Main Stage Chefs

2017 Kohler Food & Wine

Richard BlaisRichard Blais

Chef, Restaurateur, Cookbook Author and Television Personality

Richard Blais is a successful chef, restaurateur, James Beard nominated cookbook author and television personality. Perhaps most recognizable as a recurring judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and the winner of Top Chef All-Stars, Blais grew up on Long Island working as a “poissonier" at McDonald’s. It was here where he first dabbled in deconstruction in cuisine, serving filet-o-fish sandwiches sans top bun. Blais went on to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America and train at The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse, and el Bulli.

Blais currently owns and operates Trail Blais, a forward-thinking culinary company that has consulted on, designed, and operated popular eateries including multiple outposts of Flip Burger Boutique. In San Diego, where he currently resides, Blais is a partner at the popular Juniper & Ivy and Crack Shack restaurants, which will be expanding to 4 locations in the coming months.

Blais is a James Beard Award-nominated author of Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate, and his second cookbook, So Good, was released in May 2017 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). In addition, Blais recently launched a podcast entitled “Starving for Attention” which provides an entertaining, behind-the-scenes look into the food industry, and has featured guests including Wylie Dufrense, Michael Voltaggio, Andrew Zimmern, Gail Simmons, Lou Diamond Phillips, and more. His new television show, Man vs Master, will debut on the FYI Network in the fall.

He resides in San Diego with his wife Jazmin and their two daughters Riley and Embry. When not behind the stove, Blais may be found training for his next marathon, recording an upcoming podcast, or cheering on his favorite English Premiere League soccer team.

Twitter: @RichardBlais
Instagram: @richardblais

Alex GuarnaschelliAlex Guarnaschelli

Celebrity Chef and TV Personality

There are few American chefs, much less female chefs, who can boast staying power in Michelin-starred restaurants. Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli can boast indeed — she embarked on a culinary journey in France and ended up working in some of the country’s top restaurants including esteemed chef Guy Savoy’s eponymous three-star kitchen.

Not surprising for the daughter of esteemed cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli, who spent her childhood surrounded by food. Guarnaschelli learned to eat according to whatever book her mother was working on at the time: one year was devoted to Indian with Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni; another year was devoted to Italian with The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

"My mother was always coaxing me from my ‘Barbie land’ under the dining room table to peel potatoes, knead bread or assemble a trifle,” says Guarnaschelli, who jokingly continues,
"what else could a seven-year-old have wanted from life?"

This early emphasis on her palate truly shaped her future in food. On the day of Guarnaschelli’s graduation from Barnard College in 1991, she decided to explore her culinary interests and began working under the tutelage of the acclaimed American chef and restaurateur Larry Forgione.

Forgione encouraged Guarnaschelli to travel and expand her skill set, so she obligingly moved to France to do a work study at La Varenne Culinary School in Burgundy. After school and traveling throughout France, she moved to Paris to begin a four day stage at the Michelin three-star restaurant Guy Savoy. Four days turned into four years with Guarnaschelli rapidly being promoted to sous chef at La Butte Chaillot, another Savoy establishment. “The first three months were terrifying — imagine being a young American woman in charge of a French kitchen with 10 young, male cooks under you? Professionally, it was a life-changing experience,” she says.

After seven successful years in France, Guarnaschelli returned stateside. Though she left the country, she maintained her connection with the cuisine, joining the venerable Daniel Boulud at restaurant Daniel, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become sous chef at the Manhattan standard. Always looking to expand her culinary knowledge, Guarnaschelli moved to Los Angeles for two years to join Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group, where she worked at the acclaimed Patina restaurant in West Hollywood before moving to New York to open Splichal's first New York City venture.

In 2003, Guarnaschelli was given the opportunity to expand her repertoire and become the executive chef at Butter Restaurant, where she would create her own eclectic American and green market-inspired menu. In addition to her restaurant work, Guarnaschelli inspires budding chefs as a Chef-Instructor at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Guarnaschelli also helmed the kitchen of the NYC modern dining and cabaret concept, The Darby. In Fall of 2015, Chef Guarnaschelli opened Driftwood Room at Nautilus South Beach in Miami, Florida. Also in Fall 2015, Guarnaschelli premiered her one-woman live comedy show, Busting My Chops at Carolines on Broadway. Alex continued her comedy career with an appearance in East Hampton at CAROLINES @ THE BEACH in August 2016. Most recently, Guarnaschelli was named the Head of Twitter’s Food Council, a group of leading culinary figures who regularly join the Twitter conversation on all things food and food culture.

Chef Guarnaschelli is a recurring judge on several Food Network prime-time series such as Chopped, Cooks vs. Cons and Bakers vs. Fakers. In April 2017, Alex will appear as a judge on Food Network’s new series Iron Chef Gauntlet. She has appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef America as both a challenger and a judge and competed on season 4 of The Next Iron Chef. In 2012, she beat nine rival chefs to win The Next Iron Chef: Redemption and joined the ranks of Kitchen Stadium Iron Chefs. Guarnaschelli won the last season of Food Network’s Guy’s Superstar Grocery Games in September 2016 and was a mentor on the second season of Food Network’s All-Star Academy. Alex hosted her own shows, The Cooking Loft and Alex’s Day Off, which launched in October 2009. Most recently, she has appeared on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, NBC’s TODAY, The Dr. Oz Show, ABC’s Good Morning America and ABC’s Live! with Kelly. Alex has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Food & Wine, Food Network Magazine and  Every Day with Rachael Ray.

Alex released her first cookbook, “Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook” in Spring 2013. Alex will debut her second cookbook in Fall 2017.

Twitter: @guarnaschelli
Instagram: @guarnaschelli

Stephanie IzardStephanie Izard

Executive Chef, Girl & the Goat and Television Personality

Stephanie Izard, James Beard “Best Chef: Great Lakes” recipient 2013, and 2011 Food & Wine “Best New Chef,” is the Executive Chef/Partner of three Chicago restaurants, Girl & the Goat, Little Goat, and Duck Duck Goat.  Most recently, Izard was awarded with the coveted title of “Iron Chef” after winning season 1 of Food Network’s Iron Chef Gauntlet. Additionally, Izard was the first woman to win Bravo’s Top Chef (Season 4/2008) and is the only winner of the original version of the show to take the title of “Fan Favorite.”

A 2011 James Beard “Best New Restaurant” nominee, Girl & the Goat has been praised by high-profile publications such as Saveur, New York Times, Food & Wine, Better Homes and Gardens and others. Little Goat, Stephanie’s highly successful follow-up to Girl & the Goat, encompasses a diner, coffee shop, bakery and bar. In March 2016, Stephanie opened her third restaurant, a Chinese concept called Duck Duck Goat in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.

Among other recent projects, Izard has a product line called “This Little Goat,” consisting of cooking sauces and spice mixes for home cooks. Izard’s first book, “Girl in the Kitchen,” was released in the fall of 2011 (Chronicle).

Twitter: @StephAndTheGoat
Instagram: @StephAndTheGoat

Jeff MauroJeff Mauro

Celebrity Chef and TV Personality

Emmy-Nominated Celebrity Chef, Jeff Mauro was born and raised in Chicago where he was determined from an early age to become the funniest chef in the world. After years spent cooking in restaurants and with meat, cheese & bread coursing through his veins, he landed himself on Season 7 of the hit show Food Network Star. He ultimately won the competition by combining his passions for cooking with comedy and landed his own series, the Emmy-nominated Sandwich King. After five successful seasons to date, he was tapped by the Food Network to also host the hit daytime show, 3-time Emmy-nominated The Kitchen, now in it’s 14th season. Jeff is the proud partner & executive chef of Pork & Mindy’s restaurants and retail line of sauces and meats. He still lives “in the neighborhood” with his wife Sarah and his son Lorenzo. His favorite color is Pastrami and his favorite smell is meat smoke.

Twitter: @JeffMauro
Instagram: @jeffmauro

Jack BishopJack Bishop

Editorial Director, America’s Test Kitchen

Jack Bishop is the editorial director of America’s Test Kitchen. He joined the staff of Cook’s Magazine in 1988 and helped launch Cook’s Illustrated in 1993. He established the tasting protocols used in America’s Test Kitchen and has authored dozens of articles for the magazine. Jack directed the launch of Cook’s Country magazine and oversees editorial operations at both magazines. He is a cast member of America’s Test Kitchen, the top-rated cooking show on public television. He is also a cast member of the TV show Cook’s Country, which aired its first season in September 2008. Jack edited The Best Recipe (1999) and established the book division at America’s Test Kitchen. He is the author of several cookbooks including A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, Vegetables Every Day, The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook, Pasta e Verdura and Lasagna. Jack’s wife, Lauren Chattman, is a cookbook author and former pastry chef. They have two daughters.

Bridget LancasterBridget Lancaster

Executive Food Editor and Cast Member, America's Test Kitchen

In 1998 Bridget Lancaster came to work for Cook's Illustrated as a test cook and was responsible for much of the recipe development and stories. In 2003 she was asked to oversee recipe development and historical research for the newly founded Cook’s Country magazine. She is an original cast member of both America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country television programs.

Currently, Bridget is the executive food editor for new media at America’s Test Kitchen and in addition to working on the television shows, she is the lead instructor for the America's Test Kitchen Online Cooking School. Bridget also appears as co-host on the public radio program, America's Test Kitchen Radio.

In her spare time, Bridget enjoys working in her vegetable garden, making homemade cheese and home brewing.

Julia Collin DavisonJulia Collin Davison

Executive Food Editor and Cast Member, America's Test Kitchen

Julia Collin Davison is the executive food editor for the cookbook division of America’s Test Kitchen and is an on-screen test cook for America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen. She also does cooking demonstrations, sells America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks live on QVC, and occasionally appears as a guest on TODAY. She began working as a test cook for Cook’s Illustrated magazine in 1999, but she is now responsible for the food and recipe development for all of the company's cookbooks. Before coming to America’s Test Kitchen, she worked in Albany, the Berkshires, San Francisco and the Napa Valley at several restaurants, catering companies, schools and wineries. Julia has an associate degree in occupational studies in culinary arts from The Culinary Institute of America.