CHEF NATHAN BERIAU
Executive Chef, Montage Palmetto Bluff
As executive chef of Montage Palmetto Bluff, Nathan Beriau oversees all culinary operations at the Forbes Five-Star resort. A New England native, he began his career working at some of the top restaurants in his home state of Maine before moving to San Francisco to work with well-known chef Ron Siegel at The Dining Room, the Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton.
Beriau later joined restaurant impresario Pat Kuleto and renowned chef Jan Birnbaum as the opening sous chef at Epic Roast House in the Bay Area. A year later he was coaxed back to the Ritz-Carlton where he went on to become executive chef. He remained in the top position until April 2015 when he accepted the post at Palmetto Bluff.
CHEF GREGORY COLLIER
Chef/Owner of Leah & Louise and Uptown Yolk
A two-time James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast, Gregory Collier honed his cooking chops as breakfast chef at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, and as chef of the Arizona Biltmore and The Westin Kierland Resort. In 2012, he moved with his wife and partner, Subrina, to Charlotte, North Carolina, and opened The Yolk.
The couple helped found The Soul Food Sessions, a series of innovative dining events designed to support people of color in the culinary arts, restaurant and hospitality industries and beverages services. Two years ago, they were named Charlotteans of the Year by Charlotte Magazine. In June 2020, the Colliers opened Leah & Louise, featuring modern interpretations of Southern classics that honor Mississippi River Valley foodways. Esquire Magazine named the Charlotte establishment one of the best new restaurants of 2020.
CHEF BENJAMIN "BJ" DENNIS
Personal Chef and Caterer
Charleston native Benjamin “BJ” Dennis is a personal chef and caterer known for his authentic Gullah Geechee cuisine. He learned techniques brought to the Americas by West Africans during four years of study in St. Thomas, incorporating them with lessons from his grandparents on how to eat from the land. His fresh interpretations of local dishes focus on in-season, locally sourced vegetables and seafood.
Dennis studied Hospitality and Tourism Management at the Culinary Institute of Charleston and honed his cooking skills at award-winning Southern dining establishments like Carolina’s Restaurant, Anson, Oak Steakhouse, Hank’s Seafood and 82 Queen. His cuisine has been featured in national and international events and pop-up dinners on the underground dinner circuit. Most recently, he shared the Gullah culture and food with television audiences of Bravo’s popular “Top Chef” and public television’s “A Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.”
CHEF WILLIAM DISSEN
Executive Chef/Owner of restaurants in Charlotte, Asheville and Ashboro, NC
Executive chef/owner of three highly successful North Carolina restaurants – The Market Place in Asheville, Haymaker Restaurant in Charlotte and Billy D’s Fried Chicken at the North Carolina zoo in Asheboro – William Dissen has built a reputation working with a network of local farms, artisan producers and sustainable fishermen to produce flavorful, fresh food for his patrons.
He was honored as a Rising Star Chef by Star Chefs Magazine and named among “40 Chefs Under 40” for his innovative approach to sustainable cuisine. In 2012 and 2013, he was chosen “Green Chef of the Year” by Fortune Magazine and was selected as a member of the nationally acclaimed James Beard Foundation’s Chef’s Boot Camp in 2013 and 2019. Over the years, he has hosted and participated in more than 14 James Beard Foundation Dinners.
CHEF ARIANE DUARTE
Chef/Owner, Ariane Kitchen & Bar
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Ariane Duarte started her career as a sous chef at the Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange, later gaining experience at prestigious restaurants like Star Canyon in Dallas and Trio in Chicago, where she broadened her culinary knowledge working as an assistant on a cookbook project for the legendary Charlie Trotter.
Duarte went on to become opening chef de cuisine for the new Vine in New Jersey, earning the title of executive chef within eight months. She was featured in season five of “Top Chef” and in 2015 won Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay.” She has appeared on NBC’s “Today,” “Iron Chef” and “The Tyra Banks Show.” Today, she serves as chef of her own restaurant, Ariane Kitchen & Bar, in her hometown of Verona, New Jersey.
CHEF RJ DYE
Chef de Cuisine, Links, an American Grill
Hilton Head Island, SC
The new chef de cuisine at The Sea Pines Resort’s Links, an American Grill, RJ Dye built his reputation in the Charleston food scene focusing on the region’s culinary history and simple, seasonal cooking. He started his career as sous chef at the acclaimed FIG and The Ordinary restaurants, working under the tutelage of James Beard Award-winning chefs Mike Lata and Jason Stanhope.
In 2015, he took the top post of executive chef at The Lot Restaurant, creating a daily rotating menu based on seasonal produce and historical and geographical food products. He went on to help develop the restaurant concept for the new Dewberry Hotel in Charleston. As chef de cuisine, he was responsible for the execution of breakfast, lunch and dinner in the hotel’s fine dining brasserie as well as development of the in-room and bar menus. In 2018, he relocated to Grand Cayman where he served as executive chef of the Prosecco Group’s Agua and Catch restaurants before returning to the Lowcountry early last year.
General Manager/Beverage Director, Nick's
After learning the art of crafting cocktails as a bartender at a number of Georgia restaurants, including Decatur’s acclaimed Cakes & Ale, Matthew Gibbons joined the bar team at Atlanta’s AIX and the adjoining wine bar, Tin Tin. Celebrated for his French-driven cocktail program at AIX and wine program at Tin Tin, he was promoted to beverage director in 2019.
When AIX’s Chef Nick Leahy decided to open Nick’s Westside, Gibbons worked with him to develop the new restaurant’s cocktail, beer and wine program. As general manager and beverage director at Nick’s, he showcases his passion for cocktail artistry while overseeing an expansive list of rare and unique wine offerings, pairing varietals with various cuisines and for the restaurant’s international wine series.
MIXOLOGIST JUSTIN HAZELTON
Mixologist Justin Hazelton has been making a name for himself in the culinary community since 2012, working his magic behind the bar of some of the most cutting-edge, cocktail-forward hotspots in the Southeast. Most recently, he joined the opening team at Leah & Louise in Charlotte, where he serves as both mixologist and bar manager. In addition, he has been contributing his mixology talents to Soul Food Sessions, the pop-up dining series that celebrates African Americans in the food and beverage industry.
He previously served as a manager of 5Church in the Charlotte and Atlanta locations and helped open Sophia’s Lounge in Charlotte. He also held the roles of beverage director for FS Food Group and bar manager for SB&J.
A graduate of Loyola University of Chicago with a degree in Music, Savannah concert harpist Kristin King has been performing for more than 30 years for both audiences and studio recordings. In 2012, she released her first solo album, “Resonating,” featuring three original compositions and her own arrangements for harp. She is also credited on the original soundtrack for the major motion picture, “Don Jon.”
King is a founder and co-owner of New Arts Ensembles, a live music booking agency representing some 200 musicians. Together with her partner, violinist Ricardo Ochoa, they book and perform more than 300 weddings and private events each year. She also performs regularly at the Anderson Cancer Center at Memorial Hospital in Savannah in partnership with the Savannah Philharmonic and can be heard every Monday and Wednesday at the Historic Marshall House.
CHEF NICK LEAHY
During his illustrious career, Nick Leahy has found success with some of Atlanta’s most iconic restaurant groups, including Concentrics Restaurants and Fifth Group Restaurants. He was the chef-owner of Buckhead’s popular tapas-style restaurant, Saltyard, and the Provencal-style AIX restaurant and adjoining bar Tin Tin, bringing the flavors of his beloved French countryside to Atlanta’s hot West Midtown neighborhood.
Pivoting away from occasional fine dining, he opened Nick’s Westside Neighborhood and Bar and Chicken Out, a chef-inspired, delivery-only chicken concept, in the same AIX location in 2020. His inventive, globally influenced and locally sourced cuisine has been lauded by patrons who appreciate the more approachable menu highlighting Georgia’s small producers and fresh, sustainably sourced ingredients.
ROB MONDAVI JR.
Winemaker/Co-Founder, Michael Mondavi Family Estate
Napa Valley, CA
In 1999, Rob, his father Michael, mother Isabel and sister Dina collectively purchased a plot of rugged land high on Atlas Peak and began establishing a vineyard, founding Michael Mondavi Family Estate (MMFE). In 2004, Rob joined the MMFE winemaking team, which allowed him to return to his first passion of growing grapes, producing wine under the Isabel Mondavi, Emblem, Animo, and M by Michael Mondavi labels. Rob took over the winemaking leadership in 2012 and today his wines represent a new generation of balance, focusing on green farming in the vineyards and modern winemaking in the cellar.
CHEF RUSS MOORE
Executive Chef, Slightly North of Broad
A graduate of Johnson & Wales University Charleston, Russ Moore is executive chef of Slightly North of Broad in Charleston, a bistro concept offering perennial favorites complemented by daily seasonal specials. He served as the restaurant’s chef de cuisine for five years before earning the title of chef in 2013.
In his role as executive chef, Moore is the guiding force behind S.N.O.B.’s acclaimed menu and is responsible for managing its culinary team and cultivating young talent. He is an active mentor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston and serves as a judge for the National Restaurant Association’s Pro Start program.
CHEF JOHN ONDO
Executive Chef, The Atlantic Room
Executive Chef of The Atlantic Room and Ryder Cup Bar at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, John Ondo brings more than 20 years of experience to the kitchen, working front-line at several well-known Charleston eateries, including the former McCrady’s, Carolina’s Restaurant and Il Cortile del Re.
In 2005, he launched his own Charleston restaurant, Lana, where he refined his rustic approach to Mediterranean cuisine. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of Charleston with degrees in Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts, he has been an adjunct professor of Mediterranean cuisine at the school and recently completed recipe, menu and product development for Kairos, a new Greek quick service restaurant franchise.
CHEF SARA PREZIOSO
Executive Chef, The Darling Oyster Bar
A longtime admirer of the Charleston food scene, Sara Prezioso joined South Carolina’s culinary epicenter after earning her degree from The Art Institute of Charleston. She started her career at the venerable Poogan’s Porch, where she practiced the art of Southern cooking, before taking a position at the trendy Mex-1 Coastal Cantina.
In 2017, she was named executive chef of The Darling Oyster Bar, a stylish King Street eatery known for its creative seafood dishes, fry baskets and raw oysters.
CHEF TODD RICHARDS
Chef de Cuisine, The Atlantic Room
A self-taught chef and two-time James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast, Todd Richards is known for his contemporary cooking style rooted in soul and Southern cuisine. He is co-owner of The Soulful Company Restaurant Group, overseeing Lake & Oak Neighborhood BBQ in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta, and Soul: Food & Culture inside of Atlanta’s famed Krog Street Market.
Richards previously helmed the kitchens of prestigious hotels and restaurants, including The Shed at Glenwood, The Pig & The Pearl, The Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, The Ritz-Carlton (Atlanta, Buckhead and West Palm Beach), and the Oakroom at the Seelbach Hotel, which garnered the AAA Five Diamond Award during his tenure. His debut cookbook, “Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes” was released to rave reviews in 2018.
CHEF NICO ROMO
Chef/Owner, Bistronomy by Nico
Born in Lyon, France, Nico Romo is the youngest-ever U.S. member of The French Culinary Academy and Master Chefs of France – one of only 66 French Master Chefs in the country and the only recipient in South Carolina. He was named a Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Ambassador and is a member of the Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, recognizing his commitment to ocean-friendly seafood and Lowcountry fishermen.
Nico spent 10 years directing Patrick Properties Hospitality Group’s culinary programs before opening the highly acclaimed NICO in Mount Pleasant in 2018. Most recently, he has brought his European training and appreciation for locally sourced ingredients to a new French bistro concept, Bistronomy by Nico, in Charleston.
CHEF JOE TRUEX
Executive Chef, Pursell Farms
A highly credentialed chef with vast experience at top restaurants in Switzerland, New York and Atlanta, Joe Truex currently serves as executive chef of Pursell Farms, a 3,200-acre resort located in the foothills of Alabama. The Louisiana native studied at The Culinary Institute of America in New York and trained under Chef Daniel Boulud at NYC’s Le Cirque, landing the role of chef de partie at the Swissotel Le Plaza in Basel, Switzerland, upon his graduation.
He returned to New York to work at The Peninsula Hotel, later opening The Brooklyn Diner and The Redeye Grill and taking the post of executive chef at The Cambridge Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But it was the 2006 opening of his Atlanta restaurant, Repast, that catapulted him to the national culinary stage. Esquire Magazine named it one of the Best New Restaurants in America, garnering Truex an invitation from Martha Stewart to cook on her television show.
CHEF OCTAVIO YCAZA
New Orleans, LA
Born in Ecuador, Octavio Ycaza found his way to New Orleans as a teenager only to return years later after working in the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants. His training began at the famed Gregoire Ferrandi Culinary School in Paris, where he studied under French masters developing the foundation of what would be a lifelong calling.
Under the tutelage of Iñaki Aizpitarte, the pioneering chef behind Paris’ Le Chateaubriand restaurant, Ycaza found his rhythm and style – fun food that breaks away from culinary convention and results in innovative, original and dangerously delicious meals. After cooking his way across three continents, he returned to New Orleans where he continues to draw fans with his unorthodox approach to cooking and entertaining persona. Over the years, he has cooked for celebrities, musicians and Washington D.C. politicians and in 2017 won an episode of the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen.