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
Chris Perez, husband to the late superstar, Selena, dubbed the ‘Queen of Tejano music,’ will release his custom “Perez Pepper Sauce” starting Saturday, November 16th. The small-batch sauce will be available online at CaJohns.com and he will appear on the ZestFest clcelebrity chef stage Friday January 24 and Sunday January 26th and Perez will make a personal appearance at the Ca John Booth all ZestFest weekend to offer on-site demonstrations to fans and customers.
“My love for spicy food began as a young child when I accidentally ate a Mexican chili pepper,” recalls Chris. “I guess you could say that’s when I had my jalapeno popped,” laughs Perez. A scene from the 1997 biopic “Selena: The Movie” (portrayed by mega-star Jennifer Lopez) showcases Chris’s (played by actor Jon Seda) love for hot sauce, which remains strong to this day. See clip here: https://youtu.be/OmXqVW7Ux7s
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”
Shaun O’Neale exploded onto the culinary scene in September 2016 when he claimed the title of America’s best home cook and was named Season 7 Champion of MasterChef on FOX. He graduated from reality star to culinary star in May 2017 with the release of his debut cookbook “My Modern American Table”. During his season of MasterChef, Shaun won over the palettes of Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi, Daniel Boulud and Wolfgang Puck with his bold flavors and flawless presentation. He carried the same techniques that earned him a record-setting 8 wins in the MasterChef kitchen through to his cookbook. “My Modern American Table” teaches other home cooks how to recreate Shaun’s upscale, modern American dishes like his lobster ravioli and salted caramel chocolate tart. For the past 20 years, Shaun has been orchestrating dance floors as a DJ with the highlight of his career culminating on New Year’s Eve 2011 as he became the first DJ to perform on Las Vegas Blvd in front of over 100,000 people. Beginning in Tampa, FL and now calling Las Vegas, NV home, Shaun has taken the same skills and determination that helped him to become a successful DJ and used them to start the next phase of his life as the next up-and-coming culinary star. Shaun is a self-taught chef who educated himself by reading cookbooks, studying the history of food and traveling across the globe to absorb different cultures and flavors. As he continues his world-wide travels promoting his cookbook and building his brand as DJ/Chef/Author, Shaun will continue to work hard for his fans and the people that support him and looks forward to everywhere this culinary journey will take him.
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.
Chef Monti Carlo
With her wry smirk and sharp wit, Monti Carlo is a combustible mix of food knowledge and comic relief. She burst onto the food scene in 2012, when she placed Top 5 on Gordon Ramsay’s MasterChef. The Puerto Rican Chef is now a Food Network and Cooking Channel personality and the Co-Founder of the Everything Food app. The self-described helicopter mom and bacon aficionado volunteers her time to the Common Threads and CCAP programs, which teach underserved children how to cook.
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.