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Meet the Sous Chefs: 2016 Emerging Chefs Challenge 

Gambit's Emerging Chefs Challenge 2016


Meet the 2016 Emerging Chefs Challenge Finalists
Join us for the competition on Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ross Dover

Ross Dover
Restaurant August

Ross Dover began his culinary journey at places including Big Al's, Cafe Dominique, and Cafe Giovanni. His culinary career took off while attending Nicholls State University, where he was the co-executive chef at The Foundry on the Bayou in Thibodaux as well as a butcher at the local Rouse's.

Ross completed his externship at Restaurant August in 2013, quickly climbing the ranks to line cook. He became the sous chef when Johnny Sanchez opened, working alongside Miles Landrem and has recently returned to Restaurant August as the sous chef under Todd Pulsinelli. He is also an active mentor for the Chef John Besh Foundation, Chefs Move! program.

Ross is well versed in French and South Louisiana cuisine and upholds a fine standard for the food he serves - from fine dining to authentic Mexican street food and everything in between.

David Harrower

David Harrower
Bacchanal


David Harrower attended the Culinary Institute of New Orleans in 2004 until Hurricane Katrina relocated him to Vail, Colorado.

After three years in Vail at the contemporary French restaurant, La Tour, he attended the Culinary Institute of America. Upon graduating, he returned to New Orleans and took a position at Cochon.

He moved to Lafayette to assist in opening the Cochon restaurant there. After a year, he took a position as a sous chef at Pamplona Tapas Bar in downtown Lafayette. He was promoted to Executive Chef, where he remained for 2 years. In 2015, he returned to New Orleans to take over the sous chef role at Bacchanal in the Bywater. David's passion is low country food with a focus on Cajun cuisine and enjoys whole animal butchery and charcuterie.

Trey Herty

Trey Herty
Brown Butter


Trey Herty began his career at Restaurant August. He was promoted to line tournant, then banquet and off-site sous chef, and eventually executive sous chef under Chef de Cuisine Michael Gulotta.

Trey then moved to Chicago for a year to work under James Beard award winning chef and restaurateur Paul Kahan at Blackbird Restaurant and The Publican Restaurant.

Upon returning to New Orleans, he was hired at Root Restaurant as the AM sous chef. He collaborated with Chef Phillip Lopez on offsite and in-house menus and traveled to New York with Lopez to execute a 12-course tasting menu at the James Beard House.

In 2014, Trey opened Square Root with Chef Lopez as the opening Chef de Cuisine. He went on to join long-time friend Chef Dayne Womax at Brown Butter where he helped to launch their dinner program.

Danny Hollier

Danny Hollier
Shaya


Danny Hollier is currently the Sous Chef at Shaya working alongside Alon Shaya and Chef de Cuisine Zach Engel. He’s been with the restaurant since it’s opening and has been an integral part of its success.

His accolades before Shaya include graduating from the Louisiana Culinary Institute in 2011, working as a line cook for Commander’s Palace from 2012 – 2013, working as a line cook for Domenica from 2013 – 2014, and working as a line cook at Trenasse from 2014 until being promoted to sous chef at Shaya.

He has a strong passion for preserving the traditions and flavors indicative of Southern, classic cuisine, but working alongside Alon Shaya has enabled him to infuse some lightness and fresh/acidic flavors of the Mediterranean that Shaya is known for.

Bryan Johnson

Bryan Johnson
Avo


Bryan is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and has worked in the culinary field for over 15 years. He has worked under such chefs as David Rosenfeld and Chef Nick Martinkovic of "Blood and Sand" and Gerad Craft, James Beard winner of "Best Chef: Midwest."

Bryan moved to New Orleans last year and quickly worked his way up to sous chef at Avo. He has brought his own style of cooking to Avo's Italian dishes by smoking the meats and fish and making the sausage in-house.

Bryan is a passionate chef who brings creativity and enthusiasm to every dish.

Katie Juban

Katie Juban
Sylvain


Katie Juban's family has owned and operated Juban's Restaurant in Baton Rouge since 1983 and has been immersed in fine dining her whole life.

After graduating from LSU, she began her culinary career in New Orleans working under award winning chefs Bob Iacovone and Richard "Bingo" Starr. She then went to Washington D.C. to train under James Beard award winning chefs Jeffrey Buben and R.J. Cooper at Vidalia before accepting a position as sous chef at Jeff Black's BlackSalt. She joined Black's opening team at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace where she served as sous chef for two years before relocating to New Orleans.

Upon her return, Juban joined the Besh Restaurant Group at Domenica and late night gastropub Saint Lawrence. In fall 2015, Juban joined the culinary team at Sylvain as a line cook and was quickly promoted to sous chef where her in-depth knowledge of seafood and the culinary culture of the South inspires her approach to cooking.

Taylor Lorio

Taylor Lorio
Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse


Taylor Lorio has worked his way through the ranks at Dickie Brennan & Co (DB&Co.). His passion for good food along with his strong leadership skills have propelled him from lead cook at Palace Café to Sous Chef at Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse.

Lorio is a New Orleans native who attended Jesuit High School and continued on to the University of Georgia where he received a degree in Economics. During the 2009 Saints Super Bowl Season he started cooking New Orleans cuisine during games “for luck” and realized it was what he truly wanted to do as a career. During his tenure with DB & Co. he has traveled to the Masters Golf Tournament as an area chef, and he has represented New Orleans in Kentucky at the Bourbon Classic.

In addition to his talents in the kitchen, Lorio is an avid kayak fisherman and wetlands conservationist. He’s also a new father to the cutest little nugget in the 16th ward, Thomas.

Kelly Mayhew

Kelly Mayhew
Brennan's

Now a rising star in the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Kelly Mayhew earned his initial restaurant experience in Charleston, South Carolina, where, as a teenager, he worked the lowliest jobs in all the restaurants in his hometown Isle of Palms.

His four-year career in the U.S. Army, which included three tours in Iraq and the command of 22 infantrymen, concluded with an honorable discharge after he was wounded. Turning his sights back to the restaurant world, Mayhew graduated from the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute of Charleston, working at the Peninsula Grill as a line cook, and then as sous chef of Trattoria Lucca, which Travel + Leisure rated as one of the top 10 Italian restaurants outside of Italy in 2014.

Along the way, he served as a guest sous chef at the International Wine and Food Festival at Epcot Center, and built a considerate local following with his talent for baking great bread. A few months after the 2015 grand re-opening of Brennan's, Mayhew and his wife moved to town, and he took up his post as sous chef, supervising 500 weekend covers on a regular basis and designing the restaurant's bread program.

Knut Mjelde

Knut Mjelde
Ralph's on the Park


Knut Mjelde began his career at September's Restaurant in his hometown of Hendersonville, Tennessee where he started out as dishwasher and worked his way up to sous chef.

At September’s Knut met his now wife, Emily, a seasoned cook and native New Orleanian who took him under her wing. With a desire to immerse himself in an exciting new food culture, the two decided to move to New Orleans.

Upon moving to NOLA, Knut started as a stage at the acclaimed Stella and worked his way back up to sous chef mastering such sophisticated techniques as butchery and molecular gastronomy and developing an appreciation for the importance of fresh ingredients and New Orleans flavors.

After Stella, Knut applied for and won a sous chef position at Ralph’s on the Park. Where he has been a catalyst for good, embracing the restaurant’s emphasis on global flavors applied to seasonal local ingredients.

Nick Oskoian

Nick Oskoian
Willa Jean


Nick Oskoian attended the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University after getting his start at Lebanese Restaurant, Palmyra.

Upon graduation, he spent time in both New Orleans and his native city of Monroe, working with Cory Bahr at Canard's. He went on to work at Cotton, Nonna and Restaurant Sage before returning to New Orleans to refine his craft at both Arnaud's and Domenica.

He opened Willa Jean underneath Kelly Fields and Lisa White last summer and was named one of Louisiana Cookin's "Chefs to Watch." His approach is flavor-forward, fresh and seasonal and he looks to highlight all ingredients in a delicate and well-balanced way.



Justin Ross

Justin Ross
Peche


From dishwasher at Red Lobster at 18, to Butcher of enormous fish at Peche, Justin has moved through the ranks of the restaurant industry with passion and skill.

While earning a culinary degree in Savannah, GA, he worked as sous chef of Paula Dean's restaurant, Lady & Sons. He then relocated to New Orleans where he worked through the ranks of Donald Link's flagship, Herbsaint, for 4 years before moving over to Peche as tournant, butcher and now sous chef.

Throughout his career, Justin has successfully coached and motivated the kitchen in a positive fashion. He enjoys incorporating Asian flavors into his southern inspired dishes.



Ian Sugarman

Ian Sugarman
Domenica


Ian's culinary career began after receiving his Culinary Arts degree from Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. He went on to be the line cook at Arizona Inn, a AAA rated Four Diamond Resort. He then worked at Wilko Wine Bar where he began as a pantry cook and moved through all stations - eventually working his way up to sous chef and executive chef. He developed a seasonal menu focusing on local products and simple Italian-inspired cuisine with a focus on house-made pastas.

His career in New Orleans has included being a line cook at Domenica from 2012-2013 and being a line cook at Shaya in 2015. He returned to Domenica earlier this year to assume the sous chef position and enjoys creating new, innovative recipes for the restaurant.

Chris Vazquez

Chris Vazquez
Red Fish Grill

After graduating from high school in Destrehan, Chris turned his passion into a career by enrolling in the culinary program at Delgado. His first cooking job was at Mr. B's Bistro where he had the opportunity to work with longtime chef Gerard Maras and Ralph Brennan.

Seeking to broaden his culinary education, Chris took a position as a line cook with renowned chef Wolfgang Puck. He spent the next decade working with Chef Puck, fine-tuning and elevating his culinary and management skills. A high point of Chris' career in California was opening Spago, Beverly Hills as a sous chef.

After working as a personal chef in Hollywood, Chris returned to New Orleans in 2011 as sous chef of Red Fish Grill and was quickly promoted to executive sous chef.

Chris oversees a staff of 30 cooks and incorporates his eclectic style and sophisticated palate with the traditional New Orleans flavors found at Red Fish Grill.

Michael Vissicchio

Michael Vissicchio
Dick & Jenny's

Affectionately known as "Meatball," sous chef Michael Vissicchio has been with Dick & Jenny's for two years.

Meatball was born in New Haven, Connecticut and his Italian/Irish heritage heavily influences his cooking style. Michael's passion for cooking and the culture of New Orleans led him to move here in 2001 when he secured a position at Jacques-Imo's. He would later accept an offer from Commander's Palace where he evolved his creole cooking techniques under Chef Tory and formed lasting relationships with fellow chefs.

In 2010, as executive chef of Pigeons Catering, he had the honor of serving the Saints team and staff during home games during their run to Superbowl XLIV. Michael remains a diehard fan and season ticket holder for the Black & Gold.

Meatball embraces food as a way of bringing joy and tasty cuisine to the guests of the restaurant and insists on using only the finest, freshest ingredients served up nightly at Dick & Jenny's.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts
Sac-a-Lait

Chris found his love for cooking along side his grandparents. He would stand next to them while cooking and be fascinated at what was happening.

In his professional career he started early on as a saute and prep cook in Baton Rouge and has stayed in the restaurant industry his whole professional career.

Currently at Sac-a-lait Restaurant he is the head of charcuterie and cheeses. All of the smoked meats, hand made cheeses, and specialty seasoning blends are a product of his imagination. His expertise in these processes is really what allows Sac-a-lait to be able to make everything in house.

 
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