Shortly after graduating from Wesleyan University, Jordyn Lexton took a job with East River Academy, teaching literature to incarcerated youths on Rikers Island. Three years in, Jordyn grew determined to make a difference in the students' lives. Jordyn raised nearly $500,000 to buy a food truck (called Snowday) and launch Drive Change, a nonprofit that trains formerly incarcerated young people and helps them find jobs in the food-service industry. They all start out working on the truck, which serves sweet and savory dishes, all featuring New York maple syrup. Snowday has won Rookie of the Year at the Vendy Awards street-food competition, and Gothamist and Time Out named it one of the top ten food trucks in the city. Jordyn spends time working on the truck talking to customers about social-justice issues while also planning the next big initiative: securing a commissary where food trucks can park overnight, get cleaned, and load up in order to provide back-end services to the food trucks parking there and to supply them with employees as well.
Andrew Zimmern - Perfecting Presence: Why Perfection Doesn't Work
An award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer, and educator, Andrew is the creator, host, and co-executive producer of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World and Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern. He got his start as a chef in New York and eventually moved to Minneapolis where he began as a dishwasher and eventually became the executive chef of Café Un Deux Trois. In 2012, Andrew launched his first food truck, AZ Canteen, which has its roots in his experiences visiting food stalls and trucks around the world.
Nilou Motamed - A Sort of Homecoming
The editor of Food & Wine, Nilou is a globally recognized food, travel, and lifestyle authority. Before joining Food & Wine, Nilou served as Conrad Hotels’ first-ever Director of Inspiration. She is the former editor-in-chief of Condé Nast’s Epicurious and the former features director and senior correspondent forTravel + Leisure. Born in Iran and raised in Paris and New York, Nilou lives in Brooklyn and is fluent is four languages.
Alice and Chris Canlis - Life Together: The Space Between Us
For 30 years, Chris and Alice Canlis ran what is widely recognized as Washington State’s best restaurant: Canlis. A family-owned and operated restaurant, it was opened in 1950 by Peter Canlis (Chris’s father) and today is in the capable hands of two of the Canlis’s sons. A former Navy pilot and Stanford University graduate, Chris went into the family business along with Alice, his wife. While he brought tradition and order to the restaurant, Alice always kept an eye towards the future, and together, they managed to find a balance between honoring the past while also finding room for reinvention.
Sweetgreen - Building Intimacy at Scale
Nicolas, Nathaniel, and Jonathan are co-founders and co-CEOs of sweetgreen. They were classmates at Georgetown where they opened their first location in 2007. In 2010 they started the sweetlife Festival, which has grown to become the East Coast’s largest music and food festival. With over 40 locations nationwide, they have been recognized as key innovators and influencers in food and have been namedInc. and Forbes 30 under 30 and Food & Wine’s 40 Big Thinkers Under 40.
Marcus Samuelsson - Harlem Hospitality: Being In and Of
Born in Ethiopia, Marcus grew up in Sweden and developed an interest in cooking through his grandmother, Helga. After studying at the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg, he apprenticed in Europe before coming to New York in 1991 to apprentice at Aquavit. At just 24 years old, he became the executive chef there. In 2003, he received the James Beard Award for Best Chef: New York City. Marcus has been instrumental in the revitalization of New York’s Harlem neighborhood with his restaurants Red Rooster, Ginny’s Supper Club, and Streetbird Rotisserie. He is the author of six books including Yes, Chef, a memoir.
Elena Brower - The Practice of Presence
The co-author of Art of Attention, Elena has been teaching yoga and meditation since 1999. After graduating from Cornell in 1992, she worked as a textile and apparel designer for 6 years. She began studying yoga in 1997 and thinks about yoga and meditation as a way to approach the world with realistic reverence and gratitude. She has taught large-scale classes at places such as the Museum of Modern Art, Central Park’s Great Lawn, and the Eiffel Tower. Elena teaches classes in New York City and is the founder of Teach.Yoga, a global hub of content and inspiration created by teachers, for teachers.
Bobby Stuckey - Presence On, Static Off
A native of Arizona, Bobby is a Master Sommelier who opened Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder after having spent time working at The Little Nell in Aspen and The French Laundry in Yountville. Bobby has a passion not only for Italian food and wine but also for hospitality, going so far as coining the term “hospitalian,” a title bestowed upon someone who practices authentic hospitality. In 2013, Frasca won the James Beard award for Outstanding Wine Service.
Dan White - Designing Wonder
Dan is a magician, producer, and creative consultant who has worked alongside magic greats such as David Copperfield and David Blaine. He became interested in magic at the age of 10 and now has his own show at the NoMad Hotel. Dan starred in The Supernaturalist on the Discovery Channel, has served as an illusion and creative consultant for Kanye West, and has been a recurring guest on The Tonight Show.
Michael Solomonov - Hineni, Here I am
Born in Israel and raised in Pittsburgh, Mike returned to his birthplace at the age of 19 with no Hebrew language skills. Taking a job at a bakery, his culinary career was born. He returned to Philadelphia and worked at some of the city’s best restaurants before opening Zahav in 2008 followed by Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Percy Street Barbecue, and Federal Donuts. The winner of the 2011 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, Mike is the author of Zahav: A World of Israeli Cuisine.
Donnie Madia - Distraction | Connection
A restaurateur and owner of Chicago’s Blackbird, avec, The Publican, The Violet Hour, Big Star, Publican Quality Meats, and Nico Osteria, Donnie won the James Beard award for Outstanding Restaurateur in 2015. Donnie’s focus on collaboration and his instinct for style, atmosphere, and hospitality have punctuated his career and his influence on Chicago’s restaurants. He named his One Off Hospitality Group with the implication that each project he and his group take on may be the last, and as such, each project is handled with the utmost attention to detail.
Christina Tosi - Bond Bright (Like a Diamond)
Christina is the chef, founder, and owner of Milk Bar. With multiple locations throughout the country, they are beloved for Christina’s creative innovations like Cereal Milk Ice Cream, Crack Pie, and Compost Cookies. An applied math and Italian major, she initially moved to New York to work in restaurants and eventually founded the dessert programs at Momofuku. The author of two books, Christina is also a judge on Masterchef and Masterchef Junior.
Drew Nieporent - Nobu & Drew...22 Years Later
Drew is the founder and inspiration behind the Myriad Restaurant Group, which operates Tribeca Grill, Nobu New York City, Nobu Fifty Seven, Nobu London, Nobu Next Door, Bâtard, and Crush Wine & Spirits. He opened his first restaurant, Montrachet, in 1985, which later reopened in 2008 as Corton, In 2014, the award-winning Batard opened in the former Corton space. A born and bred New Yorker, Drew is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School and Cornell’s School of Hotel Management.
Steve Ells - The Wrong Way to Being Right
Steve is the founder and CEO of Chipotle. He opened his first Chipotle in Denver, with the intention of going on to open a fine-dining restaurant. But as Chipotle grew, Steve realized it was a concept people loved. He has revolutionized the food industry by sourcing “food with integrity”—responsibly grown livestock and produce. Steve graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and was a sous chef at the legendary Stars in San Francisco.
Sarah Robbins - Saying Yes
Sarah is one of the founding partners of 21c Museum Hotel, a unique hotel concept rooted in genuine Southern hospitality, thoughtful design, and culinary creativity, all anchored by world-class contemporary art. As Senior Vice President of Operations, Sarah ensures a seamless relationship between each of the 21c hotels and their respective restaurants. She manages the restaurant development process from design and construction to branding, chef selection, and menu development. Prior to joining 21c, Sarah worked at Myriad Restaurant Group and managed Tribeca Grill.
Bill Golderer - The Pleasure of Your Company...Extending Radical Invitations
Bill is the founding pastor and convener of the Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, a ministry that emphasizes hospitable outreach, civic involvement, and creative expression. The Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative creates unique, trauma-informed indoor dining experiences with a commitment to improving the physical and psychological wellbeing of every homeless and hungry person they come across. In collaborating with local chefs, restaurants, and an army of volunteers, the Hospitality Collaborative is able to serve more than 1,000 guests daily.
Jon Batiste - Social Music
Social Musician, entertainer, educator, and bandleader, Jon is an internationally acclaimed figure in the world of music. He is the Associate Artistic Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and was on ARTINFO’s list of the 30 under 30 most influential people in the art world. A Julliard graduate, Jon comes from a long line of Louisiana musicians. Jon’s band, Stay Human, is known for “social music,” actively engaging audiences to create greater accessibility and appreciation for live music. The band plays in non-traditional venues and starts impromptu street concerts.
Richard Betts - Get the F**k Up and Try
A native of Syracuse, NY, Richard fell in love with wine while traveling in Italy. During his time as the wine director of the Little Nell in Aspen, he passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Masters Exam. He is co-founder of the Betts & Scholl wine label, Scarpetta Wines, and “cc:” Wines and is currently working on a mezcal project called Sombra. Richard is the author of The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert, described as “a kids’ book for adults."
Banjo Harris Plane - Without Purpose, We Would Not Exist
Banjo became the manager at Attica restaurant in Australia after having worked as a sommelier at The Bently, Quay, and est. In 2012 he was awarded “Australian Sommelier of the Year” by Gourmet Traveller. Banjo is also the founder of Real Wines, a company that imports Austrian and Italian wines for restaurants and small bars in Australia.
Thomas Kochs - Captivating Moments
Thomas is the general manager of the world-renowned Claridge’s Hotel in London. A native of Germany, Thomas began working in hotels as a teenager and chose a career in hotels over a career in medicine at the age of 21. Prior to his current role at Claridge’s, Thomas worked at various hotels in London, including The Connaught as general manager and The Berkeley as food and beverage director.
Daniel Humm - Breaking Down the Wall
The chef and co-owner of Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad, Daniel is a Swiss-born, three Michelin-star chef. He is the recipient of several James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Chef and Best Chef: NYC. His flagship restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, was ranked #4 on the San Pellegrino list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Daniel is the co-author of Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook and I Love NY: Ingredients and Recipes.
Tim Harris - Being Awesome! The Only Thing That Is Right For Me
As a teenager, Tim dreamed of owning his own restaurant. He began his career working in local restaurants, including Red Robin. After attending Eastern New Mexico University, Tim worked as a host at Applebee’s and then went on to open Tim’s Place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the first and only restaurant owned by a man with Down syndrome. Tim is an inspirational speaker who has travelled across the country telling his story. In 2014, Tim started Tim’s Big Heart foundation, an organization that aims to inspire people to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives via entrepreneurship and inclusion in their communities. Tim’s goal is to help other individuals with intellectual disabilities start their own business.
Amy Mills - Recognizing Right
Amy is renowned in the world of barbecue not only as the daughter of barbecue legend, Mike Mills, but also as an author and consultant. Her book, Peace, Love and Barbecue was nominated for a James Beard Award. Her company, OnCue Consulting, specializes in barbecue education and barbecue restaurant operations. She divides her time between Boston and Southern Illinois.
Alan Richman - A Restaurant Critic Is Always Right
Alan is known as the most decorated food writer in history. He has won 16 James Beard Journalism Awards, a National Magazine Award, and a Bronze Star for service in Vietnam. He has reviewed restaurants in nearly every Communist country, proof that he will go anywhere for a meal. In 1998, Richman was inducted into the James Beard Foundation Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. He is the Dean of Food Journalism at The French Culinary Institute in New York, where he teaches a class in food writing.
Danny Meyer - The Irrelevancy of Being Right
Born and raised in St. Louis, Danny has had a lifelong passion for food and hospitality. He opened Union Square Café in 1985 at the age of 27 and since then has become one of the world’s most lauded restaurateurs with celebrated restaurants including Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, and Shake Shack, all under the umbrella of Union Square Hospitality Group. Danny’s book, Setting the Table, is a New York Times bestseller and an inspirational resource and handbook for the hospitality industry.