The Chefs taking on the challenge:


 

Chef Francesco Aiello of Francesco’s Ristorante

In Southern Italy, where Chef Francesco Aiello was raised, picking fresh vegetables from locally grown gardens was simply the way of life. The Chef believes freshness is the most important thing. Chef personally works with local farmers to bring the “farm to table” concept to Francesco’s Ristorante. Francesco says that in Italy the culture has always been to pick the freshest vegetables and use them in cooking. “Farm to table was simply the way things were done.” In keeping with Chef Francesco’s most important cooking rule, use only the highest quality ingredients, using the freshest greens add a signature taste to every entrée that he creates. Using really fresh products allows distinctive Italian flavors to shine through. The Chef has introduced “living” greens in Francesco’s; several vertical gardens located in the restaurant provide fresh greens in a variety of ways. Through innovation and exploration Chef Francesco is constantly raising the bar for great food at Francesco’s Ristorante.

 Spezzatino Di Carne – Francesco Aiello, 2016 Judge’s Choice Winner

mark headshot croppedChef Mark Baize of Roy’s

Inspired by his parents and flavors of a southern heritage, Mark Baize is no stranger to preparing exceptional cuisine. After graduating from the Orlando Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, Mark was personally trained in the methods of Master Chef Yamaguchi and keeps Roy’s vision and tradition thriving while infusing his own creativity and inspiration into the menu.  The result is a blend of classic techniques with adventurous Pacific Rim flavors.

Mark hails from Owensboro, Kentucky but moved to Florida at a young age.  He had a passion for food and began his culinary career as a line cook at Roy’s Orlando.  In just 3 years, he worked his way to Sous Chef. After a brief stint at the new Hilton Orlando, a wedding to his high school sweetheart, and two children, baby Liam and 6 year old Julian, Mark returned to Roy’s and is excited to shine as the new Executive Chef. Always a consummate professional and presenting a big smile, he has won the hearts of his team at Roy’s Orlando.  He looks forward to preparing a unique menu and carrying on the traditions of his mentors.

 Chicken Ramen Bowl – Mark Baize

Chef Julie Casey of Outpost Neighborhood Kitchenjulie - BK cropped and resized

Chef Julie did not take the traditional road to the kitchen. Growing up as the oldest in a household of five, she played around with the boxed pantry ingredients left for her and her latchkey siblings. As a teen she continued experimenting with food and started her first foray in food service at Walt Disney World.

Julie’s restaurant career continued in the front of the house at mom and pop and chain restaurants throughout high school and college as she obtained a degree in Marketing from The Florida State University. After graduation she helped open an Outback Steakhouse in Tennessee and eventually found her way back to Orlando clawing at the doors of Darden Restaurants. It was during her days at Darden where she obtained her certification in market research and her love and understanding of what the consumer really wants.

Upon leaving Darden, Julie became the leading expert on the family dining experience, known in the industry as The Restaurant Mom. Speaking at the National Restaurant Show, GM Conferences, and as a consultant for many marketing projects on the subject, Julie was the go-to expert on what restaurants could and should be doing to garner more of the family dollar. But as much fun as that was, her real love was in the kitchen.

In 2013 she started putting her restaurant dream to paper and with her marketing know-how, her research acumen, and her passion for the consumer voice, she got to work. After choosing College Park as the destination, she involved the community in the process. She let them vote on the name of the restaurant, encouraged them to submit family recipes, and developed some of the menu items around College Park landmarks. But as many people know, the restaurant industry is no walk in the park. Shortly after opening in 2015, Julie realized she needed to step into the kitchen full-time. When asked, “So, what culinary school did you go to?” She replies “The largest school in the U.S. The Culinary School of F.I.O. (Figure. It. Out.)” Julie’s food philosophy is making really good food, from fresh ingredients, locally sourced as much as possible, offering it at reasonable prices, but while keeping it approachable and having fun!

Balsamic Chicken & Hash – Julie Casey, 2016 People’s Choice Winner

 

 

2015 Pantry to Plate Chefs’ Challenge Participants

2014 Pantry to Plate Chef’s Challenge Participants