Chef/Partner, Spiaggia and Bar Toma
Most often recognized as one of the Champions on season two of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” Chef Tony Mantuano is also internationally regarded as an influential culinary force. He is the chef/partner at Spiaggia, one of the country’s leading restaurants and Chicago’s only four-star Italian restaurant, and has been awarded the 2005 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Midwest. Mantuano’s love for creating exciting restaurant concepts has given way to other ventures. In addition to Spiaggia, his latest is chef/partner of Lorenzo, a casual elegant Italian restaurant in Miami adjacent to the Redbury South Beach Hotel that opened in November 2013. He is also Chef/Partner at Bar Toma, a long-time dream to create an Italian neighborhood pizzeria and bar; chef/partner at Terzo Piano, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant that utilizes fresh, local, organic ingredients to create seasonal menus at The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago; and he is the co-owner of his family’s Mangia Trattoria, a classic Italian restaurant in his hometown of Kenosha, Wis.
Mary Sue Milliken
Co-Chef/Owner, Border Grill Restaurants & Truck
A pioneer of world cuisine since the creation of City Café and CITY Restaurant in Los Angeles in the 1980’s, Mary Sue is also a preeminent ambassador of modern Mexican cuisine with her Border Grill Restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and most recently Los Angeles International Airport. After becoming the first female chef at Chicago’s Le Perroquet in the 1970s, she trained at a Michelin two star, female-owned restaurant in Paris. She later joined a handful of progressive women chefs to found Women Chefs & Restaurateurs. Partnering with Chef Susan Feniger for over 25 years, together they have authored five cookbooks, starred in nearly 400 episodes of Food Network’s, “Too Hot Tamales,” and hosted a popular and lasting food centered radio show. In 2013, they were honored with the California Restaurant Association’s Lifetime Achievement award. Mary Sue successfully competed to the finale on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” winning ,000 for Share Our Strength, the non-profit where she is a long time board member. A passionate food policy advocate, Mary Sue can often be found working alongside the LA Food Policy Council, PEW Charitable Trusts, OXFAM, Monterey Bay Aquarium and others to help shape sustainable food systems. She is also a member of the U. S. State Department’s American Chef Corps, furthering the industry’s role in diplomatic affairs.
Co-Owner/Head Chef, Michy’s and Crumb on Parchment
Her sunny smile brightens up TV screens across the country; her charisma is undeniable and her cuisine sublime. Chef Michelle Bernstein, a Miami native of Jewish and Latin descent, has dazzled diners and critics alike. “My food isn’t heavy handed or unnecessarily complicated,” says Bernstein, a James Beard Award winner (Best Chef South 2008) and author of Cuisine a Latina (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008). “You don’t need heavy handed technique and over the top presentations to make a dish work. To me it’s all about the amazing ingredients I’ve loved most of my life, layered flavors and simplicity. My style of cooking is based on the honest, soulful cooking I remember from my childhood. I cook food I love and believe that love translates to the diners.”
Co-Owner/Head Chef, Tilth
Chef Maria Hines opened Tilth in three weeks; with the help of four people, she hand-sanded the chairs, put bamboo plywood on all the tables, made the curtains, and more. It all ties in with her sustainability-focused outlook: “From a sustainability standpoint, you save a lot of energy and reduce your carbon footprint by doing it yourself.
”Tilth opened in September 2006 and became the second restaurant in the country to be certified by Oregon Tilth, a non-profit organic certification group. Beyond organics, Hines incorporates sustainable practices in every aspect of her restaurant, from the bathroom (recycled toilet paper) and the building (sourcing responsible building materials) to the wine list (a handful of organic and biodynamic producers) and, of course, the kitchen, which recycles and composts.
Executive Chef, Morgan’s in the desert
Celebrated chef, restaurateur, food scientist and innovator Jimmy Schmidt is now drawing inspiration from the bounty of the Coachella Valley and its environs to create the contemporary American cuisine at Morgan’s in the desert, the new signature restaurant at the legendary La Quinta Resort & Club. Sourcing the best local products grown and raised responsibly, he focuses on traditional cooking methods – such as open grilling, slow roasting, braising, pickling and curing – to create deliciously simple, rustic and healthful dishes for Morgan’s. Chef Schmidt garnered national acclaim when he opened Rattlesnake Club restaurants in Denver and in Detroit, which celebrates more than 20 years as an award-winning Midwest dining destination. He has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his successful 30-year career, including the prestigious James Beard Award for “Great American Chef” (1987) and “Best Chef Midwest,” (1993) Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence,” and inclusion in Cooks Magazine’s “Who’s Who” and Gourmet Magazine’s “ America’s Top Tables” and “ America’s Best Restaurants.” Chef Schmidt is the 2012 winner of the coveted Chef’s Collaborative Pioneer Award, and in 2013 he and Morgan’s won the “Alfresco Dining” award from FSR/Free-Standing Restaurant Magazine.
Chef/Owner, BEAST and Expatriate
Naomi Pomeroy is a native Oregonian who grew up cooking on a step stool in the kitchen next to her mother and grandmother. The first thing she learned to make was a cheese soufflé with a green salad from the garden, dressed simply in olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon. Her early childhood cooking experiences taught her that sometimes simple is best. Naomi’s restaurant Beast is a refined version of the food of her childhood. Nestled in a little corner of NE Portland, Beast serves an elegant six-course fixed menu that changes every week.
Executive Chef/Co-Owner, L’Etoile, Graze, Sujeo
Tory took his early passion for food to the French Culinary Institute, leading to jobs at several high-end restaurants in New York, including Eleven Madison Park and Judson Grill, before he arrived at L’Etoile to work as Odessa Piper’s Chef de Cuisine. Now, as the Executive Chef for L’Etoile and Graze, Tory is fulfilling his dream of taking local farm-raised ingredients to the next level. Preferring old world cooking methods, his kitchens produce a variety of house-made products like artisan cured meats, pastas, breads, butters, fruit preserves, pickled vegetables and more! His creativity and talent have gotten him noticed far and wide with recognitions such as the James Beard Foundation’s 2012 Award for Best Chef – Midwest, Santé Magazine’s “Culinary Hospitality of the Year” Grand Award, Gourmet Magazine’s “America’s Top 50 Restaurants”, Saveur’s “Top 100” and the title of Madison Magazine’s “2010 Chef of the Year.”