Guest Chefs 2019

Annually, Canadian chef and concept co-founder, Mandel Hitzer, reaches out to the greater culinary community to discover world-class talent and celebrate their creations at the acclaimed, Winnipeg pop-up restaurant, RAW:almond. The event annually sees more than 30 chefs creating once-in-a-lifetime menus for 24 unforgettable nights in Manitoba.

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Jeremy Charles

February 15 + 16

St John’s, NL

Chef at Raymonds

Jeremy Charles and Raymonds Restaurant are continually ranked as the #1 Restaurant in Canada on every list that exists. Raymonds is the only establishment to have ever come in first place on Canada’s Top 50 Restaurants List for consecutive years, and Charles is the only chef to have twice won the EnRoute Best New Restaurant in Canada award. This groundbreaking work has led to major feature articles in The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, The Guardian, and The Globe and Mail, among many others.

Charles’s influence goes beyond food, as he is also an important ambassador of Newfoundland culture. He was awarded the 2016 City of St. John’s Legend Award for increasing the city’s profile internationally and for advancing its unique cultural, historical and natural heritage. Maclean’s Magazine’s Power List considers him one of the 13 “Most Powerful People in Canadian Arts and Media.”

Joe Sasto

January 25 + 26

Los Angeles, CA

Executive Sous Chef at Lazy Bear, Sasto maintained his strong, cultivated relationships with local farmers and is passionate about showcasing their work on the plate. Working with Chef David Barzelay, Sasto brought his pasta prowess and attention-to-detail to Lazy Bear and continued to honor Bay Area product and producers with great reverence. At both Quince and Lazy Bear, Sasto has been an integral member of the team, impacting the rise from one to three, and one to two Michelin stars, respectively. When not in the kitchen, he can be found foraging along the nearby coast, rolling out pasta “fatto-a-mano,” fine tuning his moustache, or sharpening his winning skills on such competition shows as; The Food Network’s “Chopped”, and most recently as a finalist Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 15. After finishing in the top three of “Top Chef,” Joe took the helm as the executive chef of Adam Sobel’s new Beverly Hills restaurant, Cal Mare; focusing on fresh handmade pasta, and influences from coastal Italy. Most recently, Joe has left his post at Cal Mare to pursue his personal goal of opening his own restaurant, currently traveling the country hosting private cannabis events and pop-up dinners.

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Misti Norris

February 11 + 12

Dallas, TX

Chef / Owner of Petra and the Beast

Misti Norris has been cooking for 17 years, including 10 years in fine dining in Dallas and New York City. In 2016 she was named a James Beard Award Rising Star Semifinalist. Currently, she is the Executive Chef and Owner of Petra and the Beast; a small, thoughtful restaurant focused on the use of farms, foraging, fermentation and fire. Since the restaurant’s beginning less than a year ago, it has already gained much recognition including being named one of Esquire’s Best Restaurants in America 2018, one of D Magazine’s Best New Restaurants in Dallas 2018, and the Dallas Observer’s Best Charcuterie Program 2018. In her spare time, you can find Misti reading comic books and playing with her cats.

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Jonas Offenbach

February 6 + 7

New York, NY

Jonas got his start in the kitchen through a stage at Gramercy Tavern under Chef Mike Anthony’s leadership, shucking oysters and warming bread. Instead of going back to school, he continued honing his skills at Gramercy Tavern for 2 years. A move to California led him to Providence in Los Angeles, and various stints at kitchens in Santa Barbara and Coi in San Francisco. Upon returning to New York, he spent some more time at Gramercy Tavern. Jonas then joined Chef Jeremiah Stone & Fabián von Hauske’s team at Contra soon after the restaurant had just opened. He also traveled to Singapore to develop Meta, a restaurant with one Michelin star nestled in the Bukit Pasoh conservation area. Constantly on the move, he returned to New York and spent a few months at Gramercy Tavern before joining Wildair and then reuniting with the 5-person kitchen team at Contra as the Sous-Chef. During his two-year stint at Contra, The restaurant was awarded and maintained its first Michelin Star.

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Casey Palermino

January 27 + 28

Lummi Island, WA

Chef de Cuisine at Willows Inn

The south east Michigan native grew up in the kitchen following the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He attended the Culinary Institute of America where he earned his degree in culinary science. After school he found his way to the Willows Inn on Lummi Island where he is currently the Chef de Cuisine.

Viktor Örn Andrésson

February 9 + 10

Grindavik, Iceland

Chef Viktor Örn Andrésson is one of Iceland's most prestigious culinary experts. A member of the Icelandic National Culinary team from 2009 to 2015, he has received many awards depicting the extent of his talent. Notably, he was named the Iceland Chef of the Year in 2013, Nordic Chef of the Year 2014 and won two gold medals at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg in 2014. Most recently, Chef Viktor Örn Andrésson led the Iceland team to a bronze medal in the prestigious Bocuse d'Or 2017 Finale, and earned special recognition for preparing the best fish of the Bocuse d'Or 2016 competition.

Joël Watanabe

January 29 + 30

Vancouver, BC

Chef/Owner Kissa Tanto

In January 2010 Bao Bei opened its doors and immediately gained the public’s attention with its innovative take on modern Chinese cuisine set amidst a beautifully designed, intimate room and loud, fun atmosphere. Within the year, Bao Bei won 2nd best new restaurant in Canada in EnRoute Magazine, Vancouver Magazine’s best new restaurant, best small plates, and best design as well as one of MacLean’s Magazine’s top 10 restaurants in Canada.

Chef Joël’s unique approach to Asian ingredients, incorporating classic French with Japanese techniques brings a rich and subtle touch to all his dishes.

In 2016, Joël along with partners Tannis Ling and Alain Chow, opened Kissa Tanto, a Japanese/Italian restaurant and has gone on to win best new restaurant in Canada in both En Route and Canada’s 100 best restaurants. In the 2017 Vancouver magazine awards, Joël won chef of the year.

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Ryan Lachaine

January 29 + 30 in collaboration with Scott Vivian and Ed Lam

Houston, TX

Chef/Owner Riel Restaurant

After graduating from the Art Institute of Houston in 2009, Ryan began working as a line cook at several famed Houston eateries, including Gravitas, Stella Sola and Reef before deciding to spend time staging at various restaurants around the country. Lachaine spent time in some of the most admired restaurants in the nation, including Husk in Charleston, both Cochon and Herbsaint in New Orleans, Animal in LA and Coi in San Francisco. In 2012 he became exec Sous Chef at Underbelly in Houston under Chris Shepherd. Ryan returned to Reef in 2014 as Chef de Cuisine under Bryan Caswell. Ryan is currently the Executive Chef/Partner of Riel Restaurant in Houston Texas.

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Mitchell Bates

February 2

Toronto, ON

Chef / Owner Grey Gardens

Mitchell has cooked at many Michelin starred restaurants, but found a long term home at the once scrappy upstart (now empire) Momofuku. He worked his way up through the ranks of Ko, which is where I first encountered his thoughtful cooking. He is humble about his accomplishments, but it’s worth noting that he was CDC of Ko, a 2 Michelin star restaurant for 3 years. Despite all of his fine dining credentials, he is a wealth of information on American fast food, and would choose Jack in the Box as his number 1 spot, if forced to choose just one. He also ranks Coca-Cola thusly: 1a: Canadian canned, 1b: American canned, 2: McDonald’s fountain (only McDonald’s) 3: Mexican glass bottles. His musical knowledge is vast but he balances that with knowing way too much about the WWF. (Not the panda one. The other one.)

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Christine Sandford

February 13 + 14

Edmonton, AB

Chef at Biera

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Christine spent the beginning of her career working at various restaurants in Edmonton, and after working as the chef at Culina Mill Creek for many years, she left to work in Europe. She spent time in many kitchens, including La Buvette in Brussels, staging at In De Wulf Belgium, eventually helping them to open a new restaurant, De Superette in Gent, Belgium. Her main focus is always on quality ingredients, and working with the seasons. She spends a lot of time working on sourdough, and cooking over charcoal. Currently the head chef at Biera, Christine has been trying to change peoples ideas of what you can eat with beer.

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Yohai Rubin

February 7 + 8 in collaboration with Dan Geltner and ‘Louie’ Deligianis

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yohai Rubin is a Tel Aviv born chef with fifteen years of experience working in notable restaurants around the world. He has worked with the most acclaimed chefs in Israel (Yonatan Roshfeld and Haim Cohen) and co-founded Santa Katarina, rated “best casual fine dining restaurant in Tel Aviv.”

His experience has taken him to New York, working in two 2-Michelin star restaurants (Marea and Atera) followed by the opening of a locavore bistro in Aptos, California. He has been a private chef in Greece and recently spent a year in Japan working in the richest food culture in the world.

He currently resides in Montreal, home to his next big food dream.

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Hamid Salimian

February 16 + 17

Vancouver, BC

Born in Iran, Hamid grew up on the edge of the Caspian Sea and learned about traditional Persian cuisine amid his father’s citrus orchards and dairy farm. Soon after his family relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia, Hamid enrolled in culinary and pastry arts at Vancouver Community College for his first formal training as a chef and graduated at the top of his class. He learned the essential skills to combine the heritage of Persian cuisine with influences of the Pacific Northwest and began to define a uniquely creative and contemporary approach.

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Angus An

January 27 + 28

Vancouver, BC

Chef / Owner Maenam, Fat Mao Noodles, Freebird Chicken Shack, Longtail Kitchen, Sen Pad Thai, Popina

Chef Angus An owns and operates a continuously-growing list of restaurants and eateries: Maenam, Fat Mao Noodles, Freebird Chicken Shack, Longtail Kitchen, Sen Pad Thai and the recently opened Popina. Chef Angus was trained at New York’s French Culinary Institute, after which he trained at the world’s only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, Nahm. At Nahm he met his wife, Kate, and together they returned to Vancouver to open their first venture, Gastropod. Gastropod received several awards before an economic recession forced the doors to close in 2009. In May of that year, Maenam was born in the same footprint, serving refined but approachably-priced Thai cuisine. Maenam has built a reputation as one of Vancouver’s most influential restaurants, and it remains a favourite among diners and critics alike. Perennial winner of Vancouver Magazine’s Best Thai award, Maenam has also received rave reviews from The New York Times, USA Today, and Food & Wine. In 2016 Vancouver magazine named Maenam its Restaurant of the Year.

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A.J. Lapointe

February 14 + 15

Toronto, ON

Chef de Cuisine at Grey Gardens

Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario graduated from Culinary Management at Algonquin college in 2008. After stints at Benitz Bistro and The Black Cat Bistro in his hometown A.J. moved to Toronto to be part of the opening team at Momofuku. Working his way up to Exec Sous Chef at Shoto. Today he is the Chef de Cuisine at Grey Gardens.

Dan Geltner

February 7 + 8 in collaboration with Yohai Rubin and ‘Louie’ Deligianis

Montreal, QC

Chef / Owner of Le Kitchen and Le Catering

Dan Geltner is the chef and owner operator of Le Kitchen and Le Catering in Montreal. After a successful career in modern fine dining, he has shifted his philosophy in the kitchen to focus on mostly vegan, casual and healthier foods. You can find Dan's dishes at over 20 locations in Montreal. His favourite drink is Campari soda.


Garrett Martin

January 31 + February 1

Lummi Island, WA

Garrett Martin just finished a year position at The Willows Inn in Washington. He’s had the privilege of training at Bouchon in Napa Valley and Daniel Berlin in Sweden, as well as multiple other shorter stints in Copenhagen and California. Previously, Garret was the Chef de Cuisine at Bridgette Bar, the Chef de Cuisine at Pigeonhole, awarded Canada’s Best New Restaurant in 2015 by enRoute Magazine.

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Mike Robbins

February 3

Vancouver, BC

Chef AnnaLena

My primary culinary background is firmly French with favourite techniques and flavour profiles developed by working with a broad range of chefs, cuisines and kitchens locally and internationally. This has helped me define my own unique style which I fondly refer to as Modern Canadian cooking, heavily influenced by the Pacific Northwest.

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J-C Poirier

February 12 + 13

Vancouver, BC

Chef / Owner of St. Lawrence

J-C Poirier began his career in Quebec, quickly moving through the ranks at Toque!, consistently voted one of the best restaurants in Montreal and Canada year after year. In 1994, after spending 2 years under chef Normand Laprise, J-C decided to move West. JC spent some time working with Rob Feenie and Marc-André Choquette at Lumiere and then in 2011, J-C was appointed Executive Chef for Pourhouse in Gastown, continuing his pursuit of excellence creating a comfort-food based menu full of seasonal, fresh ingredients. Later that year J-C paired up with the partners at Pourhouse and opened Pizzeria Farina, a simple, community-focused, Northern Italian-inspired pizzeria. In late 2013, J-C and the team opened Ask for Luigi, a casual and intimate Italian-inspired restaurant specializing in fresh handmade pasta and a white-forward wine list. In 2017, JC opened St Lawrence, an intimate Quebec inspired French bistro, in Railtown to great fanfare. JC and the team's latest endeavour, Di Beppe - a young Italian Ristorante and Caffé with an old Italian soul - opened its doors in Gastown.

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Elias “Louie” Deligianis

February 7 + 8 in collaboration with Dan Geltner and Yohai Rubin

Montreal, QC

Chef de Cuisine at Pastel

Elias, who everyone calls Louie, grew up in Ontario. He began his career as a teenager at his grandfather's restaurant (also named Louie). His next chef chapter was at Toronto hotspot, Black Hoof. In 2012, he left Canada for London, where he became Chef de Partie at renowned restaurant, St. John, ranked in the World's 100 Best Restaurants. Louis made his way back to Canada with chapters at Montreal’s Joe Beef and Fantôme. As Chef de Cuisine, he also had a hand in the menu creation and opening of Pastel.

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Scott Vivian

January 29 + 30 in collaboration with Ryan Lachaine and Ed Lam

Toronto, ON

Chef / Owner Beast

In June of 2010 Scott was able to fulfil his dream of owning a restaurant by taking over the culinary historical space on 96 Tecumseth Street. His passion of supporting local artisans is the number one philosophy at Beast Restaurant. With a weekly changing menu, Scott allows seasonal produce and top quality Ontario ingredients to become the focal point of the gastronomic experience that is offered.

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Makoto & Amanda Ono

February 5 + 6

Vancouver, BC

Chef / Owners of Mak N’ Ming

Chef Makoto Ono began his culinary journey working at his father’s Japanese restaurant EDOHEI in Winnipeg. Determined to grow his talents he travelled to London and trained under famed Chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Marco Pierre White. He returned to Winnipeg and opened Gluttons, which featured Chef Ono’s blend of French cuisine with Asian influences. In 2006, Chef Ono won Gold Medal Plates which lead to many international job offers. He ended up moving to Asia to open acclaimed restaurants in Beijing and Hong Kong. Returning to Canada, Chef Ono can now be found cooking along side his wife at Mak N Ming, a small gem in Kitsilano that specializes in set menus.


Mandel Hitzer

January 31 + February 1, He brings a vegan menu in with Chris Gama and Mandel brings another tasting menu to RAW on February 5

Winnipeg, MB

Chef / Owner of Deer + Almond (

Mandel Hitzer has been in the culinary industry for more than 20 years. His career transformed while working under Chef Makoto Ono at then, Winnipeg-based restaurant, Glutton's. Soon after, he was invited to cook and design menus at Fresh Cafe and Pizzeria Gusto before opening deer + almond, his first concept in Winnipeg's historic Exchange District. Since it began in 2012, deer + almond has been twice-named one of Canada's 100 Best restaurants (2017, 2018) and received numerous accolades from food critics and fans alike for the restaurant's food, atmosphere and culture. Mandel is also well known as the co-founder and head chef of RAW:almond, a culinary experience that takes place in temporary architecture in different locations around the world. Mandel has also spent time learning in kitchens around the world including Danny Bowien's famed Mission Street Chinese (San Francisco) and Michelin-starred, New York hotspot, Contra.

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Chris Gama

Presenting a vegan menu on January 31 + February 1 in collaboration with Mandel Hitzer

Winnipeg, MB

Chef / Owner of Clementine

Chris Gama is the chef and partner at Clementine Cafe here in Winnipeg. He has been working in kitchens for 2 decades under some of the best past and present local chefs. In 2008 Chris was awarded a culinary scholarship which afforded him a month-long stage at the 3 Michelin Star restaurant Manresa in Los Gatos, California. Chris is known for his science-based approach to cooking, his desire to constantly grow and develop his own techniques, and his passion for growing the skill levels of his team at Clementine. This is Chris’s 6th year cooking at Raw:Almond.

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Ed Lam

January 29 + 30 in collaboration with Scott Vivian and Ryan Lachaine

Winnipeg, MB

Chef / Owner of Yujiro & GaiJin Izakaya

Born in Hong Kong, came to Winnipeg in his teen years but did not pursue in the food industry until he opened his first Japanese restaurant Miyabi down Osborne in 2003. He was a self-taught sushi chef, where it was then he developed the passion and interest for food. Edward was later hired at Lobby on York when they first opened as their head sushi chef to help them develop a new flair of sushi in a steak and seafood restaurant. In 2012, Edward had taken on the challenge partnering up in a 200 seat Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, Winnipeg. There he was able to bring in a different view of his cooking, aside from Japanese cuisine. It wasn't till summer 2013 where Edward has settled down and took over Yujiro Japanese Restaurant as head chef/owner. Aside from Yujiro, Edward and his partners are also owners and operators of GaiJin Izakaya and a new project at the True North Square food hall. You can always see Edward researching, looking for inspiration to develop new creations to bring to his customers. He never had the professional training, but he was always determined and focus. He never takes a break, he's always looking for new ways to improve and upgrade his own skills and techniques. You can say his passion for food only drives him to bring himself to the next level and bring exceptional surprises.

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Stefan Lytwyn

January 24

Winnipeg, MB

Sous Chef at deer + almond

Stefan Lytwyn first confederated with deer and almond in 2016. Inspired as much by his grandparents kitchen as he is the snack isles of 7-11, he aspires to one day be known as the “Grateful Dead of cooking”.

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Kris Rendina

February 17

Winnipeg, MB

Sous Chef at deer + almond

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Talia Syrie


RAW:almond Weekend Brunch will be offered January 26th, 27th, February 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th &17th in collaboration with Ben Kramer.

Winnipeg, MB

Chef at The Tallest Poppy

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Ben Kramer


RAW:Almond Weekend Brunch will be offered January 26th, 27th, February 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th &17th in collaboration with Talia Syrie.

Winnipeg, MB

Chef / Owner of Chef Ben Kramer Custom Catering

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Winnipeg Alumni

January 24

January 25

January 26

February 11

A collaboration dinner with many of Winnipeg’s favourite Chefs.

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Adam Donnelly

Various Dates - Alumni Collaborative Dinners

Winnipeg, MB

Chef / Owner of Segovia

After finishing His Culinary Arts degree at Red River College in 2005 he traveled and worked in Australia and New Zealand. From there worked in London England under chef Tom Aikens. He opened Segovia in 2009 and since then has won many different awards including being ranked as one of Canada’s top 50 restaurants. He has also done Stages at Torrisi in New York and St.John in London.

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Cyrus Smith

Various Dates - Alumni Collaborative Dinners

Winnipeg, MB

Cyrus Smith is one of those multi-faceted creatives. He has been through the ranks of almost every important restaurant in Winnipeg, further trained on the West coast of Canada and abroad. In 2011, Smith moved to Germany where ironically, he took over one of Berlin’s most celebrated and trendy Italian restaurants; Pappa E Ciccia, proving once again that Canadians can do anything. Smith has recently returned to Winnipeg to partner with long time collaborator, Mandel Hitzer on a variety of projects, including the most successful, secret pop-up restaurant Winnipeg has hosted in over 20 years. A RAW/Almond alum from the start, this chef is simultaneously an active painter and a busy visual contributor to the art world. Some argue ‘Renaissance’ (hu)man, but we say family.

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Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson

Various Dates - Alumni Collaborative Dinners

Vancouver, BC

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Gus spent a big part of his time growing up either in the garden at home, or out at his grandparents farm. He's always had incredibly close connection with food, and from an early age, felt most at home in the kitchen. After a number of years working through many busy Winnipeg restaurants, Gus decided to get out of his comfort zone, and cook abroad. After a contract at the Hotel Atrium, he completed several stages at Michelin Star restaurants, and realized where he wanted to be. Back in Canada, at The Pear Tree Restaurant in Vancouver, led by Chef/Owner Scott Jaeger, Gus quickly climbed to the role of Sous-Chef/Saucier. Taking the next step after 6 years, to lead his own kitchen, Gus was the opening chef of Perch, a 300 seat restaurant with a focus on using seasonal and local ingredients. After completing an internship at restaurant noma in Copenhagen, Gus has been busy, whether it be cooking at an elite heli-ski lodge, on a frozen river, or a one night restaurant take over with friends.


Emily Butcher

Various Dates - Alumni Collaborative Dinners

Winnipeg, MB

Chef De Cuisine at deer + almond

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Eric Lee

Various Dates - Alumni Collaborative Dinners

Winnipeg, MB

Culinary Instructor at Red River College

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Eric Lee is currently a Chef Instructor at Red River College. He has spent over twenty years in restaurants, 10 of which were spent traveling across Canada and working in some of the country's top kitchens. During his travels he developed his technique and gained an appreciation for fresh regional Canadian ingredients. After spending four years on the East Coast, Eric made his way home and was the chef of Pizzeria Gusto for 5 years and opened The Merchant Kitchen before eventually coming full circle and taking a position at the college. He enjoys sharing his expertise and his passion for food with new crops of young cooks.

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Jesse Friesen

Various Dates - Alumni Collaborative Dinners

Winnipeg, MB

Executive Chef at Pizzeria Gusto + Merchant Kitchen

Jesse is a member of the Provincial Culinary Team who competed at the IKA Culinary Olympics in Germany late October of 2016. The team brought home three bronze medals and 3 other outstanding achievement awards. He has also competed twice at Gold Medal Plates in Winnipeg. In 2015, he received the silver medal for a dish of cured scallops pairing with Jay Stellar Sparkling. In 2016, Jesse received the gold medal for his dish of southern tuna tartare paired with Quail’s Gate Riesling. In the spring of 2018, Jesse was awarded “Chef of the Year” by the Canadian Culinary Federation. One month later he was awarded “Winnipeg’s Best Chef” from the Winnipeg Night Life Awards. This past November, Jesse took home the gold medal at the regional qualifying competition for the CCC, Canada’s Great Kitchen Party.

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Chantalle Noschese

Various Dates - Alumni Collaborative Dinners

Winnipeg, MB

Culinary Arts Instructor at Red River College

Chantalle’s culinary and pastry career spans over 20 years, working in hotels and restaurants all over Canada. She is currently a Culinary Arts Instructor at Red River College, where she has been sharing her passion for the past 7 years.

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Tyrone Welchinski

Various Dates - Alumni Collaborative Dinners

Winnipeg, MB