Ron Kitchens, CEO - Southwest Michigan First Event Date: Thursday, March 14th – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm CEO at Southwest Michigan First, which is an organization of privately funded economic development advisers who focus on the economic success in SW Michigan. Founded in 1999 on the principle that jobs and wealth creation exponentially affect the region’s future sustainability, the organization works across all industries throughout the 8 counties making up the SW Michigan region. Ron is a best-selling author whose works include: "Community Capitalism: Lessons from Kalamazoo and Beyond."
John Liberty, Entertainment Reporter - MLive | Kalamazoo Gazette Event Date: Thursday, March 21st – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Entertainment reporter for the Kalamazoo Gazette and MLive.com. Also contributes to the Michigan craft beer blog, Kalamabrew, at www.mlive.com/kalamabrew. Graduated from WMU in 2003, John was hired by the Gazette in 2006. John resides in Kalamazoo.
Tim Terrentine, Vice President - Southwest Michigan First Event Date: Thursday, April 11th – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Vice President at Southwest Michigan First and President of the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce. Through his extensive experience in speaking, training, consulting, curriculum development, teaching and positive urban youth development, Tim has been a catalyst for positive change in the community. He has worked in many arenas from teaching interpersonal communication at Western Michigan University to program development and direction for Derek Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation, Inc. Tim is a Kalamazoo native and a WMU graduate.
PJ Fleck, WMU Football - Head Coach Event Date: Thursday, April 25th – Chef’s Table @ 7:30pm From Sugar Grove, IL. Fleck is a Northern Illinois graduate. During his time there he earned a First Team All Mid-American Conference in 2003. Fleck went on to play for two seasons with the SanFrancisco 49ers and left in 2006 to begin his coaching career, which included: Ohio State University in 2006 as a grad assistant, Northern Illinois wide receivers coach in 2007-09, wide receivers coach at Rutgers 2010-11, receivers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2012. In December 2012 he was announced as WMU’s Head Football Coach. He’s also the Nation’s youngest Head Coach at 32 years old.
Andy Dominianni, WWMT-Newschannel 3 News Anchor Event Date: Saturday, April 27th – Meet & Greet @ 5:30pm, Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Kalamazoo College Graduate. From 1997-1999 he was a morning anchor and then returned in 2011 as one of the lead evening anchors for WWMT. Andy has also served as a news anchor in Minnesota, Ohio and North Carolina. In 2011 co-authored, along with his wife Erin, a regional history book entitled "Columbus Italians." He has won numerous journalistic and public service awards, is a founding member of the Kalamazoo Italian American Club, is active with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Michigan and The Community Healing Center.
John Dunn, Western Michigan University - President Event Date: Thursday, May 2nd – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Serves as the eighth president of WMU since July 1, 2007. Prior to coming to WMU, President Dunn served as interim chancellor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Before accepting that appointment, he held the position of provost and vice chancellor at Southern Illinois. An educator for more than 30 years, Dunn was dean of the University of Utah's College of Health from 1995 to 2002 before moving to Southern Illinois. Before that, he was at Oregon State University for 20 years. Since moving to Michigan, President Dunn has been actively engaged with state and community efforts that focus on quality-of-life issues and enhancing economic development. He is a member of the boards of First National Bank, Southwest Michigan First and the WMU Foundation as well as the governing boards of the Greater Kalamazoo Area United Way, the Gilmore Keyboard Festival and the W.E.Upjohn Institute. He earned a bachelor's and master's degrees from Northern Illinois University in 1967 and 1969, respectively. He earned his doctoral degree from Brigham Young University in 1972.
The restaurants of Greenleaf Hospitality Group proudly presents its inaugural Signature Chefs Wine Dinner featuring an exclusive evening with 6 chefs, 6 courses and 6 wines. Come experience our chefs mastery on this one special evening of culinary delight. RESERVATIONS BY PHONE ONLY to Alana Fisher at 269.226.3144. Click here to learn more!
Derrick Ricca, Greenleaf Hospitality Group - Senior Sales Manager Event Date: Thursday, June 6 – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Derrick Ricca is the senior sales manager at Greenleaf Hospitality who specializes in large catered events. Derrick is also the President of a local non profit, Colleagues International, which brings in international professionals to Kalamazoo to observe how various governmental roles and professions operate in the USA. Derrick began his love of the kitchen as a young boy constantly trying to learn the craft from his mother and grandmother. The kitchen baptism by fire began when he took on a marketing role for a restaurant chain and began to spend time in the kitchens of these restaurants when they were shorthanded. Derrick's influences on cooking comes from a true passion to eat good food and his love of garlic. To Derrick the kitchen is more of a hobby than hot rods or video games and appreciates that his children are not picky eaters.
Bisera Urdarevik, Lush Gourmet Foods - Entrepreneur Event Date: Thursday, June 20 – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Bisera Urdarevik owns and operates Lush Gourmet Foods featuring unique and delicious all-natural gourmet handcrafted foods. A graduate of Kendall College in Chicago, she there received a degree in both Baking & Pastry and Food & Beverage Management. With her new skills in the kitchen, she developed the original family recipe into six unique flavors. This family recipe brought over from MAcedonia was awlasy found at any gathering with family and friends. Though many people encouraged Bisera's family to start producing and selling the peanuts, her parents never pursued this because they had three young children and other careers. With so much positive feedback about the peanuts, Bisera knew that this would have to be her first product. She developed the flavors and packaging throughout her college years and started selling a few months before her second graduation. To learn more about Lush Gourmet, visit lushgourmetfoods.com.
Mark Riley, Kalamazoo College - USTA Boys' Championships Event Date: Thursday, July 18 – Meet & Greet 5:30pm Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Mark Riley was named Kalamazoo College’s head men’s tennis coach and assistant director of the USTA Boys’ 18 & 16 National Championships on June 29, 2007. Mark assisted at the 2007 tournament and began Directing it in 2008. Since arriving in Kalamazoo in 2008, Riley has led the Hornets to five MIAA championships with a 30-0 league record. The Hornets also have a 76-45 overall record during that span. Riley, a 1982 graduate of Kalamazoo College, was head men’s tennis coach at the University of Pennsylvania for seven seasons before returning to Kalamazoo. In addition to his responsibilities at Kalamazoo College, Riley serves on the ITA Board of Directors (2007-present), the Western Michigan Tennis Association Junior Committee (2008-present), the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo Board of Directors (2009-present), and is vice chair of the USTA's Collegiate Varsity Committee (2009-present).
Alex Mantakounis, Tempo Vino Winery Head Wine Maker Event Date: Thursday, August 1 – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm A graduate of Western Michigan University, Alex is the owner and head wine maker of Tempo Vino Winery, located in downtown Kalamazoo. Alex grew up traveling around the Mediterranean, frequenting his godfather’s winery in Tuscany and his family’s cottage on the Greek isle of Ikaria. His travels have greatly influenced his love of wine and Mediterranean cuisine. Besides being a wine maker, Alex also has a passion for brewing beer. He is a certified beer judge and the vice president of the Kalamazoo Libation Organization of Brewers, Kalamazoo’s home brewer’s club.
John Janco, Greenleaf Hospitality Group Director of Sales Event Date: Thursday, August 18 – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm When John was about 9, his mother told him "if you can read, you can cook...I have a bookcase full of cookbooks, go for it." He grew up in a Polish neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago, near Midway Airport. John's mother baked wedding cakes in their home as a hobby job and he grew up around scratch baking. When he got bored he baked. He has a passion for baking pound cakes and recently developed a love for making pie - his newest creation features Maker's Mark soaked Michigan cherries in a walnut crust, crumble top apple pie. While doing task force work in Lexington, Kentucky, he was introduced to Maker's Mark Bourbon. It has been included in several of his favorite recipes over the years. John has been in the hospitality industry for 28 years, starting in Reservations at The Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago. Then in sales and catering since 1990. His career has taken him from Chicago to Houston, Las Vegas and Dallas before calling Kalamazoo his home.
Jared Dellario, Casa Bolero, Executive Chef Event Date: Thursday, September 5 – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Jared Dellario is the executive chef at Casa Bolero since 2012. He was classically trained at Grand Rapids Community College/Secchia Institute for Culinary Arts, where he earned his associates degree in Culinary Arts and also Culinary Management and Baking & Pastry certificate. Jared has more than 10 years of culinary experience and is influenced by a variety of cooking styles including classic French, Urban Michigan fusion, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai, Jamaican and many more. His cooking philosophy is the art of quality food preparation comes from using common sense with flavor profiles, fresh and local ingredients and simplicity.
Dave Braganini, St. Julian Winery, President Event Date: Thursday, September 19 – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Dave was born in Kalamazoo and raised in Paw Paw. He graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Business from King’s College, Wilkes Barre, Pa. Dave joined St. Julian Winery in sales upon graduation in 1973. He rose through the ranks at St. Julian and became President in the 1980’s and has been with the company for the last 40 years. His daughter Angela is now the fourth generation of our founder Mariano Meconi (Dave's grandfather) and serves as Director of Public Relations. St. Julian produces over 100,000 cases of wine a year from Michigan grown grapes of Van Buren and Berrien County, Michigan.
Noel Corwin, Owner & Head Chef of Gorilla Gourmet Event Date: Thursday, October 17 – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Chef Noel Corwin fell in love with the craft of cooking while enrolled in the Hotel, Restaurant and Culinary Program at Santa Barbara City College in Santa Barbara, California. After completing the Baking and Pastry Arts program at Greystone, Noel spent the next several years working at a myriad of restaurants on both the East and West coasts of the United States. Noel's desire to travel and love of cooking took him on a culinary journey to South East Asia, where he spent nine months in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Bali. Inspired by street food and love of the Asian flavors, Noel returned to America. After a season at the White Elephant on Nantucket, Massachusetts Noel returned to South West Michigan and began building Kalamazoo's first Food Truck. Noel now operates a catering business, commercial kitchen and his food truck, Gorilla1.
Patti, Danielle & Nancy, Women Who Care Kalamazoo, Founding Members Event Date: Thursday, November 21 – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Women Who Care is is a group of women who live in Kalamazoo County, who commit to donate to donate $100 each quarter ($400 a year) per member to a charity of their choosing. Patti Owens, DanielleStreed, and Nancy Trofffollowed the lead of a community minded woman from Jackson who formed a similar alliance of women in 2006; by founding Women Who Care Kalamazoo. Patti, is the managing director and vice president of Catalyst Development Company. She sits on the Board of Directors for Downtown Tomorrow Inc., Economic Development Corporation and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for the City of Kalamazoo. Danielle is an estate planning attorney in Kalamazoo who has been practicing since 1991. She has served on several boards and has been active in local non-profit organizations during the past twenty-two years. Nancy is the founding partner of Troff & Denning, Inc., a Real Estate Management and Development Firm in downtown Kalamazoo. She belongs to various local non-profit organizations and has been active on City Boards throughout her career.
Joe Cekola, President and Owner of Imperial Beverage Event Date: Thursday, December 5 – Chef’s Table @ 6:30pm Imperial Beverage, which distributes beer and wine throughout Michigan and employs 215 people in the state, is headquartered in Kalamazoo. Joe Cekola, President and Owner, leads the team at Imperial, insisting on quality products, exceptional service and the most educated workforce in the industry. A family company, Imperial was first operated by Joe's father, Joseph A. Cekola, and transitioned to the younger Joe in 1994. With three children in Kalamllazoo, a of whom attended Western Michigan University, and community involvement at the core of his business philosophy, Joe's roots in Southwest Michigan run deep. Further underscoring his appreciation for the area and Joe's commitment to the business climate, Imperial Beverage recently reinvested in the Kalamazoo community through the acquisition of 600,000 square foot facility, intended to house Imperial's growth through 2020 and beyond.
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