hefConnect: Nashville is coming up soon! Are you ready for it? A few hundred of your fellow chefs will be gathering for an exciting few days of networking and education at the Sheraton Music City hotel in Nashville on March 22nd through 24th. If you haven’t registered yet, there is still time! To get you hyped up before the event, here are just a few of the speakers that we are excited about. You can view the full schedule here.
Carla is best known as a former co-host of ABC’s Emmy award winning, popular lifestyle series “The Chew.” She won over audiences when she competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All Stars” and shared her philosophy to always cook with love. In 2020 she will be featured as a judge on Crazy Delicious (Netflix) and on BakeAway Camp (Food Network). Her latest cookbook, Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration, was published in 2018, landing on annual “Best Cookbook” lists across the country and receiving an NAACP Image Awards nomination.
Carla believes food connects us all, and she strives to communicate this through her work, her cooking, and in her daily interactions with others.
Born in Nashville, TN, Carla grew up surrounded by soul food. When the time came for her to select her career path, she first opted for a business route – she graduated from Howard University’s Business School and worked as an accountant for two years – before deciding to switch gears to work as a runway model. It was during that time, as she traveled (and ate) her way through Europe for a few years, that she truly realized her deep-rooted passion for food could be her career path.
Today, she is a trained chef who has worked in several professional restaurant kitchens in and around the Washington, D.C. area and is an accomplished television personality and author.
Andrew Freedman is the first real “Cannabis Sommelier” his focus on pairing cannabis, beer, cocktail, wine and gastronomy are completely unique and original. Andrew worked in the cannabis trade for over a decade. Noticing that there was a lack of scientific language for describing cannabis he became very interested in blind tasting wine.
His expertise in growing and extracting cannabis led to a passion in viticulture and oenology. He soon found himself living on a vineyard working as a cellar hand at a estate winery. While honing his palate he became a WSET 3 and one of few Canadian Wine Scholars. Andrew’s passion for cannabis and wine led him to begin teaching what he had learned and created “The Cannabis Sommelier” YouTube channel.
Andrew currently teaches seminars about cannabis and wine pairing, cannabis cocktails and cannabis dining. He also hosts and presents at cannabis dining events across North America. Andrew has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, LA Weekly, High Times, The Globe & Mail and many more.
Steve Palmer is the managing partner of the hospitality and consulting company, The Indigo Road Hospitality Group, and the co-founder of Ben’s Friends. The Indigo Road started in 2009 in Charleston, SC, when Palmer began working with the celebrated restaurant Oak Steakhouse on historic Broad Street. The hospitality group now owns and operates more than 16 concepts throughout the southeast.
These properties include O-Ku (Charleston, Charlotte, Atlanta), The Cocktail Club (Charleston), The Macintosh (Charleston), Oak Table (Columbia, S.C.), Indaco (Charleston), Oak Steakhouse (Alpharetta, Ga., Nashville, Charlotte), Colletta (Alpharetta, Ga.), Mercantile and Mash (Charleston), Bar Mash (Charleston), The Cedar Room (Charleston), Town Hall (Florence, S.C.), The Granary (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) and Donetto (Atlanta). Several projects are also in the works including O-Ku in DC, Raleigh and Nashville, Tiny Lou’s in Atlanta and Sukoshi in Charlotte.
Palmer founded Ben’s Friends with Mickey Bakst in 2016, soon after Palmer’s friend and chef Ben Murray committed suicide after struggling with addiction. The support group was created with the intention to serve as a pathway to hope, fellowship and sobriety for those in the food-and-beverage industry struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
Since its inception, Ben’s Friends has grown to now include chapters in Atlanta, Raleigh and Durham. Palmer, a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur, has been recognized by The New York Times, NPR, Southern Living, Atlanta Magazine and Charleston Magazine.
Shawn Loving, CMC
Chef Shawn Loving, CMC, is a 1991 graduate of the Schoolcraft College Culinary Arts Program and has served as Culinary Arts Department Chair and full time faculty since 2008. Chef Loving oversees six full time and ten adjunct faculty members, makes staffing decisions, and revises curriculum. In October 2017 Chef Shawn successfully passed the rigorous 8 day ACF Certified Master Chef exam. He is one of 68 Master chefs in the US.
Chef Loving began his career in Michigan restaurants including Salvatore Scallopini, Hotel Pontchartrain/Radisson, Franklin Hills Country Club, and Les Auteurs/Madison’s before becoming a chef for Walt Disney Company at Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida. Chef Loving traveled to EuroDisney in Marne de la Valle, France, as part of a task force to develop procedures for resorts. He was also the Corporate Executive Chef at Race Rock International in Orlando. From 2001–2008, he was the proprietor and chef at the popular Loving Spoonful restaurant in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Chef Loving served as personal chef for members of the Detroit Pistons and as the in-flight caterer for the team, and from this created Global cuisine LLC, his chef placement working service. On Chef’s recommendation, many chefs have been placed as personal chefs to NBA and NFL athletes, who continue to thrive under his guidance and direction.
In 2008, he was selected as Executive Chef for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Olympic Basketball Teams for the Beijing Games, and Executive Chef for the USAB Men’s Team in Istanbul for the 2010 and 2015 FIBA World Championships, the 2014 summer World Championships in Madrid, and the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Chef Loving still serves as the Executive Chef for USA Basketball currently.
Chef Loving has won numerous awards and medals from the American Culinary Federation, including Gold Medals in the two-man Hot Food Mystery Basket competition at the Midwest Culinary Jamboree in Cincinnati, the Salisbury, Maryland, Culinary Competition (November 2011), and the Dorsey Culinary School in Pontiac, Michigan (February 2012). As a member of the Michigan Culinary Olympic Team, he won a Bronze Medal at the October 2012 Culinary Olympics, and in 2015, Chef Loving earned two Gold Medals and 1 Silver Medal in mystery basket cooking.
Ronaldo describes his approach to life as he does his cooking – “Modern Techniques with Ancestral Flavors.” Ronaldo gives mas sabor to everything he does. He is an associate at De Martino, a Cuban Restaurant in Somerville, NJ, and has partnered with Healthfirst Insurance. He is an American Heart Association National Spokesperson for the “Healthy for Good” campaign and also shares his knowledge with the AARP caregivers program. Above all, he is a devout husband and father.
Born in Colombia during the turbulent Cartel Wars of the 1980s, cooking has saved him in many ways and has been the main ingredient in Ronaldo’s journey from young immigrant to rebellious teen to successful chef, media personality, and leader. While he first honed his knife skills as a teen clocking long hours in his family’s restaurant, Ronaldo’s “food voice” began to take shape while he was a Sergeant and Food Service Specialist in the Marines, serving 6,000 men daily. There, he learned about regional American food and began to infuse it with his Cuban sazón.
Following his Marine Corps service, Ronaldo enrolled in the Institute for Culinary Education in New York City where he graduated with high honors. In 2016, Ronaldo was named Influencer of the Year by the Latinos in Tech Innovation & Social Media (LATISM) and honored by the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey as Culinary Person of the Year.
Ronaldo has showcased his culinary style on Food Network’s Chopped, BBC America’s cross-country chef competition “Chef Race,” and appearances on WNBC, Fox News, Telemundo, and Univision. He is a popular featured chef presenter and speaker at live events including the Food Network’s “Food & Wine Festival,” the Diabetes EXPO, and The International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York.
ChefConnect: Nashville is coming March 22-24! If you’re a chef exploring new ideas and flavors, a student looking to gain experience or a foodservice professional keeping abreast of the latest and greatest, we’ve got educational and networking opportunities for you. Register before Feb. 24 to save up to 40%!