Philanthropic Foodies is honored to showcase the best of the best in local culinary talent
Chef Jason Jessmore is the co-owner of The Chef & The Cook (Baldwinsville) and Chef4Rent. He has managed kitchen and restaurants locally in Syracuse, and Baldwinsville & also Winterpark Florida in his 19 year career. He has also had the honor of cooking at the James Beard House in NYC. He is a graduate of CCI.
Chef Jason has built his reputation on culinary classics, world and progressive cuisine, while blending flavors and cultures. Known for his unique style and passion for food, he brings his twist to the local area with a combination of unique,creative,local ingredients with unique and modern presentations.
Eva Zaczynski owns and operates Eva’s European Sweets, a Polish restaurant on Milton Ave in Syracuse. Since 1997, Eva has been proudly serving homemade, authentic Polish cuisine and delicious cakes and pastries. Eva’s has earned a reputation for serving tasty food, providing genuine service and creating a welcoming and memorable environment. When patrons walk into Eva’s, they can often be heard saying things like “I feel like I’m in my grandmother’s kitchen” or “this place looks like a quaint, European café.” If you haven’t been there, we invite you to try it!
Pit Master Dick Benedetto has been smoking and grilling meats of all kinds for over 20 years. He now owns and operates Smoke Incorporated BBQ, a Syracuse based BBQ catering company. He has a quickly growing reputation as one of the premier BBQ chefs in the area.
Along with serving the standard BBQ fare; pulled pork, smoked chicken, baby back ribs and brisket he also cures and smokes bacon and ham. He makes a wide variety of sausages and bratwurst. He makes all of his rub and sauces from scratch. And has a long list of house made side dishes.
Pit Master Dick Benedetto and Smoke Incorporated BBQ always jump at the chance to be a part of fundraisers and charity events.
The York is a creation of Syracuse native Danny Vault. The York is a little taste of New York City dining and nightlife. The York's decor carries an industrial chic vibe with refined elements. The space invites you to dine or simply enjoy a cocktail and small plates at the poured concrete bar or lounge seating.
The creative menu rotates seasonally with modern and classic dishes that take inspiration from cultures around the world. Ingredients are sourced locally-sourced whenever possible. In the warmer months you'll find a world-class raw bar along with Upstate NY cheese plates and charcuterie. If you're not in the mood for popper meal, have a drink and try some house-made bar snacks. To compliment the unique cuisine, the cocktail menu features one-of-a-kind seasonal libations. The York also features a curated beer and wine list with highlighting local breweries & vineyards.
Chef Chance Bear is currently the executive chef at The Ridge in Chttenango, NY
Bear studied cooking at Mohawk Valley Community College, where he is now sits on the board of advisers, before heading to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
His career in Central New York started at the Cavalry Club in Manlius and the Owasco Country Club in Auburn. He has been involved in other local restaurants including Francesca's Cucina, Paris, Lemongrass and most recently Lincklaen House to name a few.
Chef has had the honor of cooking at the James Beard House four times! He was first asked to cook at the James Beard House in 2012 and presented an Italian feast in honor of St. Joseph's Day. His second appearance saw him taking on Nowruz, the Persian New Year. In 2015, he took a team of chefs from Central New York with him to Beard House for an "Empire State Feast" that offered a taste of the region's food history. And in 2016 he returned again with a team of "up and coming" younger chefs from the area.
Chef Thomas Kiernan, CEC has been in kitchens since he was 14 years old. Having progressed from the country club circuit around NYC, to the waterfront of Boston, throughout the Caribbean and back to New York his experience has been varied and extensive. Well trained in the teachings of the masters such as Escoffier & Careme at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Kiernan came into his own during the 1980’s with the advent of the “New American Chef”. Over the last 10 years Chef has worked vigorously to promote the local, sustainable bounty that we have here in Central New York. Working with local farmers, producers and processors is a major part of Chef’s kitchen philosophy. It is evident in his having been part of the Pride of New York program for the last 10 years.
Recently Chef Kiernan was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs and is the 2015 American Culinary Federation Chef of the Year for the Syracuse chapter.
Born and raised in Camillus, NY Matt learned an early passion for quality local food from his parents large backyard garden. He began cooking at 19 at the Blarney Stone and Wheelers on Tipperary Hill.
From there he attended New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. From there, he moved to the Livermore Valley in California and worked as a Sous Chef at Wente Vineyards. After two years on the west coast it was time to come home to family and to help bring the local food movement to Central New York.
Before landing as Executive Chef at Empire Brewing Company in 2009, Matt spent time in several Central New York restaurants such as: Lemongrass, Mirbeau Inn and Spa, the Brewster Inn, and the Sherwood Inn. At Empire the focus is on local meats, vegetables, cheeses, and sustainable business practices such as composting and renewable energy. He resides in Camillus with his Wife, son, and daughter.
Syracuse native Anthony Donofrio has made quick work out of cultivating a career in the culinary world. While attending Penn State University's culinary school in Williamsport, Pa., Donofrio worked as a line cook at Zola New World Bistro, where he quickly earned his first sous chef title. After graduation, Donofrio took the helm as executive chef at Carnegie House, one of Pennsylvania’s only AAA Four Diamond restaurants. In late 2014, Donofrio returned to central New York, bringing his fine-dining background to Modern Malt, the much-buzzed-about gastro diner in Armory Square. As executive chef, Donofrio (who is also a certified sommelier), blended his classic French training with American favorites, creating crowd-pleasing—and often surprising—dishes that have already earned Modern Malt rave reviews and loyal fans.
Chef DeAnna Germano is the founder of Chef4Rent, a food truck, meal delivery service and catering company. She is now co-owner and co-Chef of The Chef &The Cook in Baldwinsville & Chef4Rent with Mark Germano and Jason Jessmore. You can find Chef DeAnna on her food truck serving locally sourced inventive foods at local breweries, wineries and festivals. When she isn't on the food truck Chef DeAnna is at her latest venture, The Chef and The Cook. DeAnna also heads up all of the catering for all the venues. She is a 40 under 40 recipient for 2017, a recipient of the Syracuse Business Woman Community Achievement Award for 2016, and you may have even seen her on the cover of Syracuse Woman Magazine in July of 2016. DeAnna prides herself on locally sourced cuisine as well as fusion cuisine, and dabbles in baking.
Luke Szabo owns and operates Scratch Farmhouse Catering, farm fresh catering using local and seasonal ingredients located in Marcellus NY. Luke is a self-taught chef with over 17 years of kitchen experience, with a main focus in local and wild edible cuisine.
Prior to starting Scratch Farmhouse Catering, his food journey took him through the Finger Lakes, Sheldrake Point, Executive Chef at Bistro One, Mandana Inn, and LOFO in Armory Square. Outside of his professional career Luke has consulted and created seasonal menus for local restaurants, participated in several local cooking experiences including, Phish Magnaball Festival Ate, SaltCity DISHES, the annual Baltimore Woods EnvIRONmental CHEF Cook-off event, Cayuga / Seneca Community Action Agency Cook-off, and local SPCA fundraiser wine dinners.
Luke's passion is inherently local and when he is not in the kitchen he can be found in the woods foraging for your next meal. With a genuine passion for food, Luke is always trying to find creative outlets to showcase his unique and flavorful combinations.
Chef Mark Germano is co-owner and co-Chef of The Chef &The Cook in Baldwinsville & Chef4Rent. Chef Mark studied at Le Cordon Bleu and has worked in the culinary industry for over 13 years. In the past he has managed the kitchens at places such as SKY Armory, Aster Pantry and Parlor, The Lincklaen House. Chef Mark has a true passion for cooking from the soul, and learning traditional techniques while putting a new world spin on it.
Sam Mondello owns and operates Vince's Gourmet Imports, an Italian gourmet delicatessen and grocery store in North Syracuse. Born and raised in Syracuse, Sam learned an early passion for quality local food from his parents, grandparents and while traveling to Italy to visit relatives. Since 2006, Sam has been proudly carrying imported Italian groceries and making many homemade items using family recipes and years of traditions. Vince's quickly earned a reputation for selling quality authentic Italian food, providing genuine service and creating a welcoming and memorable environment. Vince's is actively involved with community outreach throughout Central New York.
The company prides itself in contributing to local organizations by donating time, products and resources to such groups.When patrons walk into Vince's, they can often be heard saying things like “this brings back memories of my childhood”. If you haven’t been there, we invite you to stop in for a true taste of Italy!
Executive Chef Sarah Hassler leads The Stoop Kitchen culinary team. Chef Hassler’s passion for locally sourced, farm-to-table food, and talent for pairing wines was most recently celebrated at Veraisions at Glenora Wine Cellars (Finger Lakes, NY) where her collaboration with Executive Chef Orlando Rodriguez appeared in Food and Wine magazine (February 2017). As a classically trained CIA chef, Chef Hassler’s method is precise while her practice considerate. Infused with the flavors of her culinary trail throughout the Hudson Valley and Pacific Northwest, Chef Hassler’s thoughtful cuisine can be experienced in the hip and homey Armory Square Stoop Kitchen establishment, creating familiar dishes with a balance of traditional and modern techniques.
Michael Speach Jr. is the president and head chocolatier of the Speach Family Candy Shoppe, located on the historic Syracuse Northside. Still family owned and operated for four generations, Speach's has been around since 1920, serving the community's collective sweet tooth for almost a century.
While the shop offers classic fan favorites such as chocolate covered potato chips, as well as nostalgic treats like Tootsie Roll and Jawbreakers, Michael has been at the forefront of new products since 2007 when he took over the family business after graduating from Ithaca College and working in theatrical design in New York City.
Under Michael's direction, Speach's has released several new product lines such as Top Shelf TrufflesTM, Chocolate BricklesTM, and his latest endeavor: Fruit WorkzTM by Speach Family Candy. Partnering with several other New York State manufacturers — such as Recess Coffee, Empire Brewing and Syracha’Cuse, Michael has created a diverse chocolate collection, from sinfully sweet items to savory treats for every palate.
Lifelong Syracuse resident Mark Bullis began his restaurant career in 2002 when he opened Bull & Bear Pub as part of the revitalization of downtown Hanover Square. In 2008 he added catering to his resume, with the launch of Bull & Bear Fire Grill Catering. ProntoFresh, a made to order salad concept followed in 2011. In 2013 the serial entrepreneur expanded out of the downtown area with the launch of the Bull & Bear Roadhouse on Route 298 in East Syracuse. Never one to rest on his laurels, he followed up the success of the Roadhouse concept as part of the creative and culinary team with Modern Malt, a gastro diner located in Armory Square. This year he opened a second Bull & Bear Roadhouse on Route 57 in Liverpool.
Mark is on the board of directors for Syracuse for St. Jude and has partnered with dozens of local charitable organizations including Vera House, Home Headquarters, Hops for Hope, the Pheo-ParaTroopers, Arc of Onondaga & the East Syracuse Volunteer Fire Department.
As Executive Chef and CEO of Bull & Bear Syracuse, Mark’s current culinary passion is American fusion and he loves experimenting with new menu combinations utilizing unexpected flavors from around the world.
When he’s not working, Mark enjoys riding Harley Davidsons, fly fishing and spending time with his family.
Pizzaiolo (Pizza Chef) and restaurateur John Vigliotti, a Syracuse resident, started his career with the purchase of Peppino's Pizza in 1997. With a commitment to product quality and customer service he built a strong business and loyal following.
John has a great passion and commitment to mastering the craft of pizza making. He has developed a scientific approach to create the most amazing, all natural and flavorful Artisan dough. This is achieved with a delicate balance between time, temperature and ingredients. Inspired by his quest for further knowledge, in 2014 he attended the International School of Pizza and received his certification in the making of true Neapolitan Pizza.
In 2016 John competed in the International Pizza Challenge at the Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. The pizza expo is billed as the world's largest, drawing thousands of pizza industry professionals. His pizza creation the PS2 finished second in the world.
Peppino's is actively involved with community outreach throughout Central New York, and in particular, in the City of Syracuse. The company prides itself in contributing to local organizations by donating time, products and resources to such groups.
The creative creamer behind Humble Pie Co. is Mara Mercado, a biologist, self-taught baker and current pharmacy technician who was born and raised in the Caribbean with her mother, a professional trained chef who she takes after. Last year, after moving from NYC to Syracuse, she and a dear friend, who is also a foodie, decided to craft homemade ice cream for fun with fresh ingredients and playful flavors. Surely after it became apparent that this was something she wanted to pursue and share with others to enjoy. Humble Pie Co. is always open for special occasions, events and orders to local restaurants.
Executive Chef Luke Houghton began his culinary career at age16 while attending high school and also capitalized on opportunities to spend time throughout Europe. After spending 2 years as a baker in Skaneateles, Luke began a 5-year stint as Executive Sous Chef at Skaneateles’ 4-Star, 4-Diamond rated Mirbeau Inn and Spa in 1999. He joined the Savannah Dhu Culinary Team in 2004 and helped make significant efforts in upgrading the quality of the fare and overall dining experience. Luke directed the experiment station at Savannah Dhu which included cheese making, gardening (which included aquaponics), sausage making, canning, food photography and website design. He also handled meat processing, butchering and preserving. Luke has now created Pure Catering and Events, which specializes in the planning, management and operatiions of high quality events throughout Central New York and the Finger Lakes Region. He also provided consulting services as Chef for Anyela’s Vineyards in Skaneateles, where he has developed sprawling vegetable gardens, food and wine pairings with a full service event venue. In 2013, Chef Luke also acted as the Executive Chef for the Beauvine Chophouse and Wine Bar; building the entire operation from its construction in 2011 through its opening in August 2013.