Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ Ultimate Tailgate Party returns this year on Sunday, November 5 to a brand new venue: The SoWa Power Station. Our annual fundraiser will be the biggest yet, with Andrew Zimmern, Emmy® and four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer, social justice advocate, and Spoonfuls’ Culinary Board Member, returning as this year’s emcee. This signature tasting-style event brings together 25+ of the area’s best restaurants and bars. Below, we’re introducing you to some of the culinary professionals, drink experts, and restaurateurs behind them!
Interested in supporting Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ food rescue work while eating some of the best food ever? Tickets go on sale on September 5. When they do, you can get yours here.
Cover photo from our 2022 Ultimate Tailgate Party at the Charles River Speedway.
David Bazirgan – UNI
A Newbury, Massachusetts native, Chef David Bazirgan’s culinary experience ranges from classic fine dining to heavily bar-centric restaurants and high-volume hotel operations.
After earning his degree from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in 1996, Bazirgan jumped into a Chef de Cuisine role at Boston’s renowned No. 9 Park under longtime mentor and friend, Chef Barbara Lynch. There he served as a member of the now-legendary restaurant’s opening team, and over his several-year tenure, he meticulously crafted seven- to nine-course seasonal tasting menus to much acclaim.
In 2003, Bazirgan ventured to the West Coast where he worked his way through celebrated kitchens, including Chez Papa Resto at Mint Plaza, Jocelyn Bulow’s Baraka, in Potrero Hill, and Elisabeth Daniel in Jackson Square. He was named “Rising Star Chef” by both the San Francisco Chronicle and Star Chefs. Bazirgan’s final role in San Francisco was a dual Executive Chef and General Manager role at Dirty Habit, a sultry bar-centric spot at the Hotel Zelos.
Missing his New England home, Bazirgan returned to the East Coast in the summer of 2016 to take on the role of Executive Chef at the Cambridge, Massachusetts restaurant, Bambara Kitchen & Bar in the Kimpton Hotel Marlowe. In 2021, he was named Executive Chef at Ken Oringer’s Back Bay izakaya, UNI. At UNI, Bazirgan marries flavors with traditional and nontraditional Japanese techniques and culinary inspiration from around the globe.
Daniel is a native of Hermosillo, Sonora, in Mexico, and went south to attend culinary school in Puebla. After graduating, he spent over a dozen years working with Frank McClelland at L’Espalier and Sel de la Terre in Boston before beginning his own venture. In 2014, Daniel opened Somerville’s La Brasa, aptly named after the Spanish term for the fiery embers that remain after grilling, as their food, like the delicious branzino, is cooked over a wood fire flame. Later, Daniel opened his second Somerville eatery, Fat Hen, a small 30-seat restaurant in Somerville that focuses on modern Italian-tasting menus.
Joanne Chang* – Flour Bakery + Cafe
An honors graduate of Harvard College with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics, Joanne left a career as a management consultant to enter the world of professional cooking. After spending several years gaining experience in some of Boston and New York City’s best restaurants, Joanne opened her first, Flour Bakery + Café, in 2000, which has since grown to nine locations across Boston and Cambridge. She owns and operates the company with her husband and business partner, Christopher Myers, in addition to Myers + Chang, Flour’s sister restaurant that will also be at this year’s Tailgate (see “Benjamin Hoxsie’s” bio).
In 2016, Joanne was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Baker. Flour has been included in Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Inc. Magazine, Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, O Magazine, and Boston Magazine, and has received numerous Best of Boston awards. Joanne has authored five cookbooks, writes for Fine Cooking magazine, teaches classes, and advises pastry cooks within the bakery, at area cooking schools, and via Masterclass.
Alyssa Mikiko DiPasquale – The Koji Club
Fueled by over 15 years in hospitality, Alyssa is the proud owner of The Koji Club, a community of sake enthusiasts who hold a safe space to celebrate, learn about, and drink good sake. It’s Boston’s first sake bar, too. The club aims to reframe Japanese sake from an esoteric, hangover-inducing sushi companion (insert sake bomb here) to an approachable everyday beverage choice through nontraditional partnerships and unique learning experiences.
In this role, Alyssa has been recognized by top industry media like Wine Enthusiast in their annual “40 Under 40” list and Imbibe magazine’s “Imbibe 75.” Locally, BostonMagazine named her Best Beverage Director in Boston for 2022.
Karen Akunowicz & Molly Dwyer – Bar Volpe
James Beard Foundation Award winner (Best Chef: Northeast) and Top Chef judge and contestant, Karen Akunowicz, brings her Italian cooking expertise to Tailgate this year. In 2019, Karen opened Fox & the Knife, dubbed an “instant classic” by Food & Wine Magazine, inspired by her time living and cooking in Modena, Italy. In 2020, she created a fresh pasta retail business called Fox Pasta Company that now ships sauces and handmade pasta nationwide and is available in specialty shops in Boston and New York. Her second spot, “Bar Volpe,” opened in 2021, is a restaurant and pastificio (pasta shop) focused on wood-fired Southern Italian cuisine. Bar Volpe continues the conversation about Italian cuisine and culture that Karen started at Fox & the Knife. Her second cookbook, “Crave: Bold Recipes That Make You Want Seconds,” will be released September 19 and is available for preorder now.
Molly Dwyer is an accomplished chef who has worked with Chef Karen Akunowicz for over four years. Molly joined Akunowicz’s team to open her flagship restaurant, Fox and the Knife, in February 2019 before moving a few blocks up the street to open Bar Volpe as their Chef de Cuisine in November 2021. Bar Volpe brings the best from the South of Italy to South Boston where wood-fired seafood, handcrafted pastas, classic Italian cocktails, and warm hospitality come together to create a casual dining experience. Previously, Molly worked in some of Boston’s finest establishments, as well as spending summer seasons on Nantucket.
Chef, restaurateur, and TV personality, Tiffani Faison, has made a name for herself nationwide for her dynamic personality, culinary prowess, and fierce work ethic. Under Big Heart Hospitality, her Boston-based restaurant group, she creates restaurants that are warm, inspired, and instantly loveable. These include Sweet Cheeks Q, Fool’s Errand, and her recently opened flagship Tenderoni’s Fenway, all located in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. In 2022 Tiffani opened Dive Bar, Tenderoni’s, and Bubble Bath, within Downtown Boston’s High Street Place food hall.
Tiffani is also a rising star on The Food Network. In 2022, she won Season 3 of Tournament of Champions, placing first among 32 of the world’s greatest chefs. She serves as a judge on Chopped, Guy’s Grocery Games, and has co-hosted Beat Bobby Flay. Marking her many culinary achievements, Boston magazine awarded her “Best Chef: General Excellence” twice (2016 and 2022). In 2016 and 2019, Boston Business Journal named Tiffani to its “Power 50” list, celebrating individuals from multiple Boston industries and professionals who are making a difference in their business communities. In December 2019, The Boston Globe named Big Heart Hospitality as “Restaurateurs of the Year” and Eater named Tiffani “Empire Builder of the Year.” Tiffani currently serves on the Board of Directors for Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and BAGLY (Boston Alliance of Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer Youth). In September 2019, she was appointed to The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Restaurant Promotion Commission for her commitment to the state’s restaurant business as a whole. Tiffani lives in Boston and is a tireless advocate of LGBTQ human rights.
Will Gilson began his career at age 15 when he apprenticed with Charles Draghi at Marcuccio’s in the North End. Later, he completed his formal culinary arts training at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, and had stages at Oleana, Silks at the Stonehedge Inn, The Lanesborough, and the Garden at the Cellar. In 2011, Will became a leader at the forefront of Boston’s pop-up restaurant movement introducing a series of successful ventures, including Eat @Adiren’s on Cape Cod.
However, it was at the Herb Lyceum, his family’s farm in Groton, where farm-to-table cooking became second nature for the burgeoning chef. Will’s time at the Herb Lyceum has molded the direction of Puritan & Co., where guests will find touches of his familial hospitality and their passion for herbs and farmer’s market fare. Today, Will is also the chef and co-owner of The Lexington, Café Beatrice, Geppetto, and Puritan Oyster Bar.
Nia Grace – Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen
Nia Grace is the award-winning owner of Grace by Nia, the first Black women-owned restaurant in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood, and Boston staples Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen and The Underground Cafe. A Roxbury native and venerable community leader, Nia has worked in the restaurant hospitality industry for over 20 years, and it was this passion that brought this homegrown cook back to a place that serves what she loves most—friends, food, and music.
Beyond restaurant hospitality, Nia is committed to the need in all of us to belong. Before purchasing Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, Nia embraced a decade-long career in the nonprofit sector. Over the years, Nia has remained focused and involved in the community she loves. She has served on boards for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts and the Boston Cultural Council. She currently serves on boards for Massachusetts Restaurant Association, Boston Center for Youth and Families, and the Roxbury YMCA. Nia was named one of Boston Business Journal’s “40 under 40” in 2020, Boston Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Bostonians” in 2021, 2022, and 2023, and is the recipient of the prestigious Pinnacle Award, sponsored by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, recognizing her work as an Emerging Executive Leader in 2021.
Born and raised in upstate New York, Marissa got an early start in the culinary world working in a local bakery throughout high school. This experience and her passion to learn more led her to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Following graduation, Marissa joined the pastry team at the Seaport Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2018, Marissa left to become the Pastry Sous Chef at Capo Restaurant and Supper Club, before quickly becoming the Executive Pastry Chef. Marissa is now the Executive Pastry Chef for Capo Restaurant and Supper Club, Lincoln Tavern and Restaurant, Hunter’s Kitchen and Bar, and Prima Restaurant.
Benjamin Hoxsie – Myers + Chang
Ben was born in Hampton, a rural town in Northeastern Connecticut. In 2012, he parted ways with his quaint hometown and moved to Alexandria, Virginia where began his career as a Line Cook and Shellfish Shucker with Legal Sea Foods in Washington D.C..
Ben continued on with Legal Sea Foods in increasing capacities for nine years, working under Chef Richard Vellante. He worked in multiple locations throughout the mid and northern East Coast. Ben earned his first shot at an Executive Chef role at Legal Test Kitchen in 2019. He oversaw its closure in March of 2020 and helped reopen two locations later that year. In May of 2021, Ben left Legal Sea Foods and worked in New Hampshire for a stint, again under Richard Vellante. There, he helped a small Italian take-out and catering company, as an Operational Chef.
During his time with Legal Sea Foods, Ben often participated in Pine Street Inn’s Visiting Chef Series. There, chefs would share their expertise through interactive food demonstrations and offer insights on how to excel in the food industry. He also spent time working with many other chefs, in a collaborative effort with the Lean Enterprise Institute to help their restaurants create more value with fewer resources and less waste through continuous improvement and lean practices.
Ben began working for Joanne Chang and Christopher Myers as Executive Chef for their standalone restaurant, Myers + Chang in December of 2021. In this role he has immersed himself in a cuisine and culture that is an exciting new challenge for him. There, he takes pride in his positive leadership style, sustainability, fostering relationships with small local vendors, pursuit for high-quality ingredients, and producing the best food he can.
Joanne Chang and Christopher Myers’ Flour Bakery + Cafe will also be represented at this year’s Ultimate Tailgate. See “Joanne Chang’s” bio.
Trevor Kunk – Shy Bird
Trevor began his career in Sarasota, Florida and in early 2001, moved to New York to attend the Culinary Institute of America. After finishing school, he first worked at Aureole followed by 10 years at Blue Hill in Manhattan. During his time there, Trevor helped earn and maintain a Michelin Star and multiple James Beard Awards. The long winters led Trevor and his family to the Napa Valley where he served as Executive Chef & Culinary Director at Press Restaurant and Oakville Grocery. Trevor and his family returned to the East Coast as the Executive Chef at the Michelin-starred Breslin located in the Ace Hotel. Trevor was most recently the Director of Culinary Innovation for Little Beet Brands, which promotes healthier eating and overall wellness through a thoughtfully sourced, vegetable driven menu.
Trevor recently joined the team at Shy Bird as Culinary Director, working closely with partners Andrew Holden and Eli Feldman in curating an affordable, approachable, and accessible menu. Shy Bird is an all-day rotisserie, bar, cafe, and takeaway with locations in Kendall Square and South Boston.
Trevor’s commitment to the restaurant industry goes beyond the kitchen as he seeks opportunities to make the profession more sustainable.
Dan Lane – The Tack Room
With an eye for new twists on old favorites and enjoyable innovations designed to broaden his menus, Chef Lane comes from a rich background working for some of the area’s best restaurants. Educated at Newbury College, Dan immediately dove into the Boston dining scene at the Blue Room in Cambridge. The open kitchen and interaction with diners fueled Dan’s intrinsic fire to grow. Dan enjoys taking food and pushing it to a whole new level – separating wherever he’s cooking from the rest of the restaurant pack by presenting traditional classics with a fresh twist, or just coming up with really cool, fun stuff. Outside of the restaurant atmosphere, Dan loves to compete in different competitions across the states. Winning competitions at Culinary Flight Club, and high finishes at World Food Championships, STEAK cookoff association and others, continues to keep Dan’s fire lit.
Dan’s passion for the kitchen is infectious. His family is very hospitality driven, with both his wife and daughter working the front of house at The Tack Room, where Dan has headed up the back of house operations as Executive Chef since June of 2022, in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Dan continues to elevate the food program every day at The Tack Room by hitting on everything from the burger to elevated entrees like his lamb sirloin. He is also a fantastic teacher. Dan loves to see his staff grow and learn every day, taking them to places they didn’t know were possible. Out of the kitchen, Dan loves spending time with his family, visiting the beaches of southern New Hampshire where he grew up, hitting the mountains to ski in the winter, and helping out in the community when possible.
Irene Shiang Li & Devin Shiang – The Mei Mei Group
Mei Mei Dumplings is a woman-owned, farm-focused food brand based in Boston. Led by Chef Irene Li, winner of the James Beard Foundation 2022 Leadership Award, and Alyssa Lee and Annie Campbell, Babson MBA alumni, Mei Mei prioritizes progressive employment, local sourcing, and sustainable business practices. Devin Shiang is their Culinary Program Manager. Mei Mei’s unconventional dumpling combinations showcase our love for great New England ingredients along with a pursuit of what tastes delicious. We use pasture-raised meat from small, independent family farms, and source 70% of our produce from the Northeast. Our dumplings are currently available at farmer’s markets in the Greater Boston area, and expanding soon to regional grocers.
A lifelong New Englander, Colin grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Studies at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) before settling in Boston. During his time at the CIA, he completed an internship at Barbara Lynch’s flagship restaurant, No. 9 Park, where he returned following graduation, continuing to work with Barbara Lynch for many years. Advancing to positions like Chef de Cuisine and later Executive Chef, Colin played a key role in expanding the company through new locations, including Menton. His efforts earned Menton Boston’s first Relais & Chateaux designation, a nomination by the James Beard Foundation for “Best New Restaurant” in 2011, and The Boston Globe’s first four-star review from food editor, Devra First.
In June 2016, Colin opened his own restaurant with his wife, Heather Lynch, and former Barbara Lynch Gruppo colleague, Jefferson Macklin. Bar Mezzana, located in Boston’s South End, has received rave reviews from local press and guests who praise the inspired crudo, handmade pastas, and warm hospitality. In 2018, Colin and his team opened nearby Shore Leave, a subterranean neighborhood tiki bar and restaurant. Tucked away down a narrow hallway at the back of Shore Leave, they also opened No Relation, a nine-seat, secret sushi restaurant nestled within the tiki bar. In 2019, they added a fourth eatery to their South End family, Black Lamb.
Stephen Marcaurelle & Zach Watkins – Nautilus Pier 4
Originally from Dracut, Massachusetts, Chef Stephen Marcaurelle attended the Atlantic Culinary Academy in New Hampshire. His career began at Pigalle in Boston but his journey really started when his brother suggested Stephen move down to Nantucket to live with him for the summer. Stephen headed to the best restaurants in Nantucket, and as fate would have it, landed a job at The Pearl where at 20 years old he would forge a lasting friendship with his current business partners. After stints in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Minneapolis, and Boston, Stephen Marcaurelle found his vision as Executive Chef at Tres Gatos in Jamaica Plain. Since it opened in 2021, Stephen has been Executive Chef and Partner at Nautilus Pier 4.
Originally from Dallas Texas, Chef Zach Watkins studied at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After graduation he worked at Clio in Boston and then teamed up with Jamie Bissonette where he worked at Toro Boston, Brookly,n and Bangkok. Now back in the United States, Zach has been with Nautilus Pier 4 since they opened in early 2021.
Gavin Moseley & Yuval Ochoa – Borrachito
Gavin Moseley is a Co-Founder of The Garret Group and is referred to by the Garret team as, “the glue that holds the ship together.” Gavin holds a Hospitality Management degree from Cornell University, and handles all things operations including the behind-the-scenes magic that keeps everything running smoothly – and keeps guests coming back.
Born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, Chef Yuval Ochoa is the Executive Chef of The Garret Group’s Borrachito Taqueria & Spirits and The Garret Coctelería Coctelería. Chef Yuval attributes his culinary journey and the inspiration behind the menu at Borrachito to his family’s teachings and the regional Mexican recipes which he grew up loving. His interest in cooking began at the age of ten where he spent time at his grandmother’s ranch, hunting, picking corn in the fields, and helping his aunts make tortillas by hand. It was there that he made the connection between the farm and the people, and how great food translates into meaningful family gatherings and memories. Chef Yuval firmly believes that the key to good cooking is all about respecting the product and the procedures; and that is what he brings to Borrachito: experimental ingredients, providing a fresh and fun take on the classic taco, all while staying true to the roots of Mexican cooking.
Mehmet Ozargun – Cafe Mangal
Mehmet Ozargun, professionally trained in classic and modern techniques by master chef John Vyhnanek, is the Founder, Owner, and Executive Chef of Cafe Mangal, which opened in 2000. Over the course of 23 years, Mehmet has consistently served a rich variety of authentic and contemporary dishes using the freshest and highest quality ingredients available.
Cafe Mangal’s Mediterranean menu is greatly influenced by Turkish cuisine. Turkey has a long and rich history from its Central Asian roots to its refinement under the Ottoman Empire and has influenced culinary tradition throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Mehmet reflects this rich culture through Cafe Mangal’s food, service, and decor. Their motto is “smile, serve, and share.”
In September of 2022, Xenia Greek Hospitality proudly announced the most recent addition to their team, Culinary Director Brendan Pelley. Brendan Pelley has over a decade of experience at the helm of ingenuitive kitchens throughout Boston (Webber Restaurant Group, Doretta Tavern, Pelekasis at Wink & Nod, Zebra’s Bistro & Wine Bar) and has competed nationally on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen and Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay. The key ingredient that transcends his experience and impressive collection of accolades and awards (Boston Magazine, Yankee Magazine, Improper Bostonian) is Brendan’s deep-rooted familial connections to Greek cooking combined with his love for New England’s local bounty. When Brendan joined the Xenia Greek Hospitality he spent extensive time traveling throughout various parts of Greece from the coast to the countryside.
His most recent accolades include Boston Magazine‘s coveted Best of Boston award for “Best Chef, General Excellence” and a glowing 3.5 star review from Boston Magazine‘s restaurant critic MC Slim JB for Xenia’s latest concept, Bar Vlaha.
Cassie Piuma – Sarma
Cassie is a native of Duxbury, Massachusetts. She graduated from Johnson & Wales University where she met her husband and now business partner, Matthew Piuma. She honed her culinary skills at the acclaimed Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island, and then moved back to Boston in 2002, where she worked at the French bistro, Sel de la Terre, and as a sausage maker for Barbara Lynch at The Butcher Shop. She spent the next 11 years with James Beard Award winning Chef Ana Sortun at Oleana, learning the nuances of Middle Eastern cooking and working her way up the ranks. In 2013, Cassie opened her dream restaurant, Sarma, in Somerville where she cooks her version of modern Middle Eastern meze in a casual, upbeat, neighborhood setting. She was a James Beard Nominee for Best Chef: Northeast in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020.
David Punch – Sycamore
David Punch began cooking pancakes in home economics class at a very young age, and then miraculously went on to work in some of Boston’s finest kitchens. He opened his first restaurant, Ten Tables, in Harvard Square in 2009. After three successful years, he moved on to open Sycamore, a bistro in Newton Centre. In December 2015, he opened a second restaurant, Little Big Diner, as well as Jinny’s Pizzeria in 2020. He has won numerous awards for his cooking, notably a “Best Chef” nod in 2007 from Boston Magazine. He has recently won the prestigious honor of “World’s Greatest Cooker,” awarded annually by the Punch Family. His restaurants have been featured in numerous periodicals including Food & Wine, Gourmet, GQ, Yankee Magazine, and Bon Appetit. David lives in Walpole with his patient wife, two pretty great children, and the world’s best dog and cat.
David Robinson – Formaggio Kitchen
David learned to love food as a child growing up in Taos, New Mexico, and spent the first decade of his working life cooking in some of Boston’s finest restaurants. During that time he also traveled extensively through Italy and Spain. David eventually came to the realization that he didn’t want to spend his life in the professional kitchen, but his desire to continue working with food brought him to Formaggio Kitchen.
A trip to the Jura Mountains to pick wheels of Comté sealed the deal. David was instilled with a sense of respect for both the cheese and the immense amount of sweat, tears, and love that cheesemakers put into each wheel. Since he became the Formaggio cheese buyer in 2010, he has traveled extensively through Europe in search of delicious cheeses.
Alex Sáenz – Taqueria El Barrio
Alex Sáenz was born in the U.S., but grew up in Lima, Peru, spending time in the kitchens of his grandmothers and aunts, who taught him the love and art of cooking. He spent his teenage years in Columbia, South Carolina, where new friends taught him to love southern food, while at home, his mom continued cooking Peruvian dishes. This mix set the stage for what Alex would later showcase in his kitchens.
After working in several local restaurants, Alex’s love of cooking eventually moved him to Los Angeles, California, where he attended the California School of Culinary Arts. After graduating top of his class, Alex worked at Alex Restaurant in LA before relocating to the East Coast. There, he worked at the Nine Zero Hotel and Spire Restaurant, Straight Wharf Restaurant, Ten Tables, Lineage, where he received his first 3-star review from the Boston Globe’s Devra First, and Puritan & Co.
After several stints and much recognition, Alex settled into BISq, which he opened with his old friend, Servio Garcia, and began a new chapter of his life as a restauranteur. In 2019, they expanded with Taqueria El Barrio and BISq Meats & Sandwiches. Steering the restaurants through pandemic challenges, the Taqueria el Barrio began producing their flour tortillas for retail sale. They can be found in many local neighborhood grocery stores and markets.
Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli – Alcove
One of the city’s most innovative and respected restaurateurs, Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli owns the award-winning Alcove in Boston’s West End and is building his second restaurant, Hook + Line, due to open this fall in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood. Two restaurants, two waterfront locations, each with gorgeous patios, stylish dining, lively drink bars, beautiful raw bars, and led by a talented team; all signatures of Tom’s dedication to modern neighborhood hospitality. Enter one of Tom’s restaurants and you know you will be well cared for. A leading LGBTQ business owner, Tom is proud to stand by his teams and his community.
Arlin Smith & Andrew Taylor – Eventide Fenway
Eventide Owner and General Manager, Arlin Smith, hails from Buffalo, New York, and holds a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Early in his career, his appreciation for all things hospitality drew him out of the kitchen. He has since led Big Tree’s front of house teams and spearheaded the melding of function and design in establishing each of Big Tree Hospitality’s restaurants. He has become something of an authority on hospitality, and has spoken on the subject in podcasts, on panels, and to many print journalists. Arlin leads by example in his commitment to instilling a spirit of generosity in the company’s staff by managing all of Big Tree Hospitality’s philanthropic efforts.
Big Tree Hospitality chef-owner, Andrew Taylor’s, appreciation for the history of New England’s food grew out of an affinity for fishing and foraging. He is a James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef and father of four, who has become adept at culinary improvisation, crafting innovative cuisine out of the most seasonal ingredients Maine provides. When he isn’t stomping through the woods searching for matsutake or reviewing the company’s financials, Andrew can be found cooking alongside his team. He is constantly looking toward the future and leading the company in new and exciting directions.
Trevor & Kate Smith – Thistle & Leek
Kate was born in Concord, but grew up mostly in Seattle with her mother, spending summers in Brookline with her father. Her desire to return to Massachusetts led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. She always loved cooking, but her passion for restaurants solidified while working front of the house during undergrad. She went on to begin the culinary program at Johnson and Wales University (JWU) in Providence. She met Trevor when she took a job at Craigie Street Bistrot after her time at JWU.
Trevor’s family moved around a bit before settling in Southern California. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and then spent time traveling before making Boston home. He cooked at L’Orangerie (Los Angeles, California), The Vineyard at Stockcross (Berkshire, England), Steirereck im Stadtpark (Vienna, Austria), and The French Laundry (Yountville, California). He landed at Craigie Street Bistrot after moving to Boston.
After leaving Craigie, both Kate and Trevor took Sous Chef roles; Kate at TW Food in Cambridge and Trevor at 5 Corners Kitchen in Marblehead. Later they cooked on Nantucket (Ventuno and Straight Wharf). In the winter after the first season, they got married on Cape Cod. They spent their extended honeymoon in Europe eating at their bucket list restaurants, making cheese on a goat farm in rural Andalucia, Spain, and staging in restaurants in London.
After Nantucket, both of The Smiths gained experience in Michelin Star restaurants in New York City. Later settling down in Boston, Kate worked at Kirkland Tap & Trotter, Toro, and Formaggio Kitchen. Trevor worked at Coppa, Clio, Toro, Little Donkey, UNI, and Alcove. In 2020, Trevor and Kate overcame pandemic-induced challenges and opened their own restaurant, Thistle & Leek, in Newton Centre.
Nadia Liu Spellman* – Dumpling Daughter
VIP + General Admission
Nadia grew up in a family where food and fine cuisine were an important part of life. In 2014, through her parents’ inspiration and being raised in the restaurant industry, she launched Dumpling Daughter in Weston. Today, she showcases her childhood favorites and family recipes, giving others an opportunity to try authentic Chinese homestyle fare in three Boston-area locations. Dumpling Daughter frozen foods and Signature Spicy Sweet Soy sauce are now in over 700 markets. Nadia launched her cookbook with her mother, celebrity chef, Sally Ling in 2022, The Dumpling Daughter cookbook: Heirloom recipes from our restaurants and home kitchens, rated among the top “Coolest Cookbooks” by Forbes in 2022.
Brad Wasik – The Cheese Shop
The Wasik family truly believes that gathering around a table and sharing good food and wine with friends and family is one of the greatest gifts in life. Using the multiple generations of experience to cultivate relationships and friendships in the speciality food and wine industry we are able to stock our cozy shop with nothing but the best cheese, charcuterie, wine, and gourmet products the world has to offer. We have been proprietors of one of the oldest and busiest full-service cheese counters in the country and have set the standard for serving the highest caliber of cheese and gourmet products in the industry. Located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, The Cheese Shop (known to the locals as Wasik’s) is an old-time family business that has been specialist in ripening, selecting, and serving quality cheeses since 1964.
Haven’t we all missed Eastern Standard? Catch them at Tailgate! The Eastern Standard Team is hosting an exclusive lounge experience, which is available for buyout, at this year’s event. Use it to show your staff how much you appreciate their hard work, or invite clients as an engagement opportunity! Your 50 guests will appreciate the special face time with the incredible Eastern Standard team while enjoying their delicious treats.
Interested in learning more? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Indicates Lovin’ Spoonfuls Culinary Board member