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The region’s best chefs come together for a weekend of amazing food, world-class wines & spirits, camaraderie, and more

 


Chef Sean Blomgren
The Lodge at Spruce Peak | Stowe, VT
HOST CHEF

Chef Sean Blomgren's passion for food and hospitality began early on, cooking holiday meals for his family in Lowell, Massachusetts. Driven by his passion for creating new dishes and the reaction from his family, at age 21 he enrolled in the famed Le Cordon Bleu. While on externship in Westchester, NY, Blomgren sought opportunities to further develop his own knowledge, taking monthly trips to Manhattan to experience the global food scene.

Blomgren's culinary repertoire flourished after graduating, first at the Five-Diamond Mandarin Oriental in Boston, MA where he was exposed to a vast array of different ingredients, techniques, and cultures. An opportunity arose to move to Colorado and assist in opening Chef's Club by Food & Wine in the St. Regis Aspen. This first-of-its-kind concept incorporated Food & Wine's Best New Chefs together on one menu. There, he also had the chance to work with Michelin-Starred chefs Mathieu Pacaud and Cyril Lignac of Paris, among other world-class chefs from around the country. He then went on to become Chef de Cuisine at the prestigious Kiawah Island Club on Kiawah Island, SC. This move really solidified his commitment to sourcing great products and presenting them with minimal intervention.

In 2015, Blomgren returned to the Mandarin Oriental group as Chef de Cuisine at the brand's iconic property in Washington, D.C. under the watchful eye of Chef Adam Tanner. Reconnecting with this globally-iconic brand allowed him to travel back to Japan and dive deeper into his love with Japanese cuisine.

The allure of the West once again lead Blomgren to accept his first Executive Chef role at the Madeline Hotel & Residences, Telluride, CO, the only Four-Diamond Full-Service resort in one of the most captivating towns in the world.

A true New Englander, Blomgren and wife Casey decided to return to the East Coast, specifically Stowe, Vermont to settle down and raise a family. He is currently the Executive Chef at the Lodge at Spruce Peak's Alpine Hall and Tipsy Trout restaurants. Upon arrival, he re-concepted all menus to focus on locallysourced and farm-driven cuisine, building relationships with local farmers and vendors.

Chef Emshika Alberini
Chang Thai Café | Littleton, NH
Featured Guest Chef

Growing up in Bangkok, Emshika Alberini often found herself at her mother and grandmother’s sides learning how to cook authentic Thai cuisine. In the years since, Alberini has taken their recipes and added her own flair, integrating traditional flavors and classic dishes with a modern twist in a sustainable way.

In the early 2000s, Alberini moved to New York to attend graduate school for organizational management at Sage Graduate Schools in Albany, New York. While studying, she developed the idea and business plan for a modern Thai restaurant with her sister, Sriwipha "Ann" Phathan

In 2006, after graduating and working in the corporate world for several years, Emshika received the news that her sister, Ann, suddenly passed away. Her sudden absence motivated her to transition from corporate employee to entrepreneur; Two years later, Emshika opened Chang Thai Cafe in Littleton, NH in 2008 as a tribute to Ann and to pay homage to their beloved home country of Thailand.

Presently, Chang Thai Cafe offers a wide-range of authentic Thai and Southeast Asian dishes, as well as globally-influenced modern fare. The restaurant also boasts a beautiful bar with delicious Thai-inspired and classic craft cocktails are served, and an online shop where some of the restaurants signature products are available for nation-wide shipping.

Accolades:
NH200: NH Business Review's Most Influential Business Leaders – 2020
NH200: NH Business Review's Most Influential Business Leaders – 2021

Chef Robert Andreozzi
Pizza Marvin | Providence, RI
Featured Guest Chef

A Rhode Island native, Robert Andreozzi always had his eye on culinary school. After graduating with a political science degree, he enrolled at Johnson & Wales' Denver campus before putting his skills into action at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, New York, at Del Posto underneath Chef Mark Ladner, and Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder. Through these experiences Andreozzi learned to work in a fast-paced environment, to push himself, to be intentional about every single action, and how to tell a story through food. In 2017, Andreozzi returned to Providence and ultimately opened the Italian concept, Sarto. Upon his departure in 2019, he teamed up with fellow Rhode Islander and bartending aficionado Jesse Hedberg. From their working relationship, the concept behind Pizza Marvin was born —a square slice and round pie takeout joint with killer cocktails. Pizza Marvin focuses on approachability while showcasing masterful technique in both the kitchen and bar program. Robert is a proud board member at Farm Fresh RI which aspires to grow a local food system that values the environment, health and quality of life of the farmers and eaters of New England.

Awards/Accolades
Providence Business News 40 under Forty
Semi Finalist James Beard Best Chef: Northeast
Star Chefs Rising Star Chef 2023

Chef John DaSilva
Chickadee | Boston, MA
Featured Guest Chef

As Chef and Owner of Chickadee, John daSilva wields an award-winning New England born menu with the utmost care and attention to detail, yet somehow makes each dish feel adventurous and effortless.

A lifelong New England resident, John daSilva graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in 2004. He trained in various kitchens including The Boarding House on Nantucket Island and Barbara Lynch's flagship No. 9 Park before opening Spoke Wine Bar in 2013. During his time at Spoke, John received a great deal of critical acclaim, being named one of Zagat’s “30 Under 30” for Boston and earning the title “Rising Star Chef” from StarChefs.com. He was also named “Best Chef, Up & Coming” from Boston Magazine in 2015.

In the summer of 2018, John teamed up with longtime friend and former coworker at No. 9 Park, Ted Kilpatrick, to open his first restaurant, Chickadee, in Boston’s Seaport District. Upon opening, Chickadee received a glowing 3½ star review from the Boston Globe and was named ‘Restaurant of the Year’ by Boston Globe Magazine. John was also named Eater Boston’s Chef of the Year in the 2018 Eater Awards. Chickadee was recognized as a semifinalist for “Best New Restaurant” in the U.S. by the James Beard Foundation in 2019. Most recently, in 2022 John was honored as a semifinalist by the James Beard Foundation for “Best Chef - Northeast”.

At Chickadee, guests venture into a lesser known part of Seaport and are greatly rewarded by John’s culinary wizardry. From the cured and smoked Sea Trout Dip to the Roasted Porchetta, which is cooked for 24 hours and has “about one hundred steps,” John’s passion, attention to detail and thoughtfulness are evident in each dish.

When he's not in the kitchen, John enjoys working out, playing softball, going to Celtics games, and exploring New England with his adorable daughter Maple.

Awards/Accolades
“30 Under 30”- Zagat 2012
“Rising Star Chef” - StarChefs 2015
“Best Chef, Up & Coming” - Boston Magazine, 2015
"Restaurant of the Year" - Boston Globe Magazine "Chef of the Year" - Eater Boston, 2018
“Best New Restaurant” Semifinalist - James Beard Foundation, 2019
“Best New Restaurant” Semifinalist - James Beard Foundation, 2022
“Best New Restaurant” Semifinalist - James Beard Foundation, 2024

Chef Cara Stadler
Tao Yuan | Brunswick, ME
Featured Guest Chef

While Cara grew up making Shanghainese classics in a kitchen infused with ginger and shaoxing wine, her training is far more global. Beginning her career at 16, she worked at Café Rouge in Berkeley, followed by Striped Bass in Philadelphia, before heading to Paris to hone her fine dining skills. While in France, after staging at Guy Savoy, Cara worked at Gordon Ramsay Au Trianon Palace, his two-Michelin star restaurant in Versailles.

At the same time as she was learning from these modern masters, Cara began noticing what has become her core guiding concept – what she calls, “the perfect bite.” Specifically, she became fascinated with how, in a single bite, flavors harmonize in a sequence of moments, supported by the cadence of texture. Since then, Cara is constantly striving to put both new “perfect bites” and some classics on the table.

With the aim of finding more flavors and texture to bring to this concept, Cara headed to Asia in 2008. After working briefly in Singapore at French-Japanese restaurant Saint Pierre and heading up Gourmet Underground in Beijing in 2009, Cara moved to Shanghai and began her long-standing relationship with one of China’s most esteemed restaurateurs, David Laris. Starting out as sous-chef of Laris – at the time, one of Asia’s fine-dining landmarks – Cara later launched David’s private dining restaurant, 12 Chairs, which has been hailed one of Asia’s best restaurants by The Miele Guide.

Since returning to Maine, she has opened 4 restaurants, a aquaponic greenhouse, and market. She was a 2014 Food and Wine Best New Chef, and has been nominated 5 times for James Beard Rising Star Chef, Outstanding Hospitality for Bao Bao Dumpling House, and most recently for Outstanding Restauranteur.

Awards
2024 Outstanding Restauranteur semifinalists
BaoBao Dumpling House Outstanding Hospitality Portland, Maine Restaurant & Chef Semifinalist 2022
Rising Star Chef of the Year, Tao Yuan Brunswick, Maine | Restaurant & Chef Semifinalist 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014
Rising Star Chef of the Year, Tao Yuan Brunswick, Maine | Restaurant & Chef Nominee 2015
Food and Wine Best New Chef 2014

Chef Maura Kilpatrick
Sofra Bakery | Cambridge, MA
Featured Guest Chef

Maura has received enthusiastic reviews of her Middle Eastern-inspired pastries. A renowned executive pastry chef and bakery owner, she was voted Best Pastry Chef by Boston magazine in 2002, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. Sofra, the bakery she opened with Ana Sortun, has garnered numerous awards and huge acclaim from the public. Maura was a nominee for the 2015, 2016, 2017 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef and in 2018, 2019, 2020 for Outstanding Baker. She is the co-author (with Ana Sortun) of Soframiz: Vibrant Middle Eastern Recipes from Sofra Bakery.

Maura opened Sofra with Ana Sortun in 2008 and oversees the development of the entire pastry team at Sofra. Her award-winning style is a result of extensive research and experimentation; she is best known for using typical Eastern Mediterranean ingredients such as orange blossom, tahini and rose petals to create contemporary versions of traditional desserts from Turkey, Lebanon and beyond.

Accolades:
James Beard Foundation Outstanding Pastry Chef Nominee 2015, 2016, 2017
James Beard Foundation Outstanding Baker Nominee 2018, 2019, 2020
Boston Magazine Best Pastry Chef 5 times

Chef David Vargas
Vida Cantina | Portsmouth, NH | Ore Nell’s BBQ | Kittery, ME
Featured Guest Chef

Honored by the James Beard Foundation as “Outstanding Chef America, 2023, semi-finalist” and awarded “Chef of the Year, 2022” by the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association, Chef David Vargas is a talented and respected leader in the kitchen and in the New England community with a mission to bring people together to the table. David is proud to share his Mexican heritage by featuring beautiful local seasonal product on every plate at his award-winning, nationally recognized Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, NH. He is also chef owner of the popular Ore Nell’s Barbecue in Kittery, Maine working with Chef Will Myska, and plans to open a second location Spring 2023. David’s community mission is to bring people together by sharing a respect and appreciation for all cultures and actively supporting those in need.

A James Beard nominated chef, (Outstanding Chef in America semifinalist 2023; Best Chef Northeast semi-finalist 2022, 2020, 2019) David grew up in Southern CA and has spent a lifetime learning, living, and celebrating his Mexican heritage. David’s mother is from Guadalajara, his father from Jalisco; in CA his parents owned a taqueria and both were police officers. David grew up in the family’s taqueria cooking family recipes with fresh local ingredients while learning all he could about his Mexican culture; it was important to David’s parents that he deeply appreciate his Mexican heritage. Appreciate it he does indeed at Vida Cantina, where with each dish he is “elevating our understanding of what Mexican food is or should be, while elevating our understanding of what New England cuisine is or should be” The Portsmouth Herald. According to The Boston Globe, David prepares “the best Mexican food north of the MA Border” and is “nearly evangelistic about using local ingredients.” Boston Magazine declared “David Vargas, a James Beard award-nominated chef is making some of the best Mexican food on the East Coast at Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, NH.” Locally, regionally and nationally, the critics agree that Chef David Vargas is shining a bright light on Mexican cuisine, and his dishes at Vida Cantina are definitely “worth the drive” to Portsmouth, NH.

COMMUNITY TO TABLE

David’s mantra at Vida Cantina, and in all his endeavors, is “Community To Table” which he lives every day by bringing his restaurants, teams, farmers, fishermen and communities together. Some examples:

*New England BIPOC Fest: David co-created and hosted the first annual BIPOC Fest in Portsmouth in September 2021, raising over $30,000.00 for BIPOC organizations in the region. In September 2022 he led New England BIPOC Fest, expanding the event by inviting chefs and community leaders from throughout New England to come and share their food, art and stories. David believes people come together at the table – and his mission is to provide that space for the New England community. Plans are underway for New England BIPOC Fest 2023, taking place September 24, 2023 outside Vida Cantina, Portsmouth.

*Indigenous Corn Project: David literally dug into the region’s agricultural history with the Abenaki tribe, original settlers of the Seacoast region, and led the way for local farms to now grow original indigenous seeds. “This is the right thing to do” explains David. “I am honored to work with the Abenaki people and to support them and shine a light on their heritage in this region. This is important for all ages to respect and learn from our history so we can move forward to a better community together.”

*Tuckaway Farm / Regional Grain Alliance: David leads the region in working closely with local farms. He created a friendship with Tuckaway Farm and then brought more of the local farms together to grow indigenous corn and other regional varieties for David’s tasty tortillas. David personally took on the mission of researching, finding, planting indigenous corn with his grain alliance farmers, to celebrate the Abenaki tribe that first lived here on the Seacoast. 

*Diversity BBQ: David hosted the community’s first-ever Diversity BBQ in Sept 2020 at Vida Cantina, inviting chefs from all over New England to come cook and share their stories about their cultural backgrounds and experiences. Each chef was invited to help raise funds for programs that are supporting diversity in the communities. Even in a pandemic, the outside event sold out in a day and raised close to $10,000.

*Mentorship: David is a mentor to his team. He has helped his cooks open restaurants of their own; supporting them as chef partner/owner. He opened the award-winning Ore Nell’s BBQ in Kittery, Maine with Chef Will Myska, a native of Central Texas who worked with David at Vida Cantina. A second location is in the works, due to open Spring 2023. Next up was Chef Linda Theth, a former chef at Vida Cantina, whose heritage includes Cambodia and Laos. David helped Lin open her first restaurant, Lin’s Little Kitchen, featuring Southeast Asian cuisine, in Newburyport, MA, in summer 2020. (Unfortunately Lin’s Little Kitchen closed during the pandemic.)

“I know what it means to cook from my heritage, sharing my parent’s recipes and adding to them from my experiences” shares David. “It is important to me to share that opportunity with the incredible people who have worked with me in my kitchen – we all grow together.”

*Si Se Puede Immigration Dinner: David hosted Si Se Puede at Vida Cantina when Immigration policy became front page news. He invited chefs from around New England to help raise awareness and funds for Immigration reform. The event sold out and not only created an amazing dining experience but built bridges within the community, with advocates and chefs. 

*Heirloom Harvest Project: David helps support the Heirloom Harvest Project, a local nonprofit promoting heritage foods, connecting famers with chefs.

*NH Community Seafood Alliance: David is a vocal leader in the region supporting NH Community Seafood, creating “Catch of the Day Tacos” with whatever fresh fish the collaborative hauls in. “It’s all about the community we live in” shares David. “We all have to do our part.”

*Former Interim Director of Nutrition, Chef leader, Kittery Public Schools: David is one of the most talented, committed, energized, passionate and compassionate chefs in New England. He has spent years working with the Kittery Public School system nutrition team; introducing local product and sourcing to the menus, training the cafeteria teams, cooking for/with the students at each school, meeting the students and inspiring them to think / eat / support local; growing gardens at each school; introducing local chefs to the schools with a Featured Guest Chef Series. With two kids in the Kittery School system, David knows what it takes to inspire kids about food and nutrition. At one point, the Kittery School superintendent asked David if he could step in temporarily as the Kittery School System’s Director of Nutrition. “It is an honor – of course I said yes” says David. “My mission is to inspire these kids to think about what they are eating, to support local farms and to have fun with it every day. When kids eat better, they do better in school. It’s that basic. I am honored to do whatever I can to help to be that link between the Community and the Farms and the Table and the Schools.”

VIDA CANTINA, VIDA TORTILLA…and DAVID’s FIRST (AND LAST!) FOOD TRUCK: This James Beard nominated chef first learned how to cook and appreciate family recipes and local farms while working at his family’s taqueria, and then in Michelin starred kitchens like Cyrus in Sonoma County. He met his wife Erika on a farm in CA, and they eventually headed to her native NH and where they decided to raise their family. David cooked at the celebrated restaurants Arrows and MC Perkins Cove. Then he decided to buy and operate a food truck, cooking Mexican dishes. David said it was the hardest work he’s ever done. “We almost lost everything – it was so tough. It was before food trucks were trending, and I am just so grateful that I met restaurateur Jay McSharry and we got to talking. I came in as chef/owner of Vida Cantina in Portsmouth. I am grateful Jay and I share a vision and determination to bring authentic, bright and beautiful Mexican cuisine to the region and it has just been an amazing experience.” It was especially ironic when David welcomed and hosted Food Network’s Tyler Florence and the hit national TV show, “The Great Food Truck Race” to Portsmouth – David was a judge and not an operator of a food truck!

Vida Cantina earns awards for its modern, bright Mexican cuisine, and has welcomed visitors such as Food Network’s Guy Fieri, Tyler Florence, Roger Mooking to his kitchen, and Yankee Magazine’s Amy Traverso/Weekends with Yankee and Alex Thomopoulos/The Moveable Feast. “I am grateful for the honors and the attention; it is great for our business and our staff, and I am happy to make my parents proud by sharing Mexican cuisine” says David.

VIDA TORTILLA: David opened Vida Tortilla so he could continue to make his unique handcrafted tortillas in house, using locally grown corn. Vida Tortilla makes 15,000+ tortillas weekly in a tiny space in Dover, NH, selling them wholesale to restaurants and direct to consumers. Recently David sold Vida Tortilla to his team there, so they can carry on the mission of creating tortillas with indigenous seeds from the Abenaki Tribe, and local corn from the alliance of farmers David brought together.

Respected for his culinary talent and creativity, community-building and mentorship, David is honored to lead his teams at Vida Cantina and Ore Nell’s BBQ in the kitchens and by example, cooking acclaimed homemade tacos, pig’s head platters, daily seasonal menus, and showcasing his deep respect for local and sustainable sourcing. David is one of the region’s most talented chefs creating a vibrant restaurant revolution catching the attention of the national food scene.

Awards:
James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef in America, 2023, semi-finalist
Chef Of The Year, 2022, New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association
Outstanding Business Owner, Black Lives Matter Seacoast Excellence Awards, 2023
James Beard Foundation Best Chef Northeast, semi-finalist nomination, 2019, 2020, 2022
“This is one of the most beautiful presentations of roasted pork I have ever seen!”, Guy Fieri, Food Network
Vida Cantina is a modern cantina puttin’ out the pork, from belly tacos to a pigs head platter…” Guy Fieri, Food Network
The East Coast’s Best Mexican Food, Boston Magazine
Best Mexican food north of the MA border, The Boston Globe
One of the best, most authentic Mexican restaurants in New England, The Boston Globe
Exceptional house-made tortillas with freshly milled local corn…prompting the kind of gut-deep, intangible warmth, Boston Magazine
Highest standards …his future is rooted in corn, Yankee Magazine
One of the Top Ten Restaurants in the Greater New England Region, The Portsmouth Herald
Top Portsmouth Restaurants Worth The Drive, Eater Maine
Hot New Restaurant, NH Magazine
Best New Restaurant, Taste Magazine
Best Mexican Brunch, NH Magazine
Best Chef, Seacoast, Nominee, Spotlight Awards
Collaborator of the Year Award/Chef David Vargas, honored by The Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth, 2022

Chef Cassie Piuma
Sarma, Somerville, Massachusetts
Featured Guest Chef

Cassie is a native of Duxbury, Massachusetts. She graduated from Johnson & Wales University where she met her husband and now business partner, Matthew Piuma. She honed her culinary skills at the acclaimed Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island, and then moved back to Boston in 2002, where she worked at the French bistro, Sel de la Terre, and as a sausage maker for Barbara Lynch at the Butcher Shop. She spent the next 11 years with James Beard Award winning chef Ana Sortun at Oleana, learning the nuances of Middle Eastern cooking and working her way up the ranks. In 2013, Cassie opened her dream restaurant, Sarma, in Somerville where she cooks her version of modern Middle Eastern meze in a casual, upbeat, neighborhood setting. She was a James Beard Nominee for Best Chef: Northeast in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020.

Chef Brendan Vesey

Featured Guest Chef

Brendan Vesey is the chef owner of Botanica Restaurant and Gin Bar in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Botanica has been called “occasion worthy French cuisine”, by Boston Magazine. Brendan is a graduate of the University of Virginia and a former Naval Officer. His relationships with local producers, travel, and passion for French food inspire the menus at Botanica. In addition to being a chef owner, Brendan is an active part of his community, serving as a nonprofit board member, culinary instructor, and soccer coach. He lives in Portsmouth with his wife Sarah, his two daughters and his dog, Pepper.

Chef Emily Mingrone
Tavern on State | Provisions on State | Fair Haven Oyster Co. | New Haven, CT
Featured Guest Chef

Growing up with a chef for a father, Emily Mingrone was destined for a career in the kitchen. Her introduction to the culinary world began in her teens, while working for her father's catering business. There, she discovered her passion for food and the desire to create unforgettable experiences for clients, friends and family. Emily began her career working under Chef Denise Appel at Zinc Restaurant in New Haven, where she honed her skills and began thinking more creatively about food and hospitality.

From there, Emily became an apprentice at Saugatuck Craft Butchery in Westport so she could best learn the art of butchery, and moved forward with the company to open their flagship restaurant concept as the head chef of Craft Kitchen. From there, she moved on to South Norwalk to work with Matt Storch as Chef de Cuisine at Match Restaurant, and most recently she worked as Chef de Cuisine at Jesup Hall in Westport with Bill Taibe.

She now has planted roots in New Haven, where she has lived and worked for many years. She opened her first restaurant, Tavern on State in 2019, Provisions on State, a whole animal butcher shop in 2020, and Fair Haven Oyster Co. in 2022. Throughout all of these experiences, Emily's philosophy remains the same: source fresh and responsibly raised ingredients, treat them simply and with respect, season it well, and you'll have a great meal. Mingrone's deliberate, straightforward approach to cuisine avoids over manipulation. She focuses on flavors vs. technique, allowing ingredients take center stage. From a perfectly grilled sardine, to a crispy, pulled-pork like tete de cochon, to a lamb sausage with eggplant relish, refined classics become soul satisfying comfort food in her hands. Mingrone was named "Best Chef of the Year 2021" in the Connecticut Restaurant Association Awards, and has appeared on the Food Network's Chopped and Guy's Grocery Games.

Chef Kwasi Kwaa
Comfort Kitchen | Boston, Massachusetts
Featured Guest Chef

Ghanaian-born chef Kwasi Kwaa has over a decade of experience in Boston's restaurants and large-scale catering. In 2016, he launched The Chop Bar pop-up, drawing inspiration from the street food of his childhood in Ghana. In 2019, Kwaa joined Comfort Kitchen as chef partner, to open a new cafe and restaurant cafe in Dorchester. Despite pandemic delays, Comfort Kitchen operated as a pop-up around the city while gaining a local following and accolades including Eater Boston's Best New Pop-up and Boston Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants in Boston. In January 2023, Comfort Kitchen opened as a permanent brick-and-mortar location, where Kwaa collaborates with the culinary team to create dishes that celebrate the flavors and ingredients of the African diaspora connected from Asia to the Americas through the spice trade.

Chef Will Myska
Ore Nell's Barbecue | Kittery, Maine
Featured Guest Chef

Will Myska, chef/owner of the new Ore Nell's Barbecue in Kittery, Maine, is as masterful a pitmaster as he is at whipping up homemade banana pudding. This Houston native is bringing down-home Texas hospitality to the Maine/NH border. Just open a few months, Ore Nell's Barbecue is already earning regional acclaim for its authentic Texas bbq, with such honors as "Hottest Restaurants in Maine"/Eater Maine and "Best New Restaurants 2018"/NH Magazine, and more.

Inspired by his grandmother Ore Nell, Myska smokes top quality meats, fish and vegetables low and slow over oak wood using traditional Central Texas cooking methods. Growing up outside of Houston, Myska learned how to cook in his grandmother's kitchen. "My grandmother would always prepare amazing meals with gumbo, tamale casserole, fresh cucumber and tomato salads and buttermilk pies. Everyone would help - from peeling the potatoes to washing the produce. And then of course sitting down together at the table to dig in. Everything she cooked was full of love and flavor — that's what I am trying to do here at Ore Nell's."

At 19 years old Myska moved from Texas to New England and enrolled in the Atlantic Culinary Academy at McIntosh College. While in school he worked with Chef Evan Hennessey at The Dunaway Restaurant, Portsmouth, NH -highly regarded for its farm to table cooking set in historic Strawbery Banke. Myska was on the opening team for Chef Hennessey's Stages at One Washington, cooking at the James Beard House and earning #1 Hottest New Restaurant by NH Magazine. Next he worked at Portsmouth's popular Ristorante Massimo and then at the award-winning Vida Cantina where he learned the art of butchery and how to run a kitchen under the stewardship of Chef/Owner David Vargas. "Chef Dave taught me how to manage not only food but the people you work with" says Myska. The partnership flourished and together they opened Ore Nell's Barbecue with restaurateur Jay McSharry.

Ore Nell's Barbecue is Myska's first restaurant, and he is digging deep into his Texas grandmother's inspiration and recipe box. "My dear Ore Nell is in her early 90's living in Houston and I just want to make her proud" shares Myska. "I think she would like this place."

Chef Colt Taylor
The Essex Restaurant | Los Charros Cantina | Old Storybrook, MA | Bradford, CT
Featured Guest Chef

Chef Colt Taylor's culinary career was inspired by his family and their love and respect for quality, local ingredients, and tradition. After graduating from the University of Vermont, Colt enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America to explore his passion. After some time traveling through Europe, Colt returned to the U.S. and worked alongside some of the country's best-known chefs including Alfred Portale and Eric Ripert.

His first Executive Chef role was in 2011 at the famous One if by Land, Two if by Sea in New York's historic Greenwich Village; by 2014, the restaurant was awarded its first ever Michelin star under Chef Taylor's guidance.

Since returning home to Connecticut, Chef Taylor has opened The Essex, an upscale modern american bistro in his hometown of Old Saybrook, and Los Charros Cantina, a modern Mexican restaurant in Branford, CT. Both have received a bevvy of accolades, from best new restaurant and best restaurant to six years of wine spectator awards.

Chef Taylor and his wife Katharine were married at Spruce Peak, and as new parents of twins, they are excited to return the Green Mountains as a family.

Chef Tatiana Rosana
Para Maria | Boston, MA
Featured Guest Chef

A first-generation Cuban-American, Chef Tatiana Rosana grew up in Miami in a traditional Cuban family where food always took center stage. It is these traditions that pushed Chef Rosana to pursue a career in the culinary industry. Today, Chef Rosana heads Outlook Kitchen, Lookout Rooftop and Bar as well as The Envoy Hotel's in-room dining as the Executive Chef. Inspired by her wife's Korean heritage, her own Cuban background, French training and New England experience, Chef Rosana is guided by her curiosity and openness to new cuisines. Since joining the team at The Envoy Hotel, she has competed on various nationally televised cooking competitions including Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, Chopped and Chopped Champions Tournament winning twice and earning the title of two-time Chopped Champion. When she's not in the restaurant she is sharing her dishes on her Instagram (@chef.tatiana), and spending time with her wife, Alexis and their son, Arlo.

Chef Tracy Chang
PAGU | Cambridge, MA
Featured Guest Chef

Tracy Chang is the chef/owner of PAGU restaurant in Cambridge, MA. She is a Boston College alum, with a B.S. in Finance. She holds certificates in pâtisserie from Le Cordon Bleu Paris. She trained with three star Michelin chef Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, Spain, and worked on his television programming, RobinFood, communications and public relations. She has been a teaching fellow and guest lecturer at the Harvard Science & Cooking Program, founded by Chef Ferran Adria. Prior to PAGU, she founded a pop-up restaurant, Guchi's Midnight Ramen and hosted events with restaurants, startups, nonprofits, and universities. She is an alum of the James Beard Foundation Bootcamp for Policy & Change, James Beard Foundation Womens' Entrepreneurship Leadership Program, a 2020 James Beard Best Chef Northeast semifinalist and 2023 James Beard Outstanding Restaurant nominee. She is also a 2020 Star Chefs Rising Stars Game Changer. Chang has presented at the CIA World of Flavor in Napa, Science and Cooking World Congress in Barcelona as well as to tech and pharmaceutical companies including Takeda, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. She has made appearances on Chronicle, Food Network, WBUR, and National Public Radio (NPR).

During Covid-19, she co-founded two nonprofit initiatives, Off Their Plate (OTP) and Project Restore Us (PRU) to provide essential worker communities with food and groceries. OTP expanded to 12 cities nationwide, raised $12+million, and restored $5+million for essential hospitality workers. The standard operating procedures (SOPs) she created for her restaurant PAGU, as well as for Off Their Plate, have been compiled into a comprehensive guide by the James Beard Foundation, World Central Kitchen and the Aspen Institute.

Project Restore Us employs restaurant essential workers to pack groceries for essential worker families in high covid, low income neighborhoods of Boston. The groceries are safely delivered to each home with a network of volunteer drivers. To date, PRU has delivered over 800,000+ lbs of food to 8000+ households and restored 8000+ shift hours. Chang's work with both organizations has garnered her international recognition (the Basque Culinary Center named her the top 10 nominees of the Basque Culinary World Prize) and invitation to the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.

Chang resides in the Boston area with her husband, two young children, and black pug, Pearl. Her favorite pastimes are cooking with her kids and for her 99 year old mentor, Marvin Gilmore.

Chef Matt Ginn
Evo Kitchen + Bar | Portland, ME
Featured Guest Chef

Matt Ginn is the executive chef of Evo Kitchen + Bar, a seasonally focused restaurant from Prentice Hospitality Group (Twelve, Chebeague Island Inn, 58 Culinary) in the heart of Portland, ME that serves Mediterranean-inspired fare highlighted with Maine ingredients.

A native to the state of Maine, Matt's interest in food was born in his hometown of Cape Elizabeth, where his first job was picking strawberries for a local farm, before going on to work in local grocery stores and restaurants throughout high school and college. Matt returned to Maine in 2007 and took a position at Five Fifty-Five, where his love for hospitality and fine dining developed.

After moving through the ranks at Five Fifty-Five, Matt moved to Boston and started working as a Sous Chef at Harvest in Harvard Square, working for award-winning Chef Mary Dumont who taught him the importance of cooking with ingredients that are high quality, seasonal and locally sourced. From there, he moved on to L'Espalier, the highly lauded Back Bay restaurant from James Beard award-winning chef Frank McClelland. In this role, Matt's culinary philosophy evolved as McClelland taught him the significance of refined technique, even on the simplest of dishes, leaving an impact that continues to carry on throughout his career.

Matt's Portland homecoming in 2013 brought him back to Five Fifty-Five as the Chef de Cuisine, working alongside acclaimed chef Steve Corry to help the restaurant reach its full potential. Matt curated farm-to-table tasting menus that earned them four-and-a-half stars from Portland Press Herald. After this role, he moved into his current position at Evo and has been there ever since.

Both in his personal and professional life, Matt strives to create food that is honest and speaks for itself with outstanding ingredients that require minimal intervention. Matt's culinary philosophy is guided by the seasons and the region, which has allowed him to cultivate long-standing, meaningful relationships with local Maine farmers. This shines through on Evo's menu, which he thoughtfully curates and rotates daily. Additionally, Matt is also the executive chef of Chebeague Island Inn, the farm-to-table restaurant on Maine's coast that focuses on the state's micro seasons, where he oversees the menu and restaurant operations. At both Evo and Chebeague, Matt strives to create a work environment that supports the growth and development of his employees.

Above all, Matt cherishes the tight-knit community he has in Maine and considers it to be central to the success he has had throughout his career. Throughout his career, Ginn has been awarded Maine Lobster Chef of the Year, cooked at the James Beard House, and won Chopped twice. When Matt is not at Evo or Chebeague, he loves to spend time with and cook for his Wife and two children, and enjoys Maine through outdoor sports, such as mountain biking and trail running.

Chef Richard Chen
Red 8 | Everett, Ma
Featured Guest Chef

Only Michelin Star Chef for Chinese Cuisine in North America

US-based, Taiwan-born, Chef Richard Chen began his career in 1986 as the chef at the La Vista International Hotel, also formerly known as the Marriott World Trade Center. After strengthening his culinary skills in New York and Chicago, Chef Chen became the executive chef at Wing Leilocated inside Wynn Las Vegas. During his time in Las Vegas, he helped Wing Lei earn a Michelin star for two years in a row, positioning them as the only Chinese restaurant in North American to receive this honor and awarding Chef Chen his Michelin Star status.

Chef Kevin Des Chenes
Private Chef | Newport, RI
Featured Guest Chef

"Top Chef" by Las Vegas Food & Wine
Winner of "Top Celebrity Chef Showdown"

"A Taste of New England is a spectacular event in a glorious setting. The best chefs from various parts of New England converge at Spruce Peak for a celebration of Food, Wine & Spirits. I am honored to be among those invited for this amazing gathering. The culinary collaboration, complete with spot on wine pairings is second to none. I am now forever a fan of the "Spruce Life"!"

Chef Steve DiFillippo
Davio's | Boston, MA
Featured Guest Chef

Massachusetts Restaurant Hall of Fame
2014 Restaurateur of the Year

Steve DiFillippo is the consummate restaurateur. With his award-winning Davio's brand firmly established in Boston's Back Bay, Foxborough, Chestnut Hill, Lynnfield, Braintree, Boston Seaport, Logan Airport, Atlanta, King of Prussia and The Colony, TX, DiFillippo has tackled the modern Italian restaurant. DiFillippo's reach continues to expand as his locations continue to garner critical acclaim and destination status.

Chef Brendan Vesey
Botanica Restaurant & Gin Bar | Portsmouth, NH
Featured Guest Chef

Steel Chef 2020, NH Food Bank, Champion
Best New Restaurant, NH Magazine

"Spruce Peak is a top-notch destination in one of the most beautiful places in all of New England. To experience the natural beauty with all the amenities and hospitality was an experience I won't forget."

Chef Douglass Willliams
Mida Boston | Mida Newton
Featured Guest Chef

It is an extraordinarily challenging time to be a chef in the kitchen, and somehow Chef Douglass Williams continues to inspire and bring people to the table.

Honored by the James Beard Foundation as a nominee for OUTSTANDING CHEF in the country, one of highest honors in the culinary world, Williams is known for his bright smile, generous hospitality and creative talent in the kitchen.

Already a Best New Chef, Food & Wine Magazine honoree and Best of Boston,Best Chef General Excellence, Boston Magazine - the nomination by the James Beard Foundation recognizes Williams' talent and leadership in the culinary world on a national level.

"For our team to still be standing together and for this community to have supported us through such difficult times, that is what I am most grateful for" says Williams. "When I learned about this honor I immediately shared it with my teams at MIDA South End, MIDA Newton and APIZZA -because it means we are doing something right. We hopefully have provided a safe and delicious haven to people in as many ways as we could imagine." Williams kept his award-winning restaurant MIDA South End running and feeding the community, while opening two more restaurants: MIDA Newton and APIZZA Boston during the pandemic.

In perpetual motion, you will find Williams on the line leading his teams at MIDA South End, the brand new MIDA Newton, or at the lively new APIZZAin Boston's Hub Hall. Known for his deft technique with hand-made pasta, a spirit of generous hospitality, and a smile that lights up the room, Williamsis committed to making a difference in the kitchen and the community.

Diagnosed with Crohn's disease as a teenager, Williams' path took a left turn, as he learned how to heal himself through food. His journey brought him from his hometown of Atlantic City, NJ to culinary school and then to traveling the world learning from the best. From Thailand to Paris, New YorkCity to Boston, he worked and staged at some of the best restaurants, including Radius and Coppa/Boston, Corton/NYC and Akarme/Paris.

While cooking at Coppa, Williams would cycle down Mass Ave where the South End meets Roxbury, and all he saw was opportunity - for change and the chance to create something meaningful. At the corner of Tremont Street and Mass. Ave., he created his first restaurant, MIDA South End, a neighborhood restaurant inspired by the simplicity of classic Italian culinary traditions. MIDA is one of the city's favorite restaurants, earning top honors for "Best Restaurants in Boston" and "Best Pasta" and is a must-visit when in Boston.

In June 2021, Williams opened his second restaurant, MIDA Newton, just outside of Boston, in a beautiful new space with the same soft glow of MIDA South End. The space is double the size of the original MIDA, with just more to love. In the new restaurant, Douglass prepares not only his famous hand-made pastas, but also a whole new selection of New Haven inspired pizza.

Boston Magazine honored Williams as one of Boston's Top Influencers in 2022. Williams shares, "To be a Black chef/owner here in Boston is an honor and a responsibility I take very seriously. I am fortunate to have successful restaurants, an incredible team and supportive community. I have things to say and share; I try to do it every night through delicious and beautiful dishes at MIDA. And by giving my time and energy to the neighborhood and those around me. I put my passion for story-telling and teaching to use by building bridges in the community through food and conversation. I truly believe the world can come together over a delicious bowl of pasta."

Media Contact:
Martha W. Sullivan, Sullivan Communications, 617.835.2264, Martha@SullivanCommunications.com

Keep In Touch:
IG: @midaboston @douglasswilliams

Save The Date: A Taste of New England Returns August 26-28, 2022

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