Tyler Florence

Meet the Chefs of Palm Desert Food & Wine 2024

Tyler Florence, Dominique Crenn, and Angelo Sosa are among a diverse cast of culinary stars who will join together March 21–24 for this culinary festival in Palm Desert.

June Allan Corrigan Restaurants

Tyler Florence

Susan Feniger. 


Restaurateur, TV personality, and cookbook author

Fans around the world delight in the sights, sounds, and flavors served up by two-time James Beard Award nominee and Food Network star Tyler Florence. His numerous hit shows include How to Boil Water, Food 911, and his signature series, Tyler’s Ultimate.

Florence operates two restaurants in San Francisco that marry flavors inspired by his South Carolina roots and Northern California hometown: Wayfare Tavern and Miller & Lux. In late 2023, Florence expanded on the latter by opening Miller & Lux Provisions, a patisserie and rotisserie that aims to deliver a contemporary American picnic experience in the heart of Union Square.

Florence’s numerous cookbook releases include the bestselling Stirring the Pot and Dinner at My Place. His latest book, American Grill, will hit shelves later this year.

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Susan Feniger recently opened Alice B. in Palm Springs with business partner Mary Sue Milliken. 


Restaurateur, culinary personality, and cookbook author

Groundbreaking chef and entrepreneur Susan Feniger may be best known for her modern Mexican concept, Border Grill, which she runs with her business partner of more than 40 years, Mary Sue Milliken. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York City, Feniger worked at Le Perroquet in Chicago and Wolfgang Puck’s Ma Maison in Los Angeles before heading to the French Rivera for a time to hone her skills. She returned to Los Angeles to open City Café with Milliken in 1981, forever changing the city’s culinary landscape by introducing eclectic dishes from around the world.

The duo filmed almost 400 episodes of their Food Network series, Too Hot Tamales and Tamales World Tour. Feniger has also co-authored six cookbooks and competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. The ever-enterprising pair continue to roll out new restaurants that in recent years have included BBQ Mexicana in Las Vegas, Socalo in Santa Monica, and Alice B., newly opened in Palm Springs.

Dominique Crenn

Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur

The only female chef in America to receive three Michelin stars, French-born Dominique Crenn is the consummate culinary artist. At her restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, her modern vision for French cuisine combined with her distinctive heritage and imaginative gastronomic inclinations effectively merge to create dishes best described as “poetic culinaria.”

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Dominique Crenn.

Less than a year after opening Atelier Crenn in January 2011, the restaurant achieved its first Michelin star. A second was bestowed the following year, making Crenn the first female chef in the U.S. to receive the honor. In November 2018, Crenn beat her own record by receiving a coveted third star. She has been featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table and Food Network’s Iron Chef and Tournament of Champions at varying points in her career.

An advocate of regenerative agriculture, Crenn’s Sonoma-based Blue Belle Farm supplies the produce for Atelier Crenn and her two other San Francisco establishments: Petit Crenn and Bar Crenn. (The latter also earned a Michelin star during its first year.) The chef’s latest culinary venture represents a homecoming of sorts, as Crenn proudly opened Golden Poppy in Paris, France, last summer.

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Gale Gand. 


Award-winning chef, TV personality, and cookbook author

Despite attending culinary school at La Varenne in Paris, Gale Gand believes her fine arts background has probably had the greatest influence on her culinary style. “I tend to look at food and plating surface similar to how I think about art,” says the two-time James Beard Award winner who holds a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she majored in metalsmithing and minored in painting. “I consider line, shape, negative space, texture, and also complimentary and contrasting flavors,” she continues. “It’s complicated — and I love it!”

A prolific cookbook author, the Chicago-based pastry chef hosted Sweet Dreams, Food Network’s first dessert-centric show, and has appeared on such series as Top Chef and Iron Chef. A regular presence at Palm Desert Food & Wine, Gand says: “Sharing food is one of the most connective things a person can do. I want my audience to get a sense of the possibilities, so as they watch me demonstrate and explain in detail what I’m doing and why, they think to themselves ‘Hey, I could do that.’ ”


Chef, radio host, certified sommelier, and cookbook author

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu, Jamie Gwen shares her passion for food and wine through a number of mediums. Avid listeners can catch her nationally syndicated talk show available weekly on iTunes Podcasts. Her talents and endless store of knowledge about all things culinary have led to appearances on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay and Cutthroat Kitchen, Bravo, HGTV, The Talk, Master Chef, and Emeril Live among others. She also writes about culinary culture for several national food magazines and has published several cookbooks.

Ever charismatic and engaging, Gwen loves to share recipes that center on simple, wholesome ingredients. Some of her most popular include pan-roasted chicken breasts with creamy mustard sauce, Thai turkey burgers, and winter panzanella salad.

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Jamie Gwen. 


Executive chef, SO·PA and The Colony Club

Ask Michael Hung was sets his culinary style apart, and he points to the heritage of his ingredients. “A lot of modern chefs try and mix and match flavors and ingredients from different global regions without understanding that flavor has deep historical and cultural context,” he says. “For every dish I create, I mine that history so the flavors, even if from disparate cultures, marry naturally.”

Michael Hung

Michael Hung.

His informed touch in respect to flavor is very much in evidence at the two upscale hotel restaurants in Palm Springs that he oversees: SO·PA at L’Horizon Resort and Spa and The Colony Club at The Colony Palms Hotel & Bungalows. Hung has developed his culinary sensibilities over the course of a career that began at acclaimed restaurants Daniel and Aquavit in New York City. He continued for close to a decade at Jardiniere and Michelin-starred La Folie in San Francisco, before moving to Los Angeles to open Faith & Flower and later Viviane at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills.

In addition to his work in the kitchen, Hung was a consultant on the Oscar-winning animated film Ratatouille alongside culinary greats Thomas Keller and Guy Savoy.


Executive chef, Commander’s Palace in New Orleans

Having assumed the role of executive chef at New Orleans’ storied Commander’s Palace restaurant in October 2020, Louisiana native Meg Bickford continues to lean into the Cajun and Creole influences that run in her blood. A graduate of the John Folse Culinary Institute, Bickford has called the Commander’s Palace kitchen her culinary home since 2008. She worked her way up to her current post, nimbly following in the footsteps of such renowned chefs as Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme who launched their respective careers at the landmark establishment.

Meg Bickford

Meg Bickford.

“Meg has always been a spitfire in the kitchen, a ball of energy with eyes darting about, seeing and learning everything,” Commander’s co-proprietors proclaim. “There’s a sparkle in her eye and magic in those hands.” For her part, Bickford points to the Commander’s mentorship philosophy as being critical to her growth as a chef.

“The Commander’s Palace’s spirit is to challenge ourselves to always grow, learn, and evolve. We aim to celebrate the New Orleans of today just as much as our roots,” she says. “Our menu reflects that, and it’s why we call it ‘New Haute Creole.’ ”

Lump Blue Crab Ramos Gin Fizz: Louisiana crab meat piled high in a glass jigger and topped with a shaken, frothy, New Orleans–style Ramos Gin Fizz, plus a dollop of Louisiana caviar

Meg Bickford


Chef, Melissa’s Produce

Armed with a bachelor’s degree and a love of cooking instilled by his mom, chef JC Marquez left Jalisco, Mexico, for the United States and began a steady ascent in the culinary world. Initially hired as a cook at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim in 1993, he was later promoted to sous chef and then transferred those skills to the Los Angeles Convention Center. A few years later, he joined Angel Stadium as executive sous chef. After moving to the Coachella Valley, he became executive chef of food offerings atop the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

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JC Marquez.

For the last few years, Marquez has been working with Melissa’s Produce, the country’s largest distributor of specialty produce. He’s eager to share the endless possibilities of fresh fruits and veggies — hatch peppers are a particular favorite — and demonstrate how easy it is to cook them at home.

Seared duck breast with merlot reduction sauce plus figs and berries.



Executive chef, Canlis in Seattle

Born in the Southern Philippines and raised in the United States, Aisha Ibrahim enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco at age 20. Upon graduation, she honed her skills at notable Bay Area restaurants such as Aqua, Commis, and Manresa before moving to Spain to train at chef Eneko Atxa’s restaurant Azurmendi. Later, she became chef de cuisine at Aziamendi, Atxa’s renowned restaurant in southern Thailand. She has spent time in some of the best kitchens in the world including Kagurazaka Ishikawa, Kohaku, L’Effervescence, and Ryugin.

“California, Basque, Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese are all sort of in my arsenal,” Ibrahim says. That eclectic background informs her culinary style at Canlis in Seattle, where she accepted the position of executive chef in 2021, the seventh person to occupy that role in the restaurant’s 72-year history — and the first woman. In 2023, Ibrahim was recognized as a Food & Wine Best New Chef of America. “Definitely a pinch-me moment,” she says.

aisha ibrahim

Aisha Ibrahim.

Trio owner Tony Marchese, executive chef Jeremy Loomis, and operations partner Chris McElroy.

Trio owner Tony Marchese, executive chef Jeremy Loomis, and operations partner Chris McElroy.


Executive chef, Trio Restaurant

Self-taught chef Jeremy Loomis is a relative newcomer on the Coachella Valley culinary scene. “I’ve pulled inspiration from every chef I’ve worked for,” says the Michigan native who arrived here in 2022 after a decade-plus interlude working at celebrity chef Brian Malarkey’s Seersucker and Herb & Wood restaurants in San Diego and later serving as corporate chef for The Fish Market family of restaurants.

A fan of bold flavors anchored in simplicity, Loomis’ talents have found a home at Trio Restaurant in Palm Springs, where his vegetable-forward, locally sourced menu reflects California cuisine. His creative and modern approach to dishes from land and sea are designed for sharing around the table to weave a memorable meal.

jonathan butler

Executive chef, The Penney & Parlour at Desert Island Country Club

Jon Butler has worked at top spots including Noma in Copenhagen, République in L.A. He now calls the desert home. He developed the food program at Desert Island Country Club’s Penney restaurant and Parlour lounge, where he’s focused on using the freshest ingredients available in the Coachella Valley.

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Jon Butler.


Chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and culinary personality

Born in Connecticut to a Dominican father and Italian mother, chef Angelo Sosa was a protégé of Jean-George Vongerichten and has worked with such renowned restaurateurs as Alain Ducasse, Stephen Starr, and Masaharu Morimoto. He was a fan favorite on Bravo’s Top Chef and later Top Chef All-Stars and has appeared on numerous other series including HBO Max’s Selena + Chef.

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Angelo Sosa.

Among other ventures, Sosa was a founding chef and partner in the Michelin-listed Añejo Restaurants in New York City. He went on to open Tía Carmen at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa and more recently unveiled Kembara in the same city. The latter embraces the rich tapestry of Asian street food culture and is inspired by Sosa’s travels across that continent. Drawing upon his Dominican heritage, this acclaimed chef has also written two cookbooks: Flavor Exposed and Healthy Latin Eating.


Chef, restaurateur, and culinary personality

He’s broken a few rules along the way, but Chris Oh — a Michelin-rated chef and owner of Um.Ma in San Francisco, Chingu in Hawaii, Kamu in Las Vegas, and other companies — continues his quest to bridge previously unrelated markets together through new culinary traditions.

Chris Oh

Chris Oh.

“Throughout my culinary career, I’ve helped to break barriers and educate people on Korean food and the culture. I definitely take a lot of pride in that,” says Oh, who has won multiple television competition shows, including Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race. Never one to sit still, some of his other ventures include Escala in L.A.’s Koreatown, where he developed a Columbian menu, and Good Times BBQ. He is currently working to expand his brand overseas in the Asian market.

Bacon, egg, and cheese. Because everyone loves a BEC — simple, delicious, and fulfilling.


Aarti Sequeira

Aarti Sequeira.


Culinary personality and cookbook author

“Food has always been a means of not only rooting down into who I am, but also reaching out and connecting with those around me,” says Aarti Sequeira, who having been born in India, raised in Dubai, and educated in a British school, grew up against a varied tapestry of food cultures. A mainstay on Food Network after winning Season 6 of Food Network Star, Sequeira hosts her own cooking show, Aarti Party, and has served as a judge on various hit shows. A date lover, she is also an ambassador for the California Date Commission.

Her first cookbook, Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen With an Indian Soul, showcases her comprehensive knowledge of spices. She recently followed it up with a second, Unwind: A Devotional Cookbook for the Harried and Hungry. “Spices have been one of the channels through which I communicate because every culture around the world uses particular herbs and spices for a reason,” she says, “be it historical, religious, landscape driven, or trade. Food is such a rich, tasty means of connection and learning about each other.”

Bombay gnocchi. The combination of Indian spices, copious squeezes of lemon juice, and generous showers of Parmesan cheese transform a pantry staple in a jiffy!

Aarti Sequeira


Maîitre fromager, TV personality, and cookbook author

It’s no surprise that Afrim Pristine’s go-to “feel good” meal after a long day is a well-executed grilled cheese sandwich. What else could be expected of Canada’s premier maître fromager (cheese master) and co-owner of the lauded Cheese Boutique in Toronto? As an ambassador for all things cheese, Pristine has studied with some of the world’s greatest cheesemakers, including Luigi Guffanti, Stefano Sarti, Carl Schilt, and Jean-Paul Morin.

Pristine’s bestselling cookbook, For the Love of Cheese, explores the intricacies of his passion and livelihood and serves as a perfect complement to his six-episode Food Network Canada series, Cheese: A Love Story (now streaming on Hulu).

Travel and lessons learned from his Neopolitan mother have greatly influenced his culinary style, but if there’s one ingredient he loves to transform, it’s cheese. “It can be manipulated and transformed into so many different dishes. This is another reason why I adore cheese.”

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Afrim Pristine.

juan morales

Executive chef, Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage

Before he became executive chef at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, Juan Morales was a chef with the Patina Restaurant Group in L.A. and later brought Kobe and Japanese A5 beef to various restaurants in Las Vegas. His ideal meal consists of a medium-rare filet with bourbon-roasted mushrooms and fingerling potatoes or a beer-can chicken, enjoyed while watching Sunday night football.

Juan Morales

Juan Morales.


Ingredient Talk

According to our Palm Desert Food & Wine chefs, these are the most underrated ingredients.

MICHAEL HUNG: “The lowly onion. It forms the base of flavor for almost every cuisine.”

AISHA IBRAHIM: “Rice. Each type of rice is unique in terms of aroma, flavor, and texture you’re aiming to achieve according to what you’re serving.”

MEG BICKFORD: “Sassafras.”


CHRIS OH: “Salt! Don’t be afraid to use salt because it makes everything taste better — savory or sweet.”

GALE GAND: “Celery root.”

AFRIM PRISTINE: “Fresh herbs. Thyme, Italian parsley, basil, mint, sage, rosemary, tarragon, cilantro, chives — I love them all. They can take any dish to a whole new level.”

JC MARQUEZ: “Mushrooms.”

AARTI SEQUEIRA: “Onions. Raw, sautéed, caramelized, near burnt, fried, stuffed — they
offer so much.”


Executive pastry chef and TV personality

Following a brief foray in costume design, Zac Young decided baking was his true passion. Fortunately for dessert lovers everywhere, his instincts were spot on. Young graduated with honors from the Baking and Pastry Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education in 2006, whereupon his career took off. Singled out as one of the top 10 pastry chefs in America by Dessert Professional in 2015, Young cites acclaimed chefs Sebastien Rouxel and Philippe Givre as mentors. He competed for the title on Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts, has been showcased on The Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets, and is a frequent judge on Food Network shows.

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Zac Young.

Young currently serves as executive pastry director of Craveable Hospitality Group. He is also the chef/owner of PieCaken Bakeshop, whose namesake product is an epic, four-in-one layered pie and cake.


Restaurateur, culinary personality, and cookbook author

Award-winning chef and food system activist Mary Sue Milliken may be best known for her modern Mexican concept, Border Grill, which she runs with her business partner of more than 40 years, Susan Feniger. The duo continues to roll out new restaurants that in recent years have included BBQ Mexicana in Las Vegas, Socalo in Santa Monica, and Alice B. in Palm Springs.

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Mary Sue Milliken.

After graduating from Washburne Culinary Institute, Milliken became the first female chef at Le Perroquet and cooked at the woman-owned, two-Michelin-star restaurant Les Jardins d’Olympe in Paris. She ventured to Los Angeles to launch City Café with Feniger in 1981.

Almost 400 episodes of their Food Network series Too Hot Tamales and Tamales World Tour cemented the trailblazing duo’s impact on the nation’s cuisine. Milliken has also co-authored five cookbooks and competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters.


Founder of VoloChef Culinary Solutions

San Francisco–based chef and food business veteran David Shalleck began his culinary career as a line cook at chef Larry Forgione’s boutique restaurant, An American Place, New York City where regular diners included James Beard and Julia Child. Today, he’s the successful television producer of culinary shows featuring a who’s who of chefs (including José Andrés and Jacques Pépin), author of the culinary travel memoir Mediterranean Summer, and a prolific stylist, instructor, consultant, and entrepreneur.

David Shalleck

David Shalleck.

An au gratin–style potato with a minimalistic approach. I only utilize four ingredients: potatoes, cream, garlic, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.


mark tadros

Date farmer and co-owner of Aziz Farms and The Packhouse, and co-founder of the Date Harvest Festival

Mark Tadros, a second-generation date farmer who grew up in the Coachella Valley, oversees Aziz Farms, the company his father started in 1989, as co-owner and president. The farm collaborates with Coachella Valley restaurants and hosts school field trips to promote local agriculture. Tadros co-founded the Date Harvest Festival in 2019, as well as a direct-to-consumer produce delivery company called CV Harvest Box, born during the pandemic to support local farmers.

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Mark Tadros.