Celebrity Chefs at ZestFest
Don’t Miss the HOTTEST Chefs Texas has to offer Performing Live Cooking Demos at Zestfest 2020
June 4-6, 2021
With a big personality, a love for food & family and a vibrant mohawk that changes colors more often than a chameleon, Chef Stefon Rishel has made a name for himself throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Born in Michigan, Stefon moved to the Lone Star State at a young age and spent his childhood in Texas. Stefon stepped into a professional kitchen for the first time at the age of 23—working for the beloved, family-run Pappas Restaurants. He then earned the position of executive chef at the former Brackets sports bar inside Dallas’ Hotel Palomar. From there, Stefon was commissioned to create a sophisticated menu of Southern fare for the former SISU Uptown Resort near Downtown Dallas. His claim to local fame occurred during his three-year stint as executive chef at MAX’s Wine Dive—not only was Stefon hired to open MAX’s Fort Worth location, he was also given leeway to create his own upscale comfort dishes. During this time, Stefon was named the culinary winner of Fort Worth Magazine’s Top Chef competition in 2015 and received additional accolades from the publication—including “Best Comfort Food” (2014), “Best Use of Bacon” (2014) and “Best Brunch” (2014 – 2015). In 2016, Stefon moved further down south to oversee menu development and culinary operations at 51fiften Cuisine & Cocktails located at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Galleria Mall in Houston, TX. Even though the restaurant received critical acclaim, Stefon’s tenure was brief—as he was too far away from his family and he missed the collaborative culinary community found in Fort Worth. Upon returning home, Stefon served as executive chef for Texas Bleu Steakhouse before forming a partnership with Kyle Bryson and Wallace Owens in 2017 to open approachable, upscale dining experiences throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
John Hard “CaJohn”
John Hard founded CaJohns Fiery Foods Company in 1997 after 30 years as a fire protection engineer.
He and his wife Sue have developed over 180 products, and have been awarded over 600 International,
National and Regional Awards for quality, flavor and packaging. CaJohns is America’s most awarded specialty foods brand.
CaJohns been featured in national magazines such as Newsweek, Business First, Chile Pepper, Fiery Foods & Barbeque, and Fancy Food & Culinary Products. John has appeared many times on the Food
Network, prepared his World Championship Chili for the “Heat on the Street” party on Wall Street and has been a featured Chef at the National Fiery Foods Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Zest Fest in
Ft. Worth, Texas. He often hosts cooking classes at the Historic North Market in Downtown Columbus.
Just recently, CaJohns was featured on Modern Marvels – Hot and Spicy on the History Channel, as well as Extreme Conventions on the Travel Channel. John and Sue recently were appointed to the prestigious Development Leadership Council of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University.
Their family owned business is FDA inspected and uses only the finest of ingredients and produce in small batches to maintain the highest quality. They use all natural ingredients with no artificial colors or
flavorings. CaJohns process fresh chiles and use fresh onions, and real fruits and berries in our salsas.
Recently, the company moved to Westerville, Ohio where they have built a modern manufacturing/warehouse facility to better serve their growing business. CaJohns has come a long way from the “Hobby
Business” in 1997, they now have distribution in Europe, Canada and each of the 50 states. While not yet a household name, they are one of America’s fastest growing micro food processors.
CHEF JON BONNELL
Tasting Chef Jon Bonnell’s cuisine is an experience found nowhere else. Texas foods are transformed into fine cuisine that is enhanced with regional Creole, Southwestern and Mexican spices. Chef Bonnell’s recipes are authentic and impressive, and he uses his knowledge and understanding of food to conceive amazing dishes that surprise and delight fine diners. Established as one of the foremost experts in fine wild game, Jon can win over even the biggest skeptic by dispelling myths and serving the best-prepared and most flavorful wild game. Bonnell has authored three cookbooks: Jon Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine, Jon Bonnell’s Texas Favorites, and Jon Bonnell’s Waters Fine Coastal Cuisine. With three invitations to cook at the James Beard House and several appearances on national TV including the Today Show, CBS Early Show, Good Morning America and the Food Network’s BBQ with Bobby Flay and Meat & Potatoes, Jon Bonnell is the resource on Fine Texas Cuisine.
CHEF EDDIE DEEN
For the past 30 years Eddie has become an ambassador of Texas hospitality and food. After being chosen to cater Gov. George Bush’s 1994 Inauguration, the business flourished. Since then Eddie has catered 4 other inaugurations, both gubernatorial and presidential, many charitable galas, all around the world to Switzerland and Mauritius, weddings, corporate conventions and even to his family at home each evening. Today Eddie has grown his catering business to include numerous companies and over 100 employees. Eddie has packaged together a full-service event planning operation for any size party, any menu, any place…at any time. For the best in catered meals and special events you only have to remember four simple words… “Absolutely Texas, Absolutely Deen”
CHEF EDUARDO ALVAREZ
In May of 1999, Chef Eduardo was hired as the Executive Chef of the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium. He still cooked for large numbers of attendees but with a narrower time span and notes his LOVE for the rush of game day, especially the Thanksgiving game. Chef Eduardo opened the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington in June of 2009. In August of 2010, Chef Eduardo was hired as the Executive Chef of the Irving Convention Center. With one opening under his belt he is very excited about this next challenge. Chef Eduardo has played a key role in the planning, implementing and development of all that it takes to open a new facility and operate the food service. His advice for future chefs is to become involved with the Texas Chefs Association.
Executive Chef, Clay Pigeon
Bria Downey started cooking at age 15 and grew to love everything about it. As a military kid, she also got to travel the world and sample different locales, leading her to choose Fort Worth as her home. She’s worked in some of the best kitchens the town has to offer; from sous-chef at Piattello, where she helped her team become one of Texas Monthly’s 2017 Best New Restaurants in Texas, to executive chef at the Clay Pigeon, where she led her team to win CultureMap’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year. At age 28, Bria became the first woman ever to win Fort Worth Magazine’s Top Chef. She’s passionate about the day-to-day creativity and craftsmanship required to use seasonal ingredients to come up with specials and new dishes. From house breads to ice cream, everything at Clay Pigeon is made from scratch – something she says is both a point of pride and a labor of love.
My name is Ilie Spilca I am a Romanian-born, America-loving, 41-year-old chef. I was born in Timisoara, Romania in 1978, and moved to the United States when I was 5 years old. My parents had always wanted to move to the United States to escape communism, so in 1982 they left their children behind and escaped to The United States with my uncles, aunts, and grandparents. My sister, cousins, and I were able to reunite with them a year and a half later. I was raised in Belen, New Mexico, a small town 30 miles south of Albuquerque, NM. I attended a small Christian school until I went to the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM. I graduated from NMMI high school in 1996 and got a full scholarship to play tennis at NMMI Junior College. I graduated junior college in 1998 and subsequently received a full athletic scholarship to play tennis for the Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. I graduated from the Citadel with a Criminal Justice degree in 2001. I moved back to Albuquerque where I eventually realized my real passion was cooking. I sought out a culinary school and found Scottsdale Culinary Institute, yes I know, another Institute. I graduated from SCI in 2007 with a major in cuisine and minor in Front of the House. I worked for several restaurants in Scottsdale but ended up at Troon Country Club in Scottsdale where I worked for 7 years. In 2012 I moved back to Albuquerque and started my own cafe which I still own today. I love cooking and that fact makes my job a passion rather than just work.
The quintessential collector with the largest hot sauce collection on the face of the planet, Vic Clinco has turned his love of spicy food into a culinary passion. Culinarian and Saucier, Vic cut his teeth and fine tuned is skills with a culinary diploma from Arizona Culinary School and trained in kitchens and most notably at the Four Seasons Resort Troon North in Scottsdale, Arizona. Sharing his knowledge for many years writing and developing recipes for the Chile Pepper Magazine. Vic has been featured in countless publications, podcasts and features on the Today Show, the Food Network, Cooking Channel and the History Channel.