Pastry Chef, Blackbird, Chicago, IL
Dana Cree earned recognition in 2009 from StarChefs, who presented her with a Rising Star award for her work at Seattle’s Veil. Currently the pastry chef at Chicago’s avec and Blackbird, she creates thoughtful, nuanced, and resoundingly delicious desserts that perfectly culminate the divergent dining experiences of both restaurants. She was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2014.
Executive Chef & Owner, Artisan, Paso Robles, CA
Chris Kobayashi opened his American restaurant, Artisan, in October 2006 in Paso Robles, the heart of the California Central Coast. He exhaustively researches sources, including local farmers and food artisans, who can supply proteins that are wild-caught or sustainably farmed and contain no growth hormones or antibiotics, and can enable him to express his reverence for the products.
Executive Chef & Co-Proprietor, L’Etoile, Madison, WI
Tory Miller studied at the French Culinary Institute, then worked at New York’s Eleven Madison Park and Judson Grill. Now, as executive chef for L’Etoile and Graze, he takes local farm-raised ingredients and, preferring old world cooking methods, produces such house-made items as artisan-cured meats, fruit preserves, and pickled vegetables. He received the James Beard Foundation’s 2012 award for Best Chef, Midwest.
John Clark & Gayle Pirie
Chefs & Co-Owners, Foreign Cinema, San Francisco, CA
Gayle Pirie and John Clark are partners in business and in life. Since 2001, they have earned the highly acclaimed Foreign Cinema restaurant 12 consecutive Top 100 rankings from the San Francisco Chronicle and nominations from the James Beard Foundation for the Best Chef: Pacific and Most Outstanding Restaurant awards. Their cookbooks include Country Egg, City Egg and Bride and Groom.
Executive Pastry Chef, Raya, Dana Point, CA
Brian Sundeen is the creator of pastries, desserts and all things sweet, using organic fruits and berries from local boutique farms. A graduate of the Orange County School of Culinary Arts and French Pastry School in Chicago, he has received one-on-one training from world pastry champions who taught him there are no limits to what can be created in pastry.
Executive Chef, Trellis, Kirkland, WA
Brian Scheehser leads a celebration of small-scale, farm-to-table products as executive chef at Trellis, the Heathman Hotel Kirkland’s restaurant and bar. An avid farmer, Chef Scheehser sets a table of food and drink that reflects a true appreciation for fresh regional ingredients at the height of their seasonality.
Chef & Owner, Vie, Western Springs, IL
Since opening his flagship restaurant, Vie, in Western Springs, Ill., in 2004, James Beard award-nominated Chef Paul Virant has risen to nationwide acclaim for his contemporary Midwestern cuisine. In addition to Michelin-starred Vie, Chef Virant is executive chef of Perennial Virant, and recently launched his first cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-Doux.