2018 HMSHost Foundation 1st Annual Chef’s Table Gala
Washington, DC was buzzing with renowned celebrity chefs from all over North America at our 1st Annual Chef’s Table event, with presenting sponsors Starbucks Coffee Company and Baker Hostetler.
The fundraiser to support the foundation’s fight against poverty combined live kitchen entertainment with fine-dining, as the chefs prepared signature gourmet meals tableside while guests enjoyed a live musical performance by Tony Award-nominated performer Denee Benton.
HMSHost Foundation President and Board Member Paul Mamalian
Tony Award-nominated performer Denee Benton
Denee Benton with parents, Derryl Benton & Jackie Benton
Chef Johnny Hernandez
Chef John Sugimura
Chef Susur Lee
Chef Lorena Garcia
HMSHost Foundation Board Member, Steve Johnson and Director, Laura Sildon
HMSHost Foundation Board Member, Steve Johnson
HMSHost Foundation Director and Board Members from left to right: Laura Sildon, Tim Juul, Rich Kunkle, Steve Johnson, Stephanie Havard, Jeff Yablun and Paul Mamalian
From left to right: Steve Johnson, Tim Juul and Jen Juul
From left to right: Tyler Pitman, Sarah Naqvi and Nick Stengle
From left to right: Chef Gabe Thompson, Chef Danny Lee, Chef George Pagonis, Chef Helen Cavallo, Chef Hugo Ortega, Chef Scott Drewno, Chef Julian Medina, Chef Lorena Garcia, Chef John Sugimura, Chef Russell Klein, Chef Paul Kahan, Chef Jeff Steelman, Chef Johnny Hernandez
From left to right: Tyler Pitman, Chef Paul Kahan, Paul Mamalian, and Steve Johnson
Chef Lorena Garcia
James Beard Award Winner Jody Adams is Chef and Co-Owner at TRADE, Porto and Saloniki. Jody has earned local and national accolades for over three decades of culinary excellence, with a focus on Mediterranean cuisine, and has been praised for her creativity, support of local farmers, continuous charitable work, and business acumen. Jody is a published cookbook author and had an extraordinary run with the acclaimed Rialto restaurant in Cambridge for over 22 years. Jody is actively involved in organizations that support child’s advocacy and hunger relief both domestically and internationally. Jody is a graduate of Brown University with a degree in Anthropology.
Chef Helen Cavallo is of Colombian and Italian descent, and that background has dictated her love of food and family. Helen’s cooking style focuses on big, bold flavors, while always highlighting the main ingredient, and emphasizing the importance of sustainable agriculture. Chef Helen Cavallo is chef and owner of Food & Bounty, a boutique food and beverage catering company and host of That's Fresh: Recipes so Easy, You're Laughing, airing on Disney Jr.
One of the country’s leading Latina chefs, Venezuelan-born Lorena Garcia partnered with HMSHost to bring her healthy twist on traditional Latin cuisine to travelers with both LorenaGARCIA Cocina in Miami International Airport and Lorena Garcia Tapas in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Garcia’s passion for food stemmed from her family gatherings in her hometown and inspired her to bring that comfort to overwhelmed travelers. Her success has earned her spots on television shows including Top Chef Masters and NBC’s America’s Next Great Restaurant in addition to inspiring her own cookbook and line of kitchenware.
Chef Johnny Hernandez is a celebrated chef, entrepreneur, and founder and President of Grupo La Gloria and True Flavors Inc. He is one of the premier Mexican cuisine chefs in the United States and a recognized authority on Mexican cuisine and culture.
Over the past two decades, One Off Hospitality’s Executive Chef and Partner Paul Kahan has become the nationally recognizable face of Chicago chefs. Passionately seasonal and unconventionally creative, Paul has received international acclaim for Blackbird, avec, The Publican, Big Star, Publican Quality Meats, Nico Osteria, Dove’s Luncheonette, Publican Quality Bread, Publican Tavern and most recently, Publican Anker. Awarded the coveted honor of Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2013 and Best Chef of the Midwest in 2004, Paul has earned the praise of many who claim him to be one of America’s most influential working chefs. In September 2017, Paul released his long-anticipated debut cookbook, Cheers to The Publican. When Paul isn’t in the kitchen, or guiding and mentoring young chefs across One Off, he can be found fishing in Wisconsin, biking or expanding his impressive and admittedly obsessive vinyl collection.
Following culinary school, a stint in Europe, and working in some of Manhattan’s most distinguished kitchens, Chef Russell Klein moved to Minnesota. In the Fall of 2007, alongside of his wife, Desta, they opened their first independent restaurant, Meritage, in Saint Paul. Their classic French Brasserie has earned Chef Klein much acclaim, including four nominations for Best Chef, Midwest from the James Beard Foundation. When not cooking, Chef Klein can be found traveling across Europe, sourcing inspiration to bring back to Meritage or playing a round of golf.
From humble beginnings as a 16-year-old apprentice at a prestigious five star Hong Kong hotel to his Atlas stride atop the fickle universe of celebrity chefdom, Toronto-based Chef Susur Lee has never deviated from a consuming passion: to create tantalizing fusion dishes that blend textures and flavors in glorious harmony. Balancing the epicurean traditions of China with the classical techniques of European cuisine, Lee improvises a daring and original culinary aesthetic.
Julian Medina, chef-owner of Toloache, Yerba Buena, Coppelia, Tacuba Mexican Cantina, and La Chula, has been creating refined Mexican cuisine for over fifteen years. Raised in Mexico City, Julian’s inspiration was his father’s and grandfather’s authentic home cooking. Chef Julian continues to open new restaurants throughout New York City, most recently La Chula in Grand Central Terminal and East Harlem.
Hugo Ortega is the 2017 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Southwest, author of two cookbooks and executive chef/owner of four Houston restaurants: Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol and Xochi, as well as the namesake of Hugo’s Cocina in George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston.
Chef Susan Spicer began her cooking career in New Orleans as an apprentice to Chef Daniel Bonnot at the Louis XVI Restaurant, and subsequently traveled throughout Europe and California before returning to New Orleans. Her travels taught her about the food and culture from around the world which she now brings into the kitchen of all her restaurants. Chef Susan Spicer is the chef and co-owner of Bayona in the French Quarter, founding partner and chef of Herbsaint, chef and owner of Mondo and Rosedale, and was inducted into the James Beard Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America in 2010.
Chef Jeff Steelman is Head Chef and Vice President of Culinary for HMSHost, overseeing all culinary activities and menu development. He leads a team of corporate executive chefs, highly seasoned and motivated to deliver the best food operations in the world. Chef Steelman has managed world renowned culinary operations including the Hilton Casino in Atlantic City, NJ, Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino in Uncasville, CT, and Todd English Enterprises out of Boston, MA, where he was most recently Vice President of Culinary prior to joining HMSHost.
John Sugimura is executive chef, concept-brand director, and partner at PinKU Japanese Street Food in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a second-generation Japanese-American professionally trained sushi chef, whose life-long love of sushi blossomed during time spent in Kyoto, Japan. Eating John’s cuisine is like eating in his grandmother’s restaurant in the 1930s. It is the ultimate expression of flavors, colors, and cooking methods, coming together in an authentic experience that is one of a kind.
Chef Scott Drewno, raised in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes wine region, a rural area known for its vineyards and its family-owned farms. Watching his mother turn fresh, seasonal produce from local farm stands into bubbling pies and cobblers first piqued his interest in cooking and planted the seed for Drewno’s culinary ambition.Drewno joined the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group in 1998. At Chinois, he learned to meld French cooking techniques with vibrant Asian flavors. At Spago, he came to understand the importance of beginning with only the finest ingredients. Drewno furthered his knowledge and solidified his passion for Asian cuisines at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Vong and Stephen Hansen’s Ruby Foo’s. In 2007, Wolfgang Puck tapped Drewno as the opening Executive Chef of The Source. The restaurant was honored with numerous accolades including three-star reviews from both The Washington Post and Washingtonian Magazine. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) awarded The Source “New Restaurant of the Year” in 2008 and “Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year” in 2011. Drewno received the coveted “Chef of the Year” prize in 2010 and again in 2016. In 2012 and 2013, Drewno was a semifinalist for the “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” James Beard Award.
Gabe Thompson is the Executive Chef of RPM Italian in Washington, D.C. The modern Italian restaurant opened last summer at 601 K St. NW in the Mt. Vernon Triangle Neighborhood.
Previously running the kitchens at renowned NYC-based restaurants L’Artusi, dell’anima, and Anfora, Thompson has been cooking Italian food for the majority of his culinary career. The RPM Italian menu includes quality ingredients and modern Italian cooking, just like the Chicago location with a DC twist.
RPM Italian opened in Chicago’s River North neighborhood in 2012 and was quickly embraced by guests offering a lively and sophisticated dining experience. Based off the Chicago location’s success, and understanding the dining community in the D.C. area, Lettuce Entertain You saw an opportunity to bring a version of RPM Italian suited to reflect the East Coast. Currently, LEYE has nine existing restaurants in and around the market including Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in D.C., Stella Barra Pizzeria and Summer House Santa Monica in North Bethesda, and Mon Ami Gabi in Reston, Virginia.
Musician, biologist and legal assistant are a few of the hats Danny Lee tried on before finding his perfect toque as Chef and Ownder of Mandu, a traditional Korean restaurant in Washington, DC. No stranger to the restaurant business, Lee's mother, Yesoon Lee, also chef at Mandu, owned a sandwich stop in Old Town Alexandria, VA in the 1980s and in the late '90s, a Charlie Chiang Kwai takeaway store at Reagan National Airport. It was at Charlie Chiang Kwai that Lee learned the basics of running a food establishment. He cemented his restaurant knowledge at Oceanaire, where he worked under Chef Rob Klink who trained him both on the managerial and culinary side of the food business.
In 2006, Lee and his mother decided to open their own restaurant, one that played to their strengths and representing their culinary traditions and culture. They opened Mandu's first location near Dupont Circle in November 2006 and five years later, the second one in DC's Chinatown.
Since opening Mandu, Lee has cooked across the country as well as internationally. Lee won the DC leg of the Cochon 555 tour in 2015, a national culinary competition promoting the use of heritage breed port and responsible farming. In the Fall of 2016, Lee traveled to London for two weeks to showcase a Korean tasting menu as the resident chef of Carousel Restaurant. Lee was also featured in the Washington Business Journal's Top 40 Under 40 List in 2016 as a leading local business leader.
Mandu has won "Best Korean" in the Washington City Paper annually since 2010 in addition to being featured in several local and national publications. Mandu was also recognized as a recommended restaurant in the Michelin Guide's premier Washington, DC issue in 2016. In 2017, Mandu was nominated for Best Casual Restaurant for the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington's annual RAMMY Awards.
George Pagonis is executive chef and partner at
Mike Isabella’s first Greek restaurant, Kapnos, in
Washington, DC. The upscale restaurant put inland
Greek cuisine, including daily whole animal roasting,
on the map in the nation’s capital when it opened
in 2013. Before opening Kapnos, Pagonis served
as chef de cuisine at Mike Isabella’s Italian-inspired
flagship, Graffiato, also in Washington, DC. Prior to
joining Graffiato, Chef George cooked at Aureole
in New York under Christophe Bellanca and Marcus
Ware. Before that, the fluent Greek-speaker worked
at Jose Andres’ Zaytinya, where he first cooked under
Mike Isabella. His first tour of duty in a fine dining
kitchen was at New York’s Le Cirque. Chef George
attended the University of Mary Washington and
though he followed that up with a degree from the
Culinary Institute of America, he first earned his
kitchen stripes at The Four Seasons, a Greek diner
owned by his father in an Alexandria, Virginia.