A diverse cast of national and local culinary stars join together for a variety of cooking demonstrations and workshops at this year's Palm Desert Food & Wine. Get to know this year’s participants — and prepare to dig in.
Chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and culinary personality
Growing up in Florence, Italy, chef Fabio Viviani mastered the art of Italian and Mediterranean cuisines after studying at top hospitality schools. By the time he was 27, he owned and operated two nightclubs and five restaurants in his home country. Then he turned his eyes to the Golden State, where he opened his first restaurant, Café Firenze, in Moorpark, just north of Los Angeles.
After partnering with one of Chicago’s restaurant consulting groups, Dineamic, Viviani opened numerous restaurants in Chicago and offshoots around the country.
In addition to managing restaurants, Viviani has appeared on Top Chef, Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, and countless Food Network cooking shows, and authored four cookbooks, including a New York Times bestseller.
Culinary personality and cookbook author
Born in India, raised in Dubai, and educated in a British school, Aarti Sequeira grew up accustomed to a variety of cuisines, and is nicknamed the “Spice Queen” thanks to her comprehensive knowledge of spices. 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.
Off-network, she cooked alongside Selena Gomez on HBO Max (Selena + Chef), wrote a cookbook called Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen With an Indian Soul, and penned a column for the Associated Press entitled “World’s Fare,” teaching readers how to use ingredients from the international aisle in simple, weeknight dishes.
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“What a canvas is to Picasso, cheese is to me,” says Afrim Pristine, Canada’s first official maître fromager (cheese master). The co-owner of Cheese Boutique in Toronto was officially recognized as a connoisseur of Camembert, colby, cabrales, and other curds by a prestigious dairy association in France in 2013.
His bestselling cookbook, For the Love of Cheese, is an all-encompassing guide, which pairs nicely with his Food Network Canada series, Cheese: A Love Story (currently available to stream on Hulu).
After a long workday, he says, his go-to comfort food is cacio e pepe. The classic Roman pasta dish, made with lots of butter, black pepper, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, is his dinner nearly twice a week — a hankering most likely inspired by his Italian mother, who grew up in Naples and taught him how to make her signature sauces.
Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur
Acclaimed television personality Curtis Stone, who recently appeared as an iron chef in Netflix’s reboot of the beloved Japanese series, began his culinary career at age 18, at the Savoy Hotel’s five-star restaurant in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia.
Now a New York Times–bestselling author of six cookbooks, Stone owns and oversees three restaurants: Maude in Beverly Hills, Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant in Hollywood, and Georgie in Dallas, Texas. His wholesome approach to cooking has earned him Michelin stars at two of them. Maude was recognized in 2019, and Gwen received its first star in 2022. As for his biggest culinary influence, Stone shares, “My earliest influences were my grans, Maude and Gwen, so much so that I named my Los Angeles restaurants after them.”
Chef, The Edge Steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage
Chef Darryl Boyd of The Edge Steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage began his culinary journey after graduating from Florida State College at Jacksonville. Establishing his passion for locally sourced ingredients and twists on American classics, Boyd trained in Dublin at the two-star Michelin restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. He is praised for expanding palate horizons, utilizing his Southern cooking style to bring extra flavor and depth to each dish. Winning “best chef” honors in several competitive challenges, such as the Broad Appétit Showdown, Boyd is devoted to giving back to the community while actively participating in The Ritz-Carlton’s Community Footprints program. Now a proud Coachella Valley resident, he is elated to share his passion for food with esteemed guests and patrons.
Chef and restaurateur
Customers adore the goat cheese bruschetta Andie Hubka serves at her restaurant Cork & Fork, which recently relocated from La Quinta to a larger space in Indio, where she owns two additional restaurants: Heirloom Craft Kitchen and Tu Madres Cantina & Grill. Celebrated for her farm-to-table focus, in 2019, Hubka had the opportunity to cook at the James Beard House in New York City. Trips taken around the United States and abroad has had the biggest influence on her culinary style, she says. “My goal is to try everything I can and bring back the things we love to our valley.”
Award-winning chef and TV personality
Nearly perfecting the art of pastry-making, Gale Gand’s prowess in the kitchen has earned her two James Beard Awards, induction into the American Academy of Chefs and the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame, and two Michelin stars. You know her from her regular appearances at Palm Desert Food & Wine and on series including Top Chef, Iron Chef, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Martha Stewart Show, and Rachael with Rachael Ray.
After her television debut with Julia Child in the 1995 PBS series Baking With Julia, Gand’s love for gastronomy grew, leading her to publish eight cookbooks and host Sweet Dreams, the Food Network’s first show devoted entirely to desserts.
Reflecting on 2022, she is most proud of the chance she had to give back. “I worked for World Central Kitchen in Poland and Ukraine, volunteering, helping produce 20,000 meals a day for six different food distribution locations in Poland and Ukraine.” At home, Gand enjoys whipping up her “not your usual” lemon meringue pie, playing mahjong, and tending to her 10 chickens.
Culinary entrepreneur, restaurateur, and cookbook author
Hailed as the “Waffle Queen,” Glynis Albright has a devoted following who crave her fried chicken and waffles. A native of New Orleans, Albright was diagnosed with leukemia, prompting her to earn a doctorate degree in natural food and health science, found her own company (Glynis’ Kitchen), and create Just Sweet Enough and Cookie Dots, gourmet treats for people with her condition and other ailments. When she’s in the kitchen, you can expect to hear the greats serving up the soundtrack. “I play bebop music and dance around the kitchen while cooking,” she says. “Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and the big bands of the ’50s fill the air. I play it very loudly!”
Chef, radio host, certified sommelier, and cookbook author
Chef and certified sommelier Jamie Gwen has shared the screen with top culinary talents including Gordon Ramsey, Martha Stewart, and Emeril Lagasse. Each week, the chef and sommelier hosts Food & Wine With Chef Jamie Gwen, a nationally syndicated talk show available on iTunes Podcasts, to share ingredients, food news, and pop culture with listeners. She has also published seven cookbooks that center on simple, wholesome ingredients and healthy recipes like honey-glazed salmon and one-pan penne with shrimp and sundried tomatoes.
Chef, Trio Restaurant
A self-taught chef, Jeremy Loomis grew up in Michigan, but his love for the culinary arts led him to Southern California, where he spent 11 years working at celebrity chef Brian Malarky’s restaurants in San Diego. He later worked as corporate chef for The Fish Market, dedicated to bringing the freshest, highest-quality seafood to Tuna Harbor in San Diego. In 2022, Loomis officially joined the staff at Trio Restaurant in Palm Springs, bringing his culinary edge to the Coachella Valley — and one of the city’s hottest hangouts.
Executive chef, Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage
Juan Morales considers himself to be a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy — his ideal dining experience includes a medium-rare filet with bourbon-roasted mushrooms and fingerling potatoes or a beer-can chicken, enjoyed while watching Sunday night football. Morales began his culinary career as a chef with the Patina Restaurant Group in Los Angeles and later brought Kobe and Japanese A5 beef to various restaurants in Las Vegas. He is now executive chef at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage.
Chef, The Penney & Parlour at Desert Island Country Club
Raised in a farming family in the Imperial Valley, chef Jon Butler now calls the desert home. After working at several top-tier restaurants in Europe and Los Angeles (Noma in Copenhagen, République in Los Angeles, and Arzak in San Sebastián, to name a few), Butler returned to his roots during the pandemic — working as executive chef at Mr. Lyons Steakhouse in Palm Springs and later building the food program at Desert Island Country Club. He is a top Southern California chef, focused on using the freshest ingredients in the Coachella Valley.
Restaurateur, James Beard Award nominee, and TV personality
Two-time James Beard Award nominee and Food Network star Tyler Florence has captivated millions of viewers on numerous hit shows, including Tyler’s Ultimate and The Great Food Truck Race. At his restaurants, his recipes captivate diners. Florence’s award-winning flagship, Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, serves entrées inspired by his South Carolina roots and Northern California hometown.
“I’m definitely most known for my fried chicken, which is a staple at my original San Francisco restaurant Wayfare Tavern,” he shares. These days, the fried chicken master is flexing his red-meat muscles. “Since opening Miller & Lux [in 2021], I’m really diving into the art of the steak, with a dry-aged beef program that’s curated specifically for the restaurant. Our tomahawk steaks and bone-in New York strips are showstoppers.”
Date farmer and co-founder of the Date Harvest Festival
A second-generation date farmer who grew up in the Coachella Valley, Mark Tadros now oversees Aziz Farms, the company his father started in 1989, as co-owner and president. Under his leadership, the farm grows dates and other produce items, collaborates with local restaurants to cultivate ingredients for their menus, and often hosts school field trips for students to learn about Coachella Valley agriculture.
Tadros, who advocates for locally grown produce and sustainable farming practices, 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.
Executive chef, SO·PA and The Colony Club
When he’s not riding his motorcycle through the desert, Michael Hung oversees the development and preparation of seasonal New American entrées at two posh hotel restaurants in Palm Springs: SO·PA at L’Horizon Resort & Spa in Palm Springs and The Colony Club at The Colony Palms Hotel & Bungalows. Hung began his culinary career in New York City at acclaimed restaurants Daniel and Aquavit, and later moved to San Francisco, spending nearly a decade at Michelin-starred French restaurant La Folie. He has received rave reviews for his food and notably consulted with Disney Pixar on the Oscar-winning animated film Ratatouille alongside greats Thomas Keller and Guy Savoy.
Pastry chef, culinary personality, and cookbook author
More than 4.5 million YouTube subscribers and 2.8 million Instagram followers love How to Cake It, Yolanda Gampp’s empire of media channels, cookbooks, and online courses featuring tips and recipes for wannabe cake bakers and fellow dessert aficionados. She has been featured on Crime Scene Kitchen, the Today show, Good Morning America, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Live With Kelly and Ryan, Netflix’s Nailed It, Best Baker in America, and Cake Wars. A self-taught cake artist, the aptly nicknamed Queen of Cake claims inspiration from her father, who was also a baker, and other pastry professionals she worked alongside at bakeries across Toronto.
Pastry chef, cookbook author, culinary personality, and restaurateur
Influenced by his roots in art and costume design, Zac Young adds a dash of theatrics to everything he bakes. The public got a taste when he vied for the title on Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts, and a few years later, the magazine Dessert Professional ranked him among the top 10 pastry chefs in America. He trained under renowned chefs, including Thomas Keller and Philippe Givre. Now, Young serves as executive pastry director of Craveable Hospitality Group and is the chef/owner of PieCaken Bakeshop, which ships his beautiful creations nationally. He has been featured on The Cooking Channel’s long-running show Unique Sweets and frequently appears as a judge on Food Network’s Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay, Worst Cooks in America, King of Cones, Bakers vs. Fakers, and Worst Bakers in America.
Executive chef and CEO of Dahl Restaurant Group
With five restaurants to oversee in Sedona, Arizona, Lisa Dahl is often bustling behind the scenes in the kitchen, where she spends time mastering the art of al dente, perfecting wood-fired pizzas, and searching for inventive ways to introduce Mediterranean, Italian, and South American flavors to Red Rock Country. Dahl has appeared on the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise, Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay, and was a featured chef at the James Beard House in New York City.
She credits her love for bold flavors to the influence of her childhood nanny, Smitty. “She brought soul food into my vocabulary,” Dahl shares. “She broke many rules and did many things that were different from how my mom and my grandma cooked, but it was true soul food.”