Meet the class of 2016!

Aaron Willis    Ciudad Grill
Cold smoked heirloom tomato "lox" with dilled goat cheese, quick pickled shallot, fried elderberry capers, and pumpernickel toast

About: Aaron worked for Marcus Lalario in Seattle music clubs, then worked at Crystal Mountain’s Summit House. He traveled extensively, living in Bali for several years, and visiting Cologne, Berlin, and Istanbul. Back in Seattle, he became Chef at Delicatus; started his own company, The Generous Chef and did pop-up dinners mostly outside of Seattle—New York, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, L.A.; was a private chef; and did some consulting on the side. He attended Willamette University, University of Portland, WSU, and culinary school in San Diego, and has his sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Davenport Cellars 2016 Sauvignon Blanc

Chef Daeng    Racha Thai and Asian Kitchen
Lamb panang: grilled marinated rack of lamb with artichoke heart and panang curry sauce

About: Chef Daeng was the executive chef at the Imperial Hotel in Bangkok and opened a series of Thai restaurants in France for them. She came to Seattle in April 2001 to become the executive chef for Thai Food International. She played an instrumental role in the opening of Aloha Plates, Thai Go Express, and Thai Go Dining franchise chains, in addition to the ongoing creation of Racha Thai's fine dining menus. She is now the executive chef for Racha Thai and Asian Kitchen.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Tomero Malbec

Chloe Lee    SLS Hotel
Down & Dirty Chocolate: chocolate tasting, tips and tricks, fill and make chocolate truffles, dust in cocoa, nuts, cacao nibs. Temper chocolate for truffles or dipping strawberries. Take home what you make!

About: Chloe Lee, Pastry Chef at the SLS Hotel Seattle, is a true-bred Seattle culinarian. Having studied specialty desserts and French technique at Seattle Culinary Academy, Chloe uses her innovation, creativity, and luxury pastry experience to reflect the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the bright culture of the city.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Obelisco's Electrum Cabernet

Christian Chandler    Serafina Osteria and Cicchetti
Warm harissa braised octopus salad, heirloom tomato, olive, basil, mint, chile

About: Christian Chandler began at Serafina as a pantry cook many years ago. He grew into a sous chef, and was well-respected by both the cooks and front of house staff for his culinary talent and steady demeanor on the line. After five and a half years at Serafina, he set off to explore the cuisine and techniques of other restaurants. He returned home to Serafina in early 2013 to take the helm as the Executive Chef and to share the food wisdom he collected in his time away. He is focused on representing regional Italian food using the finest local ingredients.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with a 2015 Dowsett Family Gewürztraminer Celilo Vineyard, Columbia Gorge

Dave Cooper    Le Pichet
Simple cheese from scratch, and use it in an heirloom tomato and melon salad with cucumber, jambon (French ham), house vinegar

About: A Seattle native, David spent a number of years traveling before eventually returning to the Northwest.  During his travels, he spent time in Chicago, where he held the position of chef de cuisine at HB Home Bistro and Executive Chef at Michelin recommended Bite Café.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with DiStefano's 2011 Sangiovese

Erika Nelson    Elliott's Oyster House
Ancho-seared New Bedford scalloops: roasted corn puree, ancho cream, toasted pumpkin seeds, cilantro, orange gastrique

About: Chef de cuisine at Elliott’s Oyster House, Erika grew up with a grandmother who loved baking and hosting gatherings at her bed and breakfast in Phinney Ridge. Erika took an early interest in all things culinary with a primary focus on baking. Formulating ideas for school projects where restaurant and menu development were the topic, it wasn’t long before she began volunteering, and eventually working at Tall Grass Bakery in Ballard. She spent many years involved in the National Restaurant Association’s Prostart program teaching high school children the skills to build innovative dishes from start to finish. Before joining Elliotts 11 years ago, Chef Nelson worked at various other restaurants and bakeries including Daniels Broiler, Emory’s on Silver Lake, and Salty’s on Alki. Chef Nelson currently resides with her boyfriend Carey and their two daughters, Josefine and Violet in Lynnwood, WA.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Long Shadows' Nine Hats Riesling

Harry Mills    Purple Café & Wine Bar
Purple's crab cakes

About: Chef Mills graduated from the University of Washington, then began a career in the lobbying field. His love of food took over after a few years and he went to culinary school at the Art Institute of Seattle. He then became a chef instructor at the school. Harry joined Heavy Restaurant Group at Purple Café and Wine Bar in 2006. He was an integral part of Seattle's opening team, and was interim head chef before being promoted to Executive Chef of Heavy’s Bellevue restaurants including Purple Café, Lot No. 3 and Cast Iron Studios. In 2013, he returned to Purple Seattle as Executive Chef.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with a Chardonnary TBA

Herschell Taghap    Tom Douglas' Hot Stove Society
Crispy duck confit lettuce wraps

About: Herschell Taghap loves food, technology, and the intersection of the two. He currently holds two positions at Tom Douglas Restaurants: digital manager and chef instructor for Hot Stove Society, Tom Douglas' cooking school. In his marketing role, he manages the entire company's social media, website, and online photography. At Hot Stove Society, he teaches classes based on his unique perspective on food: Filipino classes titled "Thrilla in Manila," a breakfast series titled "Date Night: The Morning After" and broad topics like handmade pasta, Dungeness crab, and the art of cooking a steak. He's also the company's in-house DJ and resident Star Trek nerd. At home, he loves to make dinner for his wife Liana and his new son.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Chateau Ste. Michelle's Eroika Riesling

Jeff Maxfield    SkyCity at the Needle
Savory corn pudding with Dungeness crab and bacon fondue

About: Chef Maxfield grew up in Seattle and has an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science/Culinary Arts from South Seattle Community College. He began his career as a line cook at the Seattle Tennis Club. In Seattle, he worked at Canlis under Greg Atkinson, Chez Shea, and the Golf Club at Newcastle. He worked at The Five Palms Beach Grille in Kihei, Maui. Prior to coming to SkyCity, he worked with Southbridge Restaurant Group in Scottsdale, Arizona, opening the first of three full-service restaurants on the Scottsdale “waterfront” for entrepreneur Fred Unger.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Sparkman Cellars' 2015 Lumiere Chardonnay

Jesse Souza    Six Seven at The Edgewater
Risotto with foraged mushrooms, truffle crema, soft poached egg, and Parmesan

About: A native of New England, Chef Jesse Souza grew up appreciating the bounty of the seasons. He has worked in every corner of the U.S. at hotel and resort restaurants, joining Nobel House Hotels & Resorts in 2002 as part of the kitchen staff at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa in the Florida Keys. In 2007, he took on the executive chef position at BALEENmiami at The Grove Isle Hotel & Spa, soon overseeing the kitchen at BALEENnaples at La Playa Beach & Golf Resort in 2008. He then moved to Riviera Palm Springs in 2012. Most recently, he was executive chef of Taj Boston, overseeing the restaurant menu and operations. He has great regard for the New American cuisine movement and varied regional dishes, and enjoys creating Northwest specialties like salmon, cod, and Heritage pork loin.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Baer's Ursa Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend

Kurt Goddard    Salty's on Alki
Baked Alaska sundae with coconut ice cream, tropical fruit and rum (achieve the perfect meringue!)

About: Born and raised in Traverse City, Michigan, Kurt had foodies for parents, and military cooks for grandparents. He is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, but much of his knowledge has come through self teaching. He has studied French, Swedish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Mexican pastries but his most memorable experience was Vanilla Mascarpone Tart by Pierre Herme in Paris. With a background that includes kitchens in Montana and Colorado, his urge to 'go west' brought him to Seattle. He has worked at the Pink Door, was a Managing Partner of Daily Dessert, and worked at Macrina Bakery. Kurt became the Executive Pastry Chef at Salty's on Alki in 2015.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with an adult beverage from Heritage Distilling

Matt Heikkila    Pan Pacific Hotel
Northwest tuna poke: fennel pollen, radish, ginger, lemon oil, arugula, Northwest potato chip

About: Matt Heikkila first pursued a career in computer science, but eventually found himself needing a more creative profession. After graduating college, Heikkila picked up cooking, found that creativity he was craving, and immediately fell in love with the craft. Heikkila’s passion for cooking grew, and he eventually turned his hobby into a career. He recently moved from Salish Lodge to Executive Chef at the Pan Pacific Hotel.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Garzon Sauvignon Blanc

Paolo Carey-DiGregorio    Salty's on Alki
Pan-seared halibut with forest mushroom and asparagus ragout

About: As a child, Chef Paolo lived in California, Japan and New York, then Seattle. His family opened several bakeries. As an adult, he made his way through many kitchens in Seattle. In 2004, he started his career at Salty's on Alki, moving from wood-oven cook, to sous chef, chef de cuisine and now executive chef.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Teveri's sparkling Blanc de Noir

Peter Levine    Columbia Hospitality Talaris Conference Center
Butter-poached lobster BLT on a brioche slider with goddess aioli

About: Chef Levine attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and the Diablo Valley College Hotel and Restaurant School in Pleasant Hill, California. In San Francisco, he worked at Harry’s Bar and American Grill. On the East Coast, he worked at Twenty-One Federal Restaurant, and in Washington D.C,. he served as apprentice for the late Jean-Louis Palladin in the Watergate Hotel. In Seattle, he has worked at Trattoria Carmine, Isabella Ristorante, BluWater Bistro, Vivanda, and Mackay Restaurants Troiani and Waterfront Seafood Grill. He is now the chef for the Talaris Conference Center and Columbia Hospitality.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with a Davenport Cellars Semillon

Raymond Southern    The Mansion Restaurant at Rosario Resort & Spa
Salmon belly done 3 ways: vientre de salmon crudo (salmon belly "crudo," Peruvian black olive sauce, baby greens from Rosario's garden; vientre de salmon frito (crispy fried salmon belly, smoked Spanish paprika, smoky beets, lemon aioli); spaghetti con ventre ssalmone (fresh spaghetti with salmon belly, roasted tomatoes and pistachios)

About: Executive Chef Southern grew up on a small farm just outside of Vancouver, BC surrounded by all things fresh from the garden. “I’m lucky I never had to choose a career. I walked into my first kitchen when I was 14 and I’ve been hooked ever since,” he says. After culinary school he completed his apprenticeship at the William Tell Restaurant, followed by a stint with Chef Bruno Marti at La Belle Auberge. From there he worked his way up to Executive Chef at Umberto Menghi’s Al Porto Restaurant in Vancouver’s Gastown District. He became an Executive Chef with Holland America Line, working on ships and experiencing global cuisines. He has worked for Westin Hotels and Resorts in Grand Cayman and St. Maarten in the Caribbean, and lived in Lima, Peru, for several years. Accolades include Chef of the Year, Grand Gold, 5 Gold Medals, and 1 Silver Medal at the Cayman Islands National Culinary Salon, Top Apprentice by Canadian Federation of Chefs de Cuisine, and an appearance with Team Canada at the World Culinary Exposition in Luxembourg. He has now returned to the Northwest, to Orcas Island and Rosario Resort and Spa's The Mansion restaurant. When he’s not cooking you can usually find him together with his wife and two furry dogs walking on a long peaceful trail or playing a good game of fetch in the dog park.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Dusted Valley's 2015 Boomtown Pinot Gris

Sam Crannell    LloydMartin
Seared foie gras, bourbon cherries, brioche, pickled shallot, watercress

About: Chef/Owner Sam Crannell’s dream of opening a neighborhood restaurant came to fruition with LloydMartin, distinguishing itself through creative dishes, exotic game meats, and housemade ingredients that reflect the seasons. Sam started inventing dishes at the age of 13. He trained at The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago in 2002. After completion, Sam because a sous chef at Atlantique in Chicago from 2002-2003. From 2003-2009, he worked at several neighborhood spots in Seattle, including Quinn’s Pub, and as head chef at Oddfellows Café and Bar. He then became the opening executive chef at 5 Corner Market Bar and Kitchen in 2010. LloydMartin opened in October of 2011.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with a Torii Mor Pinot Noir

Sean Prater    Copperleaf Restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge
Painted Hills flat iron steak with sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes

About: Sean has spent the past five years diligently working at Cedarbrook to hone and refine his skills and develop the culture of excellence in the kitchen. He is now Banquet & Catering Chef for Copperleaf Restaurant. After completion of the Culinary Arts program through South Seattle College, Sean worked to refine his craft. His desire to research, source, and showcase multiple flavors and ingredients from his native Pacific Northwest along with cuisines around the globe allow him a great balance of supporting his local community while adding genuine authenticity in his approach of making “good food better.” Sean’s passion for food continues outside the hotel and into his home where he can be found feeding his flock of heritage chickens, tending his vegetable and herb gardens, or picking golden hops for his next batch of true craft beer. In his time outside the kitchen, Sean is with his family foraging for local treats to bring home and stock their pantry. He enjoys passing on the tradition and art of making jams, pickles, cured meats, and other sundries collected from their adventures to enjoy and remember their times together.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Renwood Premier Old Vine Zinfandel

Tasha Parker    Salty's on Redondo Beach
Spicy chicken and shrimp ramen in Cognac XO sauce


Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with Dunham Cellars' 2014 Riesling.

Taylor Widrig    Swiftwater Cellars Hoist House
Smoked Wagyu beef tartare on brioche toast points

About: Born in North Bend, Taylor made his way to Cle Elum at an early age. Growing up in the Northwest and the foothills of the Cascades, he spent hours outdoors. Summers were spent mountain biking, fishing, playing football, and then as an after school job at the age of 14, cooking. By 18, he knew it would be his career. In 2005 he had a full-time job cooking at Suncadia in the INN, steps from where he currently is at Swiftwater Cellars. He then worked at Salish Lodge, where honed his skills. But his heart was in Cle Elum and he returned in 2011, moving into the kitchen at Swiftwater Cellars.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with a 2013 Swiftwater Cellars Pinot Noir

Thoa Nguyen    Chinoise Café, Wabi-Sabi, Sushi Chinoise
Spicy tuna sushi roll, and vegetarian sushi roll

About: During and after college in Denver (art/accounting), Thoa worked at restaurants. She moved to Seattle following one of her brothers. In 1991, she worked at Uwajimaya as manager of deli Asian Choice and stayed as more stores were added. In 1996, she opened Chinoise Café on top of Queen Anne (sold in 2015). In 1999, she opened Chinoise in Uwajimaya Seattle (sold); in 2000, Madison Valley (sold); in 2003, Wallingford (sold); in 2003, The Islander in downtown Seattle (closed in 2013). In 2009, she opened Wabi-Sabi Sushi Bar and Restaurant in Columbia City; in 2013, Chinoise Café in the Issaquah Highlands; in 2016, Sushi Chinoise at Beardslee Crossing. In January 2015, she "Beat Bobby Flay" with her version of Bibimbap, a Korean rice bowl dish.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with DiStefano's 2012 Domenica Merlot

Wayne Johnson    FareStart
Salmon cakes

About: A Kentucky native, Chef Johnson grew up as an “army brat” and traveled extensively. He began his culinary adventures in high school working as a dishwasher and prep cook, and continued cooking while studying accounting and business at the University of Northern Colorado. He has worked at the Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco, the Marriott Hotels and Resorts in California and Colorado, and Andaluca and Oliver's Lounge at the Mayflower Park Hotel in Seattle. In 2012, he became the executive chef at Ray's. In 2015, he was named Executive Chef for FareStart, then Corporate Executive Chef. Chef Wayne has earned many accolades, including being selected as a “Rising Star” by and Iron Chef America Season 9 Challenger.

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with R. Stuart & Co's Big Fire Pinot Gris

Xinh Dwelley    Taylor Shellfish and former owner of Xinh's Clam and Oyster House
Coconut clams with noodles

About: Xinh Dwelley’s talent for food and cooking developed as a young woman in South Vietnam. She brought her skills to the US in 1970 when she moved near Olympia, Washington and began selling egg rolls at the local Farmer’s Market. Shortly after, she joined Taylor Shellfish Farms as an oyster shucker. Her skill as an oyster shucker helped Dwelley win the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championship five times, and her talents in the kitchen, including her renowned curried mussels, helped her win regional cooking competitions. She also cooked for Taylor Shellfish Farms’ management and VIP guests, and in 1996 the company opened Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House in downtown Shelton. The restaurant showcased her innovative approach to seafood and shellfish for the local community and has developed a strong regional following. The restaurant closed when Xinh retired in October of 2016. But she's back with us!

Wine Notes: Chef's dish to be paired with AntoLin's Chardonnay

Although it rarely happens, chefs are subject to change.