Loca Luna and Red Door Restaurants
Little Rock, AK
Chef Mark has over 40 years experience in the restaurant industry as chef, owner, manager, consultant and developer. Mark developed leadership skills starting at an early age and earned his Eagle Scout award on his way up. Like many chefs, Mark has a bevy of creative talent and in addition to cooking, he's an accomplished musician and songwriter. But, he is best known as Arkansas' premiere chef and restaurateur. In addition to being active throughout the state in teaching, demonstrations and fundraising; Mark also owns two of Little Rock’s most popular restaurants...the multiple award winning Loca Luna and Red Door. He has owned and/or developed multiple restaurants and earned hundreds of local and national awards and accolades.
Chef Abernathy has appeared in over 400 television segments and is the creator and former host of the ABC syndicated cooking show Today's Cuisine. Abernathy is a regular guest chef on Little Rock's ABC affiliate KATV and has been featured in numerous publications including Food Networks' Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels, The New York Times, Cook's Illustrated, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Southern Living, Food Arts, Delta's SKY Magazine and more. This is Mark's third year representing Arkansas at Taste of Derby.
Serving: Razorback Heritage Pork Carnitas Street Tacos with America's First white cheese dip, spicy pepper relish and crispy hatch green chilis
Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites
Sam Fore is a Sri Lankan-American chef based in Lexington, Kentucky. She started her pop up, Tuk TukSri Lankan Bites, in 2016, after traditional Sri Lankan brunches in her home outgrew her dining room. Sam’s cooking is a reflection of her Sri Lankan upbringing in the American South; her dishes include her spin on Southern classics as well as new riffs on her family's time-tested recipes. Her recipes can be found in multiple national publications and across the web —her take on tomato pie graced the cover of Food & Wine in 2019. She was named one of Plate Magazine’s Chefs to Watch (2018) and was one of Southern Living’s inaugural Cooks of the Year (2020). In 2021 she joined the cast of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, which airs nationally on PBS stations. This is Sam’s first year representing her home town of Lexington and the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland.
Serving: Spiced Manchester Farms Quail with coconut scented Anson Mills Grits
Executive chef James Briscione is the first-ever two-time champion of Food Network’s Chopped. He has since become a Food Network regular, serving as a host and judge on television as well as starring in original Food Network digital series and streaming platforms. James is a frequent guest on The Dr. Oz Show and was named one of People Magazine’s‘ Sexiest Chefs Alive.’ Together, he and Brooke have authored four cookbooks, including their award-winning, best-seller, The Flavor Matrix(HMH ’18).
James cut his culinary teeth at the age of sixteen in the kitchens of Jubilee on Pensacola Beach. While in college in Birmingham, Alabama, James began crafting wood-fired oven pizzas for Chef Frank Stitt at Bottega Café. In his six years under Stitt’s tutelage, James worked his way up to become chef de cuisine of the multi James Beard Award-winning Highlands Bar & Grill. In 2006 a new life and new challenges enticed him to shift his attentions to New York City. James moved to Manhattan to be with his now wife, Brooke, and to take a position at Daniel Boulud’s iconic four-star restaurant, Daniel. As the sous chef of the private dining room, James cooked for a rotating roster of visiting celebrities and dignitaries. Eventually, James transitioned to The Institute of Culinary Education where he spent ten years as the Director of Culinary Research, training students and professional chefs alike on cutting edge culinary techniques. In the summer of 2018 James and Brooke returned to their hometown of Pensacola, FL to open Angelena’s with Quint and Rishy Studer, the Great Southern Restaurant Group, and Jean Pierre N’Dione.
Serving: Louisiana Tuna crudo a la mint julep- Bourbon barrel smocked tuna, cucumber mint acqua pazza & Italian chili crisp
Fluff Bake Bar
Growing up in Texas, Rebecca Masson never thought about the precise science behind baking. She simply viewed her three-tier pink-frosted birthday cakes and elaborate Christmas cookies as something for her family to enjoy during the holidays. While attending college in Wyoming, she took her love of baking to the next level and began working at a bakery. There, she learned the basics of bread baking and quickly became enamored with the solitude of the early mornings, the smell of fresh yeast and the science of baking. In 1999 she ventured to France to attend Le Cordon Bleu and went on to intern at Hotel le Bristol. Straight away, she moved to New York and It only took a few days for Masson to fall in love with the city she then called home. She took a position at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant, DB Bistro Moderne and then transitioned to his flagship restaurant Daniel. She moved up to the three-start Biltmore Room where she began delving into chocolate making coupled with infusions and later moved on as Pastry Chef at the exalted Red Cat. Strategically these experiences became a vital part of Masson’s pastry voice, inspiring the French technique based Americana tributes, with a flip that have made her a tastemaker in the Houston culinary scene. Locally she has revitalized the pastry scene. In the spring of 2015, Rebecca opened her first Fluff Bake Bar and has continued to grow her brand and followers.
Serving: Bacon fat gingersnaps with marshmellow and bourbon caramel
Odd Fellows Ice Cream
Sam Mason is a pastry chef provocateur. Honing his craft at some of the most prestigious kitchens in the country including wd~50 and Palladin, Mason has become best known for his aptitude for the unexpected.
With Tailor, a contemporary dining and cocktail parlor, Mason blurred the line between dinner and dessert—testing the palates and the imaginations of his diners.
Mason is also the chef-owner behind Brooklyn-based Oddfellows Ice Cream Co. where he shirks convention for quirky confections like chorizo caramel swirl and miso cherry ice cream. Oddfellows has scoop shops in New York City, Boston, Charleston, Tampa, and Seoul and is available for shipping nationwide.
Mason is a James Beard Award nominee and Rising Star Chef. He’s also named all his kitchen equipment after female country singers.
Serving: "A Horse's Diet" Carrot cake with toasted hay ice cream
Southern Belle & Georgia Boy
Joey Ward is the executive chef/owner of Southern Belle and Georgia Boy in Atlanta. He spent his formative years at Atlanta’s Cherokee Town & Country Club and earned his degree in Culinary Arts Management from the Culinary Institute of America in 2005. He returned South to begin his career as sous chef on the opening of The St. Regis Atlanta before working under Woodfire Grill’s former executive chef and Bravo “Top Chef” alum Kevin Gillespie. The two worked to open Gunshow in 2013, where Ward served as executive chef for six years. He now brings this expertise to Southern Belle and Georgia Boy, his first solo restaurant ventures that opened in 2019. Both concepts aim to celebrate the diversity of arts, culture, food and people of his home state. His wife, Emily is his business partner in both restaurants. Ward has been recognized as a James Beard Award semi-finalist in the Best Chef: Southeast category in 2022; named Best Chef by Atlanta Magazine and awarded the prestigious Trifoliate Award in 2021; and named a Rising Star by StarChefs in 2018. In his spare time, Ward spends time with his dogs and his wife, Emily, a spirited Southern belle for whom the restaurant was named.
Serving: Chicken and Waffle Cone
James is the author of Dining at Delmonico’s “The story of America’s oldest restaurant”, a best in the world 2009 winner at The Gourmand* world cookbook awards in Paris, as well as his latest cookbook Italian Family Traditions with “a twist” which is a fine collection of both Classic Italian Family Recipes along with recipes collected from his travel and international dinner experiences . He is currently Corporate consulting chef for Delmonico's Wall Street* and more recently ventured south as corporate chef for The Church Street Family Group in Huntsville, AL where he oversees 2 fine dining restaurants , an urban oyster bar and a popular bar , a speakeasy concept and 2 retail wine shops with tapa's .James is the chef /owner of NYC Culinary Events*, a nationally recognized food consulting & catering firm which has provided consulting or catering for such prestigious events as The Masters* Golf Tournament, The Ryder Cup*, The Breeders Cup* & The USTA*for The U.S. Tennis Open and numerous fast casual theme restaurant openings in Manhattan.
He has promoted American food & recipes abroad in Europe, South America & The Middle East where he was a guest chef at The Grand Gourmet Summit* in Dubai and in Australia where he was a guest Chef at the “Masters of Australia” in Melbourne and was featured on national news shows including Good Morning Australia where he showcased recipes from his trips. During this period, he was also production assistant in Sicily onthe food network’s filming “My Country, My Kitchen” with award winning producer Irene Wong* and award-winning cookbook author Judith Choate* & photographer Steve Pool
Chef Jimmy has been invited to cook at our US Embassies in Oslo, Norway for a very private dinner and with our ambassador in Madrid, Spain where the “theme” was an American BBQ for 200. That month he also flew into Edinburgh, Scotland where he cooked alongside Michelin starred chef Jeff Bland at The Balmoral Hotel featured on nightly news & print, then off to California where he was honored as “Master Chef “by international food & beverage forum Hall of fame founder Kurt Fischer at a 4-day summit and culinary
Serving: American Wagyu filet with micro greens, parmesan tuille, black truffle vinaigrettem and cab drizzle
Cornbread & Kimchi
Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef LaMara Davidson is the daughter of an African American serviceman and a Korean mother, and grew up eating Southern soul food and Korean food. Inspired by both, she calls her unique cuisine “Seoul food.” For the majority of her career, Davidson continued exclusively for the Marriott Corporation, working at prestigious properties including The Ritz Carlton Atlanta, JW Marriott Austin and Gaylord Texan Resort. During her time as executive chef at the Gaylord Texan, LaMara was selected as one of twelve chefs nationally to be featured in Marriott International’s Diary of the Craft Artisan video series, an initiative highlighting Marriott’s food and beverage talent across the globe. LaMara traveled the U.S. as part of their International's team supporting all brands under their umbrella.
In 2020,she founded Cornbread and Kimchi, a line of products including flour blends, bread crumbs, and seasonings that combine her love for Asian flavors and Southern home-style favorites for quick and easy use for the home chef. A true love letter to her heritage and upbringing complete with merchandise swag. Today, Chef LaMara’s involvement in the industry moves beyond the line with annual appearances at Charleston Wine + Food, print and online features in People Magazine, Food Network Magazine, Apartment Therapy, Food & Wine, Forbes.com, HuffPost, Saveur and Essence to name a few. In early2022, Davidson joined Cook Unity; the first ever chef collective where she shares her menu of inspiring dishes for meal deliveries in Atlanta and soon to be nationwide.
Serving: Crispy Spiced Pork Belly with Anson Mill blue corn grits
Chef Christopher Lynch is currently the Executive Chef at Atchafalaya restaurant in New Orleans. His culinary brunch/dinner focused cuisine continues to deliver a fresh culinary perspective across Louisiana and the Gulf south. In addition to his passion for cooking, he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids.
Serving: Viet-Cajun Louisiana Crawfish Salad with housemade sweet chili crunch and pickled vegetable salad
Levy Restaurants at Churchill Downs
With over a decade of experience as Executive Chef, Kenneth Hardiman has lead over half a dozen independent restaurants, from the Midwest to the West coast, into award-winning establishments. Kenneth has won several awards and competitions, including the 2019 Compass Super Chef, the 2017 March of Dimes Wisconsin Chefs Cook-Off; he was also the front runner for the 2014 Restaurants Chef the year award and won fourth place on the Oswalt Restaurant Supply Culinary Cook-Off. In 2018 he and his culinary team helped orchestrate the inaugural season at Fiserv Forum, home of the Milwaukee Bucks. The uniqueness of Fiserv Forum comes from locally sourced foods and restaurants. While operating a new arena with dozens of events and the challenge of making it the best arena in the world, Kenneth also worked on the opening of The Mecca Sports Bar and Grill. It can host up to 700 Bucks Fans and a giant forty-three feet TV, the largest in the state of Wisconsin. In July 2020, he opened Cream City Cluckery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Kenneth came to Churchill Downs in late 2021 to begin prep for the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby. When Kenneth gets some time off, he enjoys reading cookbooks and cooking for his wife, Lindsay and son, Clayton.
Serving: Watermelon-Rose Water Mint Julep Slushie
Chef Tory McPhail is the Executive Chef & Culinary Director for three restaurants including Revelry, Jam & Daves Sushi in downtown Bozeman, Montana. Tory is widely recognized as a true culinary scholar. His time spent outside the kitchen is key to his success; he immerses himself in the academia of food, soaking up intricate details about the origins of the foods he selects for his menus. He works closely with his growers, producers and vendors; his forays into mountains, fields, fishing boats and beyond are a treasured ritual that net delightful results. Chef McPhail was born and raised in the small farming community of Ferndale which is located on the Canadian border in the Northwestern corner of Washington State. After growing up working the raspberry fields of the family farms, McPhail headed to Seattle to attend culinary school at South Seattle College and finished first in his class. At just 19, Chef McPhail moved to Louisiana to work under James Beard Award winning Chef Jamie Shannon & the Brennan family at the legendary Commander's Palace. The experience changed the scope of his life and he has worked there on multiple occasions in his career. During breaks from Commander’s Palace, McPhail has worked at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, FL; L'Escargot & The Picasso Room in London, England; The Mongoose on St. John, US Virgin Islands and has opened 2 more Commander's Palaces in Las Vegas, Nevada & Destin, Florida. Chef McPhail has just wrapped up his 27 year Commander's Palace career after being the executive chef for 19 years and the longest chef ever after following in the footsteps of Chefs Paul Prudomme, Emeril Lagasse and his mentor Jamie Shannon. After becoming a James Beard Rising Star Chef at the age 28 and winning a James Beard Award for Best Chef South in 2009, Chef McPhail has made multiple television appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef, The Today Show, Food Network, Travel Channel and Turner South.
Serving: Maple wood BBQ'ed bison brisket with Montana cracked when grits, cowboy caviar, huckleberry jam, and smokehouse sauce
Le Bar a Boeuf
Jean-Robert was born in France and worked abroad before moving to the United States. His first experience in the US was in New York City where he served as the Chef de Cuisine at Le Régence & La Gauloise within Plaza Athénée. He moved to Cincinnati in 1993to become the Chef de Cuisine at the Maisonette, maintaining the restaurant’s Mobil 5 Star rating during his tenure. He was a founding partner and Chef de Cuisine at Jean-Robert at Pigall’s, JeanRo Bistro, Pho Paris, Greenup Café, and Lavomatic Café. He was named a Master Chef by Maîtres Cuisiniers de France in 2007. In 2009, he was named Chef-in-Residence at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State. In 2010 Jean-Robert’s Table opened in downtown Cincinnati and in 2013, French Crust Café joined the area. It moved to Findlay Market in 2016, transforming to French Crust Café & Bistro. Le Bar a Boeuf began serving customers on Victory Parkway in 2015 and in 2016 Jean-Robert joined forces with partners to open the fast-casual Frenchie Fresh and the fine dining delight Restaurant L. Most recently, in February of 2022, Jean-Robert was honored as a Great Living Cincinnatian for his service, leadership and accomplishments.
Serving: Confit duck leg salad with toasted couscous and grains, Arugula, radish, dried fruits and bourbon
Cory Bahr Chef & Proprietor of Parish Restaurant, Standard Coffee Co., Heritage Catering & Bahr Food Truckin Monroe, Louisiana, where he was born and raised. He was a Food Network Star Finalist, he also Beat Bobby Flay, Food & Wine named him "People's Best New Chef" in America and “People’s Best New Chef” Gulf Coast. He was named to the Taste of the South's "Taste 50”, Cory is a Food Network’s Chopped! Champion. Cory was also named to the list of Louisiana Cookin’ “Chef to Watch”
Serving: Louisiana Bluefin toro and Blue Crab with caramelized koji bonbon and black truffle
Executive Chef Orfano
Chef and Restaurateur Tiffani Faison has made a name for herself nationwide for her dynamic personality, culinary prowess, and fierce work ethic. Under Big Heart Hospitality, her Boston based restaurant group, she creates restaurants that are warm, inspired and instantly loveable.
Since the opening of Sweet Cheeks Qin 2011 where Tiffani blew Boston away with her Texas style barbecue, she has kept diners on their toes, unafraid to shatter expectations about what she might do next. There is Fool’s Errand and its snack forward menu; Orfano with subversive Italian American offerings, Dive Bar, riffing on both Southern and New England seafood; Tenderoni’s, serving old school pizza and grinders, and Bubble Bath, where champagne brilliantly meets hot dogs and popcorn.
Marking her many culinary achievements, the James Beard Foundation has nominated Tiffani as “Best Chef: Northeast ”four times (2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022) and Boston magazine awarded her “Best Chef: General Excellence” (2016).The Boston Business Journal has twice named Tiffani to its “Power 50” list; The Boston Globe named Big Heart Hospitality as “Restaurateurs of the Year,” and Eater named Tiffani “Empire Builder of the Year.”
Outside of the kitchen, Tiffani continues to be a rising star on The Food Network, whether competing against the world’s greatest chefs on Tournament of Champions, or serving as a judge on Food Network’s Chopped, Guy’s Grocery Games or Beat Bobby Flay. Tiffani's on the Board of Directors for Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and Boston Alliance of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Youth, and was appointed to The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Restaurant Promotion Commission for her commitment to the state’s restaurant business.
Serving: Spicy Louisiana Shrimp a la Vodka with Olive Oil fried ciabatta
Ms Chi Cafe
Los Angeles CA
A native of Beijing, and a proud Chinese-American, Chef Shirley Chung of Ms Chi Café brings a playfulness and refinement of flavors to her culinary creations. She was a two-time finalist on Bravo’s Top Chefseasons11and 14 and competed on the Food Network’s Tournament of Champions. Recently, Shirley co-launched Dumpling Mafia NFT which is the first chef-driven NFT bridging food, art and the crypto world.
Serving: Chicken Potstickers with bourbon glaze and chili crisp