Executive chefs and food & beverage directors will gather at the Eighth Annual Corporate and Executive Chefs’ Taste Summit & Expo Friday, May 15, at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, prior to the National Restaurant Association Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show, which runs May 16 to 19. The event is conducted by the Chefs In America Awards Foundation and is co-sponsored by Chef Magazine. The summit and expo will include awards for chefs, as well as presentations by gold medal winning purveyors in F&B, culinary and on-premise.

The keynote speaker is Joseph Keller co-creator (with his brother, Thomas Keller) of French Laundry, Per Se and Bouchon. The keynote panel, "5 Wizards, Each Extraordinary Leaders in the American Culinary Profession" will address the intangibles of creativity: inspiration and cutting-edge concepts. Other speakers include:
  • Stephen Kalil, president of the Research Chefs Association. Chef Kalil is both a Certified Executive Chef (CEC) with the American Culinary Federation and a Certified Research Chef (CRC) with the Research Chefs Association. He also has the distinction of being PepsiCo and Frito Lay’s first corporate chef, where he now inspires culinary development through the application of Culinology, the blending of culinary arts and food science.
  • Peter Olsacher, executive chef for R&D, Bahama Breeze/Darden Restaurants, the largest Caribbean-inspired restaurant company in the United States. Chef Olsacher has won two national culinary competitions during the National ACF Conventions in Las Vegas and D.C., and has been voted "Invitational Chef of the Year" at Taste of the Caribbean. He was inducted as a "Master of Taste" by the Chefs In America Awards Foundation (2006) and “Chef of the Year” by the Central Florida Chapter of the ACF (2007).
  • Marcus Samuelsson, executive chef of Aquavit Restaurant is also co-founder and chief creative director of the Townhouse Restaurant Group. He has authored numerous cookbooks, including Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine (2003). Chef Samuelsson has garnered many awards, including "Rising Star Chef" (1999) from the James Beard Foundation and was named one of the "Great Chefs of America" by The Culinary Institute of America.
  • Toni Neumeister, vice president, F&B operations, Crystal Cruises. Considered by industry officials to be one of the best master chefs in the cruise industry, chef Neumeister brings more than 20 years of culinary expertise to Crystal Cruise’s Six-Star rated fleet. Chef Neumeister also directs the development of operating standards and enforcement of United States Public Health regulations and engages in lifetime intensive studies at renowned cooking schools internationally.
  • Eric Carré has over 25 years of industry experience, encompassing restaurant, R&D and food manufacturing in the U.S. and abroad. He has served as executive chef/VP of R&D for Culinary Foods, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tyson Foods; executive chef/VP of R&D at Culinary Brands, a subdivision of Nestlé; and is currently chairperson, founder and chief technology officer of Amazing Food Creations! LLC. Chef Carré is inventor of the Chef Papillote, a frozen meal/package based on the traditional French cooking technique en papillote.

Panel discussions and open-mic sessions will feature topics relevant to culinary professionals:
  • "Winning Concepts that Affect Your Positive Bottom Line," hosted by David Del Rio, executive chef and director of culinary R&D for Lee Roy Selmon’s. Prior to Selmon’s, chef Del Rio was instrumental in opening over 100 restaurants as well as developing and training kitchen staffs for the OSI Research & Development Team for Outback Steakhouse and other OSI concepts. He is a Chefs In America “Master of Taste” award recipient.
  • "Cost-Saving Concepts that Affect Your Bottom Line," hosted by Kenneth Juran, executive chef of Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress' four award-winning restaurants including La Coquina, Hemingway's, Cascade, White Horse Sports Bar & Grill, and the unique La Coquina "Chef’s Table." Chef Juran also serves as regional culinary director for Hyatt. Prior to Hyatt, Juran received many accolades as executive chef of eight award-winning restaurants.
  • "The Secrets of Marketing the Great American Chef," hosted by chef Jesse Sartain, national director of Chefs In America, and co-hosted by Andre David Halston, corporate chef at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club for Salamander Hospitality. Sartain, "America’s Palate," has personally tasted more than 200,000 food and beverage products. Among his many awards and honors are "Maitre du Gout, USA," "Maitre Canardier de France," "Who's Who James Beard Foundation," "Les Toques Blanches" and "Honoree, Global World Gourmet Society, Hall of Fame." Chef Sartain is the founder and national director of both Chefs In America Awards Foundation and American Masters of Taste. Chef Halston is better known for his regular television appearances on Fox, CBS and NBC. Halston has been chef to two U.S. presidents, Colin Powell, Mikhail Gorbochev and the Queen and Princess of England.

Other panelists include:
  • Ray Martin has 34 years in the foodservice industry. He has served as Executive Chef for Las Brisas, Remicks, Players and El Torito Grill concepts. He as been honored as one of the “Great Chefs in North America” by Chefs In America. He has assisted with over 30 kitchen openings, including three Grand Lux Cafes and the Cheesecake Factory Express at Disney World. Martin currently serves as both Vice President of Culinary Development and Corporate Executive Chef for BJ’s Restaurants, Inc.
  • Chef Duke LoCicero opened Café Giovanni in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1991. He has received numerous awards, including: "Top 40 Under 40 Business Leaders" (City Business), "Chef of the Year" (ACF, 1999), "2004 Restaurateur of the Year" (LRA), "Best Executive Chef 2008" (City Business) and both "Best Owner" and “Best Upscale Casual Restaurant” (City Business, 2009). Chef LoCicero is also a prominent business leader in New Orleans and co-hosts a radio show called "Dig In," which reports goings-on in the area. He is also a culinary director for the event.
  • Chef Pascal Oudin won France's prestigious "Best Apprentice Chef Award" at the age of 17. He trained under a list of luminaries: Alain Ducasse, Roger Verge, Joseph Rostang, Gaston Lenotre and Jean-Louis Palladin. He was awarded "Florida Chef of the Year" by Chefs In America and in 2000 realized his dream, opening his own restaurant, Pascal's on Ponce in Coral Gables, Florida. Chef Oudin has received awards including, "America’s Best New Chefs" (Food & Wine Magazine, 1995) and "Best New Chef 1997" and "Best New Restaurant in America 2000" (Esquire Magazine). He is also a culinary director for the event.
  • Alex Feher serves as executive chef of Hotel Intercontinental Miami has also served as executive chef of Intercontinental New York. He was honored with a "Grand Maitre du Gout (Grand Master of Taste)" by Chefs In America for whom he also served as culinary director at their awards presentation at Carnegie Hall. He is also a culinary director for this event.

Additionally, two Hispanic Culinary Awards will be presented by Carlos Salazar, executive pastry chef, MGM Grand Hotel-Casino Las Vegas. Salazar has himself garnered many awards and accolades throughout his own career. Chef Salazar was a finalist for the PatisFrance National Desert Competition in New York, a Team Captain for the National Pastry Chef Competition in Las Vegas and has been Captain of the USA National Pastry Team at the prestigious Coup du Monde de la Patisserie in Lyon.

Visit www.chefsinamerica.org, or call (800) 728-4007 for more information or to RSVP. There is no admission fee; however, admission is limited to F&B industry professionals.