Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Curtis Duffy knew at a young age that he had a passion for cooking. After completing culinary school, he relocated to Chicago to pursue a career in fine dining at the esteemed Charlie Trotter's. Duffy spent three years at Charlie Trotter's before leaving to work at Trio, where he met Chef Grant Achatz; A few years later both chefs left to open Alinea. Duffy later took his skill set to Avenues, where he garnered many accolades including Two Michelin Stars.
In mid-2011, he left Avenues to begin working on his own restaurant, Grace, which opened in late 2012. At Grace, Duffy's culinary style -- elegant, graceful cuisine -- is showcased. He puts ingredients at the forefront and draws on his wealth of experience in a way that employs technique to enhance flavor.
Since opening Grace on December 11, 2012, Duffy and the restaurant have been awarded many accolades, including Three Michelin Stars in the Chicago 2015 Guide, AAA's Five Diamond Rating, Forbes Travel Guide's 5 Star Rating, Robb Report's Best Restaurant in the World 2013, Chicago Magazine's Best New Restaurant, and Eater National's Chef of the Year.
A native of England, Colin came to the Fearrington House in 2005 as Executive Sous Chef. Colin’s culinary interest began early on, taking him to The Castle Hotel, Niagara on The Lake and Prince of Wales Hotel. Colin partners with local farmers, using the finest ingredients from the region and our gardens.
Chef Colin Bedford’s menus have won over loyal diners at Fearrington House and won critical acclaim, including The Fearrington House’s national ranking as No. 2 of the top 40 hotels in the south, No. 5 in the US and No. 24 of the 100 hotels in the world (Condé Nast Traveler), one of the top hotel food destinations in the world (Condé Nast Traveler) and, locally, a Gold Medalist restaurant in 2011 and 2012 (Raleigh News & Observer). In 2012 Chef Bedford was named a Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef and he was invited to cook at the annual Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef Dinner held in London, England in April of 2013.
Steven Devereaux Greene is executive chef of The Umstead Hotel and Spa, a Cary, North Carolina hotel lauded for its progressive American regional cuisine. He is responsible for all food and beverage operations, including Herons restaurant, The Bar & Lounge and catering. Greene's passion for using ingredients and products from the rich Piedmont region to drive beautifully refined culinary experiences is evident daily in The Umstead's award-winning dining program.
One of the country's youngest executive chefs to helm the kitchen of a Forbes Five Star or AAA Five Diamond establishment, Greene's tenure with The Umstead began in 2009. During his post as chef de cuisine, Greene guided Herons to its first Forbes Five Star Rating. In 2012 Greene departed to hone his skills as executive chef of Cary's AN New World Cuisine (an), a restaurant that shares ownership with The Umstead. Under Greene's direction an received Five Stars from The News & Observer and was named among "the Triangle's creme de la Creme." Greene returned to manage The Umstead's culinary operations in 2014, and continues to provide creative leadership to an as its culinary director.
His background includes work in some of the country's most celebrated kitchens. After serving as chef de cuisine at the handsomely awarded Dining Room at Woodlands Resort and Inn, in Summerville, S.C., Greene was inspired to open his namesake restaurant, Devereaux's which quickly became a mainstay in Greenville, S.C. Devereaux's would ultimately join the prestigious ranks of the Table 301 Restaurant Group to make way for Greene's first post with The Umstead. Named a "Rising Star" by Restaurant Hospitality in 2008, Greene has twice cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York, representing Herons in 2011 and Devereaux's in 2007.
Greene is the consummate southern gentleman and hails from Ninety Six, S.C. He lives in Morrisville, N.C. with his wife, and beyond family and food, his next great passion is guitar, which he has played for over 25 years.
Joshua Hughes, originally from Travelers Rest, SC, found himself in the kitchen at a very early age. He spent numerous hours in his grandmother's kitchen searching the spice cabinets and playing with different flavors and textures. At age 16, he started working at a local steakhouse as a busboy, but would volunteer to help in the kitchen any change he could. After graduating from high school, he knew he needed to start expanding his culinary knowledge from steaks, and began working at several local restaurants, each time learning a new set of skills. In 2006, his culinary career reached a new level when he came across a new restaurant in Greenville, SC called Devereaux's.
Starting out as an assistant to the pastry chef, Hughes quickly learned that he was a part of vision driven by desire. Under the direction of Steven Devereaux Greene and Spencer Thomson, he learned that extreme drive, passion, and effort would be rewarded by creating memories for guests. He quickly worked his way through every station and was promoted to head sous chef.
In early 2011, Hughes made a move and joined the team at the award-winning Herons of the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, NC. Under the direction of Executive Chef Scott Crawford and a familiar face and old friend, Chef de Cuisine Steven Devereaux Greene, Hughes joined the team as a sous chef. During his tenure, Herons received its Five Star rating and AAA Five Diamond Award. Hughes knew that to improve yourself that you must work with the highest level of culinary talent which the Umstead provided. In 2012, Chef Greene was granted the opportunity to take over AN Cuisines, and he chose Hughes to be his executive sous chef, and eventually chef de cuisine.
When not in the kitchen, Hughes spends his time with his lovely wife, Kristin and their two dogs Lily and Niko.
Mike Lata is Chef/Partner of FIG Restaurant in Charleston, SC, which he opened in 2003 with Partner Adam Nemirow. In December 2012, Lata and Nemirow opened The Ordinary, a classic oyster bar and seafood hall in Charleston's Upper King district, to much local and national acclaim. The James Beard Foundation nominated The Ordinary as Best New Restaurant in 2013, and GQ, Esquire and Bon Appetit also named it one of the best restaurants of the year. FIG was nominated for Outstanding Wine Program in 2014 by The James Beard Foundation.
A native New Englander, Mike started his culinary career at an early age, working in kitchens in Boston, New Orleans, Atlanta and France before landing in Charleston in 1998. Mike is a hands-on, self-taught chef who continues to delight making the most basic things delicious, creating food that is bright, uncomplicated and understated. His longstanding and outspoken commitment to support local farmers, fishermen and purveyors has cemented his position as a notable champion for Charleston's flourishing culinary renaissance. Mike is an active member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, co-founder of the Charleston Slow Food convivial, and the Official Charleston Representative for the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Nominated in 2007 and 2008 for The James Beard Foundation Award, Best Chef: Southeast, Mike took home the award in 2009. His food, philosophy, and contributions to the Charleston community have earned him recognition on national platform, including coverage in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Esquire, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, The New York Times and many more. Mike competed on the Food Network's "Iron Chef America" and was featured on the same network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." He was profiled on Dateline's "Platelist," which described Mike's food as "so good it will buckle your knees." FIG has been consistently voted "Best Restaurant in Charleston" by Charleston City Paper readers and continues to be a favorite local destination. When he's not in the kitchen, Mike can be found hitting the links, riding his prized Ducati motorcycles, or enjoying life with his wife, Emilee, and their son, Henry.
Anthony Lamas' roots in the Latin culinary tradition run deep, as he found his passion for food while working in his family's Spanish restaurant as a child. Likewise, his mother's heirloom recipes sparked his interest in the cuisine of his Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage. By helping to prepare meals on the family farm and participating in Future Farmers of America, Lamas was practicing the "Farm to table" philosophy before it was a national movement. To pursue his dream of becoming a professional chef, Lamas trained with the San Diego Culinary Apprenticeship Program and worked with Jeff Tunks at the Loews Coronado Bay resort. Under Tunks' tutelage, Lamas explored West Coast flavors while developing Pacific Rim recipes, and he credits the acclaimed chef as his mentor.
In 1992, Lamas discovered Louisville, Kentucky as an emerging culinary destination and moved there with the dream of cooking with leading local talent while working toward opening his own restaurant. His style of cooking was unique to the area, and in 2005 he opened Seviche to rave reviews. Early accolades included Lamas being named a "Top Chef to Watch" by Louisville Magazine. Seviche has consistently maintained a four-star rating from the Louisville Courier-Journal, and Latina.com named Lamas a "leader of the Latin food revolution" alongside chefs like Douglas Rodriguez and Jose Garces.
With his passionate nature and engaging personality, Lamas is also a seasoned TV chef — he has won on Food Networks' Extreme Chef, he has appeared on the Cooking Channel's America's Best Bites and he was featured in Back Home, a TV documentary produced by Diego Luna that explored his culinary connections to Mexico. Most recently, he competed on the debut episode of Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay and helped bring new life to a struggling sports bar on an episode of SPIKE TV's Bar Rescue. Southern Living, Food Arts, Bon Appetit and Wine Spectator have also highlighted Lamas' talent.
Lamas has also garnered significant national attention for Seviche. He has cooked at the James Beard House and has been honored numerous times as a James Beard Foundation semifinalist. John Mariani of Esquire said, "Seviche has emerged as one of America's best and most innovative Nuevo Latino restaurants with plenty of the chef's personality in every dish…If you have time for one meal in Louisville, make it Seviche."
In additional to his commitment to spicing up the South with his Nuevo Latino cuisine, Lamas is dedicated to raising awareness of sustainable seafood practices, and his efforts earned him a Seafood Ambassador Award at the 2011 Monterey Bay Aquarium Cooking for Solutions festival. Seviche is now a restaurant partner in the Aquarium's Seafood Watch program.
Lamas is very active on the food festival circuit, including participation in the Taste of Derby, the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games "Cookin' in the Bluegrass" Celebrity Chef Dinner Series, and the Fork Cork and Style Festival with Emeril Lagasse in Louisville and Chicago. He has also been featured at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, the BB&T Charleston Wine and Food Festival and the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival.
Spend a few minutes with Nate Whiting, and you're bound to hear that he just wants to be in the kitchen. It's a sentiment that this executive chef has been expressing since he started cooking at age 13.
After graduating from Johnson and Wales University, Whiting hones his skills at Da Vittorio in Bergamo, Italy. The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia, Maestro in Washing, DC and Peninsula Grill, The Dining Room at Woodlands, and most recently, Tristan, all in Charleston, SC. Whiting gets his inspiration from fresh, seasonal ingredients, and is adamant about using only the finest ingredients. Utilizing products from local farms and farmers is important to Chef Whiting and he believes in supporting the local community, but he also believes that quality should be prized over provenance.
His background and culinary philosophy will move with him to the latest Relish project, 492, which will open on Upper King Street in Charleston, SC this winter.
Nico Romo has directed Patrick Properties' celebrated culinary programs across four historic Charleston venues since 2007, remaining classic French cuisine with delicate Asian touches and locally harvested ingredients.
Chef Romo was most recently named a Monterey Bay Aquarium 2014 Sustainable Seafood Ambassador - recognizing his commitment to ocean-friendly seafood and Lowcountry fishermen. He also attended the James Beard Foundation Chefs Boot Camp for Policy & Change, hosted both the 2013 JBF Award semifinalist announcements and Chefs Collaborative National Food Summit in Charleston, and cooked alongside celebrity chef Daniel Boulud at Le Taste of France in New York's Bryant Park. Past appearance include the Culinary Vegetable Institute, De Gustibus Cooking School and his sold-out dinner at the famed James Beard House.
Born in Lyon, France, Chef Romo is the youngest-ever US member of The French Culinary Academy (L'Academie Culinaire de Drance) and French Master Chef (Maitres Cuisiniers de France) - one of just 65 nationwide, and the only recipient in South Carolina. Both elite international assemblies comprise the most highly skilled chefs in techniques and traditions of the French culinary art. Chef Romo graduated from the Helene Boucher Culinary Art School in Venissieux.
Chef Kevin Johnson began his career in Charleston at Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.) while attending the esteemed culinary institute, Johnson & Wales University, Charleston, S.C. After graduation in 1996, he returned home to northern Virginia and worked as sous chef for three years at the Inn at Little Washington. In 2003, he moved back to Charleston to serve as executive chef at Anson Restaurant. After almost seven years at Anson, he joined the REV restaurant group as executive chef, overseeing all REV kitchens which included Taco Boy, Closed for Business, Poe's Tavern and Monza. He has also been an Adjunct Chef Instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston since Fall 2010.
Johnson realized his long-time dream when he opened The Grocery in December 2011. The restaurant evokes memories of the small-town grocery, and is a gathering place of warmth and familiarity, with a menu based on what is available from the local and regional farmers and fishermen he knows and has worked with for many years. The Grocery's kitchen is stocked with house-made charcuterie and fresh, local fish and seafood, and the restaurant accommodates an in-house canning program to preserve fresh vegetables and fruits for the menu. An extensive cocktail and wine list is available as is craft beer on tap and a wood-burning oven.
Prior to opening The Grocery, Johnson completed a canning course at the University of Georgia which he applies at the restaurant in a program promoting sustainable food practices to help preserve the local harvest. Johnson was a semifinalist in the 2014 James Beard Award: Best Chef, Southeast category. When not in the kitchen at The Grocery, Johnson enjoys spending time with his wife Susan and their three young sons Graham, Rowan and Oliver, whose name inspired The Grocery.
Ken Vedrinski is executive chef, owner and sommelier of Trattoria Lucca in downtown Charleston and his newly opened all Italian seafood restaurant that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, Coda del Pesce.
Moving deftly through an award-winning career spanning decades, and a variety of haute cuisine styles, Chef Ken Vedrinski has found his passion and heritage in Italian fare. A three time James Beard Award semi-finalist, he has found his "place" in Charleston, a coastal city rich with fresh bounty from the land and sea, and a long way from land-locked Columbus, Ohio where he was born.
Vedrinski grew up cooking in his grandmother's kitchen under her passion-infused, Italian-influenced tutelage. He was an eager student with such fervor for food that it led to his degree in restaurant management from Columbus College and a three-year apprenticeship under Certified Master Chef Hartmut Handke. His lifelong passion and career was ignited. Years later, Vedrinski was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University.
His first role as an executive chef was at the acclaimed Opus Restaurant in the former Swiss Hotel Atlanta, where his talents was quickly lauded when Opus was named "One of the Best New Restaurants in America (1991)," by Esquire Magazine. Chef Vedrinski was an early adopter to the practice and promotion of farm to table freshness as he heralded Georgia homegrown foods, landing him a spot on The Today Show.
Vedrinski also served as executive chef at The Restaurant at Woodlands Inn & Resort where he earned the only Mobile Five-Stars awarded to a South Carolina restaurant. In 2002, the restaurant received the only perfect food score in North America by Conde Nast Traveler.
Vedrinski then moved to Daniel Island, a suburb of Charleston, where he co-owned and operated Sienna Restaurant, his first professional commitment to exclusively Italian cuisine. Once again, Esquire Magazine took notice with yet another, "One of the Best New American Restaurants (2004)," designations. ("Where I to award points in this annual restaurant survey, only Sienna would get a ten solely for its cooking." John Mariani, Esquire Magazine).
Embracing his culinary heritage, Vedrinski embarked on food-fueled expeditions to Italy in search of the most authentic ingredients, olive oils and wines. His journeys took him to Lucca in Western Tuscany, which he claims to be the home of "the best olive oil in the world." Inspired by the beloved olive oil and his love for the region, Vedrinski opened Trattoria Lucca in 2008, acting as sole owner, executive chef and sommelier of the charming Italian restaurant.
The charming restaurant was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant in 2009, and Vedrinski was also recognized as a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast in 2011. In September 2012, exactly four years from the day their doors first opened, Trattoria Lucca was named one of the Best Italian Restaurants in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure.
In 2013 Vedrinski opened Coda del Pesce just outside of downtown Charleston and right next door to one of Charleston's most celebrated assets - the ocean. Diners savor not only fresh, locally or sustainably caught coastal Italian inspired offerings but views of the beach and ocean each evening. While managing the kitchens of both restaurants Vedrinski was honored when in August 2014 Trattoria Lucca was named one of The Ten Best Italian Restaurants Outside of Italy by The Daily Meal.
With a devoted local following and industry acclaim, Ken Vedrinski, Trattoria Lucca and Coda del Pesce are redefining Italian cuisine in the Lowcountry.
Chef Fred Neuville has been the founding Chef/Partner of some of Charleston's favorite restaurants. In 2007 Chef Neuville left to go out on his own with his family and open Fat Hen Restaurant (Lowcountry French). Neuville spent his days in the restaurant fast lane making an indelible mark on the Charleston food scene. Ready to fuse his passion for food and family, Neuville opens Fat Hen as an outpost for culinary delights and domestic enjoyment.
A native of Roanoke, VA, Neuville graduated from The Culinary Institute of America. Immediately following graduation, he was recruited to support in the start-up of Linwood's Cafe & Grill in Baltimore, MD. With his skills honed after five years in a restaurant kitchen he became Chef Garde Manager for The Willard Intercontinental in Washington DC.
Satisfying his wanderlust, in 1992 Neuville ventured to Colorado to work for Aspen's Milan's Greenhouse restaurant. It was there that he was recruited as a senior instructor and, later, assistant director, at the School of Culinary Arts in Denver, CO.
After five successful years in the mountains of Colorado, Neuville longed to return to the Southeast. In 1997, he accepted a job as Executive Chef at the Jasmine Porch Restaurant located within the celebrated Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina and later moved to serve as Executive Chef for "Events by Stephen Duvall" in Charleston. Along the way, Neuville received several coveted industry awards from the American Culinary Federation, the Southern Bridal Show, the Celebrity Pro/Am competitions and the Western Regional Conference. Neuville was recognized by national publications such as Bon Appetit and National Geographic Traveler. Fred Neuville serves as Chef Chair for Darkness 2 Light.
Not only has Neuville opened a restaurant, but he and his wife, Joan, are parents to four amazing adopted foster children, who will each play a role at Fat Hen. "I couldn't be happier with the diversity of my work and home life," says Neuville. "Or busier!"
• ACF certified executive chef • Graduate of the Culinary Institute of America • Former Assistant Director of Culinary Arts, Colorado Institute of Art • Winner of numerous culinary and restaurant awards • Former executive chef of many of Charleston's favorite restaurants • Recipes featured in multiple national publications.
Reid Henninger, a Baltimore, Maryland native, grew up in the food and beverage industry. His parents owned and operated a small neighborhood restaurant called Henninger's Ale House, in Fells Point, Baltimore, which has now been around for 35 years. Though they are no longer the owners, his father has spent nearly his entire life behind a bar and his mother a cook. Reid decided to leave the north to pursue higher education and graduated from the College of Charleston with a Studio Art degree in 2007.
Though painting was Reid’s first love, after working in kitchens in college he knew it was what he wanted to do for a living. Upon graduating, he moved back to Baltimore, MD to help his mother open a café. After a few years of cooking in his hometown, Reid realized that he had left an exciting culinary revolution in the South, and moved to New Orleans, LA in 2012. After a brief stint at Coquette New Orleans, he returned to Charleston to work at The Ordinary. Reid joined the team Edmund’s Oast in December 2014 as the PM Sous Chef. He brings with him to the position a passion for working with the tools of the Lowcountry- from locally caught fish to locally grown produce.
Jacques Larson began his professional training at the University of Iowa's Stateroom, at the age of twenty-one. In 1996, he moved to Charleston to aid in opening Peninsula Grill as a sous chef. After a brief stint in North Carolina, Jacques returned to Charleston to open Union Hall, Cintra and Mercato restaurants. As of September 2009, Jacques is currently at the helm of Wild Olive restaurant in John's Island. Located in the heart of Charleston's farming community, Wild Olive enjoys the rich bounty of local products from its committed local producers. This is done in the Italian tradition that puts the focus on simplicity, quality and seasonal ingredients.
Originally from Erie, PA, Chef Marc Collins came to the culinary world by an untraditional path. His original love was in aviation, but less than perfect vision meant his goal of becoming a jet pilot in the Air Force was not in the cards. He turned to food at age 16 after working as a chef apprentice on the Paradise II, a private yacht with a presidential history. That led to a culinary degree from the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh and a string of cooking jobs, including working at the Erie Country Club, where he served under Executive Chef David Spadafore, a Gold Medal Winner in the Culinary Olympics held in Frankfurt Germany.
In 1991, Chef Collins moved to San Antonio, where he worked at La Mansion Del Rio under French Chef Guy Collinet and later at La Louisiane, a restaurant specializing in fine French cuisine and Cajun Creole cooking. At 23, he took his first chef position at the Fairmount Hotel, an AAA Four Diamond hotel restaurant.
In 2001, Chef Collins was recruited to come to Charleston and take the helm at Circa 1886, where he has remained since, putting his signature stamp on Lowcountry cooking.
In 2005, Marc had a budding idea for a food and wine festival to be hosted in Charleston, spotlighting the amazing array of talent and ingredients we have here. Thanks to his dedication and countless hours of preliminary planning meetings, that vision became reality in 2006, when the 1st annual BB&T Charleston Wine & Food Festival launched. Today, the Festival is a prominent weekend that features over 160 chef and authors from Charleston and across the country, and over 50 food and wine themed events. For his critical work in founding the Festival, Chef Collins is the namesake and first recipient of the 2010 Charleston Wine & Food Festival Marc Collins Chef Award.
Owner/Executive Chef Aaron Siegel's years of knowledge and experience began with a degree from the University of Georgia and was seasoned by a culinary degree from The Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Aaron completed an internship in Atlanta at Nava under acclaimed Chef Kevin Rathbun. Then, he moved to Aspen, CO to work as a Sous Chef by Pinion's and Cache Cache. During his time at these high-end restaurants, Aaron became more intrigued with the idea of combining traditional processes and techniques of classical cuisine with the simplicity of comfort food, BBQ, and Southern fare. Returning to the South, he became the Executive Chef at Blossom Cafe in downtown Charleston for several years before taking his vast experience and creativity and opened Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ.
After spending some time at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Taylor Garrigan changed courses and attended and graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a hotel and restaurant management degree. Taylor at The Beach Club at Kiawah Island and Magnolias before moving on to FIG to work under renowned chef, Mike Lata, in downtown Charleston. Today, at Home Team BBQ as executive chef, Taylor combines traditional processes and techniques of classical cuisine with the simplicity of comfort food, BBQ, and Southern fare.
Chef Greg McPhee, a Connecticut native, has spent his career throughout the Carolinas and Georgia. McPhee believes in the crucial connection between chef and farmer, in cultivating meaningful relationships with local producers and purveyors to secure the best regional grains, meats and produce. As former Executive Sous Chef at Sean Brock’s groundbreaking Husk restaurant in Charleston, Greg brings to Restaurant 17 a passion for the heirloom ingredients and preservation techniques of classical cuisine.
View Our Participating Chefs This Year