Emmy Award winner Ted Allen is host of the hit primetime competition series Chopped on Food Network. He was a judge on the first four seasons of Bravo’s Top Chef and Food Network’s Iron Chef America, and was the food and wine specialist on the groundbreaking, Emmy-winning Bravo series Queer Eye, which had a 99-episode run. He is author of The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes (Clarkson-Potter), a cookbook that features easy, all-natural recipes.
Ted co-wrote the New York Times Best Seller Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab Five’s Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better.
Ted also serves as the spokesman for Robert Mondavi Private Selection wines. In that capacity, he works with media and consumers on wine education and food/wine pairing, and shares advice about food, wine and entertaining on www.Discover-Wine.com.
Since 1997, Ted has been a contributing editor to Esquire magazine, where he writes about food, wine, style and everything else the American man needs to know. He was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for his Esquire feature on the little-known phenomenon of male breast cancer. Ted also writes for such publications as Bon Appétit and Epicurious.com. Before joining Esquire, Ted was a senior editor and restaurant critic at Chicago magazine.
Ted holds an M.A. in journalism from New York University, with an advanced certificate in the school’s Science and Environmental Reporting Program, and a B.A. in psychology from Purdue University. He lives in New York with his longtime partner, Barry Rice.
Chris Santos got his first job at the age of 13, washing dishes at a small restaurant in his hometown of Bristol, Rhode Island. He admired the tough, confident chefs who surrounded him in the kitchen and decided immediately that he wanted to pursue cooking as a career. He enrolled in Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI, and, upon graduating, traveled around Europe and the United States to better understand different cultural cuisines. Early in his career, Santos spent time at Boston’s French-inspired Cranebrook Restaurant and Tearoom; upon his arrival in New York, Santos began cooking at the Lafayette street institution Time Café. He was appointed the role of executive chef at the young age of 23, which is where he began his “self-taught” education that has led him to his approach and style today. He served as Executive Chef at Suba and was Chef and partner at Wyanoka before opening The Stanton Social in New York’s Lower East Side in 2005. At Stanton Social Santos takes an imaginative approach to small plate-style cuisine, serving bold-flavored, playful dishes that draw from the neighborhood’s culinary ethnicities (Latin, Asian and Eastern European). Santos has two new Stanton Social-related restaurant projects on the horizon, and is working on a line of “rock n’ roll-inspired” chefwear with tattoo artist Michelle Meyers.
Amanda Freitag was encouraged by her Home Economics teacher to seriously look into the culinary field as a career. Amanda's teacher accompanied her to the Culinary Institute of America's "Taste of the C.I.A", where she fell in love with cooking. Upon graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1989, she decided to test her skills, so she moved to the Florida Keys to learn all she could about seafood. Amanda took her second cooking position working behind the stoves of the famed Vong Restaurant for Jean-Georges Vongerichten in New York City. At Vong, Amanda experienced fusion cuisine while learning Thai ingredients and French techniques. After a couple of years, she left and accepted a position at Verbena working for Diane Forley. After six years at Verbena, Amanda left and became the opening Chef de Cuisine of the Dining Room. But her love for Mediterranean cuisine enticed Amanda to accept a position as a Sous Chef at Il Buco. Lured away by a position as the Chef of Lavagna on the Lower East Side, she came into her own and created a loyal following and an excellent palate for Italian. She then moved on to Cesca where she was the Chef de Cuisine under the direction of Tom Valenti. Currently, she is the Executive Chef at the Harrison. Here, she offers guests her vision of lusty, rustic and soulful dishes that made the Harrison a city favorite when it first opened. Recently, Chef Frietag competed against Bobby Flay on the Food Network's "Iron Chef America".
Geoffrey Zakarian’s taste, style and passion for fine cuisine have defined his career, which has spanned more than 20 years. An arbiter of style and an accomplished chef who has presided over some of the country’s top kitchens, Zakarian travels the world on a never-ending quest for new ingredients, techniques and challenges to enhance the dining and hospitality experiences at his establishments.
Zakarian’s rise to culinary prominence began at Le Cirque, where he took his first job in a kitchen. Over a period of 5 years, he worked his way up from Pastry Sous Chef to Chef de Cuisine under Alain Sailhac. In 1987, Zakarian took his first turn as Executive Chef at the legendary ‘21’ Club. Shortly thereafter in 1988, Jeffrey Chodorow hired him to be the Executive Chef of “44” at the Royalton. There, he showed an easy affinity for presiding over a dining room where the food was just as important as the “scene”, and the restaurant enjoyed critical acclaim while also becoming a magnet for the city’s bold face names. Thus, Zakarian ushered in the era of the sexy hotel restaurant, turning “44” into an emblem of 80’s chic. In 1995, with his reputation for pleasing both gourmands and scene makers firmly established, he opened the Blue Door at the Delano Hotel in Miami, helping to successfully create another dining hot spot. In 1997, Zakarian became Executive Chef of Patroon, re-enchanting its existing regulars as well as drawing a new clientele and earning the restaurant rave reviews. In 2001, Zakarian added owner to his résumé with his first restaurant TOWN. and brought his culinary and decorative vision to life. Following in the successful footsteps of Town, he opened Country, giving distinguished hospitality to a restaurant that speaks of his passion for food and wine, as well as for a lifestyle of beauty, grace and elegance.
Patroon, Town and Country were all awarded Three Stars from The New York Times. In reference to Town, New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes enthused, “Mr. Zakarian’s elegant, clean cooking…seems almost effortlessly assured. With no visible signs of strain, he manages to enliven his dishes with just the half twist that makes them distinctive.” Frank Bruni, the current restaurant critic for the Times, wrote in regards to Country, “Both [the Café and Dining Room] are first rate experiences, united and distinguished by their classically French inclinations and unusually expert cooking.”
In the spring of 2006, Zakarian decided it was time put his craft and techniques onto paper. His debut book, aptly named, Geoffrey Zakarian’s Town / Country, was published by Clarkson Potter. The cookbook has been chosen as an Editor’s Choice by The New York Times book review and has been noted as “…one of the best of the 2006,” by Amanda Hesser.
The Water Club, a new 700 room hotel that is part of the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, opened in June 2008 with Zakarian overseeing all of the food and beverage hospitality throughout the property. His menus and guest experiences for the spa, four pools, outdoor cabanas, room service and private events have received much acclaim since the property’s launch.
When not in the kitchen, Zakarian stays busy filming TV Food Network’s Chopped, where he is featured as a recurring judge. Back for the third season, shooting Winter 2009, Zakarian’s quick wit and razor sharp knowledge of culinary techniques and skill, keeps the contestants quite anxious as they race to prepare three courses with grueling ingredients. In addition, Zakarian is producing and starring in A Day and a Night television series that plays to a curious traveler. The camera follows as Zakarian navigates through the best cities in the world with only 24 hours to explore and discover the inside track of a metropolis.
Zakarian is also hard at work developing future projects. He will be at the helm of the food and beverage operations at two new Dream Hotels, one in Miami and one in NYC’s Meatpacking District, both with pools, roof top lounges, restaurants and of course, room service. The Lambs Club at The Chatwal Hotel, opening Spring 2010, will partner an Empire Deco atmosphere with updated classics on the menu. And finally, for Fall 2010, The Benjamin Hotel, located at 49th Street and Lexington in NYC, has enlisted Zakarian for his expertise to redesign and conceptualize the anchor restaurant of the property.
To keep his cooking and ideas fresh, Zakarian turns to a variety of sources. He has taken sabbaticals to stage at some of Europe’s most notable kitchens, including Arpège, Au Quai des Ormes in Paris, Auberge de l’Ill in Alsace, The Dorchester in London, Le Chantecler with Jacques Maximin in Nice, and Pierre Orsay in Lyon. Fashion and design provide inspiration as well. He explains, “Food goes through similar style trends and redefinitions as fashion. You need to know that landscape to understand how to achieve something timeless.” Zakarian credits his staying power with a quest for timelessness and an enduring love of restaurants: “I still dream of techniques I can apply to pull intense and interesting flavors out of food. I dine out all the time, first because I love it, second because as a chef, you need to see restaurants from the dining room perspective, not just from the kitchen. As a chef, you have to be vigilant about every facet of the meal.”
There are few American chefs, much less female chefs that can boast staying power in Michelin-starred restaurants. Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli can boast indeed — she embarked on a culinary journey in France and ended up working in some of the country's top restaurants including esteemed chef Guy Savoy's eponymous three-star kitchen. Not surprising for the daughter of esteemed cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli, who spent her childhood surrounded by food. Alexandra learned to eat according to whatever book her mother was working on at the time: one was year devoted to Indian with Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni; another year was devoted to Italian with The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
"My mother was always coaxing me from my 'Barbie land' under the dining room table to peel potatoes, knead bread or assemble a trifle," says Alexandra, who jokingly continues, "what else could a seven-year-old have wanted from life?"
This early emphasis on her palate truly shaped her future in food. On the day of Alexandra's graduation from Barnard College in 1991, she decided to explore her culinary interests and began working under the tutelage of the acclaimed American chef and restaurateur Larry Forgione.
Forgione encouraged Alexandra to travel and expand her skill set, so she obligingly moved to France to do a work study at La Varenne Culinary School in Burgundy. After school and traveling throughout France, she moved to Paris to begin a four day stage at the Michelin three-star restaurant Guy Savoy. Four days turned into four years with Alexandra rapidly being promoted to sous chef at La Butte Chaillot, another Savoy establishment. "The first three months were terrifying — imagine being a young American woman in charge of a French kitchen with 10 young, male cooks under you? Professionally, it was a life-changing experience," she says.
After seven successful years in France, Alexandra returned stateside. Though she left the country, she maintained her connection with the cuisine, joining the venerable Daniel Boulud at restaurant Daniel, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become sous chef at the Manhattan standard. Always looking to expand her culinary knowledge, Alexandra moved to Los Angeles for two years to join Joachim Splichal's Patina Group, where she worked at the acclaimed Patina restaurant in West Hollywood before moving to New York to open Splichal's first New York City venture.
In 2003, Alexandra was given the opportunity to expand her repertoire and become the executive chef at Butter Restaurant, where she would create her own eclectic American and green market-inspired menu. In addition to her restaurant work, Alexandra inspires budding chefs as a Chef-Instructor at New York City's Institute of Culinary Education.
Alexandra has appeared on Iron Chef America as both a challenger and a judge and is the host of The Cooking Loft. Alex is also a judge on Ted Allen’s show Chopped.
The co-star of Food Network’s exciting new series, Chefs vs. City, Aarón is the owner and executive chef of restaurants Paladar and Centrico, both located in New York City. The son of celebrated Mexican cooking authority Zarela Martinez, Aarón’s passion, commitment and skills have placed him among the country’s leading contemporary Latin Chefs.
Aarón began his career with the Food Network as co-host of Melting Pot, where he introduced a national audience to his technique and creativity with contemporary interpretations of classic Latino cuisine. Today Aarón stars on multiple Food Network shows including: Chefs vs. City, Chopped, Best Thing I Ever Ate, Next Iron Chef, and more.
In February 2001, Aarón teamed up with Eamon Furlong to open Paladar, a pan-Latin inspiration on the Lower East Side. Funky but chic, Paladar incorporates the vibrant energy of the neighborhood with the relaxed intimacy and warmth of a Cuban Paladar. In its first year, Paladar won Time Out New York’s 2001 Award for Best New Lower East Side Restaurant and Best Latin American Restaurant in their 2002 Eating and Drinking Guide.
In 2004, Aarón opened up Centrico with renowned restaurateur Drew Nieporent of the Myriad Restaurant Group (Nobu, Tribeca Grill, etc.). With the new restaurant, Aarón goes back to his roots to cook the Mexican food of his childhood with a fresh interpretation.
In 2005 Aarón was nominated as the “Rising Star Chef of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation. The same year he was named one of People Magazine and People En Espanol’s (the country’s #1 Latin Magazine) 50 Most Beautiful People.
Aarón is a restaurateur, television personality, consultant, spokesperson and author. His first book, La Comida del Barrio, was published in May 2003. His next book is due out in 2010. Aarón makes international appearances conducting cooking demos and speaking, where her shares his knowledge and passion for cooking and Latin cuisine/culture with thousands of admirers throughout the year.
When he’s not in the kitchen or shooting his TV shows Aarón spends most of his time with his family, playing basketball and traveling the world exploring different and interesting cultures.
One of New York’s most beloved and respected chefs, Scott Conant brings a deft touch and unwavering passion to creating food that is unexpected and soulful. This year marks his return to the culinary scene with the opening of Scarpetta in New York City’s Meatpacking District and Miami’s Fontainebleau resort.
Conant’s love of cooking began at an early age. Growing up in an Italian-American household in Litchfield County, Connecticut, he began taking cooking classes at the local community college at age 11. At 15, he enrolled in a trade school for culinary arts and went on to attend the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
While at CIA, Conant had the opportunity to intern at New York City’s famed San Domenico, an experience that had a decisive impact on the young chef. After graduation, he spent a year in Munich, Germany mastering the art of pastry at the Hotel Bayerisher Hof. He returned to the States and San Domenico, working as a sous chef and helping the restaurant garner three stars from The New York Times.
In 1995, Cesare Casella selected him to be chef de cuisine at Il Toscanaccio, an Upper East Side Tuscan restaurant. A year later, Conant went on to revamp two institutions: Barolo in Soho and Chianti on the Upper East Side. When a chance to open a new restaurant presented itself, Conant accepted the position of executive chef at City Eatery. Conant and his modern take on Italian cuisine got the attention of New Yorkers, earning him a loyal following and a glowing two-star review from The New York Times in 2000.
In 2001, Conant was approached about opening a restaurant in a quiet, largely undiscovered Manhattan neighborhood called Tudor City. In preparation, he traveled to Italy for an extensive tour where he worked with some of the country’s most celebrated chefs and reconnected with his mother’s relatives in Beneveto. Inspired by his time there, Conant returned to the States with a menu that seamlessly fused the classic dishes of his childhood with his own interpretations of Italian cuisine.
In September 2002, L’Impero opened in Tudor City. Within weeks, the restaurant received a rave three-star review from The New York Times, and Gourmet declared that Conant “raises the roof on the Manhattan school of Italian cooking.” A year later, Conant’s signature pastas appeared on the cover of Food & Wine, and the magazine went on to name Conant one of America’s “Best New Chefs” in 2004. L’Impero received top honors from the James Beard Foundation in 2003, including “Best New Restaurant” in the U.S. and “Outstanding Restaurant Design.” In October 2003, Conant was featured on the cover of Gourmet for its “Chefs Rock” issue, and in March 2004, Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl named L’Impero one of her favorite New York restaurants.
Following the success of L’Impero, Conant went on to open Alto, a sophisticated Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan that offered his interpretation of Northern Italian cuisine.
Ready for the next chapter in his career, Conant left L’Impero and Alto to bring his years of experience and learning to a restaurant that is 100 percent his own creation. Scarpetta is that restaurant. An Italian expression that means “little shoe” — or the shape bread takes when used to soak up a dish – Scarpetta represents the pure pleasure of savoring a meal down to the very last taste. The restaurant’s design reflects the chef’s earthy yet modern approach to Italian cuisine. In July 2008, Scarpetta received a glowing three-star review from the New York Times and New York Magazine. In November 2008, Scarpetta was named one of the “Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire magazine.
A natural on television, Conant has appeared on The Today Show, the Food Network, Bravo’s “Top Chef” and Good Morning America. In 2005, he published his first cookbook, New Italian Cooking, followed by Bold Italian in April 2008, his second cookbook with Random House. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Meltem.
Ask Chef Marc Murphy where he grew up and he’ll fire off a list of cosmopolitan destinations — Milan, Paris, Villefranche, Washington DC, Rome and Genoa — “and that’s before I turned 12,” he’ll explain. For some, growing up the son of a globetrotting diplomat might have been stressful, yet for Murphy, this dizzying list of hometowns served as an excellent education in French and Italian cuisine. Indeed the menu at landmarc, is a delicious culinary ride through France and Italy the way Murphy has experienced these countries: at a leisurely pace, with whimsical excursions onto enticing side roads. Murphy is now the proud chef and owner of three successful restaurants — landmarc [Tribeca], ditch plains and landmarc [at the Time Warner center].
As Murphy tells it, he started cooking because he didn’t have the funds to become a professional racecar driver. Thus, he followed his brother to Peter Kump’s New York cooking school, now known as the institute of culinary education. After a brief stint in Europe where he apprenticed in restaurants in France and Italy, he returned to New York and landed a job as a line cook at Terrance Brennan’s Prix Fixe. He stayed for almost two years, working his way through every station in the kitchen and forging a professional bond with Brennan’s sous Chefs Joseph Fortunato and David Pasternak.
Eager to return to Europe, Murphy bought a plane ticket and a copy of the Michelin red guide, and upon landing, began knocking on the doors of some of Paris’ most notable restaurants. He finally got a position at the one-star Le Miraville, where he stayed for one and a half years. Afterwards, he staged at the famed Louis XV in Monte Carlo, where executive chef Alain Ducasse was so impressed with Murphy’s skills that he personally made arrangements for him to work with Sylvain Portay at Le Cirque once he returned to the US. Murphy still considers Portay to be his greatest teacher. “Sylvain was above all concerned with coaxing out the most vibrant, interesting flavors any ingredient had to offer, yet he insisted on minimal manipulation,” he recalls.
After Le Cirque, Fortunato tapped him to work as a sous chef at Layla, drew Nieporent’s middle eastern fantasy in Tribeca, where Georges Masraff acted as consultant. Then, when Masraff was invited by Joe Baum to help open cellar in the sky at windows on the world, he recruited Murphy to serve as executive chef. After receiving critical acclaim, including a two-star review from the new york times, Murphy headed uptown and back to French cuisine as executive chef of La Fourchette where the times’ critic Ruth Reichl awarded him another glowing two-star review, citing his “open desire to transform food [so that] in his hands, even a simple green salad . . . Looks like a ruffled hat in a painting by Renoir.”
At landmarc [Tribeca], which Murphy opened with his wife, Pamela Schein Murphy, he has transformed food – turning casual rustic French and Italian dishes, accompanied by great wines, into memorable occasions. He applies the same mentality to the fish shack concept with ditch plains, where guests enjoy fish shack staples on a corner in the west village. At landmarc [at the Time Warner Center], Murphy brings his downtown, neighborhood bistro to uptown diners in need of a comfortable staple.
Jonathan M. Cetnarski
John D. Claypoole
Kenneth R. Cox
Todd V. Lamb
Jonathan A. Lieberman
Matthew E. Morningstar
Richard F. Ferrari
Marjorie J. Hill, Ph.D.
Peter Lichtenthal &
Odell Mays II
Matthew E. Morningstar &
Alan Van Capelle
Casey Crawford &
Matthew L. Moore
Alexandra C. Trower