Nicci Cagan is a founding member of From the Ground Up, a school garden-based wellness initiative committed to nutrition, environmental awareness, sustainability, and facilitating the serving of fresh local produce in school cafeterias. A healthy food advocate, chef, and community organizer, Nicci worked previously with Dr. Deepak Chopra on his “Path to Wellness” program, co-founded a CSA, and founded and directed a cultural arts center. Nicci has served on Slow Food Hudson Valley’s steering committee; coordinated the Farm to School wing of the Rondout Valley Growers Association; and developed farm to school curriculum. Nicci teaches the program Girls for Real Food through Girls Inc., an organization that inspires girls to be strong smart and bold. Girls for Real Food teaches girls about promoting wellness in schools and the importance of incorporating local, delicious, scratch-cooked food in the public cafeteria system. The program explores ingredients that are local, fresh and delicious, and ways to turn those ingredients into nourishing foods for school cafeterias. The girls also look at effective channels for change by meeting with school boards, making presentations and launching campaigns for change. Along with co-founders Noah Sheetz and Rebecca Joyner, Nicci helped start Chefs’ Consortium in 2009. Currently, Nicci works as the Director of Sales for Red Barn Produce in Highland, NY. She enjoys promoting the top quality, local produce that Red Barn offers.
Rebecca Joyner is a chef and culinary director with more than 20 years of experience in all areas of the food service industry. Since 2005, Rebecca has worked for Brock & Company as the Director of Dining Services at the Darrow School, a progressive independent school in New Lebanon, NY. As part of her job, Rebecca oversees all aspects of Dining and Catering for the school community. In keeping with the school’s Shaker history and commitment to sustainable practices, Rebecca has worked hard to De-institutionalize the dining experience, and she actively promotes sustainable agriculture through on-campus teaching and community outreach. Her commitment to sustainability reaches far beyond campus; her husband Wyn is a second-generation family dairy farmer producing for Agrimark and Cabot. In addition to her management responsibilities, Rebecca teaches Individualized Independent Studies in Culinary & Hospitality focusing on sustainability; her students have had a 100% acceptance rate to prestigious culinary arts programs including The Culinary Institute of America, Johnson & Wales and University of Central Florida. Prior to joining Darrow School, Rebecca was the Catering & Events Manager at the Blanchard Campus Center at Mt Holyoke College, and the Chef Owner of a Catering Company & restaurant. She has worked on numerous regional and national events. She is deeply committed to the intertwining values of great food, family, and education for all.
Dan started building websites in the late 1990s. Today, Dan's focus is on helping small business owners succeed on the web. When he's not starring into the abyss known as the Internet, Dan can be found blacksmithing, bicycling, gardening, or simply hanging around in a hammock.
Originally from El Paso Texas, Noah Sheetz settled in the Hudson Valley to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Over the course of his career, Noah has worked in fine dining restaurants, owned a bakery, taught courses in culinary arts, and served as the Executive Chef at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany through four administrations. After working in Albany, Noah worked for Cura Hospitality at Hudson Valley Hospital Center where he planned healthy, seasonal meals made with local ingredients and conducted cooking demonstrations at the hospital’s bi-monthly farmers markets. Recently Noah worked as an adjunct instructor at SUNY Cobleskill where he taught beginning culinary arts students cooking fundamentals and the importance of working with local and seasonal ingredients. Currently Noah is a contract chef for the Office of Children and Family Services where he works with cook supervisors at twelve youth detention centers throughout New York State on menu development and sourcing local ingredients. Noah has an MBA from the University of Albany, an accomplishment that serves him well in his role as the farm-to-table coordinator for Chefs' Consortium, a collaboration of creative and talented chefs who are committed to the same fresh-local ideals. Noah creates partnerships with other non-profit organizations, actively recruits new chefs for the Consortium, and facilitates the procurement of local ingredients for educational events. Noah travels throughout New York City, the Hudson Valley, and the Capital region building relationships with area farmers in his mission to support local agriculture and to highlight the many benefits of eating locally.
Robert and DeVanie Jackson
Brooklyn Rescue Mission was founded in 2002 by a group of clergy and community workers with a vision to service the hungry, hurting and homeless people of Central Brooklyn with healthy fresh food and clean warm clothing. The mission’s founders helped many poor working families, predominately headed by low wage earners, by providing food outreach and clothing assistance. Brooklyn Rescue Mission, Inc. was successfully formed and now assists families living in a community where many of residents are one paycheck away from homelessness. Today Reverends Robert and DeVanie Jackson continue to provide food assistance to low income Bed-Stuy and Brooklyn residents. The Consortium hosts fundraising events with the Brooklyn Rescue Mission to help support the mission's community service efforts.
Daniel Berman, a west coast transplant now living in Albany, is applying his communication strategy background to food writing with the ultimate goal of improving the culinary landscape in the Capital Region. He writes the FUSSYlittleBLOG and contributes regularly to All Over Albany. Daniel’s product reviews for Chefs Consortium continue to garner love and attention from both readers and local producers.
Ilene Friedman is an experienced social media and marketing professional with a desire to help individuals and groups from all backgrounds. For the past four years she has been the manager of Exit 9 Wine and Liquor Warehouse's online store and Social Media. She schedules and promote weekly tastings of new products through social media and weekly emails; and communicates with local area restaurants and businesses to encourage them to pair wine with local food to help promote buying locally. As an event organizer she founded the Cupcake and Wine Challenge (April 2011), Pumpkins & Prosecco Tasting (November 2012), and the Annual New York State Wine Tasting (November 2010, 2011, September 2012, November 2013).
Award-winning photojournalist Jane Feldman left the Fashion and Advertising industries as her dedication to human rights led her to international projects with Amnesty International and to commissioned portraits of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama. As co-author/photographer of Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family (Random House) along with coauthor & Jefferson-Hemings descendant, Shannon Lanier – the two embark on National Speaking tours using their work as a catalyst for discussion on Race & Interconnection. Feldman’s work has appeared in The New York Times, the Boston Globe, TIME, PBS’s Frontline, CBS Sunday Morning, the History Channel, & YES Magazine. Jane’s work focuses on confronting racism, exploring our interconnectedness, as well as youth empowerment working with the Citykids Foundation, & IMPACT in Harlem. Feldman spent years working with Riverside Church’s ministry of Peace & Social Justice – most recently working with Angela Davis, Cornel West, and Michelle Alexander. Jane has also been working as photographer, along side the Documentary Film Crew working on “The Shift” (theshiftmovie.com) featuring Archbishop Tutu, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, and many more.
Queens Dinner Club
Experience the global cuisines of Queens with your friends and neighbors. Curated by Chef Jonathan Forgash and Queens-based food writer Joe DiStefano.
Ai is an education consultant, a mother of a rambunctious toddler, and a grower and preserver of food. She has honed her food preservation skills as a Farm School NYC graduate and through the Master Food Preservation Course at Cornell Extension. Her love of canning food started 10 years ago after watching a youtube video and she's never looked back since. Over the past four years, she has taught canning workshops at schools, community gardens, farmer's markets, senior centers, block parties, and conferences.
Annette Nielsen is a writer and cook who has dedicated her life to supporting local agriculture and sustainability initiatives. Annette has been the food editor for the Saratogian (Saratoga Springs, NY) and the Hill Rag (Washington, DC) and has written for Adirondack Life and a number of Edible properties. In addition to writing, Annette has produced events for Just Food, Food Tank and Cleaver Co. and founded the Al Fresco farm to table dinner for 400 guests in Washington County in 2002 where she also helped launch the shared-use Battenkill Kitchen and led agrarian tours. She has been a cooking instructor at Henry Street Settlement, The Hill Center (Washington, DC) and through the NYC Department of Health at farmers’ markets in the city. Currently, Annette is leading the cooking program for youth at Kitchen Little Cooking School in New York.
Classie Parker is a renowned community gardener, chef, and sustainability advocate. Classie has worked as a Just Food educator where she has performed hundreds of canning workshops across NYC. Classie has been referred to as "the collard green lady" because of the beautiful collard greens that she grows. Occasionally she shares her greens with school groups when she prepares them for cooking demonstrations. Classie was featured in City Farmers, a documentary about the urban farm movement in NYC in the 1980's and 1990's.
With over three decades of experience in top kitchens in both NYC and his native San Francisco, Grant has over the years turned his attention to the educating and development of young urban chefs coupled with the support and promotion of local and sustainable farming. Grant is a Culinary Institute of America graduate and a certified vocational instructor through CUNY New York City college of Technology. Recently Grant worked to establish a culinary program through Good Shepherd Services in Brooklyn, NY. He currently works for Brooklyn Job Core establishing educational programs for youth.
Jillian Naveh is currently a culinary arts and gardening teacher through the Office of Children and Family Services at different juvenile dentention facilities in New York. Jillian has also worked as the farm-to-table chef at the Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, NY, at Thunder Mountain Curry Restaurant in Troy NY, and 9 Miles East Farm which offers a prepared meal CSA delivery program that delivers to work places. Jillian earned a degree in Culinary Arts Business Administration from SUNY Delhi. During her time there she was a committed member of the American Culinary Federation and cooked in over 15 competitions around the country and won multiple awards including the nationals for students in Las Vegas' MGM Grand. After graduating, Jillian worked with youth in a teaching position through the Sylvia Center in project housing community centers in Brooklyn; at the Department of Education where she worked on getting healthy local food into NYC public schools; and with Capital Roots as the outreach coordinator through Americorps. Since moving back to Troy she has been involved in community work through the Oakwood Soul Cafe participating by helping cook for its monthly dinners. Recently Jillian has been teaching monthly culinary arts classes on a variety of different subjects at the Arts Center of the Capital Region.
Jimmy Carbone is a chef and entrepreneur who has promoted local agriculture and New York’s finest beers and spirits for more than two decades. Voted one of the Best Gastropubs in the US by Food & Wine Magazine, Jimmy’s No. 43 is home to interesting and unusual beers, along with great food based on a seasonal greenmarket menu. This low-ceilinged, subterranean East Village favorite, which dates to the 1880s, offers a dozen always-rotating taps, often stocked with New York breweries such as Barrier, The Other Half, and Peekskill. The food menu features a seasonally inspired mix of plates like kale anchovy toasts, shrimp and grits, and sausages from the East Village Meat Marketand meat sourced from Union Square Greenmarket. Jimmy’s über-friendly clientele are frequently treated to guided tastings, demonstrations and lectures related to craft beer, regional wines and hard ciders. Go for the beer; stay for the community! Jimmy’s No. 43 is located below street level at 43 East 7th Street (at 2nd Ave) in Manhattan.
Jonathan Forgash is the founder and chef at Seek Servana. Servana is the pairing of two ideas. Service unto others and providing a sense of peace. For over two decades his company, Star Struck Catering, provided nourishing and pampered catering for fashion, television and film in New York City. Previous clients include Victoria’s Secret, All My Children, White Collar, The Americans and shows at the Food Network like Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray and Wolfgang Puck. When an executive producer was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma, he reached out to Jonathan for help during recovery. This is why we Seek Servana. Enlighted care for the cancer and wellness communities. Servana is the pairing of two practical ideals. Service to others and personal wellbeing. Serving knowledge, confidence and inspiration for your mind, body and kitchen. Jonathan believes that now is the time to take charge of your life. He knows that food with “emotional content” is the secret to your recovery and wellness. This vision is at the heart of his personal consultations and public speaking. To learn more about Seek Servana, please contact Jonathan Forgash at (212) 804-8322 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tahisha solages is a professional cook who is best known for her Haitian Carribean influences in her dishes with bold and flavorful spices of the West Indies. Recently featured on ABC's daytime show The CHEW, Tahisha won best wing recipe and best audience reaction ever, then was shortly invited back to showcase her baked macaroni "Macaroni Au Gratin ", a haitian side dish French inspired Mac and cheese recipe with a rich Bechamel sauce. Tahisha was mostly mentored and culinary trained since the age of 8 by her Grandmother Vesta Nelson who raised her, a former chef of a popular resort in Haiti. As Tahisha continued to grow and demonstrated her passion for culinary arts, she secured great relationships with talented chefs along the way who mentored her, including celebrity chefs like Carla Hall, adding to her culinary repitore of a "Carribean Fusion" spin on traditional Haitian recipes.
Tyler started his culinary career at Mohonk Mountain House as a dishwasher. He quickly worked his way up to line cook and has since worked for many fine dining restaurants and catering companies in the Hudson Valley and Charleston, South Carolina. Tyler has knowledge and experience with many different cuisines including Asian, vegan/vegetarian, southern, Americana, and Italian. He worked at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, NY as one of the private chefs under former executive chef Noah Sheetz. In 2012 he joined the ranks of Chefs Consortium, participating in several events including the 3rd annual Bannerman’s Island Dinner. Tyler is now a distiller at Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, NY, where he brings his culinary background to the art of distilling.
Hudson Valley Chefs
Barbara Lafleur has worked with Mount Holyoke College Dining Services for 32 years, managing the student dining center, coffee bar and all catered events. She is a trained artist with a private studio, an art instructor of many mediums, an organic gardener, a historical garden lecturer, and a garden designer. Barbara devotes time to serving on the Town of Montgomery Massachusetts building and garden committees and is a lifetime Library Friends’ member. She is an official Massachusetts Cultural Council member and a self-professed catering adrenalin junkie.
Robert Turner has been with Omega FoodWorks since 2002 and has been its general manager and executive chef since 2007. He is an honors graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and received his nutritional training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. For nearly a decade, Turner has taught the Omega Cooking series workshops, in which he integrates nutrition and cookery technique to produce healthy seasonal meals. His personal food philosophy—the same one he shares in Omega Cooking workshops—is straightforward: Cook locally, seasonally, and simply. He believes that a closer relationship with your food is not only meditative, but also promotes conscious consumption that spreads to other areas of life. A proponent of cooking and eating with others, he can often be found mingling among diners in Omega’s dining hall at mealtime. He also networks closely with local farmers and regional producers to provide the best meals possible for Omega guests and staff. Turner is author of the monthly recipe feature in the eOmega News.
Christopher Locke is a James Beard nominated sommelier. Chris received his training at the Court of Master Sommeliers, and has over 10 years fine dining experience, including Front of House and Bar management. He recently served as Head Sommelier at both the Lake Placid Lodge, a Relais & Chateaux Property, and the Whiteface Lodge, in Lake Placid, NY. While at Whiteface, he was invited to France to handmake and bottle two private label red blends: "Sophie's Grace" was a Rhone-style made at Chateau La Croix des Pins in Ventoux, and "The Promise" was a Bordeaux-style made at Chateau Guilhem in the Languedoc. Chris is the author of 8 books, and his essays, poems and short stories have appeared in over 100 magazines around the world. His plays have been produced nationally, and his writing has received over a dozen awards, grants, and fellowships. His latest book is Ordinary Gods, (Salmon, Ireland--2017), a collection of essays and poems detailing his 25 years of travel throughout Latin America. His first book for children, Hear Flight (Cedar Grove) will be released next spring. He lives in Upper Jay with his family and teaches creative writing at The Poetry Barn online and North Country Community College in person.
Chef Dan Spitz, private chef and owner/ operator of FatNHappy, LLC catering in New York’s Capitol Region, brings a different approach to food and to his clients. He spent the majority of his early years in Portland, Oregon, where he made his mark preparing unusual and acclaimed dishes for some of the west coast’s elite restaurants like the Zagat™ rated Zefiro. As the executive chef at Mint and Ripe he began to understand and care about “sustainability” in agriculture and pasture raised and grass fed animals. The last twelve years he has spent opening two fine dining establishments as the chef at Beekman Street Bistro and as the Chef de Cuisine of Max London’s both in Saratoga Springs, NY. He now brings his love of farm fresh foods along with his expertise and inspired tastes to your table. Sustainability starts with the farmers and they need venues so people can understand what they do and how important their role is to our future health and global responsibility”. He is one of few chefs that practices what he preaches by buying 90% of his meats and produce from local framers. This is why Dan has an eclectic and ever-changing menu highlighted by whatever is in season. He is an avid forager, and birder and loves being in the outdoors hiking, kayaking, and fishing in the Adirondacks. Chef Dan Spitz 518 488 2457
Dimitrios Menagias grew up in Rotterdam New York, the son of a Greek father and Puerto Rican mother, where he toiled in his family’s diners as a kid. In his mid-20s, Dimitrios bought a Clifton Park Italian restaurant called Romano’s which he owned for seven years. In 2010, Dimitrios opened the Wine ’n’ Diner on Albany’s Delaware Avenue. Of the Wine ’n’ Diner he says, “It was a fun ride. I did it my way and I know it made a lot of people happy.” While the Wine and Diner was a short lived venture, the restaurant led to his current position when he was asked to consult on a gastropub menu for the owners of The City Beer Hall. Today Chef Menagias is the executive chef at The City Beer hall and has developed a following for multicourse dinners that pair beers from a single craft brewery with wild game.
I am a multimedia storyteller and creator of storycooking.com. My work revolves around media and food literacy. I use food as a starting point for conversations. I am an artist, educator, and member of Chefs' Consortium. I received my MFA in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. My journey started when I realized food and cameras are at the center of my life and art. Food and cameras are the tools I use to communicate and build interpersonal connections and community. I live in Troy, New York with my husband and our two children. I was born in Brazil and spent most of my childhood weekends at my grandparents’ small farm. There was a story behind everything we did with our food – from how it was harvested, cooked, and shared.
Eric Bowen is a Navy veteran who served as a cook aboard the USS Alacrity until 1968. In 1971 Chef Eric graduated from the Culinary Institute of America when the culinary mecca was still located in New Haven Connecticut. Chef Eric is also a graduate of the hotel restaurant program at Northwood University. In 1973 Chef Eric completed an internship at the Villa Freja in Asolo Italy. Applying his extensive culinary background, Chef Eric worked as a culinary arts vocational instructor for the Office of Children and Family Services in New York state for twelve years where he used his teachers certification for food and nutrition to educate juvenile youth about cooking.
I'm, Janice Hardgrove-Kollar, and I've been baking for a long time. And I love it! You could say that I'm a baking addict. I was a jingle singer/music arranger by trade, singing national TV commercials for a living, as well as scoring national corporate videos. My baking addiction blossomed one day when I was building a recording studio which cost more and more money. Having run out of money for any "extras" like the occasional massage, a friend, Margabandhu, said "You bake, bring me something yummy to sell in my health food store." Well, I brought him a dozen packages of vegan cookies. He sold them in one day, and the rest is history. That business, Kollar Cookies, turned into a 6000 cookie a week habit, with 4 distributors, covering all of Manhattan and the tristate area for over 12 years. I sold the company and moved on, but Kollar Cookies are still sold throughout the tri-state area. Next was the Pillsbury Bake-off (almost won the whole the damn thing!), to the Food Network, a cookbook agent, and an actual cookbook with Wiley Press! I stepped away from the baking business to work on the book, and a few other things, but baking is in my blood, so right here in Woodstock, I'm back. When I moved up here 7 years ago, I went on my perpetual quest for tasty baked goods. I noticed that there was not much going on up here, especially as far as cupcakes were concerned. Woodstock needs cupcakes! And that's why Peace, Love and Cupcakes was created! A few of my baking highlights include: I was a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off for my "Thick and Fudgy Triple Chocolate Pudding Cake. Carol Walter, a master baker and cookbook author, awarded me with the First Place Crisco Blue Ribbon for my "Lemon Cloud Pie." I won the Food Network's title for "Best Cake in the Country" in 2009 for my "Classic Four Layer Chocolate Cake" and had my cupcakes sold at every TGIFriday's around the world for over one year. Plus, I authored a "manly" cupcake book, "The Butch Bakery Cookbook" for Wiley Press. Most recently, 5/25/14, I won on another Food Network program-"Rewrapped." And 8/17/14, I was featured on MSNBC's show "Your Business." I also have another cookbook deal in the works for the shop!. OH, I haven't stopped singing either. I'm now part of an all-girl folk/rock trio called, would you believe, 'The Cupcakes!, as well as the Dharma Bums, which has toured the world.
After 50 years in the Pharmaceutical industry in both Preclinical and Clinical research Joan returned to school at Schenectady County Community College and joined the culinary arts program where she graduated with an AOS degree as a Certified Culinarian in 2010. Joan has worked in the industry since 2008 and has traveled to France, Italy and Indonesia where she further increased her culinary skills. At 78 years old she continues to learn and share in culinary events for charities, as well as working with young folks in the Chef and Child program of the American Culinary Federation. Currently Joan works as a pastry chef at the Honest Weight Food Coop and Yono's/ dp an American Brasserie; and as a prep chef at the Wine Bar in Saratoga.
Josh Coletto is the former chef of the Flying Chicken in Troy, where he was instrumental in establishing award-winning recipes for perfect fried chicken. He is a Culinary Institute of America graduate with a diverse history, which includes work as a cheese maker at Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in Chatham. Recently Josh was a chef at Finnbar’s Pub in Troy and Local 111 in Philmont. Currently Josh is the head chef at the Darrow School in New Lebanon. On Sundays Josh puts on the Rock N Roll Brunch at the Low Beat, a bar in Albany, where he features locally sourced and foraged ingredients.
Katrin Haldeman is the founder and CEO of Dali-Mamma, a café and coffee bar located in Albany that served fresh-local fare sourced from the farms surrounding the Albany area. Currently Katrin works for the marketing communications department at Disability Rights NY (DRNY). DRNY provides free legal and advocacy services to individuals with disabilities.
Chef Lana earned her culinary degree in Classic Culinary Arts at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. Upon graduation, Lana worked in Restaurant X and later X2O, Xaviar's on the Hudson with local chef and restauranteur Peter Kelly. Making the switch from restaurant to catering, Lana next spent several years as a Sous Chef with Abigail Kirsch working in Westchester and Manhattan. After over 10 years in the industry, creating Escae has long been a dream for Lana. Helping to bring about community awareness of local food sourcing and empowering people of all ages to cook delicious, seasonal food is the foundation of Escae's purpose. Lana's experience as a chef, mother, and local food advocate shapes Escae's philosophy of mindful modern cooking.
Lisa Blackman is a culinary arts teacher through the Office of Children and Family Services at The Goshen Residential Center in Goshen, NY. She also specializes in culinary travel as a travel consultant with Protravel International. Coming from a family of restaurateurs, Lisa loved being exposed to the art of cooking; she learned from her grandparents and continues to defer to traditional methods. She has operated her own small event catering company, The Enchanted Baker, hosting events at local venues, charitable events, schools - as well as pop-up restaurants at Benmarl and Brotherhood wineries. Lisa offers private culinary arts lessons in her home – focusing on Sunday Suppers at the lake – kayaking included. She brings her interest in international cooking to her teaching position at the juvenile detention facility – encouraging students to explore different cultures through cuisine.
Michael Lapi is the former chef/owner of Church and Main Restaurant in Canajoharie and a chef instructor at SUNY Cobleskill where he teaches American Cuisine, Meat Cutting and Farm to Table Management. Whether he is preparing Northwind Farms’ rabbit gumbo or fresh duck egg pasta with braised Gordon Farms’ oxtails, his food is always a sensation with Consortium event goers. Michael has long been a champion of cooking with local ingredients and sources many of his ingredients from the farms throughout Schoharie and Albany counties and, many times, from his mother’s garden. He is also an expert mushroom forager. Mike contributes his talents to the Schoharie Farm to School Project by doing cooking demonstrations and educational workshops.
Noel Conklin is a natural foods chef who trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. She worked at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, the Center for Discovery, Davenport Farm, and the Garden Cafe in Woodstock. She does educational cooking demonstrations at the Kingston Farmers market as part of the Healthy Living series. As a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition she believes that natural food is the pathway to good health. She enjoys inspiring people to learn simple and healthy ways to prepare seasonal and nutritious foods.
Renee Panetta is an Albany based chef and sustainability advocate. Renee works with Camp Unirondack to set up fundraising events that highlight local food. She has also worked to establish recycling and composting initiatives at Guilderland Central School district.
Ric Orlando is a man with a colorful past. He’s been a punk-art-powerpop-funk musician in New Haven and Boston back when it was fresh, a model, a published poet, a super 8 film maker, a music video producer and performer, and now an accomplished chef, author and restauranteur. He is the owner and creative force behind Woodstock NY’s beloved New World Home Cooking Cafe and the chef/consultant of New World Bistro Bar in Albany, NY. He also hit nation-wide this summer on the Food Network’s popular show CHOPPED where he won the first time , and was invited to participate in the unprecedented 50k championship. He won the playoff round, and was finally chopped at the 50K finale, like Ned Kelly in the Iron Suit, by overcooking his Wild Boar. Ric has worked at the Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, The Wild Goose and the European in Boston, Sugar Reef in Manhattan and the kitchens of Bob Kinkead, Jake Jabobus and Emmett Fox. He has written, guitared and sung for New Haven’s Hot Bodies (1978-80), TV Neats (1980-81)and Boston’s Psychedelic Funksters (1982-88) SKIN.
Chef Kerzner’s passion for cooking began when he was a child, helping his mother cook in their kitchen at home. From a young age his path seemed clear and, as a result he wasted no time entering into his high school’s vocational food service program. After graduating, he attended Schenectady County Community College and began working at a small bistro in Canajohaire, NY called Church and Main. It was at Church and Main, a true farm to table restaurant, where Chef Kerzner learned a real appreciation for fresh, local ingredients. He began working with Mazzone Hospitality at Angelo’s 677 Prime in 2005 where he quickly worked his way up from line cook to sous chef to Chef de Cuisine. In the summer of 2011, Chef Kerzner was selected to run the Patrons Club at the Hall of Springs and then finished the summer season at Prime at Saratoga National. In fall of 2011, he helped open Angelo’s Prime Bar and Grill in Clifton Park as the Executive Chef, followed by a summer as the Chef De Cuisine at Prime at Saratoga National in 2012. He joined the team at Yonos/DP Brasserie as the Chef de cuisine in March 2013. There is no doubt that Chef Kerzner’s hardwork, meticulous attention to detail and passion for the industry will shine through in his food.
In 1971 Chef Widjiono (Yono) Purnomo, a native of Jakarta, Indonesia and graduate of APN Academy Perhotelan Negara, Bandung, Indonesia, embarked on a circuitous career journey in the splendid dining rooms aboard the unparalleled SS Rotterdam, flagship of the Holland America Cruise Lines. When the opportunity to open his own restaurant in Albany came along, Certified Executive Chef Yono "jumped ship" from the dining room to the kitchen and has never looked back. Chef Purnomo has expertly mastered the unique blending of exotic spices, soothing coconut milk, lemongrass, lime leaves and dragon-mouthed sambal, creating a unique, sophisticated, complex and layered cuisine. Yono has learned from the industries' best and credits Certified Master Chef Fritz Sonnenschmidt, culinary Dean of the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, NY for instilling within him the credo "To cook with your head, your heart and your hands" and to always willingly share your expertise. Chef Purnomo strives to introduce his native culture as well as cuisine through cooking classes, demonstrations and lectures for schools, civic organizations, charities, as well as for fellow chefs. He is affiliated with more than 75 charitable and community service organizations. Chef Purnomo is married to Donna, Co-owner of Yono’s Restaurant. They have two children: Dominick, 33 years old who now works with Yono and Donna in the family restaurant business, and Alexondra, 31 years old, who is travelling the world!
Originally from central Massachusetts, Eric Paul is a philology graduate of Bard College. In 2012, after much national and global research on cheese, Paul opened the Cheese Traveler on Delaware Avenue in Albany, which quickly became a Capital Region destination despite carrying little more than cheese from around the world and meat raised on local farms. Today, if a visitor to the Cheese Traveler asks about a particular cheese, Paul may produce an earnest disquisition about not only its region and maker, but the season in which the milk was produced and the type of mold that produces the distinctive rind. "We know everything about the cheeses," he says. Paul uses the same decision-making criteria on all of the products he carries. Paramount is superior taste, followed by quality, method and scale of production, adherence to tradition and culture and, whenever possible, a preference that the item is locally made, raised or produced. Paul deliberately limits his cheese stock to about 100, perhaps up to 125 around the holidays. "Anything more than 100 is too much. We've learned that," he says. "Coming in and staring at 250 uncut cheeses with signs sticking out of them — it's overwhelming to almost everybody." Sometimes a cheese is just a cheese — a piece to nibble on or a slice to slap on a sandwich. But more often, for Paul, that combination of milk, salt and fat produces an alchemical magic that occupied a certain French author for more than 3,000 pages. (Steve Barnes)