Valerie James, more fondly known as Val, has been the sole owner and operator of Val’s Restaurant in Holden, Massachusetts since 1991. The restaurant started as a small storefront pizzeria to today a full-fledged restaurant with two lounges, function room and patio. A Fine Line chronicles Val’s path up against all odds to her success today doing what she loves… bringing people together over good food and hospitality. Being raised in the restaurant industry and then being told she couldn’t own her own restaurant, Val decided as a single mother she was going to find a way to make her dream come true. That is why mentorship and giving back to the community she has been part of for 30 years matters so much to her. Today, when Val isn’t expediting on the line, making her famous soups or her favorite part joining guests in the dining room — she enjoys running after her three granddaughters and traveling with family bringing back inspiration to her restaurant.
In the 90s, Elena Arzak, one of Juan Mari’s daughters, joined the family-run restaurant. Elena attended hotel and restaurant management schools in Switzerland, broadening her culinary knowledge in great European restaurants such as La Maison Troisgros, Pierre Gagnaire, Carré des Feuillants and Le Vivarois in France, Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Le Gavroche in London, Antica Osteria del Ponte in Italy, and El Bulli in Spain.
In May 2001, Elena was given the Chef de l’Avenir Award by the International Academy of Gastronomy. In 2010, the Spanish Academy of Gastronomy granted her the National Gastronomy Award. To top it all off, in 2012 she was the recipient of the Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef Award.
Currently, Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena share the kitchen, as well as the culinary knowledge, passion and enthusiasm they bring to cooking and to managing their restaurant.
Mashama is a New York City girl – born in the Bronx and raised in Queens. Her maternal roots hail from Waynseboro, GA and as a result Mashama attended grammar school in Savannah at Charles Ellis and spent many summers at her grandmother’s in Waynesboro. Mashama learned to cook at the hands of the women in her family with grandmothers, aunts and her mom giving her the best kind of education – a real world one. She attended ICE to round out that education and has studied in France and travelled far for food. She spent a dozen years cooking throughout New York City the last four of which were at Prune on Manhattan’s Lower East Side under the tutelage of her friend and mentor, Gabrielle Hamilton. As executive chef of The Grey, Mashama has earned a number of accolades, including a nomination as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Southeast award in 2018. She also serves as Vice Chairman on the board of the Edna Lewis Foundation, working to preserve and celebrate Edna’s legacy that heavily influenced her menu at The Grey. Mashama surrounds herself with family, friends and food and she is a firm believer in the old adage that you learn something new every day.
Lidia Bastianich is an Emmy award-winning public television host, a best‐selling cookbook author, restaurateur, and owner of a flourishing food and entertainment business.
She is the chef/owner of four acclaimed New York City restaurants ‐ Felidia, Becco, Esca and Del Posto, as well as Lidia’s Pittsburgh and Lidia’s Kansas City along with her daughter Tanya. Along with her son, Joe Bastianich, and Oscar Farinetti, the team opened Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace, in the Flatiron District of New York City and at the World Trade Center in New York City. She also opened Eataly marketplaces in Chicago, Sao Paolo, Boston, with two more locations scheduled to open in Los Angeles in 2017 and Toronto in 2018. She is the founder and president of Tavola Productions, an entertainment company that produces high quality broadcast productions. Lidia also has a line of pastas and all natural sauces called LIDIA’S.
April Bloomfield has spent most of her life in the kitchen and had the pleasure of working with some of the most revolutionary chefs before taking on a kitchen of her own. A native of Birmingham, England, April began her culinary studies at Birmingham College. From there, she went on to hone her craft through cook positions in various kitchens throughout London and Northern Ireland, including Kensington Place and Bibendum. It was under the guidance of Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray at The River Café where she learned to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of food.
Before moving to New York, April spent the summer of 2003 in Berkeley, California at the legendary Chez Panisse. In February 2004, April and restaurateur Ken Friedman opened New York City’s first gastropub, The Spotted Pig. Under April’s direction, The Spotted Pig has earned one star from the Michelin Guide for six consecutive years, and since 2010, April & Ken’s The Breslin Bar & Dining Room also earned a star in the esteemed guidebook. A Food & Wine “Best New Chef,” April continues to receive widespread attention for her food. In fall 2010, she and Ken opened The John Dory Oyster Bar, which joined The Breslin at New York’s Ace Hotel and earned a glowing, two-star review from the New York Times. April’s first cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig, was published by Ecco in April 2012.
Cat Cora is a world-renowned chef, author, restaurateur, contributing editor, television host and personality, actress, avid philanthropist, health and fitness expert, lifestyle entrepreneur and proud mother of six. The Jackson, Mississippi native, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America and went on to cook at two 3-star Michelin restaurants in France, has been captivating audiences since she made her TV debut in 1999, as co-host of Food Network’s Melting Pot with Rocco Di Spirito. In 2005, Cat Cora made television history when she became the first-ever female Iron Chef on Food Network’s hit show: Iron Chef America. Since then, she has blazed her own trail through the culinary world, becoming the first female inducted into The American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame. Cat has opened more than 18 restaurants across the United States and globally, highlighting her platform on health, wellness and sustainability. Outside the kitchen, Cora is best known for her philanthropic efforts. She is the President and Founder of Chefs for Humanity, a non-profit dedicated to reducing hunger worldwide by supporting humanitarian relief and promoting nutrition education.
Dominique Crenn, the chef-proprietor of two Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, focuses on cuisine as a craft and the community as an inspiration.
Crenn’s parents had a strong influence on her interest and love for the culinary arts- she began her formal culinary training when she moved to San Francisco in 1988 to work at Stars, under luminaries Jeremiah Tower and Mark Franz.
Crenn was awarded World’s Best Female Chef in 2016 by San Pellegrino’s 50 Best, and in 2017, Atelier Crenn debuted at no. 83 on the organization’s list of world’s best restaurants. As an active member of the international culinary community, Crenn promotes innovation, sustainability, and equality, through her collaboration with various panels and summits.
Spiky platinum blond hair distinguishes Elizabeth Falkner in a crowd, but it’s creativity and drive that define her as a chef. From the pastry department at Masa’s under Julian Serrano to head pastry chef at Elka, Falkner went on to open Rubicon with Traci Des Jardins before opening her first restaurant in 1997, San Francisco’s Citizen Cake.
A decade later, Falkner first cookbook was released, Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake. Orson opened in 2008, with Falkner conceptually blurring the lines between sweet and savory and exploring familiar and iconic dishes with characteristic flair. In 2012, Falkner authored Cooking Off the Clock.
Even as fame and recognition follow her—from the Michelin Guide to appearances as both contestant and judge on “Iron Chef America”—Falkner has maintained active involvement in issues of social justice, childhood nutrition, and human rights. In 2012, she moved to New York City to open pizzeria Krescendo in Brooklyn, followed by Italian Bistro Corvo Bianco on the Upper West Side. The same year, she won first prize at the World Pizza Championships in Naples, Italy.
Falkner is now working on a memoir, motivational speaking, competing, participating in industry events like the International Chefs Congress, and developing other projects with her company Falk! Yeah Productions.
Maria Loi is a Greek food ambassador, author, and healthy lifestyle expert. Her book on ancient Greek dining was the only official cookbook of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Her mischievous grin, sparkling eyes, and culinary prowess have made her a food superstar; she is a popular television chef in Greece and the author of more than 36 cookbooks, and over 150 magazine editions. She owns an exquisite gourmet restaurant in idyllic Nafpaktos and has a line of Maria Loi dinnerware and kitchen appliances. The Chef’s Club of Greece, a worldwide culinary organization has recognized her as the Global Ambassador of Greek Gastronomy.
She quickly earned a reputation as the U.S. leader in authentic Greek cuisine and ingredients: In March 2012, Maria was invited to cook for President Obama, Vice President Biden, and 250 honored guests at the White House.
Her pasta line, Loi Pasta launched at Whole Foods Market in March of 2016. She is a frequent television guest and speaker on the topics of Greek cuisine and culture, and healthy eating. Chef Loi has brought her unique approach to Greek cuisine to Loi Estiatorio, her flagship restaurant in the heart of Manhattan, an ode to the flavors of Greece (opened February 2015). Chef Loi is also deeply involved in Greek and American causes that care for children in need. She is a founder of Elpida (the Greek word meaning “hope”), a foundation to support children with cancer.
James Beard Award–winner and Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef Barbara Lynch is regarded as one of the world’s leading chefs and restaurateurs.
In 1998, Barbara opened a restaurant of her own, No. 9 Park, in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. Barbara expanded her presence in Boston by opening two restaurants in the South End in 2003: B&G Oysters, serving pristine oysters and New England classics, and The Butcher Shop, a wine bar and full-service butcher shop. Barbara continued to grow her culinary empire by opening Stir, a demonstration kitchen and cookbook store, in the South End in 2007. In the spring of 2010, Barbara and her team opened an eagerly anticipated third concept—Menton, a fine dining restaurant—in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood.
In 2003, The James Beard Foundation named Barbara “Best Chef Northeast,” and in 2007, Boston Magazine named Barbara “Best Chef.” In 2011, she was named Distinguished Chef by Johnson and Wales University. In addition, she was the recipient of the “Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) Barbara Tropp President’s Award.”
In 2013, Barbara was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. In 2014, Barbara received her second James Beard Foundation Award and named “Outstanding Restaurateur.” She is the second woman ever to receive this honor. In 2017, she was named to the TIME 100, Time Magazine’s annual list of the world’s most influential people.
After departing her position as Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Carrie Nahabedian returned to her native Chicago to open NAHA in 2000, which garnered her a James Beard Award and Seven consecutive Michelin stars. Carrie opened Brindille in the spring of 2013 along with partner and cousin Michael. While NAHA served to highlight her Armenian roots, Brindille’s refined Parisian fare celebrates the Nahabedian cousins’ favorite spots in Paris.
Angela has over 28 years of experience as a leader in hospitality in the Nantucket Restaurant Industry. She received in 2015 the Honorary Doctorate in Hospitality & Food Service MGMT from Johnson & Wales University and delivered the commencement address. Angela specializes in independent restaurant operations and evolving market strategies. She is a French trained and certified chef, with focus on sustainability, collaborative farm to table movement and wine and spirits service with a strong interest in social media as it relates to authentic Hospitality and Culinary Marketing. She also does Biodynamic and Natural wine implementation into wine programs and is extremely active in supporting children’s charities on Nantucket and beyond through work with Big Night for BBBS of Mass Bay, Children’s Hospital and Heroes on Horseback for Lovelane. Angela served as past Board member of Nantucket AIDS network, Children’s House of Nantucket, Nantucket New School and Board of Nantucket Dreamland Foundation.
Sylvia Weinstock married in 1949, learning domestic skills while working as a Long Island elementary school teacher. She soon became a proficient chef and baker.
Sylvia, husband Benjamin, and their family of three daughters spent many weekends skiing at Hunter Mountain, New York. Unlike the rest of the family, Sylvia did not ski. But it was Hunter where Sylvia met André Soltner, of Lutèce fame. Soltner recommended Sylvia become an apprentice to pastry chef George Kellner, who operated a guesthouse on the mountain. Sylvia was a star pupil, and before long she was supplying local restaurants with dessert selections on weekends while her family hit the slopes.
Her children were in college when Sylvia was diagnosed with breast cancer, requiring a mastectomy and a course of chemotherapy three times a week. During this time of healing, Sylvia was asked by baker William Greenberg, Jr. if she could begin to fulfill orders of romantic floral cakes that he had no time to do. It was then that Sylvia developed her signature hand-made, sugar paste flowers…and Sylvia Weinstock Cakes was born.
Sylvia’s secret of success is simple: there are no shortcuts. Her cakes are made of the finest ingredients to insure every client – down the street or around the world – receives a fresh, moist cake AND delicious work of art.
Sylvia looks upon her success as an artisan of romantic, beautiful cakes as a reward for diligence in her fight against breast cancer, and believes conquering her illness created a better life. As a result, Sylvia devotes a substantial portion of her free time to bolstering the spirits of those afflicted with breast cancer, and is a generous contributor to organizations supporting medical research in the fight.
Learn More About Sylvia Weinstock at http://www.sylviaweinstock.com
2007 New York Rising Star Chef Michael Anthony grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from Indiana University with degrees in Business, French, and Japanese. After graduating, he moved to Tokyo to hone his language skills, but ended up developing an interest in the local culinary scene. He worked in a bakery and a farm and eventually a restaurant: Bistro Shima, a small French bistro in Tokyo, with chef Shizuyo Shima.
Heeding Shima’s advice, Anthony moved to Paris in 1992, enrolled in culinary school at Le Ferrandi, and began a rigorous apprenticeship with Chef Jean Delaveyne at Le Camélia in Bougival. By the time he had completed his training, he had a job waiting for him in the kitchen of Jacques Cagna. Anthony would later return to Paris to work in the kitchens of both L’Arpege and Pascal Barbot’s L’Astrance.
After his Jacques Cagna stint, Anthony left Paris for New York, working first at Danieland then as chef de cuisine at March, where he also played an integral role in the restaurant’s redesign. After March, Anthony returned to Paris for a summer to work for Chef Michel Guérard at Le Prés d’Eugénie. After returning to New York, he joined the team of Blue Hill, first as co-chef of the Manhattan outpost and later as the opening executive chef at Blue Hill Stone Barns, located on the farm in upstate New York. There Anthony and Chef-owner Dan Barber had the opportunity to build a restaurant that embodied the “farm to table” concept, thanks to the abundance of farm-fresh ingredients they had at their disposal.
After four years at Blue Hill Stone Barns, Anthony returned to New York in September 2006 as Executive Chef of Gramercy Tavern, bringing new life to a New York City classic and re-earning the restaurant’s 3 stars from The New York Times. At Gramercy Tavern, Anthony is an active part of the local community, giving tours to students from nearby elementary schools, starting a greenhouse project at Washington Irving High, and arranging visits to local farms for his staff, teaching them first-hand how and where the food they serve each day is grown.