Presenters you shouldn’t miss at ChefConnect: Atlantic City

No matter if you’ve been registered for months or if you’ve let that standard rate deadline whoosh by (don’t worry, you can still attend), ACF’s ChefConnect: Atlantic City has a ton of can’t-miss presenters to add to your schedule. Here’s just a sample of some of the top names in the culinary industry who will be at Caesars Atlantic City on February 24-26:

Staib, Walter

Walter Staib

A third-generation restaurateur with more than four decades of culinary experience, Chef Walter Staib is an author, Emmy Award winning TV host, James Beard-nominated chef and culinary historian. He began his career in Europe, receiving formal training in many of Europe’s finest hotels and restaurants. As founder and president of Concepts By Staib, Ltd. (est. 1989), a global restaurant management and hospitality consulting firm, Walter Staib has opened more than 650 restaurants worldwide. He is currently the driving force behind Philadelphia’s City Tavern, a faithful recreation of an original 18th century tavern and Concepts By Staib, Ltd.’s flagship operation.

Staib founded the Caribbean Culinary Federation and organized the first Caribbean culinary competition between 15 countries in the Caribbean. He was also the first inductee into the Caribbean Culinary Hall of Fame, and his efforts to promote Caribbean cuisine outside the Caribbean. Chef Staib has also authored six cookbooks. Walter Staib has made numerous appearances on local and national cooking shows, such as 60 Minutes, the Today show and the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” and “Iron Chef.” He is the host of A Taste of History©, which just received the 2012 James Beard Foundation nomination for Best TV Show On Location and was awarded ten Emmy awards, including two best hosts. The show is a vehicle for Staib to share 18th century cuisine with a growing audience.

Michael Twitty. TED2016 Fellows. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED
Michael Twitty. TED2016 Fellows. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

Michael Twitty

Michael W. Twitty is a recognized culinary historian and independent scholar focusing on historic African American food and folk culture and culinary traditions of historic Africa and her Diaspora. He is a living history interpreter and historic chef, one of the few recognized international experts of his craft—the re-construction of early Southern cuisine as prepared by enslaved African American cooks for tables high and low—from heirloom seeds and heritage breed animals to fish, game, and foraged plant foods to historic cooking methods to the table. He is webmaster of, the first website/blog devoted to the preservation of historic African American foods and foodways. He has conducted over three hundred classes and workshops, written curricula and educational programs, giving lectures and performed cooking demonstrations for over 100 groups including the Smithsonian Institution, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Carnegie-Mellon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Library of Congress, the Association for the Study of Food and Society and Oxford University’s Symposium on Food and Cookery. He has been profiled in the Washington Post and Washington Prost Magazine, the New York Times, Grist, PittsburghPost-Gazette, Cuisine Noir, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Jet Magazine, and other periodicals. He has also been interviewed multiple times on NPR including the acclaimed food program The Splendid Table and Poppy Tooker’s Louisiana Eats and has been interviewed by the BBC. In 2013, he made several major appearances on television connected to his work including Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern, PBS’ Time Team America, and Many Rivers to Cross with Dr. Henry Louis Gates. Michael was one of 20 people selected globally as a 2016 TED Fellow – you can hear his talk here. Michael’s book, The Cooking Gene, won two James Beard Awards in 2018 for Food Writing and Best Book.

Tower_JeremiahJeremiah Tower

Jeremiah Tower was born in the United States, educated in Australia, England, France, and the U.S., and is recognized throughout the world as an authority on food and restaurant hospitality. He currently lives in Merida and Cozumel, Mexico.
In 1972, he began his culinary career as co-owner and executive chef of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. From 1978-1984, he ran the Balboa Café in Francisco, the Santa Fe Bar & Grill in Berkeley, and Ventana in Big Sur. After that, Jeremiah opened and owned many successful and highly acclaimed restaurants around the world: Stars, the Stars Café, and Speedo 690 in San Francisco; Stars in Seattle and Singapore; and The Peak Café in Hong Kong. Jeremiah sold the Stars restaurants to an Asian group in 1998.
Jeremiah has written many award-winning books, starting in 1980 as assistant and co-author with Richard Olney of ten of the first of the Time Life Books’ thirty volumes of The Good Cook for both the United States as well as the U.K. editions. In 1986, Harper Collins published the James Beard Foundation award winner Jeremiah Tower’s New American Classics. In 1995, he contributed to The Artist’s Table for the National Gallery of Art. In 2002, Jeremiah Tower Cooks, was published by Stewart Tabori & Chang, and received national press as well as “best cookbook of the year” from Australian Vogue Entertaining. In 2003, Simon & Schuster published California Dish, a book on the history of the American dining revolution; it was awarded Grubb Street’s 2013 “Great Books: The Top 25 Must-Read Food Memoirs of All Time,” along with memoirs by Julia Child, A.J. Liebling, and M.F.K. Fisher. The book was reissued in 2017 by Ecco/Harper Collins under the title Start the Fire, How I Began a Food Revolution in America, to tie in with the Anthony Bourdain produced movie. In 2016, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published Table Manners: How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother.
In addition to the James Beard Foundation’s award for “Outstanding Chef in America” in 1996, Jeremiah was inducted into the 1991 Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame, and in 1993 was named Regional Best Chef California by the prestigious James Beard Foundation.
Recently, Tower was the guest speaker at the first graduation of The Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, Austin, TX; a guest judge for “Top Chef” in the U.S. and for Rich Stein’s BBC television show “Mexico;” a speaker and presenter at the Financial Times “Weekend” at Oxford University.


073464 – Jeff MichaudJeff Michaud

James Beard Award winning Executive Chef/Owner of Osteria in Philadelphia, Jeff Michaud began his cooking career at age 13 in a pizza shop in New Hampshire, where he was raised. Inspired by the cooking and beautiful wedding cakes made by his grandmother, Jeff attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and graduated in 1998.
Upon graduation, he moved to Aspen, Colorado to join the kitchen staff at the Caribou Club, where he worked his way up to Executive Sous Chef. After he completed his tenure in Aspen, Jeff moved to Philadelphia to work for critically acclaimed Chef Marc Vetri at Ristorante Vetri as the Sous Chef. Discovering his love for Italian cooking in Marc’s kitchen, Jeff decided to further hone his skills by moving to Bergamo, Lombardia, Italy.
His first stop was working at Mangili, a family-owned butcher shop, where he refined his skills in meat fabrication, sausage, and making salumi. Over the next three years, Jeff worked his way through the top restaurants of northern Italy, including Michelin starred Frosio and La Lucanda, as well as La Brughiera, Ristorante Loro and Ol Fa Pasticceria. His experience and travel throughout northern Italy culminated with the position of Executive Chef at Locanda del Biancospino, a small inn in the foothills of the Alps.
In 2006, Jeff returned to the United States and served in several chefs’ positions throughout New England. A year later, he opened Osteria with Marc Vetri in Philadelphia. In 2008, The James Beard Foundation nominated Osteria for “Best New Restaurant” and in 2010, Jeff won the James Beard Award for Best Mid-Atlantic Chef.
The Daily Meal has named Osteria as one of the 101 Best Restaurants in America and Food and Wine magazine nominated Jeff for “Best Chef – Peoples Choice” in the mid-Atlantic region. Jeff has also published his first cookbook called Eating Italy, about his 3 year adventure through 12 towns getting immersed in the Italian culture and marrying his wife Claudia who is from Bergamo. Jeff also partnered and opened Alla Spina, Amis, Lo Spiedo and Pizzeria Vetri.
Jeff lives in Philadelphia with his wife Claudia and daughter Gaia. Jeff practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Precision Jiu Jitsu. He and Claudia return to Italy often to visit their in-laws. The couple started La Via Gaia A Luxury Culinary Experince, a tour business to share their love of northern Italian cuisine and culture.

Emberling_AmyAmy Emberling

Amy Emberling is a Managing Partner at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, a nationally acclaimed artisan bakery in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is one of 10 businesses in Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. Amy’s love of great food began in her childhood home of Nova Scotia, where she feasted on lobster and wild blueberry cake. Baking, cooking and dining out have been her passion from a young age. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and her MBA from Columbia University. She then returned to her deepest interests and began to learn to bake and cook at L’Ecole de Gastronomie Francaise, Ritz Hotel in Paris and in numerous Michigan restaurants.Amy joined Zingerman’s Bakehouse in 1992 as a bread baker and in 2000 became a co-managing partner with Frank Carollo. Zingerman’s Bakehouse focuses on using traditional baking methods and full flavored real ingredients. The bakery features breads, pastries and cakes with strong historical and cultural ties. It is most known for its naturally leavened breads and Jewish specialties, excellent customer service and community engagement. It’s current focus is playing a role in developing the local grain community in Michigan and using freshly milled whole grains in it’s products. The bakery also includes BAKE!, a school for home bakers which teaches the craft of baking to thousands of people a year. Amy is dedicated to making traditional, full flavored food, to creating a positive and enriching work environment and to leading a socially responsible business. She is the co-author of the book Zingerman’s Bakehouse and regularly teaches about Zingerman’s business practices.


Giusti_DanielDaniel Giusti

With a desire to feed more people and the knowledge that chefs are uniquely suited to work within the limitations of the National School Lunch program, Chef Dan Giusti began Brigaid to change the narrative surrounding good meals for kids at school. Prior to the launch of Brigaid, Dan was the Head Chef at Noma, a world-renowned restaurant in Copenhagen, where for 4 years he contributed to the restaurant’s consistent status as the best restaurant in the world. Brigaid strives to make more delicious meals for students and improve the dining experience by bringing trained chefs into the school cafeterias. Dan is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.

Forgione, Marc_credit Evan Sung
photo by Evan Sung

Marc Forgione

Chef Marc Forgione is the chef/owner of Restaurant Marc Forgione and American Cut and is the co-owner/partner of Khe-Yo. He won season 3 of Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef” at just 31 years old, making him the youngest winner in the show’s history. Among the many accolades, Restaurant Marc Forgione was recognized with a glowing two-star review in the New York Times and received a Michelin star. Chef Forgione is also the author of “Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant.” In addition to supporting numerous charities, Chef Forgione is a Chef Ambassador for Family Reach Foundation, Chefs for Kids Cancer, City Harvest, and Feeding America.