Sunday, November 6th, 2011 at 5pm
at The Mondrian Penthouse in SoHo

Gabriel Thompson
Executive Chef/Co-Owner, L'Artusi & Dell'Anima

Born in Vermont and raised in both California and Texas, Gabriel Thompson grew up around good food and regional specialty dishes. As a child, he would spend hours in his grandfather's Texas garden, picking vegetables and preparing dinner for his family. His first kitchen job was as a 20-year-old line cook at Granite Cafe in Austin, Texas, where he was taken under the wing of chef Chris Lanier, who taught him the fundamentals of being a cook, including proper technique, a deeper understanding of the ingredients he prepared, and presentation. Above all else, Lanier helped instill a chef's work ethic in Thompson, and it was while he was at Granite that he would decide to turn this job into his career.

Two years later, Thompson enrolled in Le Chef Culinary School in Austin while still working at Granite. After graduation, he traveled through Europe to experience different cultures, and found that in Italy, unlike other countries that he had visited, he enjoyed every meal - whether it came from a cart on the street or a fine-dining establishment. He attributed this to the Italian's use of fresh and local ingredients and simplicity.

A few months later, Thompson returned to work in restaurants across the country to learn more about the seasonal and local movement, from Clarklewis in Portland, Oregon to The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, eventually returning to Austin. In Austin, he was soon reunited with Chris Lanier and worked aAs a sous chef at the acclaimed Emilia's restaurant, where he rededicated himself to his craft and continued to challenge himself by try new techniques and working with new ingredients.

Three years later Thompson moved to New York to accept the ultimate personal challenge - a position at Eric Ripert's NY Times 4-Star seafood temple, Le Bernardin, where he learned all he could about fine dining in New York City. From there he went to cook at Del Posto, where he explored Italian cuisine with same sort of devotion he showed throughout his years in kitchens around the world.

When West Village darling dell'anima opened in October 2007, Thompson took the reigns as executive chef for the first time. Here, on a much more intimate scale, he took a lifetime of lessons in the kitchen - from selecting vegetables in his grandfather's garden to making bucatini with Mario - and re-imagined them at this contemporary neighborhood Italian restaurant and wine bar. Thompson's food has been written about in publications like Food & Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times.

At L'Artusi, Thompson is enjoying his larger open kitchen, and with added features like a crudo bar and a fryer, he is able to put out dishes like Fluke Crudo with Ginger, Yuzu, and Apple and Fritto Misto. His love for rustic pastas is still on display here, which is evident from such dishes as Tajarin al Ragu and Potato Gnocchi with Ribeye, Shallots, and Romanesco. Thompson hopes that his new and expanded menu will help create the same loyal following at L'Artusi that he's developed at dell'anima.

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Gabe was a finalist for NYC's "The People's Best New Chef" by Food & Wine magazine

Sam Talbot
Executive Chef, Imperial #9 at the Mondrian

Sam Talbot is Executive Chef of Imperial #9, a sustainable seafood restaurant, located in the Mondrian Hotel Soho in New York City. Sam is also the Executive Chef at the Surf Lodge in Montauk, NY. In October 2011, Sam will publish his first cookbook with Rodale Books.

Sam is at the forefront of the ‘integrative kitchen’ movement, which seeks to break down the walls between the way we eat and the way we live. When conceiving dishes, Sam keeps a few simple questions in mind: What is the food? Who’s eating it? Where? When? Under what circumstances? Sam’s approach to cooking is to understand how all these questions—and their answers—interconnect. His outlook on life is the same: Sam surfs, snowboards, practices yoga, travels widely and moves easily among the worlds of food, fashion, entertainment and sports. Diagnosed at a young age with juvenile diabetes, Sam lives every hour with a profound understanding of the impact of food on life and life on food. That understanding has become a uniquely driving force for his cooking style and recipes.

A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Sam began his culinary training at Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, SC. At culinary school, Sam worked at the acclaimed J. Bistro in Charleston where he worked under chef /owner James Burns, who he considers his mentor. Sam returns frequently to Charleston to cook, fish, and refresh his culinary vision.

At 24, Sam moved to New York City as Executive Chef of the Black Duck Restaurant in the City’s downtown Gramercy Park neighborhood. Two years later, he opened his own restaurant, the Williamsburgh Cafe in Brooklyn’s trendiest locale where he was nominated for Best New Chef in Brooklyn by CitySearch and Best Restaurant in Brooklyn by the New York Post.

Sam was a semi-finalist on Bravo’s acclaimed series “Top Chef” and voted the viewers “Fan Favorite” for the season.

Sam’s inventive dishes have garnered praised from The New York Times, New York Magazine, the Daily News, the New York Post, Zink Magazine, Time Out New York and Forbes Magazine. He has traveled the world exploring his culinary passions and expanding his vision, cooking and eating in some of the world’s best restaurants—and some of the worst. His travels have included a 28-day stint in Paris finding work as a chef wherever he could and a 2006 road trip across the United States stopping at local favorites in small towns.

Wherever he goes, Sam’s cooking is always a reflection of his insistence on fresh, healthy ingredients. That is part and parcel of who he is as a diabetic—one who also volunteers extensively with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and who uses his newfound celebrity to increase awareness of the disease. To that end, Sam and JDRF have established an annual series of events to raise money for their fight against juvenile diabetes.

Unique even among celebrity chefs, Sam brings to his kitchen his deep love of nature, keen sense of taste, creative mind, and intrinsic understanding of the relationship between food and health. His is the quintessential ‘integrative kitchen.’

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Sam was a semi-finalist on Bravo’s acclaimed series “Top Chef” and voted the viewers “Fan Favorite” for the season

Jehangir Mehta
Executive Chef, Graffiti and Mehtaphor

The Next Iron Chef runner up 2010, (Food Network) Chef Jehangir Mehta opened Mehtaphor in Tribecca New York in October 2010, three years after he opened Graffiti in the East Village of New York City in 2007. Prior to his own restaurant soiree, he was the highly acclaimed pastry chef at some of New York City’s finest restaurants including Aix, Union Pacific, Compass, and Jean-Georges, and also the author of Mantra: The Rules of Indulgence (Harper Collins).

Jehangir is passionate about inculcating the love for good food in children and getting them to eat healthy. So he works closely with children through his various initiatives; Gastro Kids After School, a weekly program, that runs weekly on Fridays from 4 to 5 pm at Mehtaphor, to his nationwide initiative with Whole Foods called Kids Food Adventure with Chef Jehangir, and through Candy Camp, a fun filled private cooking class for children which he started over ten years ago.

It all started when, much to the amusement of his family’s maids and cooks, Mumbai-born Jehangir took an interest in the goings-on of the kitchen. After he voiced a desire to pursue a career in the culinary arts, Jehangir’s family put their full support behind him and sent him to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Jehangir thrived at the CIA with the foundation he acquired at the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering, Technology and Applied Nutrition in Mumbai.

After his first job at L’Absinthe in New York in 1996, he landed a position he truly longed for at Typhoon Brewery, where he worked as the pastry chef to the brilliant James Chew of Vong fame. From there it was a short yet logical jump to Jean-Georges in 1997. The following year, Jean-Georges Vongerichten selected him to open his new restaurant, Mercer Kitchen, quickly to become one of the hottest destinations in New York. Desiring a change of pace from the high volume of Mercer Kitchen, Jehangir accepted a position to work with Rocco di Spirito 1999 at Union Pacific, and in 2001 he joined Jean– Georges colleague Didier Virot who was opening his own restaurant. Following a short-lived but highly acclaimed run at Virot, Jehangir solidified his reputation for creating unorthodox, intellectually driven desserts as pastry chef of Compass. During this time, he extended his partnership with Didier Virot, and in 2002 opened the Upper West Side culinary destination Aix.

In 2003, Jehangir started his event management business through an online site The same year he started Candy Camp to encourage children aged between 4 and 14 to appreciate the complex ingredients in food, by preparing simple savory and sweet dishes. In 2007, Jehangir opened his restaurant Graffiti, quite simply an extension of the man and his mission, and released his first cookbook “Mantra the Rules of Indulgence” (Harper-Collins).

At his restaurant Graffiti, Jehangir gets to present food that is nothing short of inspiring. From his 50 square foot kitchen he produces some of New York’s most exciting dishes, which have been featured in not only traditional food magazines but also Vogue, and the New Yorker. Over the years, Jehangir has been seen on many national television programs including “Martha” and on the Food Network. Where, in August 2009, he was a contestant on Iron Chef America where he competed against Iron Chef Morimoto in "Battle Coconut." In 2009, Jehangir was the runner up on Food Network’s acclaimed show the Next Iron Chef.

Jehangir’s cultural heritage fills him with endless inspiration, including Ayurveda, and his favorite ingredients, fruits and spices. Now it is only left to his imagination as to what he will conquer next.

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Chef Mehta was the Next Iron Chef runner up 2010
Graffiti was rated one of the top 10 restaurants in NYC

Brad McDonald
Executive Chef, Colonie

Brad has a passion for sourcing the best and freshest local and seasonal ingredients available. He has worked in some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world, including Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, Per Se, and Noma, mastering time-honored traditional techniques and cutting edge innovations. Brad drives Colonie's vision of using sustainably grown food in the context of an approachable, neighborhood-friendly, seasonal American menu.

Colonie was named "Best New American Restaurant" by L Magazine
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