Visiting Celebrity Chefs
The Lee Bros.
Founders, Boiled Peanuts Catalogue
Ask any food-world heavy hitter – Mario Batali, Padma Lakshmi, Bobby Flay, or Amy Sedaris – which young food personalities they look to for inspiration, and they’ll all tell you: “The Lee Bros.” But unless you’re in food-media, you may be wondering, “Who are the Lee Bros.?!”
Southern food fans already know Matt and Ted, and the outline of their story: siblings who grew up in Charleston and were stranded in dead-end jobs in NYC after college. They founded a mail-order catalogue for Southern snacks, and became food writers when one of their customers, an editor at Travel + Leisure, asked them to write a story about road-tripping South Carolina in search of great food.
Matt and Ted were the first young food writers to bring a refreshingly real-life, ravenous voice to the rarefied food coverage in the New York Times. But it was their first cookbook that put them on the map as writers to be reckoned with: The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook swept the 2007 awards season, winning two IACP awards and two James Beard Awards, including Cookbook of the Year. They are the youngest authors ever to take that award.
With their new book, The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern: Knockout Dishes with Down-Home Flavor, they’re moving a deeper discussion of Southern food into the mainstream.
Chef/Owner, Hominy Grill
Recently named Best Chef Southeast by the prestigious James Beard Foundation. Stehling first learned to cook under the tutelage of Bill Neal, founding partner of Crook’s Corner (Chapel Hill, NC) and renowned cookbook author. After working his way up from dishwasher to head chef at Crook’s Corner, Stehling worked in New York under a range of chefs including Brendan Walsh (Arizona 206), John Schenck (Monkey Bar), and David Page (Home Restaurant). In 1996, Stehling moved to Charleston and opened the Hominy Grill. Since opening the restaurant, Stehling has garnered numerous awards and national press for his devotion to classic southern dishes and an ability to innovate while remaining true to the roots of southern tradition.
Owner/Founder, Dressing Room; President/CEO, Wholesome Wave; and Author
As a leader in the sustainable food movement and chef with over 30 years of experience working with local producers and farmers, two-time James Beard Foundation award winner Michel Nischan wears many hats as the owner/founder of Dressing Room: A Homegrown Restaurant as well as President/CEO of Wholesome Wave Foundation. Wholesome Wave and Dressing Room work in tandem to create grassroots initiatives that celebrate local food systems and heritage recipes. Nischan’s newest cookbook, Sustainably Delicious will be released in April, 2010. An author of two best-selling cookbooks — Taste Pure and Simple (a Beard award winner in 2004) and Homegrown Pure and Simple, Nischan won a 2008 James Beard Foundation Award for his work on the PBS series, Victory Garden.
Martha Hall Foose
Renowned Chef and Author
Martha Hall Foose is a daughter of the Mississippi Delta. She apprenticed at California’s famed La Brea Bakery and trained at a world-class French pastry school before opening Bottletree Bakery in Oxford. Mississippi. She has also served as a food editor for Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks and the Food Professionals Network in Minneapolis. After all these accomplishments, she returned home to Pluto, her family’s plantation. She has since received the James Beard Award for American Cooking and Southern Independent Bookseller’s Award for her first book Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook, which tells the history of the Mississippi Delta and details Foose’s personal journey through life. Currently, Chef Martha is finishing up A Southerly Course: Traveling Foodways Close to Home, her second collection of recipes and vivid stories.
Founder, City Grocery, and Author
John Currence was born and raised in New Orleans to a family that loved to cook dishes from all over the world. From working as a deckhand/cook on a tugboat to washing dishes at Bill Neal’s Crook’s Corner to becoming the sous chef at Gautreau’s in New Orleans, he worked his way up through the years. Finally settling in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1992, he opened City Grocery. In the time since, the City Grocery Restaurant Group has seen a number of openings, including Nacho Mama’s, Kalo’s, Ajax Diner, City Grocery Catering Company, Bouré, Big Bad Breakfast, and Snackbar. Currence, who has received many accolades and awards (including James Beard Award, Best Chef: South), is at work on many new projects, including The Adventures of the Big Bad Chef video series which documents trips through the lesser known food spots of the Deep South and a City Grocery cookbook which is in the works.
Local Celebrity Chefs
Chef and Owner, K Wine Bar
Born in Bronx, New York, Kevin Fonzo received a culinary education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. In addition to his culinary experience in Orlando, Kevin Fonzo’s career has taken him to Atlanta, GA and Hilton Head, SC. He is currently owner and chef at K Wine Bar and also co-owns Nonna Ed Trattoria Enoteca with his brother, Greg.
Operating Partner and General Manager, Four Rivers Smokehouse
Originally from outside of Boston, Jeff Palermo has devoted his career to the food service and hospitality industry. After graduating from Johnson and Wales University, Palermo spent 17 years with Houston’s Restaurants serving as General Manager for the New Orleans, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Orlando locations as well as at the company’s flagship location in midtown Manhattan for three years. He recently joined Four Rivers Smokehouse.
Executive Sous/Head Pastry Chef, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Daily, Rujak serves as overseer, teacher, inventor, and leader in the hotel’s five outstanding restaurants, making sure that his and the hotel’s high standards are met on everything from the muffin and bread production to the elaborate turndown and amenities service. Outside the hotel, Rujak’s day is not yet over as he puts in many an hour as Baking and Pastries Chef-Instructor at Valencia Community College. In 2006, the American Culinary Federation named Chef Rujak the National Pastry Chef of the Year.
James and Julie Petrakis
Chefs/Owners, The Ravenous Pig
James and Julie Petrakis both grew up in Winter Park but did not meet until attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. These two chefs have worked in some of the finest restaurants in the eastern United States but have returned to their southern hometown to realize their dreams with The Ravenous Pig. Now open for over two years, the restaurant is a culmination of the winning team’s dreams of serving a seasonal, daily changing menu of made-from-scratch items as well as offering eight rotating American microbrews on tap.
Executive Chef, Enzian Theater & Eden Bar
Josh’s culinary career began at a young age, helping out at his father’s restaurant in upstate New York. For years he has provided a menu of creative and unique selections that feature fresh local ingredients giving movie goers in Central Florida a dining experience unavailable elsewhere. Now with the addition of Eden Bar his cuisine ventures into a whole new light, literally.
Co-Owner, A Chateau Kitchen
As chocolatier, entrepreneur, and co-owner of A Chateau Kitchen in Winter Park. Donna Moore is one busy up-and-coming woman! When interest was first growing in her delectable Chateau Chocolates, Donna began looking for an affordable licensed kitchen for her expanding business. Upon finding nothing suitable and talking with other local businesswomen having the same troubles, Donna created such a place. In November 2009 local residents, business owners, and community leaders joined to support Donna for the grand opening of A Chateau Kitchen, a brand new, licensed kitchen that offers culinary women a place to manufacture their products in a clean and friendly environment.
Executive Chef, Luma on Park
A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Chef Brandon McGlamery has gained an array of international culinary experience during his tenure at some of the most prestigious restaurants across the nation. Chef Brandon has held positions at Stars Restaurant, French Laundry, and Chez Panisse in California; the Ritz-Carlton Naples; Gordon Ramsey in London; Guy Savoy in Paris; and Bacchanalia in Atlanta. His passion for creating fresh, original, and inspiring cuisine is apparent in every dish he presents at Luma. Chef Brandon is dedicated to supporting local farmers, purveyors, and sustainable product. He most recently received an award from the Monterey Bay Aquarium for his support of finding sustainable choices in seafood.
Film Special Guests & Jurors – Click here