Let’s meet our guest chefs!
Chef Stephen Stryjewski of Link Restaurant Grou
Winner of the 2011 James Beard Foundation “Best Chef South,” Stephen Stryjewski is Chef/Partner of New Orleans’ award winning restaurants Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Pêche Seafood Grill, Calcasieu a private event facility, La Boulangerie a neighborhood bakery and café and Gianna. Stephen has been honored as “Best New Chef” by New Orleans Magazine, and as a “Chef to Watch” by The Times-Picayune. In 2007 Cochon was named a “Best New Restaurant” finalist by the James Beard Foundation, and in 2014, Pêche Seafood Grill won the James Beard Foundation award in the same category. Cochon has been recognized in the New York Times by Frank Bruni, “Coast to Coast, Restaurants that Count;” and Sam Sifton, “Dishes that Earned their Stars,” and has been consistently listed as a Top Ten New Orleans Restaurant in The Times-Picayune Dining Guide and was recently named one of the 20 most important restaurants in America by Bon Appétit.
In 2015, Stryjewski and his business partner Chef Donald Link created the Link Stryjewski Foundation to address the persistent cycle of violence and poverty, as well as the lack of quality education and job training opportunities available to young people in New Orleans. http://www.linkstryjewski.org
In 1997, Stryjewski graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and went on to work for some of the most notable chefs and restaurants in America including Michael Chiarello at TraVigne, Jamie Shannon at Commanders Palace, and Jeff Buben at Vidalia. Stryjewski grew up moving frequently as an “Army brat” and has traveled extensively in the United States and Europe. He resides in New Orleans’ Irish Channel with his wife and two daughters.
Chef Ryan Prewitt of Link Restaurant Group
Ryan Prewitt began his culinary career in the farmer’s markets of San Francisco, where a burgeoning interest in food developed into a full-blown career. After spending time working for chefs Robert Cubberly and Alicia Jenish at Le Petite Robert Bistro, he moved to New Orleans to work with Chef Donald Link at Herbsaint. Ryan proved to be a quick study under Link’s tutelage and became Chef de Cuisine in 2009. He subsequently moved on to oversee culinary operations at Link Restaurant Group as Executive Chef for the company.
With a new job came an increased ability to learn and travel. As a member of the Fatback Collective, a group of Southern chefs who have compiled numerous accolades and awards in restaurants across the South, Ryan has learned new traditions and techniques from many talented BBQ pitmasters and has traveled to Uruguay to study traditional open-fire cooking. These experiences, along with a trip to observe grilling techniques in Spain, culminated in the opening of Pêche Seafood Grill.
Ryan received the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: South in May 2014, the same year Pêche earned the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. Peche has been on the Times Picayune Top Ten restaurant list ever year it has been eligible and was voted “Concept of the Year” by New Orleans Magazine and a “Top 50” restaurant by Bon Appetite Magazine. Ryan maintains an active presence in the greater seafood industry, working with organizations such as the Audubon Chef’s Council and the Environmental Defense Fund to promote sustainable fishing practices. Additionally, Ryan actively fundraises for No Kid Hungry, as well as numerous art and child focused organizations.
Chefs of Home Team BBQ
Since 2006, Home Team BBQ has built a thriving barbecue business with three popular restaurants in Charleston, SC, a fourth location in Aspen, CO, and a bustling catering operation. Home Team BBQ brings fine dining fundamentals to the slow-cooked meats and comfort food of the South. In a welcoming atmosphere, elevated yet approachable, multi-regional barbecue is paired with creative dishes, delicious sides and a wide-ranging bar program featuring an expansive American whiskey selection, fun frozen cocktails and a variety of craft beer curated by beverage director Adam Rothstein. Home Team BBQ has been featured in several national publications including Travel + Leisure, Esquire, USA Today, Southern Living and Food & Wine for its outstanding barbecue.
AARON SIEGEL – CHIEF OPERATING PARTNER An Atlanta native and a graduate of the University of Georgia, Aaron “Fiery Ron” Siegel moved to NYC after college to follow his passion for cooking and attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. After completing an internship at Atlanta’s Nava under acclaimed Chef Kevin Rathbun, he graduated with his culinary degree and moved to Aspen, Colorado. There, Aaron worked as a sous chef at two of the most popular “white table cloth” restaurants — Pinion’s and Cache Cache — and became intrigued with the idea of combining traditional processes and techniques of classical cuisine with the simplicity of comfort food, BBQ, and Southern fare. He returned to the South and was hired by the Hospitality Management Group Inc. (HMGI) as the Executive Chef at Blossom Café in downtown Charleston where he worked for several years. Aaron worked closely with Executive Chef Craig Diehl at sister restaurant Cypress where he learned more about smoking meats and developing a charcuterie program. During this time, he began to scout locations for his barbeque concept and in 2006, together with partners Taylor Garrigan, Tony McKie, and Madison Ruckel, opened Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ in West Ashley. With years of hard work and dedicated service in the Charleston community, came the opportunity to expand for Home Team BBQ’s partners, with a location on Sullivan’s Island in 2009, a location in downtown Charleston in the spring of 2016, and at the base of Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colorado in the winter of 2016, followed by a location in Columbia in 2019, and soon to open Greenville.
TAYLOR GARRIGAN – OPERATING PARTNER/ EXECUTIVE CHEF After a stint at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Taylor Garrigan wanted to change career paths. In 1998, he began cooking with his brother chef Todd Garrigan and executive chef and owner Harold Marmelstein at Dick & Harry’s in Atlanta. He moved to Colorado to work a ski season in Crested Butte before deciding to take his cooking skills to the next level. He moved to Charleston, and enrolled at Johnson & Wales University. During this time, he worked as a line cook at Magnolias and then worked at Middleton Plantation. After graduating with a degree in hotel and restaurant management, he was hired at The Beach Club at Kiawah Island as a cook and worked with chefs including Paul Tensly and Tom Colicchio. In 2005, he was hired as a cook at FIG to work under renowned chef, Mike Lata. Taylor and Aaron met, became great friends, and together worked on the concept for Home Team BBQ. Once open, Taylor served as the sous chef at the West Ashley location and then moved to Sullivan’s Island when it first opened to act as Executive Chef. He has quickly worked his way up to Executive Chef/Partner over all Home Team BBQ restaurants. In June 2015, Taylor won Episode 13 of Season 23 of Food Network’s Chopped.
JONATHAN BANTA As a young kid, Jonathan Banta got his first real experience cooking at a culinary arts summer camp in his hometown Pittsgrove, New Jersey. After earning a culinary degree from Johnson and Wales University, Jonathan began to build his culinary and management experience at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Running Deer Golf Club in his home state of New Jersey. He moved to Philadelphia in 2001, where he worked with famed chef Jose Garces at Alma de Cuba. In 1998, he brought his talents to Charleston, taking a restaurant consulting position, and then working at 82 Queen and Rue de Jean. Most recently, Chef Banta served as Chef de Cuisine and General Manager at The Atlantic Room and Ryder Cup Bar in The Ocean Course Clubhouse. As Director of Culinary Operations for Home Team BBQ, he oversees special and charity related events, handling purchasing, streamlining culinary operations, and assisting with menu development.
Gerard Craft of Niche Food Group
Niche Food Group is based in St. Louis, Missouri and owned by executive chef Gerard Craft. As a Food & Wine Best New Chef, Food & Wine Innovator of the Year, 2015 James Beard Foundation Award-winning Best Chef: Midwest, and Inc. Magazine Star Entrepreneur, Chef Craft has been a pioneer for the Midwest dining scene.
A native of Washington, D.C., Chef Craft became addicted to the restaurant life while living in Salt Lake City as a snowboard photographer. Chef Craft went on to cook at Bistro Toujours in Park City, Utah and Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, California as well as stage at Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey before making the leap to open a restaurant of his own.
Always a believer in following intuition, Chef Craft settled on a boarded-up building in the Benton Park neighborhood of St. Louis, a city that he had never visited, to open his first restaurant, Niche, at the age of 25 in 2005.
Niche Food Group now includes 8 restaurants in St. Louis and one in Nashville, Tennessee: French bistro fare at Brasserie by Niche, approachable Italian at Pastaria, laid back burgers and brats at brassWELL inside Rockwell Beer Co, Cinder House, a wood-fired, South American-inspired restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel, Pastaria Deli & Wine, a deli, wine and retail shop next door to Pastaria, Kitchen Bar serving wine, beer and cocktails inside City Foundry STL Food Hall, Bowood by Niche, neighborhood brunch, lunch and dinner spot inside Bowood Farms Garden Center, and latest the concept, Fordo’s Killer Pizza, a wood-fired pizza kitchen also located inside City Foundry.