Robby Kukler is a co-founder of the Fifth Group Restaurants. He graduated from Michigan State University and trained at the École hùtelière de Lausanne, the official institute of the Swiss Hotel Association. Robby and his team have grown from one place to seven concepts spread over multiple locations and added a catering company. His restaurants are some of the most loved and respected in the city. He focuses on operations and marketing, and is an active member of the Georgia Restaurant Association, Atlanta Community Food Bank, and “A Taste of the Highlands,” benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Jerry Darnell has been involved in franchising for almost 40 years and is known as the “Mayor of Franchising.” In addition to being the most connected man in franchising, he creating the concept of “Discovery Days.” He has worked tons of brand in every sector of franchising. Today, his company is dedicated to helping franchises grow efficiently. Jerry is part of VetFran and is an active in franchise political action groups.
Erick Hendericks started as a professional financial consultant for some top brands like Levi’s and Wells Fargo. But in early 1999, he opened Forbes Island in the San Francisco Bay. It has now world famous, in all the guides books, and one of the most picturesque restaurants in the world. In 2010, he opened Hilltop 1892 in Novato, California. Both restaurants are area icons, are open to the public daily, and can handle private events. Erick prides himself in his loyal employee relationships and effective management team. His chefs continually rework the menu and wine list continually to be at the forefront of local sourced, San Francisco cuisine.
Betsy Craig - CEO & Founder of MenuTrinfo, Gluten Free Expert
Betsy Craig has been on the show before and we are excited to welcome her back to talk gluten free. She has over twenty years of food service industry experience and specializes in the growing field of Menu Nutritional Labeling. Her company, MenuTrinfo, works to keeps diners informed and safe. Today, she shares insights in the blooming gluten free world with a focus on the costs and benefits of making the switch. She has great insight in how to make the switch and how it will impact the rest of your operations.
David Laborde is in charge of product development at Salata. Back in early 2003, Berge Simonian, and his business partner & brother-in-law Tony Kyoumjian, set about to rethink the salad bar and salad restaurant. They started with signature sauces and dressings. They combined those with a variety of fresh lettuces, a large selection of fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, cheeses and more, and top them with a great selection of chicken, seafood and more. The chain has grown rapidly and recently went gluten free. Business has exploded and David is with us to talk about the switch.
We are excited to welcome Paul Barron, the founder of the largest network of web shows for the restaurant & hospitality industry, the Foodable Network. The network has ten video channels, seven blogs, and top 25 restaurant rankings by city! He started FastCasual.com and was named a Top 50 Power Influence for 2013 and 2012 by Forbes Magazine. And, Paul is author of The Chipotle Effect and was awarded Restaurant Trendsetter of the Year in 2012.
Will Savarese is Executive Chef for Robert’s Steakhouse. He directs culinary operations for the two locations in New York City and one at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Will was part of the culinary teams for some of the finest restaurants around, including La Cote Basque in New York City and The River Café in Brooklyn. After completing his education at CIA, he returned to La Cote Basque as Chef de Cuisine and received a New York Times 3-star rating. He later worked at New York City’s Aureole and as saucier for Le Cirque. From 1999 – 2005, Will oversaw the kitchen of La Cremaillere and earned another 3-Star rating from The New York Times in 2002. Robert’s Steakhouse was voted “Best Steakhouse” by Philadelphia Magazine and voted #1 Restaurant by Atlantic City Boardwalk Journal.
Andy Pforzheimer promised he would finish has Harvard education when he went to France to study in famous kitchens. After a classic two-year apprenticeship, he worked for Jeremiah Tower at Stars, for Anne Rosenzweig at Arcadia and the ‘21’ Club in New York, and for Patrick Healy at Colette. He moved to Connecticut to be the original Food Editor for Martha Stewart Living. In 1995, he started Barcelona with Sasa Mahr-Batuz, trying to recreate the feel and the look of an evening on the Ramblas. He has grown to 8 cities and and still going! Great story!
Chef Jennier Booker is the Georgia Grown Executive Chef for 2013. Sponsored by the Georgia Restaurant Association, she promotes Georgia grown commodities and Family Farms. She has her own BlogTalkRadio Show EAT DRINK LIVE GIVE for Basil Magazine. Her new book “Goin’ Down South: A Chef’s Journey Home” tells the story of a classically trained chef embracing her roots.
Wayne Bolt has over 15 years in the industry. His firm, Bolt Restaurant Consulting, helps an inspressive lists of clients to get on the right page. He helps address any issues that exist, can address the issues, and retrain an efficient staff. Wayne can help with any problem no matter how difficult the problem!
Chef Scott Linquist has been working in the restaurant industry since his first job as a dishwasher for Straw Hat Pizza in 1982. He attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and upon graduation he worked with the best Chefs around, like Andre Soltner at Lutece, Alfred Portale at Gotham Bar, Nancy Oakes at Boulevard in San Francisco, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger in their Los Angeles Restaurants Border Grill and City, and Michel Richard of Citrus in LA. Scott is also the author of Mod Mex and a former instructor at CSCA. Today his clients include Barton G in Miami (including running the new hotel and restaurant at the Versace mansion in Miami) El Toro Blanco NYC, Diego Brooklyn NY, Revolucion at JFK Terminal 5, and Mucho Ultima Mexicana Manhattan Beach.
Brandon Ippolito - Owner at Ippolito’s & Ipp’s Pastaria
Brandon Ippolito now runs the Atlanta chain of authentic Italian restaurant’s named for his parents George and Toni Ippolito. When they moved to Atlanta, they saw a need in the area for a comfortable neighborhood place with great service and great food. The first restaurant opened in 1989, using old family recipes. The famous homemade garlic rolls are made fresh daily. The name Ippolito’s has become synonymous with great food and happy times throughout the Atlanta area. The Ippolito family especially Brandon, is excited about their new venture, Ipp’s Pastaria & Bar. If in Atlanta, the rolls alone are worth a visit!
Chef Amadeus was taught his ‘world fusion’ cooking by his Puerto Rican grandmother and Philadelphia-born mother. He loved his time in the kitchen and this inspired his own business named, Sessions with Chef Amadeus. This is an incredibly unique spin on the word catering; a word he does not like. After working at McDonald’s, cooking for the Navy, and several well-known restaurants, Chef Amadeus was well poised for the Food Network’s Extreme Chef Challenge: Mexican Showdown. He won with a dish he had never cooked before and was inspired by his travels from around the world. If that weren’t enough, he also owns a line of salt-free spices called Southern Passion. Chef has a big announcement coming soon, so stay tuned.
Rick Worley has been in the restaurant industry for over 30 years, working at some of the best big names and seafood houses in Florida. But he feels he industry has changed and lost touch with the people. So he open Mango Mango’s where guests, delivery drivers, and employees are all treated great, not like a number. The concept brought new flavors, a new fun concept with tropical comfort foods, bright colors and a tropical decor at a great price point. Rick is looking to expand and we talk about the challenges and opportunities ahead for Mango Mango’s. Great stuff.
Andy Husbands has had quite a career, accomplishment after accomplishment. His signature restaurant, Tremont 647, has been serving adventurous American cuisine in the South End of Boston for nearly twenty years. He has published four books along the way, Wicked Good Burgers, The Fearless Chef, Wicked Good Barbecue (won National Barbecue News’ “2012 Best Book of the Year” award), and the new Grill to Perfection. He appeared on the 6th season of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” with the always energetic Gordon Ramsay. His internationally recognized BBQ team, IQUE BBQ, won the world championship of BBQ by winning the Jack Daniels World Championships in Lynchberg, TN. And he won 1st place, out of 510 teams, in the brisket category at the Kansas City Royal. Andy was a James Beard Semi Finalist in the “Best Chef” category and won Wine Spectators “Award of Excellence.” He has just won the Massachusetts Chef of the Year Award, Wow.
Watson McMillan – Director of Strategy and Marketing for The Forgeois Group
Georges Forgeois came to America penniless and now runs The Forgeois Group, a six restaurant group in New York City. Georges started Jules Bistro first which quickly became a city standard. He followed with Cafe Noir which is just finishing a move. Soon Cercle Rouge and others followed, all French bistros. Clarkson is the newest addition, an AMerican bistro. All of the restaurants reflect Georges’ desire to capture the spirit of his youth in France, Algeria and Senegal. Watson McMillan is a numbers guy, with an impressive career on Wall Street. He has brought in by Georges to grow the Group, perhaps turning Cafe Noir into a national chain. We talk about the expansion plans and Watson’s efforts to brand the ultimate French bistro!
In April 2008, John Fuller was hired as the CFO of Johnny Rockets. John had previously managed finances for Rubio’s, Del Taco and CKE Restaurants. He started with BA in Economics from UCLA and was a CPA with the worldwide firm of KPMG for decade. In the interview, we talk about his transition to the restaurant world and lessons learned. He became President and CEO oh Johnny Rockets in January 2010 and was featured in the CBS hit series, “Undercover Boss.” We talk about numbers a lot, with John sharing some of the best financial advice we have ever had on the show! Must listen, if you care about making money…..
Marvin Acuna – A&E, TV and Film Producer
Marvin Acuna has had an amazing career in producing, food, tea, and more! After a decade producing for A&E, he has produced series for Bravo and features film. He is working on a series called “Lyrics & Recipes: The Art of Food & Music,” with the Grammy’s. He was the Producer for films with John Malkovich, Emily Blunt, Tom Hanks, Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, James Franco, and Paul Rudd. Marvin has run a cool restaurant based business and tea company too, and produced events for James Beard Nominees. But his latest venture, with his wife, is the most important, and touching, ever.
George Frangos has been invested in sustainable, farm fresh cooking his whole career. He was Manager of Peter Hoffman’s Savoy (New York), Nora Pouillon’s Restaurant Nora (Washington, D.C.), and as Operations Consultant for Farm 255. As a part of these award-winning national landmarks, George developed the skills to lead the sustainable food movement. George was part of the Concentrics Restaurants management team, at Room and Lobby and TROIS, and was the owner/operator of the acclaimed Victory 96 State Street (Portsmouth, New Hampshire). Now, he owns and runs Farm Burger, a chain of 4 sustainable, fast casual burger places. They are proud , “Our food makes ethical eating easy.” We love it too.
J Chriopher’s in an Atlanta based chain of 25 breakfast and lunch restaurants across the South. Barry Lennon has been the Operating Partner for a decade and grow the chain from 13 units. He has been in the restaurant for over 20 years. He first opened The Cabin in 1991, a premier upscale steak and wild game restaurant. he moved to the prestigious Buckhead Life Restaurant Group as General Manager of the nationally known and celebrated Atlanta Fish Market. He tells some great stories about the early days of fine dining in Atlanta and about Pano Karatassos, the Atlanta legend. Barry is now partnered with Christopher Brogdon of J.Christopher’s to grow popular franchise to new levels. And host Jim, must confess he eats at J. Christopher’s weekly! So he is pretty biased. Barry gives great reason for not offering dinner, really a great defense of their model.
Joe Snell has been on the show before. I invited him back because I see his Rail product as the coolest thing for restaurants ever. Its a hand held pay at the table solution with tons of benefits for owners, wait staff, and diners. And he has a great free offer you need to hear about. See more of Joe Snell here…
Stephen Crocker is the executive chef at Todd English Food Hall in The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Todd English Food Hall is a European-inspired, specialty food hall and offers the finest fresh, prepared, and gourmet foods. With mosaic marble floors, elegant wood paneling, ceramic backdrops and stained-glass windows, there are nine diverse food stations for Stephen to manage. He has won lots of awards including the Bloomingdale’s Celebrity Chef and Hermes International Promotional Chef. See more from Stephen here…
Peggy Andrews is a lawyer, but has devoted herself learning confectionery artistry. She has traveled the globe, immersing myself in local food cultures. At an early age, Peggy learned the pleasures of baking from scratch from her café owner mother. Her new product, Dosha Pops, were born in her apartment kitchen in 2012 and use Ayurvedic herbs, spices and teas. Indian medicine is a 5,000 year old tradition. Her new lollipops are for people that want a healthier candy indulgence by offering people a healthy exotic flavored alternative.