2019 Featured Chefs
Kevin Benner graduated with an Arts and Sciences degree from Whatcom Community College and after cooking in Bellingham, WA for eight years, moved to Manhattan where he worked at Danny Meyer’s restaurant in The Gramercy Park Hotel. Kevin loved the experience but says he missed the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and returned home to begin a three year tenure working with Chef Mark Bodinet at Copperleaf Restaurant in Cedarbrook Lodge. Beginning in March 2018, Kevin spent time working at several Fire & Vine properties including The Lakehouse, El Gaucho Portland and Eritage before finding his home at AQUA by El Gaucho.
Chef Gregory Gourdet is the culinary mastermind behind Departure where he pairs local ingredients with the flavors and traditions of Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea to create modern Asian fare. Gourdet’s extensive travels to research and understand other cultures allow him to see Oregon’s bounty through an Asian lens, producing a constantly evolving seasonal menu inspired by cooking methods and ingredients from abroad. A two-time James Beard Award semifinalist and native New Yorker from Queens, Gourdet honed his culinary skills within celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant dynasty.
Gourdet took the reins at Departure in Portland, OR in 2010. He was Eater Portland’s Chef of the Year in 2014, and in 2015, his fame skyrocketed as he earned runner-up in Bravo’s Top Chef Season
12. After much acclaim, he went on to open Departure’s second location in Denver, CO in 2016.
Born in Deep Run, N.C. to tobacco and hog farming parents, Vivian Howard’s upbringing was steeped in the Southern food traditions of her neighbors. After college, Vivian moved to New York to work in advertising, but soon transitioned to the city’s food and restaurant scene. Vivian honed her culinary skills and love of food working in the kitchens of some of New York’s most esteemed restaurants and training under some of the most cutting-edge chefs. In 2005, Vivian returned to Kinston, N.C. to open her first award-winning restaurant, Chef & the Farmer, followed by the Boiler Room, also in Kinston, and Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington. In the fall of 2018, Vivian will open her fourth restaurant, Handy & Hot in Kinston. Vivian and her restaurants have won numerous accolades, including her selection as a five-time James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast. In 2012, Vivian and director Cynthia Hill premiered A Chef’s Life, the award-winning documentary television series celebrating eastern North Carolina food traditions. After five seasons, it segued into a new series to premiere in 2019. Vivian then released her first cookbook, Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South, published by Little, Brown & Co., in October 2016. Today, the book has won numerous awards and Vivian is currently working on a second.
Edouardo Jordan was born and raised in St. Petersburg and attended college at the University of Florida. After graduating with dual degrees in business administration and sports management, Jordan decided to enroll in culinary school at the Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando. Following graduation from culinary school, Jordan’s ambition brought him to renowned restaurants such as The French Laundry, Per Se, and Lincoln Ristorante in New York. With thought of raising a family and opening a restaurant in mind, Jordan moved to Seattle where he began working at Sitka and Spruce as Sous Chef. In 2013, Jordan was asked to open Bar Sajor as Chef de Cuisine and used this as an opportunity to learn as much as he could about opening a restaurant. Taking this knowledge and experience he had gained from Bar Sajor, Jordan officially opened the doors to his restaurant, Salare, in June of 2015. Salare takes influences from France, Italy, the American south, and the Caribbean and has become one of Seattle’s hottest restaurants. In April 2017, Chef Jordan opened his second restaurant, JuneBaby and has already received much attention both nationally and locally. Chef Jordan was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2016, has been named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chef of 2016 and JuneBaby Restaurant Best New Restaurant for 2018, and Salare was listed as a Best New Restaurant in America in 2016 by Eater National. Chef Jordan was a 2017 James Beard Award finalist and received the prestigious James Beard Award for the Best Chef: Northwest 2018 and Best New Restaurant 2018 for JuneBaby Restaurant.
Born in China, Mei Lin and her family immigrated to the US when she was only 3
months old. Her family planted roots in Dearborn, Michigan and Lin grew up working alongside her father at their family-owned and -operated restaurant, where she learned the fundamentals of being a well-rounded cook and how to run a restaurant. She cut her teeth at many revered restaurants, but credits most of her formal training and refinement of skills to her time at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago Vegas and Michael Voltaggio’s ink. in Los Angeles. Part of the opening team at ink., she spent the first three years moving up the ranks, eventually earning the position of sous chef. Lin also logged time with Bryan Voltaggio at VOLT in Frederick, MD as a sous. She is likely most well known for her winning the title of Top Chef on Bravo TV’s Emmy-winning
show to much acclaim. Previously, she had also won her episode on Esquire TV’s Knife Fight, and was selected as one of Eater’s Young Guns in 2014 and Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in 2015. Since all of that, she has been dedicating her time to travel and research for Nightshade, her debut restaurant in Los Angeles.
Chef Melissa King is one of the most exciting young talents in America’s culinary scene -- She has been recognized as “one of the best female chefs in San Francisco” and a “40 under 40: Rising Star”. She earned national recognition placing as a finalist on the television series Top Chef.
A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, King trained at several Michelin starred restaurants in San Francisco under acclaimed names such as Dominique Crenn and Ron Siegel. King’s cooking style combines the best local ingredients with modern techniques and Asian flavors. Her partnership with Whole Foods Market includes exclusive product development, industry leadership, and connecting customers to healthy and delicious natural and organic foods.
Along with being a chef, international consultant, television personality, and brand partner, King participates in speaking panels supporting women’s empowerment, environmental sustainability, food education for youths, and entrepreneurship.
To learn more about Melissa King, please visit chefmelissaking.com
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 2017 competed on Iron Chef Gauntlet and in 2018 semifinalist for the James Beard Award.
Maggie earned her Culinary Arts degree from Le Cordon Bleu at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, OR in 2004 and is a creative, committed leader. She worked for the Portland Hilton Hotel before moving to Ashland, OR and Lela’s, Chateaulin and Caldera Brewing Company. Maggie’s experience working with a true farm-to-table restaurant began in 2014 when she joined Larks Restaurant at the Inn at the Commons in Medford, OR. Serving as Executive Chef at Aerlume presents an opportunity for her to expand her connections with providers by working hand-in-hand with Fire & Vine Hospitality farming partners including Fall City Farms, Sound Sustainable Farms and many more.
Jason’s tenure in the restaurant business spans over 25 years. His restaurants and culinary work have garnered numerous accolades. He is a proud recipient of James Beard Award Best Chef Northwest, Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chef” and Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 under 40”. His first restaurant, Crush, propelled him as an innovator in modern cooking styles and a leader in fine dining. Miller’s Guild earned a spot on Fodor’s “Top 10 Steak Houses in the Nation.” In June 2017, he opened The Lakehouse, a modern Northwest farmhouse, and Civility & Unrest, a speakeasy-inspired cocktail lounge in Bellevue’s new Lincoln Square Expansion. As Fire & Vine Hospitality culinary director, Jason drives creative development for the culinary team and spearheads new projects including Aerlume and a partnership with Teatro ZinZanni.