Middleburg, Virginia | AUGUST 17-20, 2023
The Family Reunion, the immersive experience celebrating diversity in the hospitality community, returns for a third year from August 17-20 at Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, VA.
The event’s enriching programming is highlighted by some of the industry’s top talent including Carla Hall, Rodney Scott, Nina Compton, Gregory Gourdet, Mashama Bailey and Tavel Bristol-Joseph and several surprise guests.
Presented by Chef and Author Kwame Onwuachi in collaboration with Dotdash Meredith’s FOOD & WINE and Sheila Johnson’s Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the multi-day event crosses culinary boundaries and combines thought-provoking panel discussions, topical cooking demonstrations, inspiring recreational activities and daily “family” meals where attendees and celebrity participants can interact. The annual event was lauded by guests and talent for its energetic and unique approach.
The mission of The Family Reunion is to nurture, develop and celebrate racial and ethnic diversity within the next generation of hospitality professionals.
For 2023 Sponsorship Opportunities, please contact [email protected]
Thursday, August 17 - Sunday, August 20
- Luxurious Forbes Five-Star accommodations for three-nights
- Welcome Reception Cook Out on Thursday
- Continental Breakfast and Family-Style Lunch on Friday and Saturday
- Dinner events and afterglows on Friday and Saturday
- Your choice of one breakout session on Friday and one breakout session on Saturday
- Grand Stage panels on Friday and Saturday
- Sunday Service
All-Access Program Pass
- Welcome Reception Cook Out on Thursday
- Continental Breakfast and Family-Style Lunch on Friday and Saturday
- Dinner events and afterglows on Friday and Saturday
- Your choice of one breakout session on Friday and one breakout session on Saturday
- Grand Stage panels on Friday and Saturday
- Sunday Service
Evening Event Pass
- Welcome Reception Cook Out on Thursday
- Dinner events and afterglows on Friday and Saturday
Evening Event Pass (Stay in DC)
- Welcome Reception Cook Out on Thursday
- Accommodations for three-nights at Salamander DC
- Roundtrip transportation each evening to Salamander in Middleburg, VA
- Dinner events and afterglows on Friday and Saturday
- $150 hotel credit towards spa, dining, or other charges at Salamander DC
*Event schedule and talent subject to change. Tickets are non-refundable.
Kwame Onwuachi is a James Beard Award-winning chef, and author of the critically acclaimed memoir “Notes from a Young Black Chef,” which is being turned into a feature film by A24. Kwame's resume is incomparable: he has been named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs, Esquire Magazine's 2019 Chef of the Year, and is a 30 Under 30 honoree by both Zagat and Forbes. He's also been featured on Time's 100 Next List and has been named the most important Chef in America by the San Francisco Chronicle.
“The Family Reunion was created to celebrate the Black and Brown contributions to the food industry. Join us as we kick off year three of festivities with bigger and better programming.”— Kwame Onwuachi
Salamander Hotels & Resorts delivers comfortable and immersive experiences which enrich the lives of its guests. The company is privately owned and operated, and based in Middleburg, VA, just outside Washington, D.C. Founded by entrepreneur Sheila Johnson in 2005, it has a luxury portfolio featuring the Forbes Five-Star Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, a 340-acre equestrian-inspired property near Washington, D.C.; Half Moon, the storied resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, which features three distinct experiences including the newly opened Eclipse; the elegant Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club in Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla, which recently opened after a multimillion-dollar renovation. Aspen Meadows Resort, an internationally famous destination property with sweeping views of the Aspen, CO, mountains; Hotel Bennett, a spectacular grand hotel in Charleston, SC, overlooking the city’s historic Marion Square; Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, which hosts the PGA TOUR’s Valspar Championship each year on its famed Copperhead Course.
Food & Wine celebrates the global epicurean experience with authoritative content including rigorously tested recipes and the most trusted restaurant, drinks, travel, and home coverage. We inspire and empower people everywhere to discover, create, and devour the best in food and wine.
2023 Featured Talent
Our 2023 Partners
The Family Reunion already enjoys sponsorship support from FOOD & WINE, United, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Coca-Cola, McBride Sisters Wine Company, Visit Loudoun, The Town of Middleburg, and McEnearney Associates with more to be announced soon.
2023 Event Schedule
Please check back for the 2023 Family Reunion schedule.
Frequently Asked Questions
- WHAT ARE THE DATES OF THE 2023 FAMILY REUNION IN MIDDLEBURG, VA?
AUGUST 17-20, 2023.
- WHEN ARE PASSES FOR THE 2023 FAMILY REUNION GOING ON SALE?
Passes and overnight room packages for the Family Reunion will be going on sale on Tuesday, February 28, 2023.
- Are FR events suitable for those who are on restrictive diets (e.g. vegan, keto, vegetarian?)
The events at The Family Reunion feature a wide variety of foods and beverages from all categories. We cannot guarantee that participating chefs and restaurants will prepare dishes without common allergens, including nuts, dairy, gluten, etc. It's important to always ask the chef, server or vendor whether or not allergens or ingredients are in the dishes you are going to consume. We will have vegetarian and plant-based options available.
- WHAT MEASURES ARE BEING TAKEN TO ENSURE THE HEALTH & SAFETY OF ATTENDEES?
The safety and comfort of our attendees, staff and community remain our top priority as we plan and prepare for the 2022 Family Reunion. The event regulations, policies and protocols are under constant review, fully subject to change and will be continually updated and revised in accordance with the most current public health (CDC, State of Virginia, Loudoun County) information, direction and official guidelines. Please view Salamander Resort & Spa's extensive list of COVID protocols and its Commitment to Well-Being.
- WHAT EVENTS ARE INCLUDED WITH AN ALL-ACCESS PROGRAM PASS?
The All-Access Program Pass gives guest access to the Thursday Cook Out and Afterglow, breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday, evening dinner events and Afterglows on Friday and Saturday, access to all panels and speakers and breakout activity sessions on Friday and Saturday.
- HOW CAN MY COMPANY BECOME A SPONSOR AT THE FAMILY REUNION?
For more information about becoming a sponsor please contact [email protected].
- WHERE DO THE EVENTS TAKE PLACE?
All events take place at Salamander Resort & Spa.
- IS THE FAMILY REUNION KID-FRIENDLY?
We would not recommend bringing children to the event. While we love kids, the weekend schedule does not include any kid-focused activities, and some of Salamander's usual kid-friendly features may not be accessible due to the event schedule and locations.
- WHERE CAN I GO FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT VOLUNTEERING AT THE FAMILY REUNION?
Volunteer registration for The Family Reunion will begin in June 2023, please continue to check here for updated information.
- WHAT IS THE CANCELLATION POLICY?
Tickets and room packages are non-refundable.
Neither party will be liable or responsible to the other party, nor be deemed to have defaulted under or breached this Agreement for any failure or delay in fulfilling or performing any obligation under this Agreement, when such failure or delay is due to any of the following causes (which causes are hereinafter referred to as "Force Majeure"), to the extent beyond its reasonable control: acts of God, fire, floods, earthquakes, embargoes, accident, riots, war, sabotage, terrorist acts, mob violence, epidemic, pandemic, quarantine, civil insurrections, breakdown of communication facilities, breakdown of web host, breakdown of internet service provider, natural catastrophes, governmental acts or omissions, actions of military or naval authorities, changes in laws or regulations, strikes, lockouts or labor disturbances, explosions, or generalized lack of availability of raw materials or energy; provided that the Parties stipulate that Force Majeure does not include the novel coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, which is ongoing as of the date of this Agreement.
Each party so prevented or hindered thereby must use reasonable commercial efforts to avoid or remove such causes of nonperformance, and must continue performance hereunder with reasonable dispatch whenever such causes are removed. Either party must provide the other party with prompt written notice of any delay or failure to perform that occurs by reason of Force Majeure.
To avoid any doubt, Force Majeure does not include any of the following: (a) financial distress nor the inability of either party to make a profit or avoid a financial loss; (b) changes in market prices or conditions; or (c) a party's financial inability to perform its obligations under this Agreement.
- I'M A MEMBER OF THE MEDIA AND WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND
For media inquiries related to The Family Reunion, please contact Matt Owen, Vice President of Communications for Salamander Hotels & Resorts at [email protected].com.
PLEASE SUBMIT MEDIA APPLICATIONS HERE Please submit applications by July 30, 2023.
For media inquiries related to The Family Reunion, please contact Matt Owen, Vice President of Communications for Salamander Hotels & Resorts at [email protected].
PLEASE SUBMIT Media Applications HERE
Please submit applications by July 30, 2023.
Harlem bred Chef James "JR" Robinson, Founder and Executive Chef of Kitchen Cray began his culinary journey at the age of 11. Inspired by watching his grandmother create unique recipes, he became obsessed with the creation of food. "JR" had a not-so-easy childhood. In and out of homeless shelters and foster care, he maintained a passion to follow his culinary pursuits as he flourished in culinary school into entrepreneurship into the limelight, featuring on Season 13 of Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen.
Robinson's professional career included stints at several high-end restaurants before he decided to branch out on his own and create Kitchen Cray with partner Sudon Williams. With locations on the H Street Corridor and Lanham, KitchenCray, prepares meals for every taste. Our mission is to change how the world views what we like to call, "The New Chef Culture." We take five-star dining experiences and recreate them to cater to every lifestyle-from the struggling student to the flourishing business executive.
Julia Coney is a Washington, D.C. and Houston, Texas-based wine writer, wine educator, speaker, and consultant. Julia is the Wine Consultant for American Airlines in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the recipient of Wine Enthusiast's 2020 Social Visionary Award Winner for her work in writing and speaking on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the wine industry. Julia is the Founder of Black Wine Professionals.
A native of Jamaica and Puerto Rico, Nadine worked in Social Work before finding her love of wine. Nadine is a 20-year veteran of the Washington D.C. area restaurant industry. She spent over 14 years as wine director and Sommelier of Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill. Early in her career she was recognized by Star Chefs as a rising star Sommelier. She has worked in diverse front of the house positions from captain, general manager/sommelier to managing partner. Nadine is also a board member of the Restaurant Association that represents the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland as well as board member of the Verasion project. The Verasion Project is a new nonprofit, tasked with increasing diversity in the wine industry. Nadine holds certifications from both the court of master sommelier and the WSET, she is a wine judge participating in competitions including the Virginia Governor's Cup and TexSom International Wine Awards. She is part of the team of wine writers on Monarch Publications. Nadine founded At Your Service, where she offers wine education, events and consulting, and she is a founding member of RegardingHer DC and new member of Les Dames d'Escoffier. She is an advocate for women, especially mothers in the hospitality industry. She is a proud mother of two.
Michelin-Starred and James Beard nominated Chefs Chris Morgan and Gerald Addison are thrilled to announce the latest news- they've joined forces with award-winning and JBF nominated Chef Peter Prime; who will now be a Partner and the Executive Chef at Southeast Waterfront Caribbean hotspot, Bammy's.
A native of Trinidad and a graduate of NYC's esteemed French Culinary Institute L'Ecole, Chef Prime earned accolades both locally and nationally for his work at critically-acclaimed Cane where he was the Chef/Partner. He also honed his craft at several noted restaurants like Michel Richard's Citronelle, much-loved Spark, Equinox, and the River Room in NYC.
He is excited to share the Caribbean's extensive culinary history, ingredients and cooking techniques as well as from his beloved home country of Trinidad- the menu at the restaurant will be Pan-Caribbean, though a few core Bammy's dishes will remain.
Due to the pandemic and before, Chef Prime's mission in service to both guests and his staff is to change the narrative on how FOH and BOH teams are treated both financially and mentally. It is important to him that everyone is treated with dignity and respect, saying, "Labor is one of the most important things in our industry - I want to take care of people. The pandemic changed my outlook on quality of life; and those in charge need to aggressively alter the way we hire and treat people."
Tahiirah Habibi is an entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of The Hue Society. Tahiirah has long advocated for more Black, brown, and Indigenous representation in the wine industry. She is a globally recognized, award-winning sommelier by trade and a creative entrepreneur by heart. Tahiirah honed her expertise at prestigious restaurants, most notably including J&G Grill in the St. Regis Bal Harbour and the legendary Michael's Genuine. However, it was the lack of diversity in the industry that sparked her to reimagine the wine world by creating an organization where our people would be respected and valued for their contributions.
Tahiirah was selected in the Wine Enthusiast’s prestigious 40 under 40 list, also gracing the cover as the first Black woman to do so. She has also won the magazine's Wine Star Award for Visionary of the year, as well as the honor of Advocate of the Year from Vine Pair Magazine. The experience only intensified her spirit to continue creating change in the industry and beyond. Tahiirah has been featured in Wine Spectator, BET, The Robb Report, and Vogue, to name a few. She sits on the board of the James Beard Awards and will continue pioneering the necessary change for wine culture.
Roblé Ali has quickly become one of the most recognizable chefs and one of the very few young African-Americans in the culinary world with national notoriety. The influential and charismatic chef has provided his services to some of today's most notable individuals including President Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Legend, Jack Nicholson, Michael Jackson, Vanessa Williams, the Olsen Twins and Rhianna to name a few.
Growing up, Roblé was always fascinated with food and cooking. He showed talent in the kitchen at a young age after learning from his grandfather, professional Chef Jesse Harris Sr. At 15, Roblé returned to his hometown of Poughkeepsie and began working in his first professional kitchen and continued to develop as a chef throughout his high school years. Upon graduation, he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY where he broadened his knowledge of food. On the search for greater opportunities, Roblé moved to Brooklyn and began cooking in top restaurants and catering establishments throughout NYC.
Roblé worked through the ranks as the youngest Sous Chef ever at Abigail Kirsch, an elite New York catering company. He worked side by side with Chef Chris Santos of Food Networks Chopped and on the opening of his ultra hip restaurants Stanton Social and Beauty & Essex. After quickly being identified as one of the hottest up-and-coming chefs, nightlife mogul, Noah Tepperberg ( Marquee NYC / LV - Lavo NYC/ LV & Tao NYC/LV) hired Roblé as Executive Chef to open Avenue - and exclusive gastro-lounge in Manhattan.
Realizing it was time to go out on his own, Roblé launched his catering business, Roblé & Co. With his unique team of talented chefs and event producers, Roblé creates captivating, one of a kind dining experiences for high-end clientele across the country and the world. The launch of his business was captured in Bravo's culinary docudrama, Chef Roblé & Co. In addition to his catering company, Roblé is currently at work on multiple projects, which include his soon to be released bottled sauces "The Saucerer", a book, apparel line, philanthropy and his upcoming restaurant "MOMIO" by Roblé. Roblé is currently the food corespondent for the Dr. Oz show.
He currently resides in Brooklyn where you will probably find him biking around the neighborhood with his trusty sidekick and best friend pooch "Boy Boy" and checking out the local food scene.
Bryant Terry is a James Beard & NAACP Image Award-winning chef, educator, and authorrenowned for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. He is editor-in-chief of 4 Color Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House and Ten Speed Press, and he is co-principal and innovation director of Zenmi, a creative studio he founded. Since 2015 he has been the Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco wherehe creates public programming at the intersection of food, farming, health, activism, art, culture, and the African Diaspora. His sixth book, a collection of recipes, art, and stories, entitled Black Food was published by 4 Color Books/Ten Speed Press October 2021. It went on to be the most critically acclaimed American cookbook published that year landing on lists by The New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Time Out, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Food52, Glamour, Vice, Epicurious, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and others. In regard to his work, Bryant's mentor Alice Waters says, "Bryant Terry knows that good food should be an everyday right and not a privilege." San Francisco Magazine included Bryant among 11 Smartest People in the Bay Area Food Scene, and Fast Company named him one of 9 People Who Are Changing the Future of Food.
Vegetable Kingdom, Bryant's fifth book, was published by Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House in February 2020 in the midst of a pandemic and went on to be a commercial and critical success winning an NAACP Image Award (Outstanding Literary Work), being nominated for an IACP Award (Health & Nutrition), and being named one of the best cookbooks of the year by The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Vogue, San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes, Food & Wine, Salon, Garden & Gun, Delish, Epicurious, and others. His book, Afro-Vegan, was published in 2014. Just 2 months after being released, it was named one of the best cookbooks of 2014 by Amazon.com. Afro-Vegan was also named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks of all time by Bon Appétit. That December it was nominated for an NAACP Award in the Outstanding Literary Work category. Bryant is also the author of the critically acclaimed Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine, which was named one of the best vegetarian/vegan cookbooks of the last 25 years by Cooking Light Magazine.
Bryant graduated from the Chef's Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City. He is a former Ph.D. student who holds an M.A. in History with an emphasis on the African Diaspora from NYU, where he studied under Historian Robin D.G. Kelly. He lives between Oakland and Napa Valley, California with his wife and two daughters.
Nyesha Joyce Arrington
Nyesha Arrington has been in love with the kitchen since she was just a little girl cooking from the age of five alongside her grandmother. Born in Southern California to a multi-cultural family, she was introduced early on to diverse foods such as bulgogi, octopus, and homemade kimchi. These first stages of culinary experiences definitively shaped her palate and her ideas. By integrating flavors and techniques from around the world, Nyesha has been able to create a style that is both personal and unparalleled.
After graduation from the prestigious Culinary School at the Art Institute of California in Los Angeles in 2001, Nyesha built an impressive resume working with Josiah Citrin at the acclaimed 2 Michelin Star Mélisse in Santa Monica, and legendary French chef Joël Robuchon at his Michelin Star restaurants in Las Vegas, L'Atelier and The Mansion. She then went on to helm Leona and Native in Los Angeles where she was celebrated for using farm fresh, locally, and responsibly sourced ingredients. In 2012 she was named to Zagat’s 30 Under 30 Best Chefs, and in 2015 was recognized as LA’s Chef of the Year by Eater.
Nyesha hit the national stage as a fan favorite on "Top Chef" season 9 and is currently a co-star of the hit culinary competition show "Next Level Chef" (U.K. season 1 premiering on ITV in Jan. 2023 and U.S. season 2 premiering on FOX in Feb. 2023). She is also the host and producer of "Plateworthy," a digital series on Eater.
Nyesha draws inspiration from art, her African American and Korean background and is passionate about food and culture, nutrition and vegetables, storytelling, travel and fitness.
Trinidadian chef Osei Blackett better known as "Chef Picky" remembers his early days assisting his mother in the kitchen as some of his most cherished childhood memories. Taking an interest in the culinary arts at a very young age, Chef Picky eventually migrated to the US at the age of 20 to hone his skills and pursue his passion for cooking.
Osei is the Chef/ Owner at "Ariapita", "Chef Picky Events + Catering" and his extremely popular, "Pop up" food focused events referred to as "The Picky Experience".
Now, with almost 20 years' experience in the Food industry, his culinary journey has taken him to prestigious heights, executing menus at The James Beard House, Gracie Mansion and the United Nations Offices. Osei is one of the most sought-after West Indian Chefs in New York City. Remaining humble and connected to his roots he uses local events to convey his vision for the Trinbagonian/Caribbean culinary cuisine.
Ultimately his goal is the bring awareness to what makes Trinbagonian food so special, it has always been connected to memories of grandparents, parents, family and friends, moments in time, special days and community. He plans to use these cherished home recipes and his knowledge of the food industry to share it with foodies across America plate by plate.
Jacksonville native, Chef Roderick "Pete" Smith graduated from the Southeast Institute of Culinary Arts in St. Augustine, Florida in 2000. At the age of 22, Pete became the Chef de Cuisine at Medure in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida, making him the youngest African-American chef to run a Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond restaurant in Florida. Now with over 22 years of professional experience, Pete has been exposed to various areas of the culinary industry, including managing a gourmet food truck, Forbes Five-Star restaurants, and more. At Market Salamander, you will find many of Chef Pete's signature creations available at our Gourmet Grab & Go, including his bread pudding, hot sauce, and pickled vegetables.
A North Philadelphia native, Chef Martel Stone found his love of cooking in the folds of a soft curd French omelet. Thirty-six dozen eggs later & influenced by all intersections of the Diaspora, with a lighthearted approach to creating his flavorful dishes chef Martel pulls stories from his childhood & time spent exploring through his career. Chef Martel integrates bold spices and fresh herb sauces to create a beautiful harmony in each dish. Chef Stone’s cooking style embodies his interpretation of Contemporary Diaspora cuisine. Garnished with witty dish titles, such as “Not Ranch”, “Wa’Bosh” Wings & The Brutus salad. Chef Stone’s menus come to life through unexpected flavor combinations and playful takes on American classics.
Chef Martel’s journey to the kitchen is unique. Beginning his professional journey in the Navy, he served for five years before traveling to explore the world. His first kitchen gig was in South Hampton Roads, Virginia. Receiving training from “YouTube University”, hands-on experience, and shadowing world-renown chefs. Chef Martel is the winner of Chopped Next Generation Season 1, his passion to explore through food has allowed him to forge a path of his own.
Chef Stone’s culinary experience is diverse, ranging from high-end to Mom-and-Pop restaurants. Highlights of his professional journey include working as the Executive Sous Chef at Kith and Kin Washington, D.C., the Executive Chef/Founder of The Black Supper Collective, and the Junior Sous Chef at Saint Germaine Norfolk, VA. he is now the Executive Chef of The Gathering Spot, Washington, D.C., LA & ATL.
Mashama Bailey is the award-winning executive chef and co-founder of the critically acclaimed restaurant The Grey. Along with her co-founder and business partner Johno Morisano, they founded Grey Spaces hospitality group, which includes The Grey and The Grey Market in Savannah and The Diner Bar and The Grey Market in Austin. The Diner Bar and The Grey Market in Austin, which was lauded by The Austin American-Statesman and Austin Monthly Magazine as one of the city’s Best New Restaurants for its distinct take on Port City Southern fare.
Prior to opening The Grey, Mashama’s career includes a dozen years cooking throughout New York City, the last four of which were at Prune on Manhattan’s Lower East Side under the tutelage of Gabrielle Hamilton. In 2019 and with the premier of Netflix’s Chef’s Table Season 6, Mashama became the first African American chef to star on the show.
Together with Morisano, Mashama co-wrote Black, White and The Grey (Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House) which explores the business partners’ challenges navigating race, class and culture while building businesses, relationships, and community in the South, as featured on CBS Sunday Morning.
Winner of the 2022 James Beard Outstanding Chef -- the first Black woman to receive the honor -- and winner of the 2019 James Beard Best Chef: Southeast, Mashama serves as the chairwoman of the Edna Lewis Foundation, whose mission is to honor and extend the legacy of Edna Lewis by creating opportunities for African Americans in the fields of cooking, agriculture, food studies, and storytelling.
Chef Maya-Camille Broussard is an author, one of the stars of the hit Netflix show Bake Squad, and the owner of Justice of the Pies, a Chicago-based bakery that specializes in sweet and savory pies, quiches and tarts. Justice of the Pies combats food apartheid through social-mission-driven initiatives, such as working with the community fridge organization Love Fridge and activating its signature I KNEAD LOVE Workshop, culturally enriching workshops for elementary-aged children who reside in food-insecure, lower-income communities. The children learn basic cooking skills, healthy eating habits, nutritional development, and practice. Exercising their creativity in the kitchen.
A proud member of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community and a member of the PWD (Persons with Disability) community, Broussard uses her platform to advocate for accessibility. Broussard has been profiled in national and location publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Food & Wine, and Esquire, and has been on television shows such as the TODAY show.
Chef Maya-Camille’s book, Justice of the Pies: Sweet and Savory Pies, Quiches and Tarts + Inspirational Stories from Exceptional People (Clarkson Potter) was released in the fall of 2022 and has been named one of the best cookbooks of the fall by Food & Wine.
Justice of the Pies recently completed its 4,000 square foot flagship bakery, which includes a production kitchen, retail counter, a teaching kitchen for the community, and was designed with accessibility in mind. The bakery is located in the heart of Chicago’s south side Avalon neighborhood.
During this extraordinarily challenging time to be a chef in the kitchen, Chef Douglass Williams continues to inspire and bring people to the table.
Chef Douglass Williams is thrilled and honored to be nominated by the James Beard Foundation as a Best Chef Northeast 2023 semifinalist. "Above all I am grateful to my family, team and community. Everyone works just so damn hard. When we opened MIDA with a mission of generosity, we had no idea if we’d be in business a year later. And now here I am living my dream, bringing people together at the table. It is heartening to know that people are noticing and they care" shares Douglass. "All we want to do is to make everyone feel welcome, feel good with yummy pasta and walk away with a better outlook on the day and the future."
This most recent James Beard Foundation honor is in addition to Douglass’ nominations for James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef in the Country/2022 and Best Chef Northeast/2020. Soon after opening his first restaurant, MIDA Boston, Douglass was recognized as a Food & Wine Best New Chef, and by Boston Magazine as Best of Boston/Best New Restaurant, Best Pasta and Best Chef General Excellence. Williams is known for his bright smile, generous hospitality and creative talent in the kitchen. In perpetual motion, you will find Williams on the line leading his teams at MIDA South End, MIDA Newton, and at APIZZA in Boston’s Hub Hall.
Williams learned at an early age that he was most comfortable in the kitchen. Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as a teenager, Williams committed to healing himself through a new approach to food. His journey brought him from his hometown of Atlantic City, NJ to culinary school and then to traveling the world learning from the best. From Thailand to Paris, New York City to Boston, he worked and staged at some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants, including Radius and Coppa/Boston, Corton/NYC and Akarme/Paris.
Recognized as one of the leading chefs in the nation, Williams is committed to bringing the community together. "To be a Black chef/owner here in Boston is an honor and a responsibility I take very seriously. I am fortunate to have successful restaurants, an incredible team and supportive community. By giving my time and energy to the neighborhood and by putting my passion for cooking, storytelling and teaching to good use, I can help build bridges in the community through food and conversation. I truly believe the world can come together over a delicious bowl of pasta."
Tavel Bristol-Joseph is the Pastry Chef and Partner at Emmer & Rye, Hestia, Kalimotxo, Henbit and TLV in Austin, TX. He began his culinary journey as a young boy when he spent every Saturday afternoon baking cookies, cakes, and pies with his aunt. After moving to the United States from Georgetown, Guyana when he was seventeen years old, Bristol-Joseph attended the New York Restaurant School.
Bristol-Joseph worked in a variety of restaurants in New York before moving to Tucson in 2006, where he joined Fox Restaurant Concepts. He worked within the restaurant group for two years before going to Zona 78 where he met and began working with Chef Kevin Fink.
Fink and Bristol-Joseph decided to move to Austin to open Emmer & Rye in November 2015. Emmer & Rye has been included in Bon Appétit’s “America’s Best New Restaurants 2016” list, as well as named Austin American-Statesman’s "2018 Best Restaurant in Austin." In 2020, Bristol-Joseph opened Hestia with Fink which has been named "#1 Best New Restaurant in America" by Robb Report. Bristol-Joseph also received the StarChefs Rising Star Award in 2017 and was named one of FOOD & WINE Magazine’s "Best New Chefs of 2020."
Overcoming many struggles and challenges growing up have helped Bristol-Joseph continue his path towards success. He always believed he would have a brighter tomorrow, even though his childhood where he was poor, sleeping on floors for most of his life, he kept believing in himself and knew that through hard work he would reach his goals.
Bristol-Joseph is a proud father to 12-year-old twins and currently resides in Austin with his wife Brittany and his dog Gus Gus.
James Beard Award-Winning Chef
Winner of the 2018 James Beard Awards "Best Chef: South" and one of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs 2017, Nina Compton is Chef/Owner of award-winning Compère Lapin and highly acclaimed Bywater American Bistro (BABs) in New Orleans.
Born and raised in St. Lucia, Nina grew up with the flavors and beauty of the Caribbean. At Compère Lapin, Nina creates robust dishes that meld the flavors of her Caribbean upbringing and love for French and Italian cuisine, while highlighting the Gulf and Louisiana's beautiful indigenous ingredients.
Since opening in June 2015, Compère Lapin has received critical acclaim including Eater National's Best Restaurants in America 2017; a rave review in The New York Times, and Top 10 Winner of Playboy's Best New Bars in America 2016. Bywater American Bistro - which opened March 2018 - has been named Eater National's Best New Restaurants in America 2018.
Founder Tiffany Derry Concepts
Co-Founder | T2D Concepts
Beaumont, Texas native Tiffany Derry is the founder of Tiffany Derry Concepts and co-founder of T2D Concepts, the Texas-based purpose-driven hospitality group behind Roots Chicken Shak, Roots Southern Table, and ‘Shef Tiffany spice and apparel line.
Tiffany knew her purpose was to be in the kitchen from an early age. Growing up on her family’s farm in the South, farm-to-table eating wasn’t a trend, it was a way of life—eating with the seasons, canning and preserving fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, fresh pies on the counter, never letting anything go to waste. Her grandmother always welcomed guests to her kitchen with love and taught Tiffany that cooking is more than just putting a few ingredients together—it’s a passion.
This propelled Tiffany to apply to her first cooking job at the age of 15 at IHOP, which she was denied from because of her race and gender and was hired as a server instead. She was eventually given the opportunity to cook when the kitchen was understaffed, and she stepped in and stepped up. In just a short amount of time, she was promoted to kitchen management, making her the youngest person to hold a managerial role in the restaurant.
Tiffany earned her culinary degree from the Art Institute of Houston and deepened her appreciation for various cuisines and cultures through the study abroad program that took her to Costa Rica, Mexico, Italy, France, China, and Hawaii. She went on to cook in esteemed kitchens throughout Texas including Pesce, Grotto Cucina Napolitano, Go Fish Ocean Club, and Private|Social.
Tiffany then decided to break out on her own and founded Tiffany Derry Concepts in 2013, a company established to support her business and culinary ventures including television shows and brand partnerships.
In 2016, Tiffany and her business partner Tom Foley founded T2D Concepts, which operates her restaurant concepts and spice and apparel line. Fueled by a spirit of service and a deep-rooted hunger to drive social change, T2D aims to bridge the gender and racial wealth gap in the hospitality industry through the power of good food and meaningful dialogue around the table. The pair operates Roots Chicken Shak, a fast-casual concept centered on Tiffany’s famous duck fat-fried chicken with a scalable footprint designed to give minorities an opportunity for ownership, as well as Roots Southern Table, a fine dining establishment that pays homage to Tiffany’s Southern culinary heritage that has been lauded as one of America’s top restaurants by Esquire and The New York Times.
Outside of her restaurants, Tiffany regularly appears as a judge or contestant on national television shows including Bobby’s Triple Threat, The Great American Recipe, Top Chef, Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay, Guy’s Ranch, Guy’s Grocery Games and the Great American Soul Food Kick Off.
Tiffany is also a fierce advocate for social justice and equity across gender, race, and food access. She spends much of her spare time lobbying politicians to pass sustainable and healthy food polices—she was integral in getting the farm bill updated in 2013. Tiffany serves as a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a spokesperson for the James Beard Foundation’s sustainability efforts, a board member for the National Restaurant Association, an educational ambassador for the U.S. Embassy and supports No Kid Hungry and MAPP.
Tiffany’s authentic approach to Southern cooking landed her on the 2022 James Beard Award finalist list in two categories – Best Chef (Texas) and Best New Restaurant (Roots Southern Table). T2D was named to Nation’s Restaurant News Power List, the definitive list of the 50 most powerful industry leaders, for Tom and Tiffany’s forward-thinking, inclusive approach to hospitality.
Chef Andre Fowles is a Jamaican born chef based in New York City. He’s a three-time Food Network “Chopped” champion, and has been recognized by Star Chef New York. Over the years, Chef Fowles’ contemporary approach to Caribbean cuisine has been featured in the New York Times, Thrillist, Bon Appetit, Vice Media, Good Morning America, and The Today Show. Andre has hosted multiple dinners at the prestigious James Beard House, and has contributed to some major food events in America and Jamaica – Food & Wine Festival, SOBE Wine & Food Festival, and the Observer Food Awards. He’s currently working on publishing his first cookbook; opening his first restaurant; and launching his hot sauce line – “Mama Cherry” – which pays homage to his Jamaican grandmother who inspired him to become a chef.
Andréa McBride John
Andréa serves as CEO of McBride Sisters Wine Company, a multinational organization headquartered in Oakland, California. It is in the top 1% of volume, largest Black-owned and the second largest women-owned wine company in the United States, as well as one of the most inclusive, accessible, socially aware and sustainable. With her sister Robin, Andréa began importing wines from New Zealand in 2005 and began making their own wine together in 2009. By spring 2017, the pair were producing wine from their hometowns in Aotearoa New Zealand and California under one label, McBride Sisters Collection. In 2018, they launched Black Girl Magic Wines, a celebratory wine brand paying homage to women in their family and community, and debuted She Can Wines, a premium canned wine in 2019 on International Women’s Day. Andréa serves as a Board Member for the McBride Sisters SHE CAN Professional Development Fund which she founded in 2019 with her sister Robin. Since its inception the fund has awarded over $3M in scholarships, grants and technical training to 3,000 professional women in wine & spirits, hospitality and finance. In 2021 the fund partnered with Southern University of Louisianaas their flagship HBCU, to create a career pipeline for diverse students into the wine industry.
Andréa and Robin were the first Black women Winery owners on the cover of Wine Enthusiast magazine, she has been recognized as one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 and has been nominated for the Wine Star Award US Winery ofthe Year 2021. Andréa holds her B.A. in International Relations with a concentration in Global Business from the University of Southern California 2007. She is a member of the 2022 Class of Henry Crown Fellows within the Aspen Global Leadership Network atthe Aspen Institute and she resides in San Francisco with her husband Fabian and daughter Meursault.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Executive Chef Brian Jupiter has always believed that Southern comfort food is a true art form. Pulling inspiration from closely held family secrets and recipes, Jupiter spent his childhood alongside his grandmother in her kitchen.
After beginning his professional career at the age of 16 in the kitchen of New Orleans’ famed Aurora Steakhouse, Jupiter eventually moved to Miami, Florida to pursue degrees in Culinary Arts and Food & Beverage Management. In 2003, Jupiter made the move to Chicago to ll the role as Chef de Cuisine, and eventually Executive Chef, at Narcisse Champagne and Caviar Salon. He later became an integral part of the menu development for the opening of Frontier in 2010 and Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods in 2018 as Executive Chef of Pioneer Tavern Group.
Chef Jupiter has since been heavily involved in philanthropic work within the Chicago community and beyond, continuously donating time and resources to nonprofit organizations and charity events while also serving as a fundamental support to other local (and national) chefs.
Bryan Ford is an Afro-Honduran baker who specializes in creating Latin American baked goods as opposed to focusing on Western European baking ideologies. Bryan is the author of the forthcoming New World Baking (October 24th, 2023), as well as New World Sourdough (2020). In addition to writing cookbooks, Bryan is the host of Shondaland Audio + iHeartRadio's The Flaky Biscuit Podcast, which is co-produced by his production company Flaky Biscuit Media. Bryan has also hosted two TV shows on Magnolia Network, worked as a guest judge on Hulu’s Best In Dough, and appeared in Michelle Obama’s Waffles and Mochi on Netflix. Bryan’s first bakery, Artisan Bryan the Bakery, is currently a weekend only residency in Downtown Brooklyn.
Bryan Furman is living his pitmaster dream as an owner of BBQ restaurants in Atlanta, GA. He has showcased his pitmaster skills all over the US and Europe. Bryan smoked for the Stone Barn Center in New York and Meatopia in the United Kingdom. Bryan is looking forward to opening his new location in the Riverside area of Atlanta, GA which is slated for 2023. In addition, Bryan has opened a second location in the State Farm Arena, home of the NBA Atlanta Hawks. While his restaurant is being built, he will continue to collaborate with Pop-Ups throughout the country. Bryan Furman has been named one of Food & Wine Magazine's 2019 Best New Chefs (the first Pitmaster to ever receive the title), also receiving a 2019 and 2020 James Beard Foundation semifinalist nomination for Best Chef Southeast.
Bryan Furman is well known for his award-winning standards in all categories of barbeque. His pitmaster standards are well above most. Furman insists on using Heritage hogs for his meats. The Heritage hog is a perfectly marbled source of meat for smoking. He carefully selects woods for creating his signature smoke favors. He also carefully selects woods for smoking and making his own side dishes using locally sourced produce with a blend of unique ingredients. In 2022, he released Bryan Furman 1432 BBQRub and Bryan Furman 1432 Brisket Rub which is now available for sale. In January of 2023, Bryan Furman released his three famous BBQ sauces, ATL Red Sauce, Peach Mustard BBQ Sauce, and Carolina Spicy Vinegar.
Furman has been featured on CBS Saturday Morning's The Dish and named Atlanta's BBQ King. Southern Living magazine selected his barbecue restaurant as one of "The South's Top 50 Barbecue Joints 2018 and the New York Times recently mentioned that his restaurant is the only barbecue restaurant in Atlanta turning out whole-hog barbeque with heirloom-breed hogs.
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Gregory Gourdet is a celebrated chef, best-selling author, and television personality. He is best known for his award-winning cuisine, bevy of TV appearances, and trendsetting role in the culinary boom of Portland.
A native of Queens, NY, Gregory attended the Culinary Institute of America, becoming the school’s first student to land an internship with celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. For nearly 7 years, Gregory honed his culinary skills at three of Jean-Georges’ trailblazing restaurants, climbing the kitchen ranks to become one of his chef de cuisines. Gregory ran the kitchen at Portland’s Departure Restaurant + Lounge for 10 years, leaving in 2019 to focus on opening Kann.
An avid traveler and lifelong student of food and culture, Gregory has made a name for himself by infusing methods and ingredients from all over the world, balanced together with his Haitian heritage, and creating signature flavors adored for their seasonality, boldness, complexity, and spice.
He was named "Chef of the Year" by both Eater Portland and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, and is a two-time Bravo Top Chef finalist.
In 2021, Gregory released his first cookbook, Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health, the ultimate guide to cooking globally-inspired dishes free of gluten, dairy, soy, legumes, and grains. The book is a national bestseller and a 2022 James Beard Award winner for Best General Cookbook.
August 2022 brought about the opening of Kann, a live-fire dinner house that showcases traditional Haitian flavors alongside dishes inspired by the cuisines of the African and Caribbean diaspora. Kann was quickly recognized by Eater and The New York Times as a "Best New Restaurant'; Esquire named Kann the #1 “Best New Restaurant in America.” Portland Monthly and The Oregonian also named it restaurant of the year. Kann was most recently named a 2023 Semi-Finalist for Best New Restaurant for the James Beard Awards. Gourdet has also had the opportunity to cook at The White House with the American Culinary Corporation.
In September of 2022, Gregory opened Sousòl, Kann’s subterranean sibling cocktail bar. Sousòl draws inspiration from the greater Pan-Caribbean for its food and drink menu. It also features a full zero proof menu for an inclusive experience for drinkers and non-drinkers alike.
Gregory sees food as nourishment and is committed to moving the restaurant industry forward in a sustainable and equitable way.
Dr. Jessica B. Harris
Dr. Jessica B. Harris, considered by many to be one of the ranking authorities on the food of the African Diaspora, is the author, editor, or translator of eighteen books including twelve cookbooks documenting the foodways of the African Diaspora. She is a sought-after speaker and has lectured widely and written extensively for scholarly and popular publications. Harris consults internationally and conceptualized the award-winning cafeteria of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. She is currently leading the Culinary Institute of America's new African Diaspora Foodways initiative. Dr. Harris is also lead curator for the exhibit African/American: Making the Nation's Table to be presented by New York's Museum of Food and Drink in 2022.
Dr Harris holds numerous awards and accolades including an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Johnson & Wales University. In 2019, her food-related works were inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame and she is the 2020 James Beard Lifetime Achievement awardee. Dr. Harris taught at Queens College/CUNY, New York, for five decades and is currently professor emerita at that institution.
Edouardo Jordan was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida and attended college at the University of Florida. After graduating with dual degrees in business administration and sports management, Jordan decided to enroll in culinary school at the Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando. Following graduation from culinary school, Jordan's ambition brought him to renowned restaurants such as The French Laundry, where he apprenticed, Per Se, and Lincoln Ristorante in New York. With thoughts of raising a family and opening a restaurant in mind, Jordan moved to Seattle where he began working at Sitka and Spruce as Sous Chef. In 2013, Jordan was asked to open Bar Sajor as Chef de Cuisine and used this as an opportunity to learn as much as he could about opening a restaurant. Taking this knowledge and experience he had gained from Bar Sajor, Jordan officially opened the doors to his first restaurant, Salare, in June of 2015. Salare takes influences from France, Italy, the American south, and the Caribbean and has become one of Seattle's hottest restaurants. In April 2017, Chef Jordan opened his second restaurant, JuneBaby, which focuses on his roots and Southern Cuisine, which has received much attention both nationally and locally. Chef Jordan was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2016, and Salare was listed as a Best New Restaurant in America in 2016 by Eater National. He has been named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chef of 2016 and JuneBaby was titled Restaurant Best New Restaurant for 2018. Chef Jordan is a 2017 James Beard Award finalists, and received the prestigious 2018 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest and Best New Restaurant for JuneBaby Restaurant. In December of 2018 he opened his third restaurant, Lucinda Grain Bar, which focuses on heirloom, ancient, and local grains.
Vallery Lomas was the winner of The Great American Baking Show and the first Black winner of the Great British Bake Off franchise. Her debut cookbook, Life is What You Bake It, Clarkson Potter (2021), was named a year's best cookbook by the Boston Globe, Washington Post, Food Network, and others. She hosts the digital show Vallery Bakes Your Questions on Food Network’s website. She has also appeared on CNN, the Today show, Live with Kelly & Ryan, the History Channel, and the Hallmark Channel. Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Vallery attended college and law school in Los Angeles, practiced law in Washington D.C., and spent a gap year in Paris—where she perfected both her French and pastry skills—before settling in Harlem. She has a column with the Wall Street Journal, “The Bakeaway,” and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times.
Jonathan "Jonny" Rhodes
For chef Jonathan Rhodes, cooking is about the culture. A stint in Afghanistan while in the US Marines served as the catalyst for the now 29-year-old chef to attend culinary school at the Art Institute of Houston upon his return to the states.
After working in several high-profile restaurants including Gramercy Tavern, The Inn at Dos Brisas, and Oxheart; Rhodes was inspired to launch the Jensen Chronicles — a pop-up restaurant serving dishes inspired by Southern African American cuisine.
Named after Rhodes' childhood neighborhood, The Jensen Chronicles not only helped Rhodes hone his culinary identity, but also served as motivation for the young chef to pursue additional education via a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Houston-Downtown. Rhodes' current venture — Indigo — is a culmination of these experiences.
Making its debut in July 2018, Indigo brings a physical structure to the tastes of the Jensen Chronicles. Rhodes presents a trio of rotating five-course tasting menus that is meant to not only tantalize the senses, but also provoke conversation about the history, culture, and social experiences that have shaped and guided African American food ways.
Rhodes has since earned a semi-finalist nomination for James Beard's 2019 Rising Star Chef of the Year Award, while Indigo has earned top spots on Food & Wine, GQ, Eater and Texas Monthly's Best New Restaurants Lists as well as TIME's "World's 100 Greatest Places of 2019."
From Jensen Street to Indigo, Rhodes mission is to continue advance the culture that inspires his menus, as they represent the sacrifice and beauty of the African American experience — born out of necessity, but curated with love and skill. He strives to continue to shed light on the social responsibility of food preparation.
Jamila Robinson is the Assistant Managing Editor for Food at The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA East Academy Chair for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and the journalism chair of the James Beard Awards. Among the most influential people in food media, Jamila is a sought-out thought leader and frequent contributor for publications and culinary organizations worldwide.
Ashleigh Shanti is a Chef based in Asheville, NC. Her cuisine pays homage to the rich African-American culinary traditions that once thrived in Southern Appalachia and draws on her own experiences growing up in coastal Virginia. Ashleigh was named 2019 Eater Young Gun and a 2020 finalist for the James Beard "Rising Star Chef of the Year" award during her tenure as chef de cuisine at John Fleer's celebrated establishment, Benne on Eagle Restaurant.
Ashleigh's heritage has roots across Appalachia, the Southern coast stretching all the way to the Caribbean. Her happiest days as a young girl were Sundays spent in the kitchen with her family; friends would stop by to visit, eventually prepare themselves a plate, and stay for hours. These moments ingrained in Ashleigh the power of food and showed how transformative a good meal could be.
After earning her 4 year degree in Business Marketing at Hampton University then completing Baltimore International College's Culinary Arts Program in 2013, Ashleigh embarked upon a variety of culinary experiences, including a stint teaching fermentation classes at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, a wine director/sous chef position in West Texas and over 10 stages at notable establishments like Jose Andres' miniBar in Washington, DC, Longoven in Richmond Ian Boden's, The Shack in Staunton, Virginia, and McCrady's in Charleston, SC.
While each of her kitchen experiences helped hone her technical expertise, Ashleigh struggled to find a cuisine that resonated with her on a personal level. It was this longing that beckoned Ashleigh to Asheville in 2018. Here, she found her culinary identity is proud to cook in the theme of Sankofa, "go back and get it" in the Twi language: progressing forward and integrating new food traditions, while looking back to history to reclaim lost and forgotten foodways.
In her spare time outside of the kitchen, Ashleigh's culinary explorations continue. She is often found foraging for wild foods or exploring the processes of fermentation. She also enjoys birding and hiking the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with her partner and Vizsla.
Alexander Bernard Smalls
Alexander Smalls is no stranger to culinary curating and storytelling; his most recent undertaking has been the creation—the founding and orchestrating—of Alkebulan: the first modern contemporary African dining hall, which opened in October of 2021 for Dubai Expo 2020. The dining hall, whose prototype includes ambitious plans for opening additional venues in London and Harlem, expects a total of 15 million visitors to the Dubai location by the end of March.
Smalls has been featured on television on numerous occasions. He recently appeared twice on The Dish, CBS Saturday Morning’s show, that boasts close to 2.5 million in viewership. He was also spotlighted, along with Chef Kwame Onwauachi, on CBS This Morning’s Trailblazers, a series that features trailblazers: luminaires and trendsetters that have defied the odds and achieved extraordinary accomplishments. In 2021, he was on a national ABC special, with Deborah Roberts, that celebrated the African-American holiday, Juneteenth.
Additionally, Smalls has had a role on many food shows. He served three times as a celebrity chef judge on Top Chef. He’s appeared on The Chew with Carla Hall, and Extra Virgin with Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos, and was recently featured in the Hallmark series The Peete’s with actress Holly Robinson Peete. He has been a four-time judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and served as a judge on yet another Food Network show, Recipe for Success. However, Smalls’ publicity is by no means limited to television; In 2020 Alexander Smalls was celebrated and featured in Food and Wine magazine’s cover story, the October issue.
Alexander Smalls’ prolific path is marked by a plethora of copious achievements: he is a James Beard Award winning chef, author, and raconteur was the visionary co-owner of renowned restaurants Minton’s and The Cecil — NYC’s first Afro-Asian American restaurant, which was named “Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire in 2014. Over the past three decades, this South Carolina native has traveled the world studying the cooking techniques and foodways of the African diaspora.
Smalls has always brought elements of his birthplace into his menus. As the former chef-owner of celebrated restaurants, including Café Beulah, the first fine dining African American restaurant in NYC, Sweet Ophelia’s in Soho, and Shoebox Café at Grand Central Station, Smalls has received great acclaim in the restaurant scene, including cooking at the James Beard House, being named one of Zagat’s “NYC Restaurant Power Players You Need to Know” and being honored with the Legacy Award in 2014 by The Amsterdam News, one of the oldest African American newspapers in the country.
Furthermore, in addiiton to the accolades, Smalls has had many awards bestowed upon him. He received a 2019 James Beard Award, with chef JJ Johnson and Veronica Chambers, for their cookbook, Between Harlem and Heaven. In 2020, Smalls was bestowed the Creative Spirit Award from the Black Alumni of Pratt by his dear friend the inimitable Ms. Cicely Tyson. He’s received additional recognition for his other written work, dating back to his first memoir and cookbook, Grace the Table, foreword by Wynton Marsalis, which features recipes from his upbringing he calls Southern Revival cuisine. His most recent book, Meals, Music & Muses: Recipes from my African American Kitchen, has been acclaimed by New York Times and Los Angeles Times.
Smalls’ work goes way beyond the kitchen; he is also a world-renowned opera singer and the winner of both a Grammy Award and a Tony Award for the cast recording of George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” with the Houston Grand Opera. Smalls will debut his new recording title, “Let us Break Bread together,” in June 2022.
Alexander Smalls sees his career in the world of hospitality as an activist and advocate for the foodways of the African Diaspora. He is dedicated to elevating, educating, and expanding the narrative, visibility and brilliance of African food in the world. When he’s not traveling, Alexander Smalls resides in Harlem, where he is active in the community on nonprofit boards and with community initiatives.
Chef Preston Clark is the Executive Chef of Lure Fishbar, a part of the Mercer Street Hospitality. Chef Clark presides over Lure’s 3 locations including Soho, NYC, Miami, and the recently opened Chicago location.
Known for his emphasis on bold flavors, beautiful presentation and fresh ingredients, Chef Preston Clark has been honing his culinary skills since he was a child. Son of Patrick Clark, the late beloved James Beard Award winning chef who is credited with giving us what was called new American Cuisine, Clark grew up in the kitchen.
After earning his Bachelor’s degree from the Culinary Institute of America in 2002, Clark went on to work with some of the country’s top chefs, including Jean Georges Vongerichten, Charlie Trotter, Marcus Samuelsson, and Michael Lomonaco.
He took his cooking experience to California in 2011, where he opened El Paseo with Sammy Hagar and Tyler Florence. The restaurant earned a spot on the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of Top Ten New Restaurants and Clark was honored as a Rising Star Chef for putting El Paseo on the California restaurant map. The restaurant was named one of the Top 10 best new restaurants 2011, Top 100 in San Francisco and Clark was also nominated for the James Beard Rising Star Award.
Riding a wave of awards and accolades, Chef Preston Clark returned to the East Coast as Executive Chef of Resto and sister restaurant, The Cannibal. After successfully running 2 New York City kitchens, Chef Clark was asked to take up his current position as the Executive Chef of Lure Fishbar where he would follow in his father’s footsteps of running a New York City Dining institution – Patrick Clark was Executive Chef of the Odeon and Tavern on the Green. Lure, as it’s called in the neighborhood, has been a New York institution in the heart of Soho for the past 17 years. Chef Clark has been at the helm for the past 7 years.
It is with inimitable persistence, passion and drive to propel today's dining experience that Erick Williams - Owner and Chef at Virtue Restaurant & Bar and Mustard Seed Kitchen - has carved a special niche in the restaurant industry.
Opened in November 2018, Virtue is Williams’ first solo concept, and is nestled in the heart of the historic Hyde Park neighborhood, located on Chicago's south side. The restaurant, which attracts guests both from throughout Chicagoland and around the globe, unites his 25 years of fine dining expertise, his love of Southern cuisine and his insatiable study of history and art as they relate to food culture.
A Chicago native with a formidable career, Williams’ foray and eventual establishment in the culinary scene began at mk The Restaurant working alongside admired chef Michael Kornick. His home for nearly two decades, Williams held the position of Executive Chef at mk, where he was extolled for his farm-to-fork, seasonal approach. During his tenure, the restaurant amassed a fiercely loyal patronage while consistently receiving accolades from coast to coast. The expertise Williams built over the years is reflected at Virtue with his precise sense of timing, immaculate presentation, deeply considered menu and a mantra of leading every guest experience with kindness.
Since opening, Williams and Virtue have been featured in a host of local and national journals and television programs. The New York Times named him one of America's black chefs changing food dialogue in America (2019). Virtue also earned its place on Esquire magazine’s annually anticipated list of Best New Restaurants (2019). Television writer and producer Phil Rosenthal included Williams in his hit Netflix series, "Somebody Feed Phil" (2020). He was also named, "A Chicagoan of the Year" by Chicago magazine (2020). In 2021, Williams was honored with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Mayoral Medal of Honor for his work feeding frontline workers during the pandemic and also his advocacy for social justice in the Black community. He has been featured on ABC’s Live With Kelly and Ryan as part of the show’s Hometown Chef Summer Cooking series and was the featured subject of CBS Saturday Morning’s "The Dish" segment. A natural orator, Williams was a featured speaker at the Philly Chef Conference (2019, 2022) and was named a Smith Symposium Fellow by the Southern Foodways Alliance (2019). In 2022 Williams was named Jean Banchet Chef of the Year and after being nominated twice (2020 and 2022), he was named Best Chef: Great Lakes by the James Beard Foundation making history as the first Black chef to win in this category.
In November 2021, inspired by his experience providing takeout only during the pandemic, Williams opened Mustard Seed Kitchen in Chicago, a takeout and delivery-only concept featuring a menu of high-quality approachable meals. Less than a year later in August 2022, Williams’ third concept, Daisy’s Po-Boy and Tavern which evokes the vibrancy of New Orleans through its most celebrated sandwich, opened in Hyde Park just steps away from Virtue. Months after Daisy’s opened, Williams collaborated with Virtue Chef de Cuisine Damarr Brown to open Top This, a delivery and takeout concept offering a variety of delectable mac and cheeses with delicious toppings.
On multiple occasions, Williams has had the honor of organizing and serving high-profile events for civic leaders and celebrities, both on his own and alongside fellow industry leaders nationwide. Outside of the restaurant, he donates his time and talent to those less fortunate by partnering with charities across the region. He is particularly devoted to making a positive impact on the future of Chicago’s inner-city youth as well as the hospitality industry, offering his time as a keynote speaker advocating for small businesses.
Robin serves as the Board Chair and President of McBride Sisters Wine Company, a multinational organization headquartered in Oakland, California. It is in the top 1% of volume, largest Black-owned and the second largest women-owned wine company in the United States, as well as one of the most inclusive, accessible, socially aware and sustainable. Robin and her sister began importing wines from New Zealand in 2005 and started making their own wine together in 2009. By spring 2017, the pair were producing wine from their hometowns in Monterey California and Aotearoa New Zealand under one label, McBride Sisters Collection. In 2018, they launched Black Girl Magic Wines, a celebratory wine brand paying homage to women in their family and community, and in 2019 the sisters debuted She Can Wines, a premium canned wine in 2019 on International Women’s Day.
Robin serves as a Board Chair for the McBride Sisters SHE CAN Professional Development Fund which she founded in 2019 with her sister Andréa. Since its inception the fund has awarded over $3M in scholarships, grants and technical training to 3,000 professional women in wine & spirits, hospitality and finance. In 2021 the fund partnered with Southern University of Louisiana as their flagship HBCU, to create a career pipeline for diverse students into the wine industry. Robin and Andréa were the first Black women winery owners on the cover of Wine Enthusiast magazine and were nominated for the Wine Star Award for the US Winery of the Year in 2021. Robin resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and has three children Daneia, Domenic and Angelo who all have pursuits in the wine & food industries.
Rodney Scott has been cooking whole-hog barbecue, over wood coals burned down from hardwood, since he was in middle school. For the next 25 years he worked with his family in their bbq stop in Hemingway, SC until 2017 when he partnered with the Pihakis Group —including Chef Paul Yeck and seasoned restaurateur, Nick Pihakis —to open Rodney Scott's BBQ in the North Central neighborhood of Charleston, SC. In 2019 Rodney Scott's BBQ opened a second location in Birmingham, AL and third location in Atlanta, bringing whole-hog, South Carolina-style barbeque to a different part of the South.
Rodney's hard work, friendly manner and respect from his peers has offered Rodney many opportunities to travel around the world and cook alongside chefs and pitmasters in New York City, Belize, Uruguay, France, and Australia. He has been featured on popular television shows with the likes of Andrew Zimmern, and Anthony Bourdain and recently appeared on The Today Show helping Al Roker feed folks affected by devastating tornadoes in Alabama.
Carla Hall first won over audiences when she competed on Bravo’s "Top Chef" and "Top Chef: All Stars" and shared her philosophy to always cook with love. She is a trained chef who has worked in several professional restaurant kitchens in and around the Washington, D.C. area and believes food connects us all, a belief she strives to convey through her work, her cooking, and in her daily interactions with others.
Carla spent 7 years co-hosting ABC’s Emmy award winning, popular lifestyle series "The Chew", and is currently featured on the Food Network in shows such as "Thanksgiving, Holiday and Halloween Baking Championships" (judge), and "Worst Cooks in America". Her latest cookbook, Carla Hall's Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration, was published in 2018, landing on annual "Best Cookbook" lists across the country and receiving an NAACP Image Awards nomination.
Hall published her debut picture book, Carla and the Christmas Cornbread, in November 2021
with Denene Millner Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. Illustrated by Cherise Harris, Carla and the Christmas Cornbread is a heartwarming tale loosely based on Hall’s childhood growing up in Nashville, TN, that celebrates family traditions, old and new, and also includes a child-friendly Christmas cornbread recipe perfect for the holidays.
Want to learn more about Carla? www.CarlaHall.com
Kwame Onwuachi is a James Beard Award-winning chef, and author of the critically acclaimed cookbook "My America" and memoir "Notes from a Young Black Chef," which is being turned into a feature film by A24. Kwame’s resume is incomparable: he has been named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs, Esquire Magazine’s 2019 Chef of the Year, and is a 30 Under 30 honoree by both Zagat and Forbes. He’s also been featured on Time’s 100 Next List and has been named the most important Chef in America by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Kwame appeared as a judge on season 18 of Top Chef in April 2021. He first appeared as a contestant on the show in season 13. He also was the host of the 2021 James Beard Awards in Chicago.
Kwame currently serves as Food & Wine’s executive producer. In this newly appointed role, Kwame will collaborate on big brand moments and events, including the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, as well as the creator of "The Family Reunion: Presented by Kwame Onwuachi," an annual multi-day event taking place in Middleburg, Virginia that celebrates diversity in the hospitality community.
His new restaurant concept, "Tatiana" opened at the Lincoln Center in November 2022. Tatiana celebrates the culinary spectrum of his New York upbringing, while being rooted in his foundation of the African Diaspora. Since its opening, it has been named one the “15 Best New Restaurants in Manhattan” by Eater New York.
Chef Lamar Moore was born and raised in the South Side of Chicago. He began showing his love for the culinary arts at the age of eight. Growing up in a large family, Moore learned the importance of cooking with love, taking care of people, and giving back to those less fortunate. His grandmother was extremely influential to his culinary journey. Hailing from Mississippi, she passed on a great appreciation of Southern food and culture to her grandson, as well as the importance of cooking from the soul.
Since catching the culinary bug as a young boy, Moore has dedicated years of blood, sweat and tears to get where he is. He graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2003 and decided to head West to San Jose, CA, where he secured a job at McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants. After seven years, he returned to Chicago, where he became the sous chef for the Chicago Bears, before moving on to a series of restaurants working as a successful chef and restaurateur. Moore has had the privilege of cooking for Super Bowls, NBA Finals, and even Barack and Michelle Obama on multiple occasions, but he admits his grandmother will always be his first and biggest fan.
Moore has appeared on popular culinary competition shows like Bravo TV’s "Welcome To Waverly" and Food Network’s "Chopped." "Beat Bobby flay and Food Network’s "Vegas Chef Prizefight," where he earned and won head chef of the all-new $10 million steakhouse, Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse at Flamingo Las Vegas. Moore believes food is an opportunity to step back from the world and connect with people on a deeper level, and has brought this spirit to the fast-paced world of Las Vegas. While Moore has enjoyed many successes, there is still more he wishes to achieve-- he strives to prove to his family and himself that all his hard work has not gone in vain, and that he can represent both the South and the South Side in the bright lights of Vegas. Now working on solo project, where he brings American southern influences to Chicago in the near future.
Chef Lamar Moore’s advice to aspiring chefs: don’t stop cooking, feel food from your soul, take care of your team, never ever stop learning, and humble your ego.
Melba Wilson was “born, bred and buttered in Harlem.” Today she proudly represents her New York neighborhood as one of the most successful African-American women in the restaurant and catering businesses. Her achievements are countless, with the most recent being a James Beard Award Nomination, and her reputation in the food service industry is stellar. Her style, poise and love of entertaining have made Melba’s Restaurant a New York landmark frequented by music, TV and movie stars, New York City’s elite, locals and travelers from around the world.
Melba’s drive to succeed started at an early age with a sharp eye and impeccable insight. Her first opportunity to learn about the restaurant business was at Harlem’s famous Sylvia’s Restaurant, where she held a variety of service and managerial positions. It was Melba who conceptualized and launched the popular Sunday Gospel Brunch, which was so successful that the restaurant industry’s elite quickly came calling.
Michael Lomanco, former Executive Chef of 21 Club and Executive Chef of Windows on the World Restaurants contacted Melba in 1999 to produce and manage a weekly Sunday brunch. In less than six months the Champagne Gospel Brunch generated a sixty-five percent increase in revenue. This experience combined with her ability to organize, produce and execute promotional events led to partnerships with renowned restaurateurs, Drew Nieporent and Robert DeNiro of the Tribeca Grill and the Nobu empire, as well as the late Artie Cutler and Godfrey Polistina of Carmine’s, Virgil’s, and Quest Restaurants.
In 2004, Melba decided to strike out on her own. Today she is the proud and sole owner of two Harlem based businesses: Melba’s Restaurant and Melba’s Catering. Melba’s has received rave reviews from New York Magazine, Time Out, The New Yorker, The Daily News, Zagat and Interview Magazine. The restaurant was also named Best Brunch for Kids by Time Out New York, Best Soul Food by Zagat and New York.com and has featured recipes in the “Go Green East Harlem” Cookbook as well as the “Bobby Flay’s Throwdown” cookbook. Melba’s Catering has an extensive list of clientele including Target, Nike, American Express, Pfizer, Time Warner, Bank of America, The NFL, NBA, Transport Workers Union, Universal Records, The Archdiocese of New York and several recording artists including DJ Khaled, Jay- Z, the Zac Brown Band and Katy Perry. Most recently the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, visited Melba’s Restaurant during their trip to New York City. Other celebrity guests at Melba’s include Zendaya, Tom Holland, Michael Strahan, Sherry Shepard and Nick Cannon.
Melba appears regularly on national news and talk shows such as Live with Kelly and Ryan, Good Morning America, 60 Minutes, The View, The Today Show, CBS Mornings, The Wendy Williams Show and Good Day New York. In addition she has co-hosted on Live with Kelly & Ryan. She is currently a judge on OWN’s The Great Soul Food Cook-Off and has been a guest on Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Savoring Harlem (which Melba narrated) and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Melba is featured in the documentary Love, Lust and Comfort Food on the Sundance Channel and will be highlighted in the upcoming documentary Turning Tables.
Designer Isaac Mizrahi handpicked Melba as one of his Favorite ladies to represent his Liz Claiborne line in a series of national advertisements entitled, REAL Women.
The proud mother of a 19 year-old son, Melba has a cookbook published by Simon & Schuster and was honored twice by Ebony Magazine with their Taste of Ebony Award. Melba is the recipient of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, Westside Spirit Award, The Entrepreneur Award, The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce Award, The Thurgood Marshall Prestige Award, The "Shero Award" and the Heritage Award, to name a few. Melba was also recently honored by the AKA Sorority, Google, Chase, inducted into Crain’s 2021 Hall of Fame and named one of Crain’s 50 Most Powerful Women of 2021. She is the first female and first person of color to be elected as President of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. Melba is a member of the Board of Directors of City Harvest, Opportunity Charter School, NYC & Company and God’s Love We Deliver. Melba donates to and supports many causes including Alzheimer’s, The Girl Scouts of America, NY Women’s Foundation, The Doe Fund, The Harlem Community Fridge and several senior citizens causes. She has consistently taken time to help community-based organizations in Harlem and throughout New York City. Melba is a partner at the newly relaunched Wollman Rink in the heart of Central Park.
Melba’s celebrates 17 years in business and has served over 6 million meals.
Key Group Worldwide
Nina Oduro is CEO and Co-founder of Dine Diaspora and the Black Women in Food Initiative. Her mission is to create a more equitable food system through initiatives that center the African diaspora. Born in Ghana, West Africa, raised in the United States, and having opportunities to travel globally, Nina draws on her wide-ranging experiences with diverse foods and cultures to lead strategy and creative direction. Nina leverages her experience in diversity, equity and inclusion; leadership development; network building; and community development; to connect people and brands through food.
Nina has over 12 years of experience supporting research, learning, and innovation initiatives for non-profits, private sector, and governments including Microsoft, International Organization of Migration, and the US Embassy-Ghana. She was featured as a 2020 Changemaker in the DC food system by Washington City Paper and a 30 under 30 honoree by Future of Ghana.
Nina received a Master's in African-American studies from Columbia University, a Bachelors in political and social thought from the University of Virginia, and holds an eCornell certificate in Diversity and Inclusion.
Virginia Ali is a truly incredible woman. Her earthly life began on her parents' Virginia farm on December 17th, 1933, and today she is as vibrant as ever. She smiles whenever recounting her fond memories of childhood on the farm, her deep involvement in her family's country church, her college studies at Virginia Union University, and moving to Washington, DC as a young woman to find her destiny.
As her beloved DC community knows so well, Virginia's historic destiny found her the day she met Ben Ali, her husband and partner in life, love, family, and business. The dynamic newlyweds opened the doors of the now iconic Ben's Chili Bowl on August 22, 1958. Today, 63 years later, this institution has become a place of fond memories for countless friends from DC, Maryland, Virginia, and all around the world.
Known affectionately as "Mom" or Mrs. Ben, Virginia has touched the lives of everyone she has encountered. Although she has achieved near celebrity status, her demeanor has never changed – with all her natural poise and sophistication, she still exemplifies the pure, wholesome values instilled by her parents. She lives a philosophy of giving love and kindness to everyone she meets, and as a result she is cherished and respected in a way that is very rare these days. In fact, at this point she is considered the "Matriarch of U Street" and countless DC residents call her "Mom."
In addition to all the hours she has put in at Ben's Chili Bowl, Virginia has also made time for many other meaningful endeavors. She has served on the Board of Directors of For Love of Children, The Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage, the Islamic Society of the Greater Washington Area, and Cultural Tourism DC among others. Over the years, Virginia and Ben have received countless awards and accolades including the prestigious America's Classics Restaurant Award from the James Beard Foundation. They were inducted into the DC Hall of Fame in 2002 and were later given the Key to the City by Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty. More recently, the Smithsonian placed Ben's Chili Bowl on its list of the 20 Most Iconic Food Destinations Across America.
With all that she has accomplished thus far, Virginia isn't resting on her laurels. As her family, friends, and employees will attest, she is a true dynamo who encourages those around her to live fully and strive for excellence in all areas of life. She gives generously of herself and her time, and despite all the recognition and accolades, she is perhaps best known for her kind, loving nature and her very sound wisdom. Virginia is truly a people person, and we are all very thankful for everything she gives us by simply being herself.
For more information on Mrs. Ali, contact Vida Media Group: [email protected] or (310) 859-4730
Grace the Musical
Take one family. Add a dash of hope, a sprinkle of spice, and a heaping handful of love, and you've got a recipe for pure theatrical joy. Packed with an eclectic mix of styles including jazz, R&B, rousing up-tempos and raise-the roof ballads, Grace is a musical feast inspired by the little-told history of African-American culinary tradition and the challenges faced by Black-owned businesses.
Conceived and composed by Nolan Williams, Jr., the Broadway-bound Grace captures a day in the life of the Mintons, a Philadelphia family who gather to mourn the loss of their matriarch and deal with the future of their family restaurant in a changing neighborhood. Heartfelt and hopeful, timely and timeless, Grace is the new American musical where, although family comes first, everyone has a seat at the table.
Grace will enjoy its world premiere at the historic Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. from March 18 through May 14, 2022. For ticket information, visit gracethemusical.com.
Chef Adrienne Cheatham grew up in the kitchens and dining rooms of the restaurants her mother managed in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida and graduated Magna Cum Laude, before heading to NYC to attend the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). While at ICE, Adrienne was referred to the kitchen at Le Bernardin where she started as a commis. During her eight years at the three-Michelin star restaurant, Adrienne made her way up the ranks, eventually becoming Executive Sous Chef. Adrienne went on to work with Marcus Samuelsson as the Chef de Cuisine of the Marcus Samuelsson Group, opening Streetbird, where she received a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide, and Marcus' Bermuda before being promoted to Executive Chef at Red Rooster.
Adrienne competed on season 15 of Top Chef, making it to the finale and finishing second. She has been featured as a speaker at Cherry Bombe Magazine's annual Jubilee festival and was the subject of a New York Times documentary series titled “Tastemakers.” Adrienne has appeared on Good Morning America, Live with Kelly & Ryan, The Good Dish, Food Network's Star Plates with Mindy Kaling, Food & Wine, US Weekly, Sports Illustrated, Grubstreet, Eater, and more. She is the founder of Sunday Best, a pop-up series held in various locations around Harlem, and recently published her first cookbook also titled Sunday Best, from Clarkson Potter.
With the belief that "all cultures celebrate, grieve, and come together around a table," Chef de Cuisine Damarr Brown brings his culinary expertise from Roister and mk to VirtueRestaurant. Brown cooked under Chef and Owner Erick Williams at nationally acclaimed mk for seven years, building a strong reputation and relationship, citing Williams as his mentor.
As a proclaimed food and beverage enthusiast, Brown graduated from the Cooking andHospitality Institute in Chicago. He grew up immersing himself in the cooking styles ofEmeril Lagasse and Julia Child and often cooked with his mother who supported his skills by preparing meals together and buying him cookbooks.
Brown spent two years at Roister, the Alinea groups hearth focused concept. He further honed his craft as sous chef under the tutelage of Michelin starred Chef, Andrew Brochu. Chef Brown reunited with Chef Williams to open Virtue, with the mentality that food connects people from a variety of backgrounds. Brown believes Virtue is an important part of Chicago's dining scene, as it was founded to provide inclusivity, and a culture of equity. His culinary focus at Virtue draws from familiar flavors he grew up with, pairing them with his learnings and takeaways from past kitchens.
In late 2022, Brown collaborated with his mentor Chef Williams on a second project - TopThis Mac N' Cheese, serving delectable mac and cheese topped with an array of different toppings. The takeout and delivery concept had a cult following from the start and continues to gain popularity.
A high point in his career, Brown competed on Bravo TV's Top Chef Houston, where he made it to the final four contestants and also was voted, "Fan Favorite." Months following in September 2022, Brown was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in America for his work as Chef de Cuisine at Virtue. Brown continues to be recognized, being named a Semi finalist in the Emerging Chef category by the James Beard Foundation for the 2023 Awards.
Damarr Brown supports the ideology of community and enjoys dining at eateries near and abroad. Music history is a favorite pastime, alongside his continual search for new or forgotten flavors and technique.
Justin Sutherland is a nationally recognized celebrity chef and entrepreneur who is the co-host of the syndicated Fast Foodies (TruTV), an executive producer and host of Taste the Culture (TruTV/HBO Max), a judge on Guy’s Grocery Games, Beat Bobby Flay, Kitchen Crash, Chopped, Guy’s Ranch Kitchen and a notable Food Network Iron Chef winner and season finalist on Top Chef: Kentucky. Sutherland is also a Food Network Tournament of Champions season 2 competitor, a First We Feast competitor, and a Relish contributor. He’s been featured on national TV shows, including Good Morning America, Tamron Hall, Rachael Ray and the Drew Barrymore Show. Sutherland released his cookbook, Northern Soul, on September 20, 2022 (Harvard Common Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group).
Sutherland is classically trained in French cuisine but returned to his southern roots when he opened his first restaurant, Handsome Hog, in St. Paul, MN. Justin elevates his pork-centric contemporary southern dishes to the next level by combining his training with traditional ingredients from the south. Justin is a successful entrepreneur who runs multiple restaurants, including Handsome Hog, Big E, Noyes and Cutler, and Northern Soul the Restaurant. He has a successful line of spices sold locally in grocery chains in the Upper Midwest and a signature whiskey blend with Tattersall Distilling. Sutherland is also a Weber Ambassador. He is also the culinary consultant for Allianz Field, home of the MLS’s Minnesota United.
Justin is committed to the social justice community and is the co-owner of Hybrid Nation, a socially conscious streetwear and lifestyle brand that promotes the importance of diversity and social equality. Justin is active in many Twin Cities philanthropic efforts, raising funds and donations for hospitality workers affected by the pandemic through The North Stands, MN Central Kitchen. He is also currently the Vice-Chair of the Leadership Garden, a 501(c)(3). He’s also engaged in the Craftmade Aprons Project Black & Blue, which supports restaurant industry workers dealing with mental, physical, and financial stress.
Justin has also been recognized by local and national publications for his contribution to the culinary world and his philanthropic endeavors, and community involvement. He’s been awarded the 2019 Outstanding Chef, Charlie Awards, an annual event celebrating the exceptional contributions of the Twin Cities-area restaurant, food, and beverage industry. He’s also a two-time Best New Restaurant winner from MSP Magazine.
Chef Serigne Mbaye studied culinary arts at New England Culinary Institute. In the years since, he has worked at a variety of restaurants featuring Cuban, French and Creole cuisines. These experiences have led him to discover flavor combinations he previously had never imagined. But he remains focused on Senegalese cuisine and the myriad of possibilities available using that rich tradition as a culinary foundation. In November 2022 Serigne opened Dakar NOLA, a modern Senegalese tasting menu restaurant highlighting seafood from local waters and produce from farmers in south Louisiana. The menu is inspired by Chef Serigne’s most cherished memories of his childhood in Senegal.
David & Tonya Thomas
Chefs David and Tonya Thomas are the husband-and-wife duo and co-executive chefs behind H3irloom Food Group, based in Baltimore, MD. With 25+ years each in the industry, the Thomases have operated a catering company and opened several restaurants, including the nationally recognized, award-winning Herb & Soul Gastro Café and Ida B’s Table.
In 2020, David and Tonya stepped away from their restaurants to establish H3irloom Food Group with long-time friends Floyd and Linda Taliaferro. Each playing to their strengths in the kitchen, David serves as the executive chef, and Tonya serves as the executive pastry chef, together known as the savory and sweet duo that brings their passion for soul food to the forefront. Today, the 100% Black-owned company’s portfolio includes ticketed dinner experiences, catering, pop-ups, sustainable farming initiatives, and the award-winning H3 product line, all working together to uplift the Black food narrative and provide a deeply personal approach to the Black food experience that’s rooted in history and culture.
Throughout both of their careers, the Thomases have remained consistent in their goal to reclaim the narrative and share the legacy around African American cooking and soul food traditions, while playing an active role in its evolution. Today, they continue to stay active outside of the kitchen, working with inspiring organizations such as the Muloma Heritage Center in St. Helena Island, SC and TasteWise Kids, an organization that offers food education to children to inspire a lifetime of healthy eating habits, in Maryland.
Tiana Gee is a Filipina and Black Los Angeles native who found her love for food at a very early age. Tiana Gee, also known as “Tee,” is a rising star of her generation and brings a unique perspective to the culinary scene with her pop up, SoulPhil, where she celebrates her Filipino and Black heritage through food. She started off working in some elitist restaurants in the LA food scene, where she then took her skills to New York to be the sous chef at her mentor, Marcus Samuelsson’s Harlem eatery, Red Rooster. Tee is continuing to navigate, in what we now know, as “the future of the food industry.”
Tee celebrates her love for food, travel and culture on her youtube channel, “ Cookin with Tee “. Tee is featured on Bon Appetit, Epicurious, Buzzfeed, Food Networks Chopped Next Gen and is a champion on season one of Tabitha Browns “Compliplated”. While Tee is working on multiple projects to showcase her love for food, culture and travel, her latest project is a heart-crafted pop up dinner series known as SoulPhil. SoulPhil is Tees ode to her heritage and a delicious way to get a taste of who she really is.
You can connect with Tee and check out her latest work on her instagram @cheftianagee.
Instagram: @cheftianagee | Youtube: @cookinwithtee | Twitter: @cheftianagee | Tiktok: @_mycupoftee | Website: cheftianagee.com
Toni Tipton-Martin is a culinary journalist, editor in chief of Cook’s Country by America’s Test Kitchen, a PBS television show cast-member, and two-time James Beard Award winning author of Jubilee: Recipes From Two Centuries of African American Cooking, and The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks. For this work and more, she received the International Association of Culinary Professional’s Trailblazer Award, its Book of the Year Award, and the prestigious Julia Child Award, an honor given to an individual (or team) who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats and drinks.
Toni was the first African American Food Editor of a major daily newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the nutrition writer for the Los Angeles Times, and a contributing editor to Heart and Soul Magazine. She is a co-founder and former president of both Southern Foodways Alliance and Foodways Texas. Toni is profiled in the 35th Annual Aetna African American History Calendar and she has been a featured speaker at book festivals, libraries, museums, universities and conferences.
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