Vote in August
Awards Gala Sep 24, 2017
Chef Tony Trujillo, CUCINA enoteca, An Orange County native, Chef Tony Trujillo’s climb up the culinary ladder began when he enrolled at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Upon graduating, Trujillo relocated to Laguna Beach where he crafted modern French cuisine as Sous Chef at Studio, an award-winning restaurant at Montage Hotels & Resorts. His work in the kitchen earned him a promotion to Executive Sous Chef at the Montage’s The Loft, assisting Chef John Cuevas in developing menus centered around creative American cuisine.
Trujillo’s experience at Montage then propelled him to an Executive Sous Chef position at Michael Mina Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point, named one of Zagat’s Top 10 Best New Restaurants in 2008. This was followed by a stint at Montage Beverly Hills as a member of the pre-opening management team at the chic Parq Bar, as well as several other positions within the Los Angeles area. Trujillo’s ascent in Southern California continued as he returned to French cuisine when he accepted a position as Sous Chef at Downtown LA’s Church & State, working alongside the renowned Chef Walter Manzke.
After years developing thoughtful menus and managing everything from kitchen staffs to budgets, Chef Trujillo was named Executive Chef at the Los Angeles tapas bar Cobras & Matadors, then assuming consecutive Executive Chef roles at Hollywood’s BOHO Gastropub and then at Dana Point’s Salt Creek Grille. He most recently moved into a Corporate Chef position at Smith Brothers Restaurants in Pasadena, advancing his command of high-volume, up-market dining at Parkway Grill.
Chef Tony Trujillo now brings his extensive experience sourcing and developing fine ingredients into beautiful offerings at CUCINA enoteca Irvine, where as Chef de Cuisine he meticulously crafts seasonal dishes to pair with the restaurant’s robust wine offerings. When he’s not in the kitchen, Trujillo enjoys surfing, traveling, and spending time with his family. CUCINA enoteca Irvine
Chef Robert Waddell, Brio Tuscan Grille
Born in San Diego but being that his parents loved to travel, Chef Robert has lived and traveled in many areas in the world from Canada, Costa Rica, St. Thomas Virgin Islands, Hawaii, FIGI and much of the United States. He has always been fascinated by the flavors so many cultures have to offer. Chef Robert began his career 28 years ago working for a Greek Family that started an Italian restaurant that flourished into a very successful and well known establishment throughout the United States. In his 19 year career with The Old Spaghetti Factory, he worked his way up from a dishwasher in high school, to Executive Chef, Opening Chef team of 12 restaurants to Director of Kitchen Operations. In that time he has worked for many successful food chains including Island, Yardhouse and now Brio Tuscan Grille wearing many different hats in the trade. Chef Robert has worked in various areas of the restaurant from managing both front and back of the house operations but his true passion has always been about the food. Chef Robert’s dedication to the education and development of his staff and constantly continuing to challenge them to be the best in their trade with the common goal of creating a special experience for each guest each and every day. Chef Robert enjoys trying foods from all cultures and enjoys the fact that the culinary field is constantly evolving. www.brioitalian.com
“Eating is sensorial, More than that, It’s about interpreting the Information that your senses give you” - Chef Andoni.
Chef Anthony Endy, Director of Culinary Operations of Paul Martin's
Growing up in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country where he watched his grandmother tend to her garden, Chef Anthony Endy has always been inclined to love good food and wine. It wasn’t until he attended college in Santa Barbara, California that he discovered his passion for restaurants and cooking, working and apprenticing under great chefs.
Working in the restaurant industry for nearly 20 years, Endy has worked his way up from a busser in high school to Chef Partner at Paul Martin’s American Grill in El Segundo, California to his current role as the Director of Culinary for Paul Martin’s American Grill. Endy says that work ethic and how you apply yourself are the largest pieces of the puzzle to accomplish your goals.
Endy currently resides in Orange County, California with his children, Henry, Hallee, and Howard, and wife, Bethany. In his free time, he enjoys going to LA Angels and San Diego Chargers games with his family and reading books on industry trends. www.paulmartinsamericangrill.com
Chef Alejandro Benes, Culinary Director - Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill
Alejandro Benes, known to many as the "Sultan of Smoke," is a partner and director of culinary development at Wood Ranch. Benes has been cooking since college in Washington, DC. Upon graduation in 1977, he went to work in network TV news, finally leaving the field in 2006, but not before attending the French Culinary Institute in New York. Benes holds four diplomas in pizza making from the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, headquartered in Caorle, Venezia, Italy. He attributes his love of barbecue to growing up in North Carolina and living in Texas for many years. Also to eating a lot of it all over the world. His favorite cuisine is Italian and he likes long walks on the beach, but not the music of Kenny G. www.woodranch.com
Certified Sommelier & Gastronome looking to perpetuate a quality lifestyle through travel, food, wine, & beer. Currently co-hosting the Golden Chef Series for The Golden Foodie Awards & is the National Sales Director for Paul Hobbs Wines. Merryvale Family of Wines. Humble starts in the restaurant/bar industry gave way to working for a wholesaler in Hawaii. Joining (then) upstart Kona Brewing Company helped launch his career as a beverage manufacturer rep and valuable resource to the food & beverage community. Passionate about beverage education and quality wine, Charlie has previously worked for the Sebastiani Family, Constellation Brands, Beam Global Wine & Spirits, Hess Family Wines, Jackson Family Wines & Merryvale Family of Wines. His current leadership role at Paul Hobbs allows for a continued wine/education presence & a higher level of collaboration throughout the food & beverage network across the country. Charlie is a wine judge, contributing beverage writer, and wanna be BBQ pitmaster, who can be found poking around SoCal, Napa Valley and all points in between. social media @cplummer4.
Executive Chef Sarah Daniels at Del Frisco's Grille
As the first female executive chef to join the culinary team of Del Frisco’s Grille, good food has always been passion of Sarah Daniels. This Cleveland, Ohio, native started her serendipitous career in high school when she landed her first job in a sandwich shop. She continued working in restaurants while attending Ohio State where she earned a degree in Food Science and Technology, but her love of cooking kept her behind the kitchen door of some of Ohio’s finer Italian restaurants. Chef Daniels eventually made her way to New York City where she was hired to work as a line cook at the very first Del Frisco’s Grille. Her hard work, determination and talent had her moving up the food chain, so to speak, rapidly. She helped to open five Del Frisco’s Grilles before the company sent her west to Santa Monica to work her magic as a sous chef. Opportunity came knocking a few miles south in Orange County when Del Frisco’s Grille named her the executive chef of its Irvine Spectrum location. When Chef Daniels isn’t at work, she enjoys her days living the life of a newly minted Southern California girl.
Casey Reinhardt, Chief Creative Officer - Casey's Cupcakes
Casey Reinhardt has always been passionate about business, charitable causes, and her modeling and acting career. In 2002 Casey founded The C.A.S.E.Y Foundation, Children's Alliance for the Success and Education of Youth in need. She has also made significant accomplishments in her acting carer, starring on one of MTV's highest rated shows, Laguna Beach: Th Real Orange County. Casey recently graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. www.caseyscupcake.com
Chef Reny Flores, Kona Grill
Meet Kona Grill’s Sous Chef Reny Flores. Reny moved to California from El Salvador at the age of 11 and at that age is when Reny realized his passion for American cuisine and the love for the grill. Reny has held every position from prep cook to all positions on the line (Pantry, Saute, and Grill). With his hard work and dedication Reny has moved up the ranks in some of Americas largest restaurant groups in both San Francisco and Southern California. He has been a chef for both Yard House and Brio. With 16 years’ experience working with all sorts of cuisines (American, Italian, South American and Asian) Reny has evolved his style of cooking from American cuisine to modern American cuisine.
Hannah Hoffman has had her hand in the food industry from the day she was born to a pastry chef who worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. This early exposure to food and the industry has made such an impression on Hannah, that she dedicated her education to understanding the value of food and it’s influence on culture.
Hannah holds a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley, and an MA from New York University. Her research has focused on the ways in which an individual or community’s ethnic, religious, and cultural identities are manifested through food and drink. By viewing food as a cultural symbol, Hannah is able to create products and programs that are uniquely relevant to specific culture groups. Her experience both in an out of the kitchen has allowed her to create specific experiences and events for international chefs, scientists, business professionals, immigrant groups, and locals.
Doughnut Dolly came to be with true entrepreneurial spirit. After finishing graduate school, Hannah returned to Berkeley and found herself back in the kitchen. She began selling doughnuts on the streets of Oakland, popping up on neighborhood corners and at special events. Soon after, she landed in Temescal Alley; opening her first shop in 2012. Her second location at 1313 Gilman Street, opened on August 6th, 2014; and her San Francisco location is slated to open June of 2016.
Chef Jon Kim, Kona Grill
Meet Kona Grill’s Head Sushi Chef Jon Kim. Jon was born in Seoul South Korea and moved
to the states as a kid. Growing up Jon always had a love and passion for sushi so after majoring
in computer engineering and working for Disney Jon followed his heart and took up the craft of
Sushi. He was mentored by the god father of California sushi , sushi master Toshi Siguerua. After
years of perfecting his craft Jon took on the challenge of moving to Greece where he introduced
sushi with Greek cuisine. From Greece Jon moved back to the states where he worked in
Atlanta, Orlando and the last decade in Southern California. With 19 years of experience John
prides himself on working with only the freshest fish and finest ingredients which shows on each
and everyone one of his plates. www.konagrill.com
WAHOO'S FISH TACO™Wing Lam, Co-Founder/Partner As the eldest of the three founding brothers, Wing co-founded Wahoo’s Fish Taco in 1988 and has more than 37 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Wing actively supports many national and local community-based events and serves as a board member of various non-profit organizations including Share Our Strength, Juvenile Diabetic Research Foundation and Surfrider Foundation. Wing makes repeat appearances as the guest speaker/panel at events such as the IEG Conferences and has been featured by some of the nation’s top campuses like Yale, UCLA, and the USC MBA Program. He has also received much recognition from prestigious corporations and publications such as Ernst & Young’s 2002 Entrepreneur of the Year nomination, Orange County Business Journal and OC Metro Magazine. Wing holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance and a minor in Spanish from San Diego State University. He is also a part-time Adjunct Professor for Concordia and Chapman Universities' MBA programs. www.wahoos.com
Chef Byron Generalao, Dave & Buster's
Byron was born and raised in the foodservice industry. Throughout his childhood, Byron’s father managed various high-profile restaurants in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. This is where his passion for food ignited and he started to develop his palate. In 1991, Byron relocated from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe, CA to work for Harvey's Hotel and Casino and to study Business and Hotel Management. In 1994, Byron entered a 3-year culinary apprenticeship program that was a collaboration between The American Culinary Federation and Harvey's Hotel and Casino. Byron was quickly taken under the wing of a Master Chef, two Executive Chefs and a Master Baker. During his three-year apprenticeship he absorbed various cooking techniques, cuisines, and all aspects of the culinary world where he gained exposure to high volume and high profile fundraising functions. Soon after the program, Byron became a Sous Chef for Planet Hollywood in Lake Tahoe and then had the lifetime opportunity to relocate back to his hometown to open Marvel Mania Restaurant at Universal Studios Hollywood. It wasn’t until 2000, that Byron started his career at Dave and Buster's and has been with them over 16 years. He was promoted to Executive Kitchen Manager for the West Coast Region from Texas to Hawaii in 2003. Byron is the lead culinary expert for all new store openings. He has personally overseen the following location launches: Time Square NY, Santa Anita CA, Overland Park KS, Maple Grove MN, Tempe AZ, Roseville CA, Boise ID, Westchester CA, the latest west coast flagships Hollywood CA, Clackamas OR, Euless TX, and Glendale AZ. Byron. He is also in front of the Research and Development Department and responsible for bringing creative menu additions to table. Byron most recently has found a new passion taking the lead in Media Relations and Food Styling for company marketing promotions and national television commercials. Byron has also been the face of Dave and Buster's, demonstrating various menu items on live television on local stations while promoting the concept. His cooking style is a playful mix of East meets West, traditional embracing fusion called Cali Sur.®