EE Head Shot 8Meet Emily Ellyn

Chef and culinary educator Emily Ellyn is best known for appearances on Food Networks “Food Network Star,” “Cupcake Wars,” and “Cutthroat Kitchen,” but the girl who grew up harvesting food and raising animals on a farm in rural Ohio is more than just TV.

Eager to dive into the culinary field, Ellyn worked in Cleveland’s top restaurants and started her own catering company while still in high school. Upon leaving Ohio, Ellyn attended and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York with a degree in Restaurant Management. After CIA, she moved to Paris to attend graduate school at Academie Internationale de Management.

Ellyn then went on to earn two Master’s degrees in Hospitality Management — one in Paris and one from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando.

She volunteers with non-profit organizations including Florida Hospital and Give Kids The World, writes for Edible and BAR magazines, and lectures at the University of Central Florida.

Between appearances on morning news shows across the country; as well as a cameo cartoon appearance on the “Simpsons!,” Ellyn stays busy prepping her first cookbook due out next year, and is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Food Service Education.


Meet Heather McPhersonPX00114_9[1]

Heather McPherson is the Food Editor, restaurant reviewer and a multimedia journalist for the Orlando Sentinel.

She oversees the weekly Cooking & Eating section and writes four weekly columns on the topics of food and culture, restaurant recipes and restaurant reviews and provides daily content for, her blog and Twitter @ os_thedish. In addition, she provides food segments for Fox 35, Scott McKenzie & the Morning Mix on Mix 105.1 FM.

She is a past president of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) and serves on the AFJ conference planning committee.

She is author of two cookbooks, has co-written five others and edited another three. Her latest works are “Good Catch: Recipes & Stories Celebrating the best of Florida’s Waters” and “Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida’s Farmers, Chefs, and Artisans” with Pam Brandon and Katie Farmand (University Press of Florida).

She recently completed a manuscript for a mojito book that explores the drink and how its flavor profile can enhance entrees, sides and desserts. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the College of Journalism and Communication at the University of Florida and was honored with the college’s Emig Award, given to the student the faculty believes will contribute the most to the state of Florida through journalistic pursuits.

Born in Indianapolis, Ind., she and husband artist Spencer Pettit live in Mount Dora, where she serves on the Lake Cares Food Pantry Board of Directors.


Meet John RiversJohn Rivers

John Rivers’ diverse career experience spans two decades and ranges from managing a billion-dollar pharmaceutical distribution operation to opening one of fastest-growing new restaurants in the southeast with his Texas-inspired 4Rivers Smokehouses located in East Orlando, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Longwood, Orange Park, Tampa, Winter Garden, and Winter Park, Florida. Rivers also opened a southern comfort food restaurant The COOP in Winter Park.

Prior to his rise to smokehouse fame, Rivers ended a 20-year career in Healthcare as the President of CuraScript Specialty Distribution where he managed a $1.4 billion pharmaceutical operation.

His experiences parlayed into the business strategies for his new company, 4R Restaurant Group LLC. Rivers’ concept immediately garnered recognition resulting in the invitation to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City and four consecutive invitations to present at the 2011-2014 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Rivers has released his first cookbook, “The Southern Cowboy” and has appeared on NBC and FOX morning shows as well as The Good Life Network.

Among others, Rivers has been celebrated nationally on Food&, and in Cigar AficionadoRestaurant BusinessFOOD MagazineCooking Light Magazine, the Paula Deen Magazine and was most recently named as a finalist for the 2014 Earnest and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Rivers is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Business.