2017 CULINARY GUESTS
P. Allen Smith
P. Allen Smith is a television host, garden designer, conservationist, and lifestyle expert. He is the host of three television programs. Smith is one of America’s most recognized gardening and design experts, providing ideas and guidance through multiple media venues. He is the author of the Garden Home series of books published by Clarkson Potter/Random House, including Bringing the Garden Indoors: Container, Crafts and Bouquets for Every Room and the cookbook, Seasonal Recipes from the Garden, inspired by the abundance of food from his farm and a family of cooks.
Joe is the cellist for the Grammy-nominated band The Avett Brothers. For the past decade, he has toured internationally and recorded several albums, four of which were produced by Rick Rubin. When he is home from tour, Joe serves as a community organizer, both in his personal life and for charities. Through the Triangle Wine Experience, a local charity event, and Habitat for Humanity, Joe has raised over a hundred thousand of dollars for families and children in need in the past five years. Joe is a foodie, avid home chef and has blogged for years about food on the road via his Taste on Tour blog.
2017 GUEST CHEFS
Chef Pecko Zantilaveevan
Four Seasons, New York, NY
A native of Thailand who immigrated to the US in his late teens. Chef Pecko got his start in Manhattan restaurants with Christian Delouvrier in Restaurant Maurice. Encouraged by Delouvrier, who saw great promise in the young cook, Chef Pecko accepted a line cook position with Daniel Boulud who was then Le Cirque’s executive chef. Chef Pecko began his Four Seasons career in 1996 when he was hired as a sous chef under Christian Albin. From his earliest creations, Chef Pecko impressed the chef with dishes that made the critics rave. As a result, in 2000, Chef Pecko was named The Four Seasons’ Chef de Cuisine. In 2010, Chef Pecko was named executive chef. Today he is front and center, managing every aspect of the kitchen and its cuisine. Classically trained with a love of the Asian ingredients, Chef Pecko’s focuses on creating delicious seasonal menus that offer something for every pocketbook.
Chef Maricel Presilla
Cucharamama, Hoboken, NJ
Chef Presilla is the first Latin American woman to have been invited as a guest chef at the White House. She was nominated twice for James Beard Foundation journalism awards for articles written for Saveur magazine. She was a four-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee and won as Best Chef Mid-Atlantic in May 2012. A year later, May 2013, her book Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America was named Cookbook of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. The International Association of Culinary Professionals chose Gran Cocina Latina as the best general book in April 2013. Presilla is the chef and co-owner of Cucharamama in Hoboken, New Jersey, Zafra and Ultramarinos, her Latin American marketplace, bakery and chocolate shop are also in Hoboken. She specializes in the foods of Latin America and Spain. She also “holds a doctorate in medieval Spanish history from New York University and has received formal training in cultural anthropology.”
Chef Digby Stridiron
Balter, St. Croix, Virgin Islands
You could say Chef Digby Stridiron was born into food. A native of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Chef Digby grew up around what many today call the “slow food” movement—fresh, locally harvested ingredients and proteins gathered from the sea just steps away. He’s both an official member of the Slow Food Movement and the James Beard Foundation, and was the first chef to host a James Beard dinner in the Virgin Islands. Chef Digby was named as the 2014-2015 Caribbean Chef of the year. He was later in that year awarded the role as “Culinary Ambassador of the US Virgin Islands.” Chef Digby is living his childhood dream owning and operating Balter; a contemporary West Indian kitchen in downtown Christiansted, St.Croix.
Chef Justin Carlisle
Ardent, Milwaukee, WI
Chef Carlisle grew up on a small beef farm in rural Wisconsin and food has always played a large part of his life. Starting in small restaurants the passion for cooking grew and help developed a love of food and hard work ethic. His restaurant Ardent – opened in October of 2013, has been named one of the 15 best new restaurants by Condé Nast Traveler; Best Restaurant in the State of Wisconsin by the Business Insider; and was named semifinalist for Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. Justin is a James Beard Awards nominee for Best Chef Midwest for 2015, 2016; and he has been named nominee again this year on the same category. As Plate Magazine names him one of the top 30 chefs to watch in 2016. During his time as a Chef, Justin has continued to support the local food movement and use a modern technical approach to it.
Chef Sachin Chopra
All Spice, San Mateo, CA
Chef Sachin got his start working in kitchens in him native India, and went on to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Chef Sachin’s All Spice in San Mateo, California, a Michelin one-star establishment, is blazing a new trail in cuisine. Although Indian by heritage, his food is not necessarily that. Although classically French trained, Sachin’s techniques are not defined solely in that manner, either. Instead, his style is modern, elegant and expressive, inspired by local ingredients, global flavors and his own spirited imagination. All Spice is very personal restaurant that is a reflection of Sachin Chopra’s culture, training and forthright approach to cooking.
Chef Matthew Bell
South on Main, Little Rock, AR
A naturalized Southerner, Chef Matthew Bell is happy to call North Little Rock, Ark., home. Since moving to the South nine years ago, Bell has fallen in love with the heritage of southern food. After serving upscale southern food at The Capital Hotel for 5 years, Bell has opened his first establishment, South on Main, where he serves refined southern food in a casual setting.
Chef Scott Rains
Table 28, Little Rock, AR
Scott Rains started Table 28 in 2013 at Vesuvio’s former location in the then-Best Western hotel off of Rodney Parham. The Arkansas native returned home from cooking in California to be closer to his family. When the hotel’s owner heard he was back, Rains was offered the chance to start his own restaurant in Little Rock. And over the last 18 months, that restaurant, Table 28, has put out what I would call some of the best food in the city.
2017 REGIONAL CHEFS
Chef Matt McLure, The Hive, Bentonville, AR
Chef Jason Paul, Heirloom, Rogers, AR
Chef Michael Robertshaw, Rogers, AR
Chef Patrick Lane, Arsagas Depot, Fayetteville, AR
Chef John Lupton, Wood Stone Pizza, Fayetteville, AR
Chef Rob Nelson, Tusk & Trotter, Bentonville, AR
Chef William Lyle, Eleven at Crystal Bridges, Bentonville, AR
Chef Jerrmy Gawthrop, Greenhouse Grille, Fayetteville, AR
Chef Chrissy Sanderson, Mockingbird Kitchen, Fayetteville, AR
Chef Justus Moll, River Grille, Bentonville, AR
Chef Darwin Beyer, Meiji, Fayetteville, AR
Chef Von Tyguen, Sai Wok, Rogers, AR
Chef Anne Carroll, Farmer’s Table Cafe, Fayetteville, AR
Chef William McCormick, MOD, Bentonville, AR
Chef Luke Wetzel, Oven & Tap, Bentonville, AR
Chef Keith Burmylo, Bocca, Fayetteville, AR
Chef Matt Barclay, Bordino’s, Fayetteville, AR
Chef Kurt Plankenhorn, 28 Springs, Siloam Springs, AR
Chef Cody Johnson, Apple Blossom Brewing Company, Fayetteville, AR
Chef Maudie Schmidt, Cafe Rue, Fayetteville, AR
Chef Travis McConnell, Butcher & Pint, Bentonville, AR
Chef Steven Brooks, Cook with Brooks, Bella Vista, AR