MEET THE CHALLENGERS
Steven McHugh is from a large farm family – seven boys – in a small Wisconsin town, far from San Antonio, Texas, and farther still from the rich culinary culture of New Orleans, Louisiana, where his career as a fine dining chef took flight.
But his interest in the restaurant world started back on the farm when he followed an older brother at age fourteen to work in a nearby tavern, washing dishes. Within a year he had been elevated to shortorder cook, flipping burgers and loving every minute of it. A jazz saxophone scholarship got him to college, but he soon realized that he would rather study cooking – so he made his way to the Culinary Institute of America. For his externship at the prestigious school, Steven requested a placement in New Orleans, where he figured that he could soak in the jazz scene as well as culinary experience. He was right. Upon graduating, he got himself right back down, working with Creole chef Chris Brown at Metro Bistro, as well as for Dickie Brennan and Ralph Brennan of the legendary restaurant family.
On the strength of a single dinner at John Besh’s Restaurant August, McHugh dropped off his résumé, and was hired on as chef de cuisine at Besh Steak, in Harrah’s Casino. He then made his way to the flagship restaurant, August. It was in that kitchen of incredibly high culinary standards that his creative energy soared. After Katrina, McHugh worked 20-hour days at Besh’s side, going through gallons of bleach to scrub out the restaurant, and serving breakfasts to hundreds of FEMA workers from a trailer. “A couple of finedining
chefs, slinging scrambled eggs for 600 – we didn’t know what we were doing!” laughs McHugh, who was glad to be serving in the trenches. He worked his way around the Besh Restaurant Group, becoming chef de cuisine of La Provence, where the former farm boy established a kitchen garden and farmyard. As the floating chef, he was responsible for offsite catering and banquets. Finally leaving his beloved New Orleans to bring Lüke, Besh’s old fashioned Germanstyle
brasserie, to San Antonio – he met with Texassized success.
In January 2010, the thoughtful and energetic chef faced his greatest challenge by far: a diagnosis of cancer. “I remember the moment clearly, because I was in New Orleans, and the Saints had just beaten the Vikings in the Championship Game,” he says, wryly. He set out to beat his own opponent, nonHodgkins lymphoma with two tumors, one the size of a grapefruit – with fierce determination, two operations, and a year of chemotherapy.
“My oncologist happens to be a huge foodie, which brought an unlikely element of pleasure to the process,” he notes. Now in remission, his checkup visits are more often consumed with the subject of food, than cancer. McHugh’s new lease on life propelled him forward toward a longheld dream: a restaurant of his own. Its name is “Cured.” Located in Pearl, San Antonio’s groundbreaking culinary center that occupies the campus of the city’s late great Pearl Brewery, Cured refers to more than just the fact of recovered health. It is all about the house-cured meats and a menu of equally timeconsuming culinary elements that have been lovingly handcrafted with just as much care and faith from the finest, freshest local ingredients in a gastropub style
ambiance. Bitters for the cocktails. Vinegars for the pickling. Pickles – you get the idea. Years in the making, but held to McHugh’s own brand of perfection, his gastropub opened at the end of 2013.
Cured, the restaurant, says McHugh, cures hunger and thirst. But it does more than nourish the body; it feeds the soul, through McHugh’s commitment to helping others. “I studied social work once upon a time when I was in college, and that sense of wanting to make a positive difference in people’s lives has never left me. Now, with my own place, I have the perfect platform for that. I can make it up as I go along.” For starters, he’ll be donating a dollar for every charcuterie board ordered to a different charity each quarter.
“Beyond what was on the plate at Cured, I want to achieve the sense of warmth and support that I remember growing up on the farm, where our kitchen table was the gathering place for the whole community. I want every person’s experience to be more than just a meal.”
This sense of community reaches far beyond the walls of Cured. As a graduate who is committed to the betterment of his alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America, McHugh was invited to be on the Advisory Council of the CIA San Antonio Campus in April 2014. As a Council member, he lends his expertise in various areas: examining, discussing, solving or leveraging the various challenges and opportunities that face the campus.
In 2015, Cured was named the best restaurant in San Antonio in the Express-News’ “Top 100 Dining & Drinks” book.
McHugh has been nominated as a semifinalist for Best Chef-Southwest from the James Beard Foundation.
CHEF STEFAN BOWERS CULINARY CAREER DEVELOPED ITS INITIAL ROOTS WHILE GROWING UP IN BERKELEY CALIFORNIA DURING THE EARLY 1980’S. LIVING IN A CITY ON THE FOREFRONT OF THE ORGANIC MOVEMENT GAVE HIM HIS FIRST LOOK AT THE NOW POPULAR “SUSTAINABLE” CULINARY FOOD CULTURE.
IN HIS 20'S, AT THE END OF A 5 YEAR NAVY CAREER AS A HELICOPTER RESCUE SWIMMER (WHERE HE LOGGED A 1000 FLIGHT HOURS READING COOKBOOKS IN THE BACK OF HH-60 HELICOPTERS), STEFAN HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE OF MEETING 2 SISTERS FROM POSITANO, ITALY. THIS TRANSPIRED INTO A YEAR LONG APPRENTICESHIP UNDER CHEF CATIRINA DI LUCCIA AT RESTAURANT TRATTORIA POSITANO IN SAN DIEGO, CA. UNDER CHEF CATIRINA, STEFAN NEVER TOUCHED A BURNER. IN FACT, HE NEVER LEFT THE CUTTING BOARD, WHICH GAVE HIM THE OPPORTUNITY TO PHYSICALLY LEARN PROPER TECHNIQUE WHILE OBSERVING TRUE ITALIAN COOKING PRINCIPLES FROM THE GROUND UP.
IN 2003, WITH THE DESIRE TO ATTEND CULINARY SCHOOL, STEFAN MADE A BLIND MOVE TO HOUSTON, TEXAS IN ORDER TO ATTEND THE ALAIN AND MARIE LENOTRE FRENCH CULINARY INSTITUTE. WHILE STUDYING AT THE CULINARY INSTITUTE HE WORKED AT RESTAURANT 17 IN THE ALDEN HOTEL UNDER CHEF JEFFREY ARMSTRONG.
AFTER COMPLETING CULINARY SCHOOL IN 2004 HE MOVED TO SAN ANTONIO (HIS WIFE’S HOMETOWN) WHERE HE WENT ON TO BECOME THE CHEF DE CUISINE UNDER CHEF JASON DADY AT THE ACCLAIMED LODGE OF CASTLE HILLS. IN 2008 STEFAN WAS GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY AS EXECUTIVE CHEF AT 20NINE RESTAURANT AND WINE BAR.
THREE YEARS INTO HIS ROLE AS EXECUTIVE CHEF AT 20NINE STEFAN WAS INTRODUCED TO ENTREPRENEUR ANDREW GOODMAN. SHORTLY AFTER THEIR INTRODUCTION IN 2011 FEAST OPENED AND BECAME AN IMMEDIATE SUCCESS. STEFAN CONSIDERS THIS COLLABORATION TO BE THE BEST OPPORTUNITY HE HAS HAD TO EXPRESS HIS PERSONAL IDEALS ABOUT MENU STYLE AND CUISINE WHILE WORKING IN AN ELEGANT AND CONTEMPORARY RESTAURANT THAT HAS “STYLE TO BURN.” THIS EXCITING ALLIANCE WITH ANDREW GOODMAN IS SURE TO MAKE FEAST ONE OF THE MOST DYNAMIC AND “EXPERIENCE” DRIVEN RESTAURANTS FOR A LONG TIME TO COME.
Feast owner Andrew Goodman and chef Stefan Bowers are behind both Rebelle and Haunt, which have drawn great attention from local food lovers. Rebelle features a world of flavors from the comfort of cassoulet with duck and pork to lobster in green curry. The expected array of steaks, from the expected to the mammoth, are pan-seared to perfection, and are just a part of a varied menu that includes both hot and cold small plates to share, including baked oysters and a crab salad over celeriac. Of course, choices will change with Bowers’ inspiration and seasonal items
Born and raised in Galveston, Texas, Chef Jeff Balfour developed a love for his native cuisine and the freshest ingredients. Balfour realized his culinary passion over fifteen years ago while studying at the University of Texas at Austin. Balfour switched gears and transferred to Conrad Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. While working in kitchens in Houston, including the former La Reserve, he honed his skills in French and American cuisine under several of the nation’s top chefs.
In 2002, Balfour moved to San Antonio after given the honor of creating the food service concept for Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. Under his direction, Citrus Restaurant became known as one of San Antonio’s most innovative fine dining restaurants. Citrus has been recognized numerous times and consistently named among the top hotel restaurants in San Antonio, including being named as a “Best Hotel Restaurant” by the San Antonio Express-News in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Balfour also received one of the culinary world’s top honors, being chosen to showcase his talents at the James Beard House in New York.
This past April, Balfour brought a new concept to the historic Pearl’s brewhouse with the opening of his restaurant, Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery. The restaurant, which is Balfour’s modern take on Texas’ cross-cultural cuisine, is influenced by the coastal classics of Chef Balfour’s upbringing in Galveston married with the comfort of southern cuisine.
LES LOCKE, Brewmaster
Brewing beer is a kind of alchemy that's part science and art, part math and magic. For Les Locke, the head brewmaster for Southerleigh Fine Foods & Brewery, beer has become a way of life — one he could have lost after a cancer diagnosis. But his passion for beer and his work at Southerleigh are part of what helped him overcome this life-altering hurdle.
Locke discovered craft beer while stationed in Hawaii as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. A bottle of Chimay Red, a Belgian ale, opened his eyes to the possibilities of what beer could be.
He threw himself into brewing, even while earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in Oregon. While there, the legendary craft beer scene led him to even more possibilities. His part-time hobby evolved into a full-blown obsession. He volunteered at a brewpub in Oregon and was hired on after several months. Being able to coax flavors from unique recipes and still be able to apply the science, these are the facets of brewing that truly drive him.
After moving back to San Antonio in 2005, Locke hooked up with Branchline Brewing Co. and was there for the start of its operation before he was brought on by owner and head chef Jeff Balfour to be the brains behind the brew at Southerleigh.
"Ultimately, my goal is to keep working with the kitchen and keep finding ways to bring the food, the herbs and vegetables, into our product," Locke said. "We try to find ways to turn beer styles on their heads. We aren't trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, just make some really good beer." Credit Eric Moreno, San Antonio CURRENT
Catering by Rosemary
The Old Main Assoc.
Lorenzo G. Morales / Shrub Chef I was born in Alamogordo, NM, and raised in San Antonio, TX. My Training for my craft has really been spread through out, beginning in my grandmother’s kitchen, then two resorts, a catering kitchen, and the C.I.A in Hyde Park, NY. I had always had a passion for food and at a very young age I was often found atop a chair overlooking my grandmothers stove eagerly wanting to cook. She would allow me to do the kid stuff you normally would expect, like stirring and mixing. My grandmother has always been my biggest influence when it came to cooking because of the amount of support and exposure she gave me in a kitchen.
Growing up I never considered cooking in the industry as a profession, but that mindset faded when I started my first job at the Hyatt Hill Country resort as a garde manger prep cook. Luckily for me, while occupied with my job at the resort, my high school offered an independent student mentorship program that allowed me to mentor with two of San Antonio’s known chefs. I was taken under the wing of Chef Jesse Perez at Francesca’s at Sunset at La Cantera and Chef Johnny Hernandez of True Flavors Catering.
After graduating high school I attended The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY). In 2007 I moved to Atlanta to complete my school externship at NAVA (Buckhead Life Restaurant Group) and to continue my mentorship with Chef Jesse Perez. After Graduating with an Associates degree in occupational studies from the C.I.A in 2008 I moved back to San Antonio and worked for Chef Johnny Hernandez at True Flavor Catering, and Chef Jason Dady at TRE Trattoria.
In 2012 I helped open Arcade Midtown Kitchen as Sous Chef. We accomplished national recognition by being Eater.com most anticipated restaurants, local recognition from the San Antonio Express News for best new restaurant 2013, and our team cooked at The James Beard House in New York City.
In 2015 I opened my first restaurant and bar called The Old Main Assoc. We focus on San Antonio comfort food and offer items like the concha burger, fried chicken mole, and chicharrone fries.
Brian West was born February 7, 1972 in McAllen, Texas. While in grade school, Brian’s family moved to San Antonio where he remained through adulthood. Always a fond of grilling and being the host of the party, Brian’s decision to study Culinary Arts was no surprise to his family. Brian enrolled in the Culinary Program at the Art Institute of Houston in the fall of 1997. That same year, he married his wife, Mary Esther. They lived in Houston while Brian was in school and worked full time as a line cook. In 1999, Brian graduated with honors from AI and he and Mary Esther moved back to their home, San Antonio.
Brian has since worked in every managerial position in restaurants and hotels throughout San Antonio. He began with a Sous Chef position at the La Canterra Resort. He then worked as the Banquet Chef at Biga under Bruce Auden, Executive Chef of Fresh Horizon Catering Co, and Executive Chef at Hotel Contessa, Las Ramblas. He also owned and operated his own restaurant, Café Paladar, which received rave reviews and placed Brian as one of San Antonio’s top chefs. In 2011, Brian left the kitchen and went back into the classroom, but this time as an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America. While teaching at CIA, Brian himself learned more about food and the science behind it. After three years teaching and feeling at the top of his game as a chef, Brian willed to go back into the kitchen. Brian accepted a position as a chef and cast member for the popular Food Network show, Restaurant Impossible, working directly under Robert Irvine. During his first season on the show, Brian purchased a BBQ food truck and began planning the opening of his own BBQ restaurant. Smoke the Truck and Smoke the Restaurant should be up and running Spring 2015. He is also currently the Executive Chef at Tribeca 212. Brian, Mary Esther and their son, Philip reside in San Antonio and are enjoying this exciting new time in their lives.
MAX'S Wine Dive
Texas-born, California-grown and French-trained, MAX's Wine Dive San Antonio Executive Chef Lionel "Butch" Blache is one of a kind. Originally attending New Mexico State University where he studied philosophy, Chef Butch later transitioned into the culinary world, driven by this ppassion for food. He started working in the restaurant industry at the age of 15, and considers himself a "self-made chef." His extensive experience spans the United States with stints in Alaska, Sonoma and Napa. Chef Butch has studied under a variety of industry greats including CHarles Downing of Flavor, Jay Veragae of Wolfhouse and Matther Greenbaun of Willowood Cafe, although he credits his mother and grandmother as being his best teachers. Now leading the MAX's Wine Dive kitchen in San Antonio's Quarry Village, Chef Butch brings his skills, renowned industry knowledge and flair for creativity to the team. His culianry "sweet" spots are found in the Southern, Southwestern and Italian cuisines, with specialties in New Orleans-styled seafood, marinated rack of pork, a variey of duck breast preparations, prime-rib enchiladas and exotic appetizers.
San Antonio Food Bank
Haven for Hope
Growing up in San Antonio, Chef Martha Solis' passion has always been in the food industry. Her father and several uncles were personal chefs and she wanted to learn what they knew. With this desire, she started her culinary career 23 years ago in a kitchen prepping food. Along the way she has worked at a downtown hotel and helped open several restaurants. But Chef Martha always wanted to give back to the community.
In 2009, she was hired by the San Antonio Food Ban as a sous chef. It was a perfect fit: doing the thing she loved most and helping people simultaneously. For five years, Chef Martha has cooked with love and passion for residents of Haven for Hope. In 2012, she moved up to Executive Chef where she leads the kitchen in producing more than 45,000 meals a month -- 365 days a year.
Copa Wine Bar
“It’s the world’s most expensive spice,” said Angie’s dad to a highly inquisitive 5 year old one day while her parents were preparing her favorite meal. Thus began her obsession with paella and she’s been striving to perfect it ever since. Angie grew up in a household where the Castellano Spanish language and its culture were taught to her by her mother Carmen. Carmen is from the La Mancha region of Spain the epicenter of Spanish saffron production. Angie spent many of her summers in Spain with her extended family and Paella always spoke of celebration and tradition. A selftaught Chef, she’s prided herself in celebrating her family’s culture in the way she cooks, and was even the inspiration for her business Copa Wine Bar. Copa is a casual eatery with an emphasis on Mediterranean foods and wine that harkens back to the Tapas bars that she loves so much. Angie and her husband Jeff Bridges take pride in having founded “A Taste of the North Side,” which has become one of San Antonio’s premiere Fiesta events, and due to the hardworking efforts of its countless volunteers and sponsors, has raised several million dollars benefiting the Brighton Center of San Antonio. Angie and her husband Jeff Bridges own and operate Copa Wine Bar, a winner of numerous “Best of San Antonio” recognitions over the last eight years, and most recently a Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” for their wine list. Copa is in the Stone Oak area of San Antonio, Texas.
Victoria Country Club
TATU and RAFAEL
Chef John Tamez
Owner/chef of FOLC (new American cuisine ) and Park Social ( craft cocktail bar) we opened in 2014 in Olmos Park. Born and raised in Puerto Rico . Have been cooking for 16 years now (yikes!) graduated from Johnson and Wales north Miami beach. Worked at many restaurants in San Antonio including Luke , Biga on the Banks, Bella on the river. As well as stages in restaurants like Town House in chilhowie Virginia with chef John and Kerie shields , Alinea in Chicago with chef Grant Achantz Publican in Chicago with shed Paul Khan.
Jason Dady Restaurants
Since 2001, Texas native Chef Jason Dady has had a vision to raise the bar of dining in San Antonio, TX, to match the other elements of what this top tourist destination and lively city has to offer. He works beyond the role of restaurant owner, applying his family-man values to creating a tight-knit bond with the members of his team, as well as the residents of the San Antonio community with Jason Dady Restaurants. His efforts have not gone unnoticed: He has earned the title of “Best Chef San Antonio” by San Antonio Current and San Antonio Magazine, been honored as a James Beard semifinalist, and has received other recognitions including a“40 Under 40 Rising Star” in the San Antonio Business Journal and a StarChefs.com Rising Stars Restaurateur Award.
Dady first appeared on the restaurant scene of this central Texas metropolis in 2001 with The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, featuring one of the city’s first tasting menus, followed up by the modern American cuisine at BIN 555 Restaurant & Wine Bar in 2004. He then refocused on returning to the cuisine he most enjoyed creating and where his roots are, fine Italian, with the launch of Tre Trattoria—now his flagship—in 2007, initiating the movement for restaurants in San Antonio to create handmade pasta, along with distinctive flavor combinations in authentic entrées. His current concepts include the Northern Italian-focused Tre Enoteca (2015); the family-friendly Texas pit ‘cue at the award-winning Two Bros BBQ Market (2008); and the modest, saloon-styled B&D Ice House (2014); along with DUK Truck, a mobile kitchen for offsite catering that can also be found on occasion cruising the streets of San Antonio. Dady introduced the coastal seafood experience of Shuck Shack in July 2015 to offer another spot where thoughtfully approachable food and family fun collide.
James Moore grew up in San Antonio and started working in the restaurant industry when he was just 15 years old. After coming out of high school, he wanted to be a professional soccer player, but after working in the food industry, he decided to go to culinary school. Once attending culinary school, he realized he could turn this passion into a professional endeavor and put his all into making that his career path.
After graduating culinary school, Moore traveled the country and the world exploring food cultures and lived and worked in San Francisco, Santa Fe, Los Angeles and Austin to name a few. He returned to San Antonio to open Max’s, Boiler House and TBA and founded Center Cut Concepts.
His future vision is to continue to expand the midtown culinary scene, and he looks forward to creating a neighborhood spot with Grayze that will feature an inviting patio area, outdoor activities and grab and go breakfast tacos. A few of his signature dishes include his burger, poppers and redfish po’boy.
Partners Richard Higbie and Randy Mathews have hired a new executive chef, Robbie Nowlin, whose resume includes cooking with Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, a three-star Michelin institution, a fixture on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and long acknowledged as one of the finest restaurants in the world.
Nowlin brings finely honed culinary techniques to the Boudro’s menu, rooted in the history of South Texas and rich with the flavors, textures and aromas of the Texas Gulf Coast, Louisiana and Mexico. These bold flavors that have thrilled guests since 1986 find artful pairings with an extensive wine list that’s rich with New World vintages. Cocktails, like the dishes, bring new life to Texas classics such as the prickly pear margarita and a Bloody Mary with house-pickled green beans.
The elevated cuisine from Nowlin and his culinary team combine with a service team that’s among the best in Texas. Overseeing the restaurant’s operations is general manager Andreas Esparza, a luminary in San Antonio’s hospitality community who joined Boudro’s in 1989. Esparza, a native New Yorker, was raised in Tuscany and began his hospitality career working in the kitchen of his father’s boutique hotel in the Italian island of Elba.
Michael Sohocki, chef and owner of Restaurant Gwendolyn and co-owner of Kimura, developed his commitment to sustainability and authenticity over a lifetime of experiences that stretches from the Texas Gulf Coast to Japan. A native of Robstown, Texas, his creative endeavors began as a visual artist and led to working as a waiter, then finding a position at a small restaurant Marcel’s in the resort town of Port Aransas. There, he learned the discipline of the culinary craft, from washing dishes and scrubbing the kitchen sink to butchering fish, making salads and baking thousands of loaves of bread.
His apprenticeship complete, he left Texas for Hyde Park, N.Y., and the Culinary Institute of America and then cooking in San Francisco. He and his then-wife took their infant daughter to live in her mother’s home country of Japan. Michael, like many gaijin, taught English. Unlike other foreigners, he opened a cooking school within the language program in Osaka. There, he found his beloved Glestain knife, which he customized and wears holstered at his hip at the restaurant.
Instead of going to work at a kitchen in New York or San Francisco, he chose San Antonio, a larger city he knew as a child, a place where he felt comfortable and where he had family. With the intention of opening his own restaurant, he began working at The Cove, a successful casual American restaurant committed to local, organic and sustainable products. While he served as chef there, he gained his own appreciation and passion for the finest seasonal ingredients, and experienced the explosion of interest in the restaurant after it was featured on the Food Network.
Michael moved to Le Rêve, a 12-table contemporary French restaurant that Gourmet magazine called one of the 10 best in America. At Le Rêve, he honed his skills under the famously demanding standards of Andrew Weissman, a fellow CIA grad who trained in France. He moved with Weissman to the regional Italian Il Sogno, which received local and national accolades soon after it opened.
In 2010, Michael took over the former Le Rêve location with his tribute to his grandmother Gwendolyn, a pig farmer in Oklahoma who grew up during the Great Depression and whose resourcefulness continues to inspire him. Star Chefs named Michael a Rising Star Sustainability Chef in 2012 and the following year, the James Beard Foundation selected him as a semifinalist for Best Chef-Southwest. Later that year, he and his partner Jenn Wade opened Kimura, an izakaya and ramen shop, which presents a Japanese experience previously unknown in San Antonio. At Gwendolyn, he deliberately roots his techniques and sourcing in the past, which points the way to the future of food in South Texas and beyond.
Chef James Canter grew up in a restaurant family on a tributary of the
Chesapeake Bay and went on to get classical training in the Tampa Bay & San Francisco Bay area. He then went on to broaden his culinary
perspective on the national circuit culminating in twenty plus years of
professional experience and extensive knowledge in regional & global
cuisines. James worked extensively in San Francisco Bay, Tampa, Texas, remote Alaska, Portland with local fishermen, farmers, and ranchers to explore regional & sustainable/renewable food sources which he then provided to his clientele at many diverse venue’s from coast to coast. Now James’ efforts are to provide the Texas region with the same sensible and crave-able cuisine at Guerrilla Gourmet Mobile Kitchens.
James has also manned the helm of many diverse venue’s such as St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, to an exclusive South American Pena in San Francisco as well as at the Kentucky Derby’s Churchill Downs and stints at a Michelin starred restaurant also. While the basis of his new venture was born while filming an “edutainment” type cooking show in Los Angeles, it has manifested as the Guerrilla Gourmet mobile kitchens based out of Victoria, Texas. James always is looking forward to connecting the community (including himself) with their local food sources and bringing “sustainability” to the forefront of the Guerrilla Gourmet concept.
Some of Chef Canter’s other accolades include two and half stars “Best Places of Northern California”, 2008 best new restaurant-Tampa bay, “most sophisticated lunches”-St. Petersburg Times, and he has had the honor of leading up the culinary team for Vice President Dick Cheney-Big Horn River Resort and many other dignitaries and celebrities. Chef Canter has also been bestowed the honor of 2nd and 3rd place "RGV Iron Chef" and 1st place paella, international food festival, 1st place “King of Paella” 3 years running (The Pearl/Culinary Institutes of America, San Antonio), “Best in show”-Paella lovers united, as well as being awarded "Top 100 Texas restaurants, Texas Monthly Magazine" , 18th-World Food Championships, Las Vegas, 3rd place-Texas Venture Labs Investment competition (University of Texas, Austin).
Chef Canter has come to South Texas to pursue and achieve his passion of defining his “Food Truck Cuisine” and providing assistance to the local Victoria farmers markets. James is also a founding Captain of the RGV Farmers Market Alliance which helps in educating the local community as to the benefits of choosing the agricultural bounty that is available locally and demonstrates on how to use these products.
Canter currently resides in Victoria, Texas, on his farm with his wife and three sons.
Born and raised in San Antonio, Jeff began his career infood service working in kitchens at the ripe age of 15.Later, even after earning his Mechanical Engineeringdegree, Jeff couldn’t shake his first love and decided tofollow his passion – a career in the culinary industry. Jeffhas received several awards and recognitions includingreceipt of the People’s Choice Award for the Taste ofElegance, recognition in “Who’s Who in RestaurantBusiness,” prime media placement on the cover of SanAntonio Magazine, a bronze medal from the AmericanCulinary Federation and an invitation to cook dinner asthe featured chef at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.
Tim McCarty is the Executive Chef at the Mayo Foundation House in Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Foundation House is the former home of William Mayo, one of the founders of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. It is a working museum that is used for high end fine dining. Chef McCarty has 35 years of culinary background and is the 2006 Celebrated Chef for the National Pork board. He is also very active with the Minnesota and South Dakota Pork Board. He has done many seminars, cooking demonstrations and judging for The Taste of Elegance. He also was the 1993 and 1998 ACF Chef of the year for southeastern Minnesota . Chef McCarty has done many charity events with different organizations such as We Can Ride, March of Dimes, Boys and Girls Club and Gift of Life Transplant House.
Pieter Sypesteyn was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He spent much of his life in the kitchens of his parents' restaurants. Upon graduation from high school he decided to pursue a culinary arts degree. He graduated from the Art Institute of Orange County, CA in 2004. After graduating from culinary school, he was hired by the Los Angeles Country Club in Beverly Hills, where he worked under the classically-trained Swiss chef Christian Reber. He later moved to San Antonio in 2007, and worked under well known chefs Thierry Burkle and Andrew Weissman. After five years in San Antonio, Sypesteyn took advantage of the very successful food truck trend in 2012, and bought his own food truck to bring his native New Orleans street food to San Antonio. He has seen tremendous success with Where Y'at Food Truck and was voted "Best Food Truck" in San Antonio Magazine in 2012, the first year opened. Pieter and the truck have also been featured in the San Antonio Express News (Taste section-the first food truck to be written about in Taste), as well as national magazines, including Southern Living, The Weekly, and Garden and Gun. After more than ten years in the culinary industry, Sypesteyn followed his dream and opened his first brick and mortar restaurant, The Cookhouse - a New Orleans Restaurant, which will allowed him to expand his Cajun/ Creole food concept to include a larger, more diverse menu, including an oyster bar and live music. After his first quarter in business, he received numerous local and national accolades including "Best New Restaurant" and "Best Chef" from San Antonio Magazine, and was awarded three and a half stars by the San Antonio Express News. When not working in the restaurant, he spends his time with wife and business partner, Susan and his four young children.
Chef Lopez was most recently the Executive Chef and Instructor of Culinary Arts at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), San Antonio. He was the opening executive chef in the college’s NAO: New World Flavors restaurant, which also serves as a classroom for students in the culinary arts associate degree and Latin Cuisines Certificate Programs at the San Antonio campus.
A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Lopez has more than 20 years experience as a chef in six countries, including serving as executive chef at top hotels and resorts in Ljubljana, Slovenia; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and La Guaira, Venezuela; and with Nestlé Foodservice in Mexico City, Mexico. From 2000-2006, he was sous chef with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Punta Mita, Mexico; Caracas, Venezuela; and in the United States, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
Earlier in his career, Lopez worked in chef and management positions in several restaurants and hotels in France and Venezuela. He was also an instructor at La Casserole du Chef culinary school in Caracas. He studied international business at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas and culinary arts at the Hotel School of Beaune in France.
Lopez will be the Executive Chef at Botika, a Peruvian-Asian restaurant opening in Summer 2016 at the Pearl in San Antonio, TX.
Seasons of My Heart
Susana’s love of Mexican food was born when her grandmother from Tampico, Mexico, gave Susana her first tamal. She began formal study of Mexican cuisine in 1977 at Fonda San Miguel in Austin, Texas. Since then she has been a chef, caterer, author, and food consultant. She was the owner of the New York City restaurants, Bon Temps Rouler and Rick´s Lounge in the early 80´s. Susana has lived in Oaxaca since 1988 giving classes in her kitchen at Rancho Aurora where she wrote My Search for the Seventh Mole, A Story with
Recipes (1996) and Seasons of My Heart; A Culinary Journey Through Oaxaca, Mexico which is accompanied by a 13 part PBS series of the same name (1999).
In 2000 she built her “Temple of Cooking”: a fabulous gathering center where she holds classes, hosts TV filming, special parties and events. As a renown authority on Oaxacan cuisine, Susana has filmed and hosted numerous TV programs in her beautiful kitchen including: Two Hot Tamales (Food Network, 1995), One Plate at a time with Rick Bayless (2000) and A Cooks Tour with TV Chef Anthony Bourdain (2001).
Susana has also guided culinary tours of Oaxaca’s markets and street stands on TV shows: with Burt Wolf, Andrew Zimmern for his show Bizarre Foods and more recently with Jeff Corwin for his series Extreme Cuisine (Food Network, May 2009). Susana’s biography will soon be featured in At the Table With …(Food Network
Canada, Fall 2009). The Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and Hong Kong BBC have also featured her delicious recipes.
JHOHANS PRIEGO ZARATE
Mariscos Villa Rica
Ristorante Al Dente
Chef Paola Torroella born in the city of Veracruz, Mexico . He received a degree in food , specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. Ama Mexican cuisine chef and owner of two restaurants in which mixes his gastronomic passion "Ristorante Aldente " trattoria cuisine and Mediterranean and " Pride Almorceria Jarocho " traditional Veracruz cuisine. Paola has participated in local , state, national and international television programs history channel has a civil association of assistance to vulnerable groups called " cooks for love," he is creator of the dish Sn Sebastian and is currently the chairman of the committee gastronomic History Foundation Veracruz 500 years. Participates in the paella challenge for the chef Jhojans priego of Mariscos Villa Rica.
Torroella will be competing alongside Chef Jhojans Priego Zarate for Mariscos Villa Rica in the 7th Annual Paella Challenge.
La Masia Catering
Chef Alejandro Rodriguez was born and raised in Spain. Moved to San Antonio 16 years ago after learning the traditional culinary art of the Catalan cuisine. He recently graduated from St. Phillips Culinary School and established "La Masia Catering." Passionate about gastronomy and excited about learning fine food from around the globe.
Chef John Tamez attended St. Mary’s University and earned his Bachelor’s in Marketing and Information Systems Management. He then went on to earn his Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management from St. Philip’s College. Throughout college and culinary school, John worked at numerous hotels including Marriott Rivercenter, La Mansion del Rio and the Omni Hotel. He was trained in Cajun/Creole cuisine by his mentor Ma Harper, and went on to teach culinary classes for 6 years at HEB Central Market. John is currently a full time instructor at the Art Institute of San Antonio and continues to develop aspiring students through his leadership of chef dinners, fundraisers and competitions. One of his and his students’ proudest achievements has being holding the reigning Champion title for the past 2 years for the local Fine Swine Competition.
Godai Sushi & Bistro
Executive Chef Anthony Mesa, a Southern California native, joins us in creating a contemporary menu for Citrus Restaurant that not only represents himself but the ever changing culinary scene in San Antonio. Chef Mesa’s passion for guest service shined every time through his food during his tenure at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The menu features local goods produced by environmentally responsible means, in addition to the finest ingredients from around the globe.
SweetFire Kitchen at
La Cantera Resort
EDWARD GARCIA III
The Box Street Social
Chef Andrew Gutierrez
Chef Dominic Ramos, chef at Med Pecker Brewing Co., got his culinary degree from Art Institute of San Antonio. He is the co-owner of Gourmet on the Fly food truck and is President of Cutthroat Culinary of San Antonio.