2018 Featured Chefs
Born in Toluca, Mexico, Galicia moved to San Antonio in 2002. He studied psychology at The University of Texas at San Antonio for a few years before switching to culinary and graduating from The Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio (CIA).
Following his time at the CIA, Galicia diversified his culinary experience by working at Michelin-starred restaurants Atelier Crenn in San Francisco and Moto in Chicago. Galicia always had the dream of opening his own restaurant. While cultivating his dreams, he worked at Texas fast food chain Taco Cabana in order to save funds to open Mixtli.
Chef Gregory Gourdet is the culinary mastermind behind Departure restaurants in Portland, OR and Denver, CO, where he pairs local bounty with the bold flavors and traditions of Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea to create modern Asian fare. A native New Yorker from Queens who honed his culinary skills within celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant dynasty, the foundation of his cooking is based on technique-driven preparations layered with flavor complexity. A self-proclaimed health freak and avid runner, Gourdet views food as nourishment. His mindful life approach shines through in his cooking, as he offers diners dishes that allow freshness, seasonality, and bold, alternative ingredients to star on the plate.
Lafayette, Indiana native Thomas Griese first learned to cook at home using fresh, farmstead ingredients. Griese graduated from Johnson & Wales University and worked his way through many acclaimed restaurants, cooking alongside world-class chefs.
Griese’s tenure with the MINA Group began in 2013, when he was appointed Chef de Cuisine at Michael Mina 74 in Miami. A fan of Mina’s philosophies on flavor balance and outstanding hospitality, he worked closely with Chef Mina on the restaurant’s bistro-style menu.
Hand-selected by Mina to be RN74 Seattle’s interim Executive Chef in July 2017, Griese was awestruck by the abundance of fresh ingredients in the Pacific Northwest and set about reinvigorating the restaurant’s Northwest-inspired French bistro menu. Invited by Mina to stay on, he gladly took the permanent role as Executive Chef.
Following a creative writing degree from Western Washington University, Stuart found his passion for cooking after watching an episode of "Great Chefs of the World" on PBS, noting that "it was a revelation for my career." Shortly after, he enrolled at Bellingham Technical College and worked at a local Italian restaurant. In two years, he graduated with a degree in culinary arts but decided that he wanted additional training. Stuart moved to Seattle and saved-up to attend culinary school in Italy, working simultaneously at the Flying Fish under Chef/Owner Christine Keff and Cafe Campagne under Chef Daisley Gordon.
In 2004, he left for Costigliole d'Asti to attend the Italian Culinary Institute in a castle in Piemonte. He later staged at the Hotel Monte del Re in Dozza Italy outside of Bologna in the heart of Emilia-Romagna. While there, he made tortellini by the thousands and was immersed in the Italian food culture. Upon returning to the U.S. he headed to Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, Washington, looking for work. With some convincing, Stuart landed a job at Cafe Juanita as a prep cook, later moved to pastaoli, and finally, chef de cuisine.
In 2010, Stuart came to Spinasse as co-sous chef under Jason Stratton and furthered his expertise with the cuisine of northern Italy. In 2011, Stuart left to be the executive chef at Tom Douglas' Cuoco restaurant, but returned to Spinasse in 2013. In 2015, Stuart assumed the role of Executive Chef at Spinasse and adjacent, casual Italian eatery and bar, Artusi.
Chef Shota began his culinary journey at the age of sixteen, working for a well-acclaimed sushi restaurant in his hometown of Seattle, WA. At the age of eighteen, Nakajima moved to Osaka, Japan to learn about the art of Japanese cuisine. In Japan, Nakajima had the opportunity to work for Michelin Star rated Chef Yasuhiko Sakamoto. As one would expect, this experience changed Chef Shota's perspective on cooking.
Since returning to Seattle, it has been Nakajima's dream to convey Chef Sakamoto's approach to hospitality and Japanese cuisine in the United States.
In the journey from Naka to Adana Chef Shota has had the opportunity to get to know the community surrounding his restaurant through his food and the experiences shared between guests, staff and himself. The community fostered by doing so has been rewarding and allowed for unprecedented growth in building lasting relationships with guests that are a part of a dialogue that spurs creativity, love of craftsmanship, artistry, and dedication. Pushing to be better with a relentless drive for beauty in detail Chef Shota has supported a team of individuals to hone their unique skill sets to move toward their goals.
Born in Japan and raised near the ocean, Tsuyoshi loves everything about fish - catching, cooking, preparing and eating it! After high school, Tsuyoshi worked as a part-time Sushi assistant. In 1998, he came to Olympia, Washington to attend the Capitol City Tennis & Athletic Center, where he remained for two years. Following his tennis training, he went to work for renowned Maneki restaurant in Seattle’s International District where he worked until 2013. Chef Tsuyoshi joined Shiro’s in January 2014.
Born in Hilo on the Big Island, Chef Sheldon acquired his love for cooking from his parents. His path led from Hilo High to the Culinary Institute of the Pacific onto an internship at Walt Disney World. Upon returning to Hawaii, Sheldon attended Maui Culinary Academy.
Sheldon competed in Bravo’s Top Chef: Seattle as a finalist and winning Fan Favorite. He has recently opened up his very restaurant, Tin Roof in Kahului, Maui, and serves up local dishes in take-out bowls. Chef Sheldon’s food is a playful, fun take on classic dishes. His mix of innovative modern cuisine and adherence to tradition influence his dishes and help shape his menus.
Torres was born in El Paso, Texas. Early on, he was immersed in the heritage of Zacatecas and greater Mexico, both in travel and through daily life. Even as a child Torres knew immediately that the kitchen held his heart.
In 2013, Torres opened Mixtli with Chef Diego Galicia and has continued to dedicate himself to his craft. Each time a new menu concept is developed for Mixtli, Torres researches for hours at The University of Texas at San Antonio’s library, where he has a special partnership and is able to review historic Mexican cookbooks and recipes for inspiration.
Chef Jeffrey Vance started out like so many others, working the trenches as a line cooking to support his habits--skateboarding and going to punk shows. He honed his skills learning classic sauces and charcuterie in Spokane, Washington before rising to Chef de Cuisine at one of Seattle’s first modernist restaurants, Spur. Like his motto, “Kraft singles & caviar,” he keeps a sense of humor in the kitchen, and today helms the kitchen at Seattle’s Navy Strength, a proto-tiki tropical cocktail bar, and No Anchor, where his team earned a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant.
Brooke Williamson was the winner of Bravo's "Top Chef All-Stars" Season 14, and was the runner-up in "Top Chef" Season 10, set in Seattle. She hosted MTV’s first foodie series, "House of Food," and has also appeared on programs including "Knife Fight," "Watch What Happens Live," "Home & Family" and the international talk show, "Arise 360." Along with husband Nick Roberts, Williamson is co-owner and co-chef of several successful L.A.-area ventures including Hudson House, The Tripel, Playa Provisions and the culinary retail boutique Tripli-Kit, along with a fast-casual Hawaiian restaurant called Da Kikokiko.
Aaron Willis is the executive chef at Ciudad in Georgetown, where he makes delicious, approachable food in an unpretentious manner. Having started out cleaning kitchens in the local pub at the age of 17, Aaron has expanded his cooking talents in Portland and San Diego, where he attended the San Diego Culinary Institute, graduating in the top two percent of his class. After returning to Washington and becoming chef at Crystal Mountain's Summit House Restaurant, Willis traveled the globe, including Berlin and Bali, developing new talents and his own brand, The Generous Chef, before returning to the Northwest once again. While he has been influenced by all that he has experienced, Aaron has a style that is clearly his own.