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:
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.
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.
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.