Daniel Briggs of dg Restaurant

Daniel Briggs of dg Restaurant

DANIEL BRIGGS

Born and raised in Birmingham, Daniel Briggs first became interested in cooking through gardening. After graduating from Sewanee, Daniel went on to Vail, Coloroda where he graduated from Johnson & Wales University. Chef believes in using seasonal, local produce with minimal processing of ingredients. He says simply that food should speak for itself.

Chef's restaurant, dg Restaurant is located in the heart of Mountain Brook Village - where the menu changes daily, featuring the best gulf coast seafood, wild and domestic game, meats, poultry and fresh local produce.

Jorge Castro of Cantina! Tortilla Grill

Jorge Castro of Cantina! Tortilla Grill

JORGE CASTRO

Cantina Tortilla Grill has been serving up made-fresh-daily Mexican food in a laid back, fun atmosphere for more than 10 years! Their uniquely crafted menu items follow the recipes created by founder, Guillermo Castro, whose love for travel and passion for fresh Mexican food came together to influence every aspect of the restaurant. Whether you're enjoying a prickly pear margarita or one of your favorite tacos, you'll find a simple yet distinctive culinary experience every time you visit Cantina!

Linda Croley of Bare Naked Noodles

Linda Croley of Bare Naked Noodles

LINDA CROLEY

Founded by Linda Croley, Bare Naked Noodles provides seasonal varieties of ravioli, pastas, lasagna and sauces prepared daily at her cafe. Eager to share her love for good food made with fresh ingredients, Linda appears regularly on television offering recipes from her family table. Growing up, Linda says she can't remember a time when she wasn't helping in the kitchen in some way! Bare Naked Noodles was born with the simple idea of family recipes, farm fresh local ingredients and a love for food.

Clif Holt of Little Savannah

Clif Holt of Little Savannah

CLIF HOLT

A native of Cullman, Alabama, Chef Clif Holt served in the U.S. Navy then pursued a career in engineering and design, before following his passion for food. Self-taught and inspired by his grandmother, Chef Clif had the opportunity to work with numerous notable chefs where he honed his culinary skills. Thereafter, in 2003, Little Savannah Restaurant and Bar was born.

Corey Hinkel of Hinkel's On Main

Corey Hinkel of Hinkel's On Main

COREY HINKEL

Corey Hinkel is a self-taught baker who has been making bread, rolls and pastries since he was a kid growing up in Nebraska. He says he learned how to make homemade doughnuts when he was in third grade and has been hooked on baking ever since.

Corey believes in using the best ingredients like quality wheat and whole grains. He also believes bread tastes best when baked in the time-honored, wood-fired oven. Over the years, Corey has honed his skills while working in bakeries, culinary schools, restaurants and as a consultant. He never tires of learning new techniques to improve his very considerable talents.

John Currence of Big Bad Breakfast

John Currence of Big Bad Breakfast

JOHN CURRENCE

John Currence was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana to a family that loved to cook and spend time in the kitchen. His mother's travels with his father during childhood, combined with the family's several years in Europe, brought the dishes of the world to their dinner table, while time spent hunting and fishing in South Louisiana began the education in the foods of his home.

Currence's first cooking job was while working offshore as a deckhand on a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, though he saw his first restaurant job while in school at UNC where he started washing dishes at Bill Neal's Crook's Corner. He worked his way up through the Crook's kitchen and after three years, Currence returned to New Orleans at the behest of a high school friend, Larkin Selman, to open Gautreau's where he worked as Selman's sous chef. After several years, Currence moved on to the Brennan family of restaurants to help open Bacco before finally settling in Oxford in 1992 and opening City Grocery.

Since then, the City Grocery Restaurant Group has seen a number of openings, including Nacho Mama's, Kahlo's, Ajax Diner, City Grocery Catering Company, Boure, Snackbar, and Big Bad Breakfast.

Frank Stitt of Highland's Bar & Grill

Frank Stitt of Highland's Bar & Grill

FRANK STITT

Cullman County's Chef Frank Stitt first set the standard for fine, Southern dining at his beloved Highlands Bar & Grill on Birmingham's Southside beginning in 1982. This French inspired Southern restaurant offers exquisite food and gracious service.

Another place close to his heart is Bottega, Stitt's authentic, Italian restaurant located on Highland Avenue. Opened in 1988, this elegant restaurant keeps its standards high while offering a casual and fun atmosphere. Stitt also owns a small French style bistro called Chez Fonfon, located right next door to Highlands Bar & Grill.

Frank Stitt was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's "Who's Who of Food and Beverage" in 2011. He's authored two books, been nominated for several awards and is the father of two grown children. His wife, Pardis, works alongside Frank managing all three of his restaurants.

Paul Yeck of Fatback Pig Project

Paul Yeck of Fatback Pig Project

PAUL YECK

A native of Oxford, Mississippi, Paul Yeck, is the company chef  for the Fresh Hospitality group, conducting research and development in new concept openings and special projects, working closely with the group's Fatback Plant.

A graduate of the University of Mississippi and French Culinary Institute in New York City, Yeck comes to his new role after serving as Chef de Cuisine of Bottega for 2.5 years, and previously worked for Jose Andres in Washington, DC for several years. In his free time, Yeck enjoys exploring with his wife and their two children.

Monty Todd of Spoon & Ladle Soup Co.

Monty Todd of Spoon & Ladle Soup Co.

MONTY TODD

This Montgomery, Alabama native grew up loving fresh food. Helping his grandparents tend their garden instilled a love in Monty Todd for the outdoors, fresh vegetables and cooking. His grandmother taught him how to prepare homegrown vegetables straight from the garden. Her recipes were passed along to him and Monty treasures them to this day.

Monty Todd is the chef and owner of Spoon & Ladle, a culinary delight for soup lovers. His award winning gumbo is a wonder and his tomato soup's the best around! Monty believes in supporting the local farmer and uses Alabama-grown produce in his recipes each week.

Joshua Gentry of Little Donkey

Joshua Gentry of Little Donkey

JOSHUA GENTRY

Joshua Gentry began his career in the restaurant industry at the early age of 14, where he quickly developed a passion for food and southern hospitality. Originally working as a dishwasher, he gained a working knowledge over the years of every position in the restaurant, from the back line kitchen to the dining room.

Quickly garnering the respect from many local Birmingham Chefs, Gentry began working at Chris Hastings' restaurant, Hot & Hot Fish Club. Here he gained a profound knowledge of Southern cuisine and overall culinary expertise.

In 2003 Gentry partnered with Birmingham restauranteur Nick Pihakis and became an Operating Partner in Jim 'n Nick's Community Bar-B-Q. For more than ten years Gentry supervised the Jim 'n Nick's Birmingham market. During this time he learned the tricks to preparing food that was true to authentic Southern culture. The key was to provide a top notch experience for the guest by serving traditional Southern food made entirely from scratch, using only the freshest ingredients.

The passion soon evolved into the idea of a concept serving authentic Mexican food with "Southern soul". Gentry worked with Pihakis and his other partners at Fresh Hospitality and began researching authentic Mexican street food. The two were inspired by San Francisco's La Cocina, a non-profit incubutator kitchen that helps low income and mostly Hispanic food vendors launch and grow their businesses. Here they learned about the style and culture behind Mexican food, and realized this culture could be merged with that of Southern food. After five years of research and development, Gentry and Pihakis opened the first Little Donkey in Homewood, Alabama in April 2012.

Inspired by Little Donkey's success in Homewood, Gentry and his partners at Fresh Hospitality expanded the concept to Morgantown, West Virginia in October 2015. Then in February 2016 they opened their third location in Nashville, Tennessee.

Gentry is also personally and professionally committed to giving back to his local communities. The Little Donkey in Homewood is a proud supporter of The Bell Center, The Homewood City Schools Foundation, and many others. His commitment to partnering with local organizations has gained the respect of the Homewood community, and in turn, the "neighborhood atmosphere" is felt in the dining room at Little Donkey.

Gentry lives in Homewood, Alabama with his wife Julie and their two children.

Chris Hastings of OvenBird

Chris Hastings of OvenBird

CHRIS HASTINGS

Chris Hastings is the owner and executive chef of Hot and Hot Fish Club, an award winning restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, and was twice a finalist for the James Beard Award "Best Chef in the South" award. In 2012, Chef Hastings was the winner of this award.

Chris grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. He spent family vacations in South Carolina where he gathered or caught oysters, clams, shrimp, flounder, crab, and spot tail bass for his family to cook. Chris and his wife, Idie, opened Hot and Hot Fish Club, named for the Pawleys Island, South Carolina epicurean club of which his great-great-great-great grandfather was a member!

Recently Chris and Idie opened their second restaurant in Birmingham called OvenBird, located in Pepper Place. OvenBird is a live fire, casual restaurant with a menu focusing on seasonal southern ingredients in a small plate format that takes inspiration from the live fire traditions of Spain, Portugal, Uruguay and Argentina.

Rob McDaniel of SpringHouse

Rob McDaniel of SpringHouse

ROB MCDANIEL

Rob McDaniel is the General Manager and Executive Chef of SpringHouse, located in Russell Lands on Lake Martin, Alabama.

McDaniel's passion and respect for traditional Southern cuisine was first inspired by the foods his grandmother prepared while he was growing up in Haleyville, Alabama. At Auburn University, McDaniel decided to pursue this passion as a career and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management. After graduating, McDaniel headed north to Montpelier, Vermont where he studied at the New England Culinary Institute. During his time there, McDaniel honed his knowledge of and appreciation for sustainable cooking and became an advocate for supporting local farmers and preserving regional resources.

In his previous positions, McDaniel worked under prestigious chefs such as Johnny Earles at Criolloa's in Grayton Beach, Florida, Chris Hastings at Hot & Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama and Drew Robinson at Jim 'n Nick's BBQ in Birmingham, Alabama. During his time in these kitchens, McDaniel's passion for Southern foods, foraging, and sustainability evolved into the culinary style that he is known for today. His philosophy of respecting the land and using it as inspiration is showcased through his dedication to simple recipes enhanced by flavorful ingredients. In 2009, McDaniel accepted the position of executive chef for the soon-to-debut SpringHouse restaurant. Here, McDaniel ensures the seasonally-based menu stays true to the region's local flavors and cuisine.

McDaniel has been a James Beard Foundation Best Chef South semifinalist in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, and SpringHouse was included on Southern Living's 100 Best Restaurants in the South list in 2014. When McDaniel isn't in the kitchen, you can find him spending time outdoors, whether it's on a boat or with his wife or out in the woods hunting, fishing or foraging.

Chris and Laura Zapalowski of Homewood Gourmet

Chris and Laura Zapalowski of Homewood Gourmet

CHRIS AND LAURA ZAPALOWSKI

Chris and Laura Zapalowski are the co-owners and chefs of Homewood Gourmet. Chris brings his love of New Orleans cuisine and heritage while Laura implements her classic Southern food style to their Homewood establishment. The Zapalowskis purchased Homewood Gourmet from its founder, Chef Franklin Biggs in May 2010. They strive to keep Chef Franklin's fresh, creative approach to food while incorporating as many local and seasonal products as possible.

Chris grew up in New Orleans where he developed his passion for food and cooking. He has worked for Chef Anne Kearney while she was at Peristyle, for Chef Emeril Lagasse at Emeril's Restaurant, and Chef Chris Hastings of the Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama. Laura is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and began her culinary career at Homewood Gourmet under Chef Franklin Biggs. She attended Samford University and The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City and has worked for The Food Network, Southern Living Magazine, Emeril's Restaurant and Emeril's Homebase as well as the Hot and Hot Fish Club.

The Zapalowskis are members of The Southern Foodways Alliance and The Birmingham Originals. They live in Birmingham with their son, Ellis and Daughter, Liza.

Chadwick Boyd - Special Guest!

Chadwick Boyd - Special Guest!

"Food and lifestyle expert Chadwick Boyd comes to Birmingham to show Pepper Place visitors that vegetables can be so much more than a side dish - and be presented with a lot of style with little effort!

In this fun, fast moving Saturday (September 17, 2016) morning demo, Chadwick will show how to make one of his favorites, Shaved Celery Salad with Pimento Buttermilk Dressing and Toasted Pecans, which is a fun play on pimento cheese and celery sticks.

He will also show how to make his super easy Plum Parsley Salad with Pinot Honey Vinaigrette, which was just featured in Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful.

During the demo, Chadwick will talk about how to use all parts of vegetables, from root to stalk to leaves, to get the most flavor and style out of any dish. He will share secrets for getting the greatest value from the produce department at the grocery store, too. Samples of Chadwick's recipes will be shared, too.

Chadwick will be selling and signing copies of his new "Entertaining with Vegetables" Recipe Collection. 10% of all sales help fund the Nathalie Dupree Fellowship for Food Studies." (learn more)

Follow Chadwick Boyd on Twitter and Facebook!

Jason Mezrano of Kathy G. & Company

Jason Mezrano of Kathy G. & Company

JASON MEZRANO

Jason began his culinary career in the family business, working in the kitchens at Kathy G. & Company during high school and college. After stints at Highland's Bar and Grill and Hot & Hot Fish Club, both James Beard award winning restaurants, Jason decided to refine his skills by attending Scottsdale Culinary School in Scottsdale, Arizona. He spent the next several years working in top restaurants in Scottsdale and then Napa, California before returning home to join the Kathy G. team. Today, Jason is the executive chef at Kathy G. & Company - creating delicious new recipes weekly and overseeing the entire kitchen for hundreds of weddings and events each year.

Andrea Griffith of Pursell Farms

Andrea Griffith of Pursell Farms

ANDREA GRIFFITH

Andrea Griffith brings more than thirteen years of culinary experience to Pursell Farms. With a strong background in pastry and baking, Andrea provides an array of worldly cuisine, capped by her artistic, experiential flair. She started her culiinary career at the age of 16, working as a pastry chef at Whole Foods in Philadephia. She began her culinary training just after that at The Art Institute of Philadelphia for Culinary Arts, while simultaneously working her way around local Philadephia kitchens, including a stint at the renowned restaurant, Circa.

Andrea has also worked as an apprentice at The Greenbrier, where she received 11 American Culinary Federation-accrdeited medals, including honors in ice carving, cold food salon and hot food. In 2007, she was awarded the distinction of Certified Chef de Cuisine, the third level of achievement at the ACF. Andrea also opened The Greenbrier Sporting Club and served as executive chef before moving to Virginia to open Primland, from the ground up, as Executive Chef and Beverage Director. Andrea now calls Sylacauga, Alabama home and is head chef at Pursell Farms.

Franklin Biggs of Sur La Table

Franklin Biggs of Sur La Table

FRANKLIN BIGGS

As a young man, Franklin Biggs studied classical guitar at the California Institute of the Arts and earned his bachelor's in political science and international relations at the University of California in Berkeley. While there, he worked at the faculty club, and was promoted to manager before moving to Paris. He was hired as a translator at the Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne and interned at the restaurant Taillevent. Biggs also worked at the legendary restaurants Maxim's and Patisserie Jean Millet in Paris, and traveled around Europe.

Back in the United States, he returned to the UC Berkeley faculty club as head chef, and subsequently worked as executive chef at several resorts including The Lodge at Pebble Beach, the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Utah, and the Buttes Resort in Tempe, Arizona.

Bigg's moved to Birmingham and first wored at Arman's in English Village, then opened Jimmy's at Brookwood Village, and in 1997, opened Homewood Gourmet. Thirteen years later, he developed throat cancer and sold Homewood Gourmet so he could focus on treatment. Ultimately the cancer went into remission and he has been in good health for more than five years now!

Local favorite, Franklin Biggs has continued to be involved in numerous restaurant and cooking ventures like chef instructor at Sur La Table and chef/trainer at East Lake's Promoting Empowerment and Enrichment Resources.