Rick Gencarelli

Lardo, Grassa

Upon graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Rick spent four years as sous chef at Todd English's Olives. Rick moved cross country to San Francisco where he worked at both Rubicon and One Market restaurants. He crossed the continent once again to open Miramar Restaurant and Olives Restaurant in New York City. Later, Rick became the Chef at the Inn at Shelburne Farms, located on the non-profit environmental education center and working farm in Shelburne, Vermont. In 2009, Rick and his family moved to Portland, drawn to the diverse food culture and its commitment to local, sustainable, farm to table cuisine. Rick opened Lardo as a food cart in September 2010, and now has three thriving brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Aaron Barnett

St Jack, La Moule

After graduating from the California School of Culinary Arts’ Cordon Bleu, Aaron did an externship in his native Canada at Lumiere in Vancouver, BC and was immediately taken with the flavors and produce available in the Pacific Northwest. He moved down the West coast back to California to work under Gary Danko in San Francisco, shortly thereafter taking a sous chef position at Myth under Sean O’Brien. Reminiscing of the Pacific flavors that caught his palate in his externship, Aaron headed back up North to Oregon. After working in Portland kitchens for a couple of years, he opened St. Jack in 2010. St. Jack has won multiple awards in Portland, including the Oregonian’s Rising Star, in addition Aaron was given the Portland Rising Star award in 2011 as well as, received a nod from James Beard in 2012.

Greg and Gabi Denton

Ox, Whey Bar, Bistro Agnes, Kask

2017 James Beard Award-W​inning Chefs Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, have been working together since 1999, when they met cooking at Terra Restaurant in Napa Valley. They opened Ox Restaurant in April 2012 to critical acclaim and national accolades. In 2013, The Oregonian named Ox “Restaurant of the Year”. In 2014, Greg and Gabi inked a cookbook deal with Ten Speed Press and were named Food and Wine magazines Best New Chefs. Look for Around the Fire, featuring "recipes that will inspire home cooks to break out the grill for more than just Labor Day barbecues," in bookstores soon. When they are not in the kitchen, you can find them starting fires in their backyard with their three rescued dogs, Nico, Chad and Frank.

Cathy Whims

Oven and Shaker

Cathy, a five-time James Beard Award finalist, opened Nostrana with her partner David West in 2005. Prior to establishing Nostrana, she was co-owner of Portland’s pioneering Italian restaurant, Genoa. In the course of her professional career, Cathy has studied with Marcella and Victor Hazan at their home in Venice, and Madeleine Kamman at the School for American Chefs. She has cooked with Giancinto Albarello at Genoa and in his own kitchen at the Antica Torre Trattoria in Barbaresco, and with Marco Forneris at Osteria La Libera in Alba, both renowned restaurants of the Langhe. In 2011, Cathy opened Oven and Shaker with Ryan Magarian. A never-ending curiosity takes Cathy to Italy often, where she continues to make new friendships and enjoy the complex flavors evoked by simple cooking. In 2007, The Oregonian named Nostrana, Restaurant of the Year.

Ryan Magarian

Oven and Shaker

Over the past 16 years, Portland native Ryan Magarian’s passionate approach to mixing drinks has gained him recognition as one of the Northwest’s most respected craft bartenders. Ryan, considered a purist by his industry peers, emphasizes classic and vintage cocktails occasionally re-imagined with whimsical and intelligent twists. An artisan dedicated to the extreme details of his craft, Ryan has received recognition from around the globe for his recipes and perspectives in media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Food Arts, People, Us Weekly, Men’s Health, Details, Wallpaper, Gary Regan’s Joy of Mixology, Dave Wondrich’s Imbibe, Robert Hess’s The Essential Cocktail Guide, and has further been featured on Food Network’s Unwrapped and the Women’s Entertainment Channel’s Young, Sexy, and Cookin’.

Phil Kramer, Joel Gunderson & Robert Karmin

Coopers Hall

Phil Kramer is the co-owner, winemaker and vineyard manager for Oregon’s Alexeli wines. After spending many years studying engineering and urban development, Phil’s passion for farming led him to Oregon to work the western foothills of the Cascade Mountains. With his self-taught wine-making skills, Phil has managed and developed Alexeli into a sought after winery and the foundation for Coopers Hall wines.

If it had not been for drinking, Joel Gunderson would not be where he is today. It was through drinking that his good friend Chef Aaron Barnett, of Restaurant St. Jack, conned him into studying to become a sommelier and help him open a restaurant. So he did it. It was at St. Jack that he developed the skill of talking prominent winemakers into putting their wines into kegs (the first of which were purchased at a seedy strip club in Gresham). Since those early days, Joel has built a formidable wine program at multiple Portland restaurants, and somewhere along the way became associated with all things wine in a keg.

Robert Karmin hails from the swampy suburbs of Miami, Florida. Robert studied law in Oregon eventually returning to Florida to join his father in the restaurant business. He later made his way back to Oregon and worked in fine wine sales before opening up his own bar in NE Portland. Robert joined Phil at Alexeli as the sales and brand manager before the both of them had an intuition about wine on tap.

Catherine Buford

ChefStable Catering

Catherine Buford has been a part of the food industry for over 20 years. Her love for food began early on growing up in the South, with family roots in Texas and Louisiana. Catherine’s extensive culinary background started, like most, working on the floor before completing her degree at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Catherine cooked on the line as a sous chef and pastry chef with several top chefs in restaurants in both Napa Valley and San Francisco; soon after she set her sights on event planning. Catherine has spent the last five years as the general manager for one of Portland’s most established, reputable event planning companies. There she developed client relationships over a similar passion for food and event planning, these relationships have lasted years. Living and eating in Portland’s top restaurants, Catherine began realizing that the event scene was steps behind the stellar food scene. After a dinner at Ox for a friend’s birthday party Catherine had the idea of developing a full service catering operation offering food from high profile restaurants.

Eric & Karen Bowler


Eric and Karen Bowler have been working in music and art culture for over two decades. Karen got her start managing creative projects focused on music and art marketing for corporate clients and went to USC to get her MBA in order to bolster her skills running businesses. Eric has toured North America and Europe as a DJ, and been tagged to help a wide variety of corporate clients tap into music and entertainment culture. Together, they started The Music Trust, which helps venues and clients connect with DJs all over the world. They have owned and operated Portland mainstay Tube since 2013, bringing a once vibrant staple of Portland nightlife back from the brink. In 2015, the new parents joined forces with ChefStable in Chinatown to revitalize the space on the corner of 4th and Couch with the creation of Fortune.

Tommy Klus

La Moule

Tommy Klus – Native Oregonian, bartender, whisky lover, Schnauzer groomer. When he’s not doing inventory, working on cocktail menus, fixing the ice machine, working the floor or setting up bar programs he's hiking, traveling, and probably reading books on fermentation and distillation. He's a firm believer in education by immersion and that continues to inspire his work behind the bar. A love for Scotch set him off to Scotland for internships at both Bruichladdich and Springbank. Upon return he was hired to create and manage a bar program for Kask which was later that year mentioned in Esquire's America's best cocktail bars. After a year or two of consulting his passion for whisky lead to curating the wall of whisky for the Multnomah Whisky Library and creating a beverage program to support it. Every bartender dreams of owning a bar and the idea of returning back to SE Clinton to partner with Chef Aaron Barnett to open La Moule was one he didn't want to miss. Many nights at the old St. Jack they shared several enthusiastic ideas about food & drink concepts and to see one to reality just 5 blocks from the old location was all kinds of nostalgic.

Laura Tran & Jasper Shen


Laura Tran, born and raised in New York City, brings years of diverse and exciting taste to the table. After a cross-country move to Oregon, where she got her degree at University of Oregon, she entered the restaurant industry with a start at Osteria Sfizio in Eugene and cut her teeth at Aviary in Portland, where she met Jasper Shen. Reminiscing about the lack of decent Chinese Food in Portland, Laura and Jasper co-opened XLB. Her favorite dishes range from street food to home comforts like Bún bò Huế to local farm-to-table delights. When not in the restaurant, you can find her hiking for a good view, watching the latest film debut, or maybe someday learning how to carve a wooden spoon.

Jasper Shen, a son of Taiwanese immigrants, grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. He spent a decade in New York City working at restaurants like Aquavit and Jean Georges. Needing a change, Jasper, his wife, and Sarah Pliner opened up Aviary in Portland in 2010. Voted Restaurant of the Year by the Willamette Week in 2012, Aviary specialized in border-less cuisine. As much fun as that was, Jasper longed for quality Chinese Food which, at the time, was hard to find in Portland. In 2017, Jasper and Laura opened up XLB, a Chinese Comfort Food restaurant specializing in its namesake, Xiao Long Bao. When not in the kitchen, he spends time convincing friends to join him in a triathlon, listening to podcasts, and being a homebody with his wife Kat, Tessa, their 4-year old daughter, and their black lab, Cooper.