Trattoria and Enoteca with its delectable pastries, desserts, and breads. She joined the original Spago in West Hollywood, California, in 1982, and became executive pastry chef there in 1987. In addition to her culinary duties, Bergin trained new pastry chefs for Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff’s many restaurants. In 1992, she opened the Las Vegas outposts of Spago and Chinois. Bergin was a frequent guest chef on Baking with Julia and contributed to the series’ companion cookbook. Together with Judy Gethers, Bergin co-authored Spago Desserts and Spago Chocolate.

Antonio (Tony) Bettencourt trained at Massachusetts’s Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, where his academic excellence and culinary prowess earned him the school’s prestigious Julia Child Award. Bettencourt mentored under Amanda Lydon at Metro Brasserie in Cambridge before becoming executive chef there. Then, together with Lydon and chef Susan Regis, he helped launch Harvard Square’s Upstairs on the Square. During Bettencourt’s run as executive sous-chef, Upstairs on the Square was named one of Food & Wine ’ s Top Ten New Restaurants, and Gourmet listed it as a “neighborhood gem” in its “Guide to America’s Best Restaurants.” He has helmed the kitchen at Tomasso since its opening in 2004.

M.J. Brando, Michael Formichella, and Richard Camerota **
The Smithfield Innovation Group
Buffalo Grove, IL

Michael Formichella and M.J. Brando have quite a lot in common, besides their first name. Both Michaels graduated from the CIA. Formichella worked throughout the South Pacific and Europe, while Brando trained on the latter continent for four years. Both have achieved Master Chef status and have won gold and silver medals in international culinary competitions. Brando is a member of Les Amis d’Escoffier; Formichella, a past president. They have 60 collective years of experience in the culinary world, including work as executive chef and director of operations for a London-based international restaurant group (Formichella), and as a corporate executive chef and vice president of a major international hotel chain (Brando). Additionally, Brando spent the past ten years in product development for both the foodservice and retail marketplace. Today, along with Richard Camerota, they are developing mainstream, high-value new products for Smithfield Foods. CIA graduate Camerota has over twenty-five years of culinary experience. As National Foodservice Sales Executive Chef for Smithfield Foods, he works with national foodservice chains and provides culinary sales support for Smithfield's independent operating companies.

Josh Brown *
Santa Barbara, CA

Northern California native Josh Brown thrills at the “availability of extremely fresh, high-quality ingredients, especially at the farmer’s market” in Santa Barbara, where he’s been cooking since he graduated from Santa Barbara City College’s culinary program. In 2000, Brown joined Bouchon Santa Barbara, where he was quickly promoted to sous-chef. He thrived on the interaction with his fellow chefs while turning out wine country cuisine on Bouchon’s open line, and by 2003, he was running the kitchen. Brown had the inspirational opportunity to work with Julia Child in a local charity cooking class, and, like Child, Brown believes in making cuisine approachable. He teaches frequently and has appeared on FoodNation with Bobby Flay and Bringing It Home with Laura McIntosh. “I especially enjoy having guests come up to the window and say ‘hello’ and ‘goodnight’ and let me know how they enjoyed their dinner,” Brown says. “It’s cool that people know it’s okay to approach the chef and connect in a personal way.”

Robert Cacciola
Awards Coordinating Chef, M. Young Communications/Bon Appétit Magazine

Robert Cacciola, special-events director at M. Young Communications, executive chef of Bon Appétit magazine, and a producer of the Bon Appétit Wine and Spirits Focus, is once again gamely taking on responsibility for the care and coordinating of our merry band of Awards Reception chefs. Co-recipient of the Perry Award for Outstanding Volunteer Contribution to the James Beard Foundation, Cacciola launched the Beard Buffet Luncheons at the Beard House, a celebration of James Beard’s recipes. Cacciola has served as executive chef at Dean & DeLuca and at Susan Holland & Co. and, since 1991, he has coordinated every last crumb served up at the Beard Awards.

Eddie Wing Cheung *
Grand Hyatt New York

Eddie Wing Cheung brings together the flavors of East and West in sweetly satisfying ways in his pastry kitchens at the Grand Hyatt New York. The son of a master candy maker and Chinese pastry chef, Cheung was born to the business. At age 26, he took up his calling in earnest, leaving his native Hong Kong for Costa Rica, where he ran his own restaurant for a decade. When he arrived in America, Cheung took a step back from the head of the line to learn the ropes on the crew at the Silver Palace restaurant in New York’s Chinatown. Two years later, he was dim sum chef. In 1987, this restless culinarian developed an interest in Western baking and left the hot line to take a night baker post at the Grand Hyatt. Four years later, he was head baker, and in 1997, he was named executive pastry chef.

Ariane Daguin, George Faison, Pascal Condomine
Newark, NJ

Ariane Daguin was practically weaned on foie gras. Her father, chef André Daguin, owned the Michelin two-star Hôtel de France in Auch, Gascony, and had a countrywide reputation as a master of foie gras. By the time she was ten, she was an old hand at deboning ducks, rendering duck fat and cooking terrines in her father’s kitchen. Years later, as a student at Columbia University, Daguin’s unusual expertise won her a job with a Manhattan-based pâté producer. College friend George Faison, who had left a career in international banking, was working there too. When a New York State farmer delivered a fresh foie gras of exceptional quality to the outfit, Daguin and Faison imagined a future with exclusive distribution rights. They partnered to launch D'Artagnan, Inc., and in 1985 became the United States’ first foie gras purveyor. Today, D'Artagnan boasts a line of over 300 products, serves some of the world’s top restaurants, hotels, retailers, cruise ships, and airlines, and is the country’s top purveyor of foie gras, pâtés, sausages, smoked delicacies, organic game, and poultry. Daguin and Faison are among the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. They’ll be joined by Pascal Condomine, a native of France who trained at the Hôtel de France, and returned after his military service to work for Ariane’s father. After moving to the U.S., Condomine worked at the New York Times three-star Park Bistro, was chef de cuisine at Gascogne, then served as sous-chef at Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro. After stints at Aubergine and Martini Italian, both in Columbus, Ohio, he returned to New York to serve as executive chef at the now defunct D’Artagnan Rôtisserie, where his French fare received rave reviews.

Sanford D'Amato
Sanford Restaurant

Sanford D'Amato graduated from the CIA, and then completed a yearlong fellowship at the school’s Escoffier Room. He joined Milwaukee's John Byron's Restaurant, where his cooking received critical acclaim. Food & Wine named him one of 1985’s Hot New Chefs, and Bon Appétit dubbed him "one of the finest seafood chefs in the country." Julia Child certainly seemed to agree—D’Amato was one of twelve chefs she handpicked to cook for her 80 th birthday bash in Boston. In December of 1998, D’Amato and his wife, Angela, opened Sanford Restaurant on the site of the grocery store owned by his father and grandfather. The AAA Four-Diamond, Mobil Four-Star eatery was inducted into the Nation's Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame, and has won DiRONA and Ivy Awards as well as the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. In 1996, following six consecutive nominations, D’Amato won the James Beard Foundation/Perrier Jouet Best Chef: Midwest Award. The couple’s second restaurant, Coquette Café, opened in 1999.

Robert Del Grande
Cafe Annie

Cooking was Robert Del Grande’s diversion while he was busy earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry. It became his vocation when he moved to Houston to pursue a romance with his girlfriend (and future wife), Mimi. Del Grande began cooking at Café Annie, a restaurant owned by Mimi’s sister and brother-in-law, Candice and Lonnie Schiller, when the chef left. Del Grande stepped in and took over the reins, and his experimental take on Southwestern cuisine has been defining regional cooking in Texas ever since. The Del Grandes and the Schillers partnered to open Bar Annie, Rio Ranch, Taco Milagro, and the wildly successful Café Express chain. Del Grande hosted In the Kitchen with Robert Del Grande, and cooked with Julia Child on her PBS series Cooking with Master Chefs. He was the 1992 recipient of the James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: Southwest Award and an inductee into the James Beard Foundation/Contessa Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

Jim Dodge
Bon Appétit Management Co.
Palo Alto, CA

Since opening the Pendexter Mansion, a hotel in New Hampshire, in 1794, the Dodge family has been in the hospitality business for seven generations. Jim Dodge, who cut his teeth at his parents’ resort, the Inn at Steele Hill and Squam Lakes Club, was no exception. But he took a different tack, moving from hotelier to chef after he met Swiss chef Fritz Albicker while working at Wentworth-by-the-Sea. Dodge worked in the kitchen at Albicker’s Strawberry Court in Portsmouth before moving to the West Coast, where he spent ten years as executive pastry chef at San Francisco’s Stanford Court. He set up shop in Hong Kong in the early 1990s with the American Pie, a restaurant and pastry shop, eventually developing a second location and a wholesale bakery. Back in the States, Dodge was as busy as ever: appearing on In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, acting as Senior Vice President at the New England Culinary Institute, and working as the Director of Food Services at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Among his many cookbooks are Baking with Jim Dodge, and the 1988 James Beard Foundation/KitchenAid Award-winning The American Baker. Today, Dodge works for Bon Appétit, a restaurant management company committed to socially responsible practices, in Los Angeles.

Todd English
Charlestown, MA

Inducted in 2004 into the James Beard Foundation/Contessa Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, Todd English dons his toque atop a veritable culinary empire. The CIA graduate’s formative Italian apprenticeships paved the way for a three-year executive chef run at the Northern Italian Michela's in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1988, English opened Olives, the first of his award-winning Mediterranean eateries, in Boston, and in 1992, he opened the first Figs, also in Boston. Today, there are Olives outposts in New York, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Aspen, and Tokyo, and a Figs location at LaGuardia Airport in New York. English soon cast a wider net, opening the seafood-focused KingFish Hall, named Best of Boston by Travel + Leisure, Tuscany at Mohegan Sun, Boston steakhouse Bonfire, and Fish Club at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront. In the past two years, English has established his eponymous restaurant aboard the Queen Mary 2, BlueZoo at the Walt Disney World Resort’s Dolphin Hotel, and English is Italian, in New York. English has been featured on Connecticut Public Television’s Cooking In With Todd English and on UPN’s Iron Chef USA. In addition to his television work, English has written The Olives Table, The Figs Table, and The Olives Dessert Table. He was the James Beard Foundation/Gallo of Sonoma 1991 Rising Star Chef, and 1994’s American Express Best Chef: Northeast.

Gale Gand

When she was six years old, a Life lens man snapped photos of Gale Gand making mud pies. The pictures proved prescient: Gand must have been practicing to become, as Chicago Sun-Times writer Pat Bruno called her, "one of the best pastry chefs in the United States." Gand studied pastry at La Varenne in Paris and worked at some of the most illustrious restaurants in the United States—Jam's and Gotham Bar and Grill in New York, and Pump Room, Bice, Bella Luna, and Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago—before opening the four-star Trio with Rick Tramonto and Henry Adaniya. Tramonto and Gand went on to open Brasserie T and Vanilla Bean Bakery, eventually partnering with Rich Melman on Tru in 1999. The stellar four-star, 5-diamond Chicago eatery is now a Relais & Chateaux Relais Gourmand property, and has won numerous awards. For her part, Gand received the Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence in 1994, and won the James Beard Foundation/All-Clad Bakeware Outstanding Pastry Chef Award in 2001. The host of Sweet Dreams on the Food Network, Gand appeared on Baking with Julia and is featured in the series’ companion cookbook. She co-authored the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Awards finalist American Brasserie with Rick Tramonto and Julia Moskin, and was a James Beard Foundation/KitchenAid Award-nominee for her books Butter Sugar Flour Eggs, and Gale Gand's Just a Bite.

Gordon Hamersley *
Hamersley's Bistro

James Beard Foundation Award winner Gordon Hamersley first met Julia Child while training under Wolfgang Puck at Los Angeles’s famed Ma Maison. “I think I almost fell down,” Hamersley told NPR’s Noah Adams. “As is her habit, she came wandering into the kitchen to say hello to all of us cooks. I looked up from my cutting board where I was chopping up some shallots and she said, ‘How are you?’ and I said, ‘Oh my god, what are you doing here?’” That awkward introduction proved to be the start of a longtime friendship. Hamersley proved his chops as Lydia Shire’s sous-chef at Seasons at the Bostonian Hotel before opening Hamersley's Bistro in Boston's South End in 1987. A few years later, Hamersley and his wife, Fiona, traded up to a larger space nearby to better accommodate their devoted guests. Among piles of favorable press, Hamersley has garnered a Best New Chef nod from Food & Wine, and the Boston Globe and Boston Herald each awarded Hamersley’s Bistro four stars. Nation’s Restaurant News inducted the eatery into its Fine Dining Hall of Fame, and Hamersley won the James Beard Foundation/American Express Award for Best Chef: Northeast in 1995, after three previous nominations. He is the author of the IACP Award-winning Bistro Cooking at Home.

Melissa Hernandez, Ida Rodriguez, Marco Zapien **
Los Angeles

In 1984, backed by ten years’ experience in the produce industry, Joe Hernandez established World Variety Produce. The business, with its trade in exotic fresh fruits and vegetables, grew exponentially, and in 1986, Hernandez dubbed it “Melissa’s” after his daughter. Today, Melissa’s is the United States’ largest purveyor of specialty produce, offering over 800 items from around the world. Melissa herself holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Hospitality from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and has studied at Le Cordon Bleu and the CIA Greystone. Now she travels the world with her family, seeking out new produce, marketing and promoting the family’s finds to some of the world’s most prominent chefs, and appearing as a company spokesperson at industry and press events. She’s had the chance to meet and cook with many top chefs, Julia Child included.

Ida Rodriguez, Melissa’s corporate chef, developed her love for cooking while living in Europe. Today she explores the exotic offerings at Melissa’s in the classes she teaches for both novice and seasoned cooks. She returns to Europe yearly with professional instructors and food editors to keep abreast of new culinary trends. Marco Zapien, a graduate of the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, got his professional start in the sports and entertainment industry, cooking at stadiums and arenas around the country. As a corporate chef for Melissa’s, he maintains those ties through his work with local stadium and arena chefs.

Hubert Keller
Fleur de Lys
San Francisco

Throughout his illustrious career, Hubert Keller has cooked everywhere from the high seas to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where he was invited by the Clintons to become the first guest chef in White House history. Keller studied at the Ecole Hôtelière in Strasbourg, apprenticed at Auberge de L’Ill, and trained with Paul Bocuse and Gaston Lenôtre. He cooked aboard the cruise liner Mermoz and at Domaine de Chateauneuf before going to work for Roger Vergé at Moulin de Mougins, and later at La Cuisine du Soleil in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Sutter 500 in San Francisco. In 1986, Keller became co-owner of Fleur de Lys with Maurice Rouas. The Ivy and DiRoNA award-winning eatery was named one of the Top 25 Restaurants in America by Food & Wine, which also named Keller one of the country’s Best New Chefs in 1988. Keller contributed to Dr. Dean Ornish’s Eat More, Weigh Less, and wrote The Cuisine of Hubert Keller. He won the 1997 James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: California award, and in 2003 was inducted into the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

Thomas Keller
The French Laundry
Yountville, CA

Presented by All-Clad Metalcrafters* Speaking of Julia Child, Thomas Keller told USA Today ’ s Jerry Shriver "her voice is ingrained in American society. It's a wonderful thing when you can associate cooking and its development with somebody's voice." Keller himself is recognized as one of the greatest chefs cooking today, He began his culinary training with a pilgrimage to France to stage in the kitchens of Guy Savoy, Michael Pasquet, Gerard Besson, Taillevent, Le Toit de Passey, Chiberta, and Le Pré Catelan. He forever changed the culinary landscape in the Napa Valley—and, by many estimates, the world—with the opening of the French Laundry in 1994. Reservations at the exclusive boîte remain some of the most coveted among diners, and his award-winning The French Laundry Cookbook is a must in the library of any serious culinarian. Keller followed up with the casual Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, and Bouchon in Las Vegas. In 2004, he graced Manhattan’s swank Time Warner Building with the much-anticipated Per Se. Keller won the 1996 James Beard Foundation/American Express Award for Best Chef: California, and the James Beard Foundation/All-Clad Metalcrafters Outstanding Chef award in 1997. The French Laundry won the 2001 James Beard Foundation/Waterford Wedgwood Outstanding Wine Service Award, and the 2003 James Beard Foundation/Smithfield Foods Outstanding Service Award.

Michael Laiskonis
Le Bernardin

Though he’s firmly established himself as one of the country’s top young pastry chefs, Michael Laiskonis did not formally pursue a culinary degree. A visual artist by training, Laiskonis worked in several Detroit-area pastry shops before honing his skills on both the savory and sweet sides of the kitchen. He did turns as sous-chef and pastry chef at Emily’s in Northville, Michigan, and worked the line at Takashi Yagihashi’s renowned Tribute in Farmington Hills, Michigan, prior to his tenure there as pastry chef from 1999 to 2004. He now serves as executive pastry chef at Le Bernardin in New York City. Pastry Art and Design named Laiskonis among the 10 Best Pastry Chefs in America in 2002 and 2003, and he was Bon Appétit s pick for Pastry Chef of the Year in 2004.

Norman Love
Norman Love Confections
Ft. Meyers, FL

For gastronomically inclined romantics, chocolate is the ultimate expression of love. For pastry chef and confectioner extraordinaire Norman Love, chocolate is simply a favorite mode of expression. The Philadelphia native trained at a pastry shop in the South of France, before becoming executive pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton chain and at the tony Beverly Hills Hotel. As corporate executive pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton Company, Love opened pastry kitchens in Boston, Dubai, and Bali. He was listed among the country’s top ten pastry chefs for two years running by Chocolatier and Pastry Art and Design. Love co-founded the National Pastry Team Championship, and helped the U.S. team earn a bronze medal at the Biennial Coup du Monde de la Patisserie (World Cup of Pastry) in Lyons. He has appeared on Baking with Julia, and on the Discovery Channel's Great Chefs series. In 2002, USA Today dubbed his Fort Myers, Florida-based chocolate company, Norman Love Confections, one of the top ten artisan chocolate companies in the country, and this year, Consumer Reports placed it among the nation’s top three chocolate companies. Love produces Godiva’s handcrafted couture chocolate line, the G Collection, in addition to his own haute, hand-painted chocolates.

Lee Napoli, Suzi Parks
Professional Pastry Guild of New England

Lee Napoli is a self-taught baker who landed her first job on the strength of the pie she offered in lieu of a résumé. In her illustrious career since, Napoli has worked as a pastry chef at some of Boston’s top restaurants, including Maison Robert, Anago at the Lenox Hotel, Grill 23 and Bar, Harvest Restaurant, Metro, and her sweets have been featured in Chocolatier and Pastry Arts and Design. She has now expanded her scope to Italian desserts, running the pastry kitchens at Umbria Restaurant and Bricco in Boston’s North End. Napoli, who co-founded the Professional Pastry Guild of New England, is also a consultant and teacher, and she recently launched her own chocolatier business, Dolci Napoli.

New Mexico native Suzi Parks credits her grandmother for sparking her passion for pastry-making. She studied sugar and chocolate confectionery in Boston, trained under former White House Pastry Chef Albert Kumin at the International Pastry Arts Center in New York, and honed her skills in seminars taught by Julia Child, Steven Polumbo, Jim Dodge, and Gordon Hamersley. While pastry chef at the award-wining Mamma Maria Restaurant, Parks was called a “master” by Where Magazine. At Wedding Angels, she merged her design background and pastry skills, offering custom-made gowns, cakes, and event consultation. In 2004, Parks joined the pastry department of Whole Foods in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A co-founder of the Professional Pastry Guild of New England, Parks won first place at the organization’s “Architectural Masters of Pastry” competition in 1998.

Michel Richard
Michel Richard Citronelle
Washington, D.C.

“What makes a great chef? Well, training and technique of course, plus a great love of food. A generous personality, and the ability to invent hot chocolate truffles.” So said Julia Child, weighing in on Michel Richard and the quirky creations he shared on Cooking with Master Chefs. Richard, who also appeared on Baking with Julia, repaid the compliment by organizing an AIWF benefit gala in Child’s honor, featuring 70 of France’s greatest chefs. Richard got his start at Gaston Lenôtre’s famed Paris pâtisserie before opening its American outpost in 1974. Richard stayed in the States to open his eponymous—and wildly successful— Los Angeles pâtisserie. In 1987, Richard moved beyond pastry with the French-inflected Southern Californian eatery Citrus. A year later, he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation/Contessa Premium Foods Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America and in 1992, he won the James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: California award. He followed up with the elegant Citronelle in the Santa Barbara Inn Hotel, San Francisco’s Bistro M, and Citronelle outposts in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. In 1998, Richard left the West Coast to cook full time at Michel Richard Citronelle, transforming the D.C. restaurant into his flagship.

Michael Romano
Union Square Café

Michael Romano joined Union Square Cafe in 1988; a year later, the New York Times elevated it to three stars and in 1997, Union Square Cafe received the James Beard Foundation/S. Pellegrino Outstanding Restaurant Award. As luck would have it, Romano started out cooking at Serendipity restaurant, whose owners introduced him to James Beard. On Beard’s advice, Romano enrolled in New York City Technical College’s culinary program. Romano went on to cook under Michel Guérard at Regine’s in Paris and New York, before working at Eugiénie les Bains, Guérard’s three-star flagship restaurant and spa. Years—and several illustrious jobs—later, Romano took the job of chef de cuisine at La Caravelle in New York City, and the restaurant achieved a second star in the New York Times during his four-year tenure. Romano has co-authored two cookbooks with Danny Meyer, The Union Square Cafe Cookbook and Second Helpings. He is the winner of the 2001 James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: New York City Award, and in 2000 was inducted into the James Beard Foundation/Contessa Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

Victor Scargle
Julia’s Kitchen at COPIA
Napa, CA

Named for the goddess of abundance, Napa Valley cultural center and museum COPIA’s “mission is to investigate and celebrate the culture of the collective table through wine, food and the arts.” COPIA’s heartbeat resides in Julia’s Kitchen, the on-premise restaurant where the center’s lessons coalesce into the deliciously tangible. Victor Scargle, buoyed by nationwide experience with regional cuisine, was singularly equipped to bring COPIA’s vision to fruition. With stints cooking at a plethora of the country’s finest restaurants—Colony Bistro, Patria, Aqua, Tribeca Grill, Lespinasse, Gramercy Tavern, Aureole, and Jardinière, to name a few—Scargle joined Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group in 2003. Now executive chef of Julia’s Kitchen, the California native crafts seasonal, regional menus highlighting produce from COPIA’s three-and-a-half acres of organic edible gardens. Julia's Kitchen’s was Wine Spectator’s pick for one of the Napa Valley’s top three upscale restaurants, and it won the 2004-2005 Award of Excellence from the North American Restaurant Association.

Lydia Shire, Mario Capone

It was only after she became a mother of three small children that Lydia Shire found her way to the professional kitchen, as a “salad girl” at Boston’s revered Maison Robert. She went on to attend Le Cordon Bleu in London, and returned to Maison Robert as a line cook; three and a half years later, she was head chef. In 1982, buoyed by the critical acclaim she’d received at Harvest, Café Plaza at the Copley Plaza Hotel, and Parker's at the Parker House Hotel, Shire was chosen to head the kitchen at the new Seasons at the Bostonian Hotel. A few years later, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts recruited her in to open their new Beverly Hills property, making her the first female opening executive chef in the company’s history. Shire fulfilled her dream of opening her own restaurant with Biba (an acronym for “Back in Boston Again”) in 1989, for which she won the James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: Northeast Award in 1992. When the 126-year-old Locke-Ober shuttered in 2001, Shire resuscitated the Boston institution, breathing new life into a dining room that had, ironically, excluded women for nearly a century. Two years later, she re-imagined Biba, opening the award-winning Excelsior in its stead.

Mario Capone, Shire’s right-hand man and executive chef at Locke-Ober, is a graduate of Johnson & Wales who got his professional start at Biba. Following a stint at Restaurant Daniel in New York, he tried his luck in Las Vegas, cooking at Nero’s Restaurant in Caesar’s Palace and Aladdin Resort & Casino before returning to work with Shire at Locke-Ober.

Nancy Silverton
La Brea Bakery
Los Angeles

As a student at California State University in Sonoma, the enterprising Nancy Silverton set up shop as a vegetarian cook in her dorm’s kitchen. She went on to study at Le Cordon Bleu in London and Ecole Lenôtre in Plaisir, France, and subsequently became head pastry chef at L.A.’s Spago. In January of 1989, she brought artisanal bread to Los Angeles with the opening of La Brea Bakery. Six months later, she teamed up with Mark Peel to open the acclaimed Campanile, where Silverton served as pastry chef. Silverton’s list of accolades is long: she's an inductee into the James Beard Foundation/Contessa Premium Foods Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, she was named one of Chocolatier’s Ten Best Pastry Chefs of the Year in 1995, she’s the winner of the 1991 James Beard Foundation/All-Clad Bakeware Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year award, and she also received—for Campanile—the James Beard Foundation/S. Pellegrino Outstanding Restaurant Award in 2001. Silverton is also a prolific author, with Desserts, the Beard Award-nominated Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery,Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery, and Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book. Together with Mark Peel, she also co-authored Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton At Home: Two Chefs Cook for Family and Friends and The Food of Campanile. Silverton recently sold her share in Campanile, and is about to embark on a partnership with Mario Batali.

James Sly *
Santa Barbara, CA

James Sly holds a degree in linguistics, but his food has always spoken for itself. Today, Sly is the chef and managing partner of Lucky’s, a Santa Barbara bistro near Julia Child’s retirement bungalow that was frequented by the culinary icon. Sly got his training in Europe at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, and the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo, and he worked with Michel Guérard at Régine’s in both Paris and New York. He spent several years working as a private chef; Her Imperial Highness, Princess Shams Pahlavi, the sister of the Shah of Iran, was among his clients. Following restaurant stints around the country, Sly moved to Santa Barbara, where he eventually ended up at Lucky’s. New York Times correspondent R.W. Apple, Jr. wrote that Julia Child took him and his wife to Lucky’s, where Child lunched on filet mignon, and insisted everyone order the eatery’s special dessert, a concoction of vanilla ice cream, caramel, chocolate sauce, and pecans reminiscent of turtle candies. Child’s longtime aide Stephanie Hersh reminded Apple that “Mrs. Child – ever the champion of moderation and foe of abstention – got hers in a special smaller glass and called it a ‘turtlette.’”

André Soltner
Dean of Classic Studies, French Culinary Institute

Alsace native André Soltner made a departure from the family woodworking business at age 15, when he began an internship at Hôtel du Parc in Mulhouse, France. In 1961, just as Americans were embracing French cuisine—and the same year Julia Child published Mastering the Art of French Cooking — Soltner opened New York City eatery Lutèce, where he was chef/owner for thirty-four years. Child introduced Soltner to “Lessons with Master Chefs” viewers as “the classic, old-school, chef-proprietor,” and noted that Lutèce was “still renowned, revered and considered by many to be among the very best restaurants in New York, if not in the whole of the USA.” Child wasn’t exaggerating—Lutèce held five Mobil stars and the New York Times four-star rating for 23 consecutive years under Soltner’s tenure. In addition to running a kitchen, Soltner co-authored The Lutèce Cookbook and contributed to the French Culinary Institute’s Salute to Healthy Cooking. He’s been inducted into the James Beard Foundation/Contessa Premium Foods Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, and won the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. The French government is equally proud of their native son, and among other honors, have bestowed Soltner with the Officier du Mérite National, the Chevalier du Mérite Agricole, and the Légion d’Honneur. Soltner has served as the Délegué Général of the Master Chefs of France for more than 20 years, and he teaches and provides career counseling in his capacity as Dean of Classic Studies at the French Culinary Institute.

Joachim Splichal
Los Angeles

In 2003, COPIA announced that Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group would oversee the operation of Julia’s Kitchen. The move was a fitting tribute to the German-born, French-trained chef who has cooked all over the world, but made California his culinary muse. Splichal was just 23 when he found a mentor in the legendary Jacques Maximin, who hired him as sous-chef at Chantecler in Nice’s Hôtel Negresco. Several years later, Splichal and his wife, Christine, opened Patina, now a landmark on the American fine-dining scene, which won its owner the 1991 James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: California Award. The couple continued to dot California with dining gems, including Pinot Bistro, Patinette at MOCA, Cafe Pinot, Pinot Hollywood, Pinot Blanc in St. Helena, and Pinot at the Chronicle in Pasadena. Also under the Patina Group umbrella are Kendall’s Brasserie, Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse, and Zucca Ristorante. A James Beard Foundation/Contessa Premium Foods Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America inductee, Splichal was named a "Treasure of Los Angeles” in 1996 by the Central City Association and Los Angles Mayor Richard Riordan. Splichal co-wrote ThePatina Cookbook: Spuds, Truffles and Wild Gnocchi with Charles Perry.

Bruce Tanner *
M. Young Communications

For the sixth consecutive year, Bruce Tanner is coordinating the culinary end of our annual Journalism Awards dinner. Tanner first donned his whites at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (since renamed the Institute of Culinary Education), and interning under Robert Cacciola at Dean & Deluca. After stints in Maine and the Hamptons, Tanner signed on as sous-chef with the prominent New York catering firm Susan Holland & Co., (where he quickly rose to the position of executive chef). Tanner joined M. Young Communications, a public relations and special events firm, in 1999. Tanner’s other assignments for M. Young include coordinating the Bertolli Sous Chef Awards, and managing events for Wines from Spain, Santa Teresa Rum, NYC & Company, and Remy Amérique.

Ming Tsai
Blue Ginger
Wellesley, MA

Presented by Contessa Premium Foods* Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Ming Tsai cooked alongside his parents at the family’s restaurant. He earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Yale University, but his mind was always on the kitchen; during his sophomore summer he headed to Paris to attend Le Cordon Bleu. After graduating from Yale, Tsai studied under pastry chef Pierre Herme in Paris, and under sushi master Hiroko Kobayashi in Osaka. He earned a Master’s degree in Hotel Administration and Hospitality Marketing from Cornell, and then honed his front- and back-of-house skills at hotels and restaurants in Chicago, Atlanta, California, and Santa Fe. In 1998, Ming and his wife, Polly, opened Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Massachusetts. That year alone, Tsai’s East–West fusion cuisine earned Blue Ginger three stars from the Boston Globe, a Best New Restaurant nod from Boston Magazine, Chef of the Year honors from Esquire, and an Illy Best New Restaurant nomination from the James Beard Foundation. In 2002, the Foundation named him American Express Best Chef: Northeast. Tsai has hosted the TV series Simply Ming, Ming’s Quest, and East Meets West with Ming Tsai, for which he won an Emmy. He wrote Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai, now in its eighth edition and one of Food & Wine ’ s 25 Best Cookbooks of 1999, Simply Ming, and Ming’s Master Recipes.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Jean Georges

Born in Alsace, Jean-Georges Vongerichten began his culinary training at the Michelin three-star Auberge de l'Ill shortly after a seminal 16 th birthday dinner there. He worked for culinary giants Paul Bocuse and Louis Outhier, and then cooked in Bangkok, Singapore, and Hong Kong. At just 29, he earned four stars from the New York Times for his cuisine at Lafayette in Manhattan’s Drake Swissôtel. Rather than rest on his laurels, Vongerichten opened Jo Jo, earning three more stars from the Times and Best New Restaurant kudos from John Mariani in Esquire. His Thai-French cuisine at Vong, inspired by his sojourn in Asia, gleaned another three-star Times review. Vongerichten’s vast restaurant empire now includes Vong outposts in London, Hong Kong, and Chicago, Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio, Dune at the Ocean Club in the Bahamas, Market in Paris, Bank in Houston, New York’s Lipstick Café, Jean Georges, Mercer Kitchen, 66, Spice Market, and V Steakhouse, and Jean Georges in Shanghai. He wrote Simple Cuisine, Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef, and Simple to Spectacular. A member of James Beard Foundation/Contessa Premium Foods Who’s Who in Food & Beverage in America, Vongerichten won the 1996 James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: New York City Award for his work at Jo Jo, and the 1998 Illy Best New Restaurant Award for the four-star Jean Georges. When interviewer Fran Berman asked her to weigh in on fusion cuisine, Julia Child singled out Vongerichten, pronouncing, “He knows how to do it.”

Martin Yan
The Yan Can Cook Group
Foster City, CA

Martin Yan has spent nearly three decades demystifying Chinese cuisine, in much the same way Julia Child demystified French. Like Child, Yan’s witty, exuberant approach won him a loyal following as he expanded his scope to explore other Asian cuisines. In fact, Child—who lived in China after World War II—and Yan, who was born and raised there, cooked together many times, and shared a great friendship. In honor of the release of Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking, Child wrote her first cookbook introduction, a great testament to their mutual admiration. “Thanks to this seminal book you are holding in your hands, we now have the best of all China and Chinatowns to savor,” she wrote. “How lucky we are to have him here with us.” Born in Guangzhou, China, Yan came to the U.S. to attend the University of California/Davis, where he received his M.S. in Food Science and became an instructor. In 1977, he found a broader audience for his cooking instruction when his daily Chinese cooking show, Yan Can Cook, aired; it remains one of the most popular and longest-running public television shows ever. An inductee into James Beard Foundation/Contessa Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, Yan won Viking Range Broadcast Media Awards in 1994 and 1996, for Best T.V. Cooking Show and Best T.V. Food Journalism, respectively. Yan is a prolific cookbook author, with 28 titles on the shelves, including the award-winning Martin Yan’s Feast, MartinYan’s Asian Favorites, Chinese Cooking for Dummies, Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking, and Martin Yan’s Quick & Easy.

*  A single asterisk indicates a chef cooking at the Journalism Awards on April 29, 2005.
** A double asterisk indicates a chef presented by one of our sponsors.


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