2023 Special Guests
Marcus Samuelsson is the acclaimed chef behind many restaurants including Red Rooster Harlem, MARCUS Montreal, Marcus B&P, Red Rooster Overtown, Streetbird at Yankee Stadium and Marcus at Baha Mar Fish + Chop House. Samuelsson was the youngest person to ever receive a three-star review from The New York Times and has won eight James Beard Foundation Awards. He is a longstanding judge on Food Network’s Chopped, head judge on Top Chef Family Style and Iron Chef on Netflix’s Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend. Samuelsson is the author of multiple books including his latest book The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food.
Dario Cecchini is an award-winning celebrity butcher from the village of Panzano in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. Dario comes from a long line of Cecchini butchers. After taking over the family business from his father in 1976, Cecchini found his mission – to protect the art of butchery with the belief that all cuts of meat can be utilized when cooked properly, eliminating waste and promoting sustainability. Carna, located at Baha Mar is a contemporary steakhouse concept helmed by the legendary Butcher.
Kentaro ‘Katsuya’ Uechi
Kentaro ‘Katsuya’ Uechi was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He is the eldest son of Katsuya Uechi, and grew up watching his father run their first restaurant in Studio City. As a child, Kentaro helped the family business, and would wash dishes and bus tables. In 2006, he started training in the kitchen and worked his way up to sushi chef. In 2008, Katsuya and Mutual Trading Company formed the Sushi Institute of America, where Kentaro was an instructor. In 2012, The Little Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya opened lead by Kentaro as head chef. Currently, Kentaro holds the position of Executive Chef and oversees all restaurants in Katsu-ya Group.
Born and raised in New Jersey, chef, television personality, and author Amanda Freitag has become a culinary maven. Following her graduation from the Culinary Institute of America, Amanda worked in a diverse mix of restaurants in New York City and around the world. Outside of the restaurant business, she is well known for being a judge on Food Network’s “Chopped” and has appeared on “Iron Chef America”, “Next Iron Chef”, “Unique Eats” and more. Her mission to make cooking more approachable inspired her cookbook “The Chef Next Door”, as well as her new digital series “Easy AF” where she shows that making delicious food can be fun and easy in your home kitchen.
Carla Hall first won over audiences when she competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All Stars” and shared her philosophy to always cook with love. She is a trained chef who has worked in several professional restaurant kitchens in and around the Washington, D.C. area and believes food connects us all, a belief she strives to convey this through her work, her cooking, and in her daily interactions with others. Her latest cookbook, Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration, was published in 2018, landing on annual “Best Cookbook” lists across the country and receiving an NAACP Image Awards nomination.
Scott Conant is a two-time James Beard Award-winning chef, cookbook author, and TV personality. With a career spanning more than 35 years, Conant brings a deft touch and unwavering passion to creating culinary experiences with thoughtful hospitality and soulful cuisine. His portfolio of acclaimed restaurants includes Mora Italian (Phoenix, AZ), The Americano (Scottsdale, AZ and Atlanta, GA), and Cellaio at Resorts World Catskills (Monticello, NY). Conant has been a popular presence on Food Network as a recurring judge on Chopped since 2009 and frequent co-host of Beat Bobby Flay.
Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is a globally renowned chef, restaurateur, executive TV producer, TV host, and national best-selling cookbook author. Zakarian is passionate about inspiring, teaching and sharing the art of living well through his social media platforms reaching over two million highly engaged fans, his prime-time TV shows, premier restaurants and growing line of gourmet foods and culinary tools for the home cook.
Chef Michelle “Michy” Bernstein is a fixture in the culinary world — both in restaurant kitchens and the media spotlight. In 2019, Bernstein opened Café La Trova, a Cuban-inspired bar and restaurant in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana, garnering recognition on several “Best New” restaurant and bar lists, including GQ and Esquire. Bernstein is also a partner in Miami hotspots like Sweet Liberty, an internationally recognized Miami Beach cocktail bar, La Canita, Michy’s Chicken Shack and Lunchería. She currently hosts Check, Please! South Florida and the Emmy-award winning SoFlo Taste, along with guest judge appearances on Top Chef and Chopped, among others.
Simeon Hall Jr.
Chef Simeon is a son of the soil, Preacher’s Kid, Grandson of Nay and Nola (two of The Bahamas’ pioneering female chefs) Culinary Artisan, Griot, Food Ambassador, Event Curator, Movie Consultant, Author, Private Chef, and now Restaurateur. A Nassau native, he is truly eclectic, whether conjuring up out-of-the-box culinary experiences, telling authentic Bahamian food stories, or introducing the world to Bahamian food culture. His life focus remains mentoring burgeoning chefs while paying homage to the history of Bahamian and Caribbean cuisine rooted in colorful, fragrant, classic ingredients and flavors – many of which the world has yet to discover.
Ken Fredrickson is a member of the International Court of Master Sommeliers and founding partner of High Road Spirits, an international importer focused on artisan spirit brands. Fredrickson attained the Master Sommelier Diploma while working with world-renowned chefs Charlie Trotter (Charlie Trotter’s–Chicago) and Wolfgang Puck (Spago, Chinois). He’s been a host lecturer for Taste of Vail and served as a speaker at Aspen Food & Wine, Jackson Hole Wine Auction, Telluride Wine Festival, Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, Caribbean Food & Wine Festival and the American Distillers Institute Conference. Ken released his first book Wine: A Beginner’s Guide in 2020.
Fernando is one of only 269 Master Sommeliers in the world. He was named one of America’s Best New Sommeliers by Wine & Spirits magazine and featured on both Crain’s Chicago Business’s and Wine Enthusiast’s lists of “40 under 40”. He has overseen wine programs at various award-winning restaurants including the Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (a Four Seasons Hotel) and NoMI at the Park Hyatt Chicago, which boasts a wine cellar of over 10,000 bottles. Fernando has represented the United States in International Sommelier competitions and was First Runner Up for the Best Sommelier in America.
Ted Diamantis created Diamond Wine Importers in 1992 out of the belief that Greece, with its natural terroir of mountain vineyards, maritime influenced climate, volcanic and alluvial soils, and over 200 ancient indigenous varieties, could once again become a source of some of the greatest wines in the world. Over the last 30 years, he’s compiled a bespoke portfolio of the best artisan, vineyard-driven producers Greece has to offer. Today, Diamantis continues to educate and enlighten wine lovers around the globe about Greece’s one-of-a-kind indigenous varietals, ancient appellations and, most importantly, the spirit of their outstanding producers.
Noah Rothbaum is Head of Cocktails & Spirits for Flaviar, a premium spirits membership club, as well as co-host of their podcast Fix Me a Drink. Previously, Noah was founding editor of liquor.com, editor of The Daily Beast’s Half Full, and co-host of the podcast Life Behind Bars. He is the author of The Art of American Whiskey: A Visual History of the Nation’s Most Storied Spirit, through 100 Iconic Labels, the forthcoming Whiskey Bible, and associate editor of the Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, winner of the American Library Association’s Dartmouth Medal for 2021’s Best Reference Book
John Cox is a Bahamian artist whose mixed-media paintings and assemblages use familiar objects to reference distant places and ideas. In addition to his artwork, Cox has played a major role in Bahamian art culture as an educator, curator, and cultural activist, helping to grow and redefine art in The Bahamas. Cox is currently the Executive Director of Arts and Culture at Baha Mar, overseeing The Current – the resorts art center and gallery. In 2022, he became a PlaceMaker for the Rosewood group of hotels and was recently named Chairman of Board of Directors for The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.